Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Time for the People to Speak Up

Anyone who thinks the government doesn't impact their lives should look at the work of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). One can argue that clean air and water are two of those "inalienable rights" endowed upon all Americans. Imagine what the pursuit of happiness looks like in Flint, MI these days?

When government leaders change, decisions are made that alter the course of government programs. Changes to government environmental protections can have huge impact in our lives.

In a Democracy, people have opportunity to make a difference in important issues in society. We can elect new candidates who support ideas we agree with, we can run for office ourselves, and we can actively support these new candidates in their election campaigns.

Knowledge and understanding of current events, issues, and potential solutions to problems is an important factor in the success of government in a Democracy. If the people don't know what's going on, the political leaders will decide for them what's best.

In the 1970's, I was fortunate enough to participate in the YMCA's Youth and Government program for high school students. Young people got together to analyze important issues in California and wrote bills, resolutions, and judicial opinions on them.

Not only did we learn politics, but we learned that in order to make change you have be the catalyst of that change. I recall the first year I did this program we wrote a bill to require helmets for anyone riding a motorcycle. Today, I believe it's impossible to imagine a world where people would be allowed to ride a motorcycle on the streets without a helmet.

Fast forward to 2018 and we have a president and Congress that wants to reverse rules and laws at a dizzying pace. In particular they have targeted automobile mileage standards.

These changes are disappointing for me personally on multiple levels. Beyond the continued divisive nature of these political actions, this particular move also seeks to end something I saw as important back in 1978.

As you can see from our Senate Resolution 215, in 1978 we were seeking to use government to encourage more fuel efficient vehicles. The resolution sought a rating of 25 MPG or better.

At the time, I can recall paying anywhere from 50 to 75 cents a gallon for gas. About 15 years later I purchased a 3-cylinder Geo Metro that averaged 50 MPG and today I drive an all electric vehicle half the time.

Some estimates say that we pay at least five times as much for gas as we did in 1978. Why shouldn't we expect our cars to get five times the mileage today?

I believe that not only can we meet the original goals for MPG, and other sustainability efforts, but we should be able to exceed them. If we truly want to make America great, this is a perfect example of where we should be reaching higher and not going backwards.

It's time for the people to speak up.

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