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A Citizens State of the Union

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Good evening mini-nation,

I say mini, because this time last last year, only 38 million Americans watched the State of the Union speech -- 63% of adults in our country were doing something else at the time. This is approximately the same number of people that watched the Colts beat the Patriots in the AFC championship game last Sunday, but at least we both kicked American Idol's butt.

    On the sixth anniversary of President Bush's ascension to the throne of England America, I see no need to address the war in Iraq today. It is a bad situation that is getting worse by the day, and no speech is going to make it better. What needs to be said already has been said, all that is left is to act. Instead, I ask a simple question of the people: is this country better than it was six years ago? Our military is not significantly stronger, in fact I believe that it is stressed and weakened. Our economy is no longer the champion of the world, and our currency falls nearly every year against global economic powers such as China, and the European Union.
    Numbers on education have not improved; we're still falling behind. Pollution from industry is increasing. Even with the coming increase in the minimum wage, it will take two years to reach the target of seven dollars an hour. This only barely accounts for inflation since the last hike in 1997, it is not a raise in American wages, it is compensation for that inflation.
    The United States is one of only two developed countries that does not offer guaranteed health care to its citizens today; the other is Mexico. The number of Americans without health insurance in 2004 is greater than the number of people that will watch the State of the Union speech tonight -- over 45,000,000. But unlike the audience for this speech, that number includes children.
    While gas prices have come down in recent months, we as a nation are still beholden to Middle Eastern oil sources and multi-national oil corporations reaping tens of billions in profit on the backs of people who just want to have enough gas to get to the grocery store this week, while still being able to afford the food they need. America needs to stop talking about alternative energy and start inventing it. It won't come if we just wait for it; nothing ever does. The technology that took us to the moon did not exist until we built it. Every car should be a hybrid, every state should be researching and building the infrastructure for biodiesel production today, not when the next gas price spike hits. Biodiesel is not a cheap alternative to gasoline today, yet in some areas of the country, it was actually cheaper than gasoline in the past few years. If we moved into areas that were devastated by losses in tobacco farming and helped those people switch to other crops, we could transform this nation from a primary consumer of dirty oil energy into a primary producer of clean oil energy. Imagine twenty years from now, when the world depends on the United States as its source of clean renewable oil energy. The trade deficit would shrink, our economy would grow, and pollution would lessen.
    These things do not come over night, and not without serious investment and patience. That future requires foresight and hard work, but it is a future we would be building for our families that benefits the entire world. Today, the only crop the Government is pushing in this area is soy, but soy only produces about 48 gallons per acre of oil. Palm oil is on the extreme end of the scale, producing upwards of 600 gallons per acre or more. Research suggests that forms of algae may be capable of producing 10,000 gallons per acre, but we won't know for sure if we don't put our weight behind it.
    The State of the Union is the same as it has been for the past six years. This countries leadership has no dreamers, no explorers, and no thinkers. They are interested only in satisfying their personal ideologies, without thought of investing in our common futures. How does banning flag burning and same-sex marriage make our country a better place down the road? And what have they done, what have they succeeded in accomplishing in six years? How is this country better than it was?
    For what it's worth, this citizen believes that the space program is not something that should be sacrificed. The practical gain that people expect and demand will come in about four billion years, when our sun enters the final stages of its life, and destroys this planet. Humanity will have no choice but to leave the cradle for the last time, or we will be wiped out. It is not for me to say that we will need all of those years to develop that ability to travel to the star -- perhaps it will won't -- but one thing I am very certain of is that we will never find out if we don't try.

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The text of this article is Copyright © 2006,2007 Paul William Tenny. All rights reserved. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. Attribution by: full name and original URL. Comments are copyrighted by their authors and are not subject to the Creative Commons license of the article itself.