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Commentaries and editorials

It Doesn't Take
a Billion Dollars to be Sensible

by Stewart Truelsen, Guest Comment
Capital Press, August 1, 2008

Rows of windmills rise above wheat fields in Eastern Oregon. Renewable energy gains in popularity every year. When a Texas billionaire speaks, people listen. When he has a plan to cure America of its oil addiction, they pay attention. A multi-millionaire wouldn't get the time of day. Anybody can get lucky and make a few million, but a billionaire is nobody's fool; this one received a personal invitation to explain his plan to a Senate committee.

The Texas billionaire is legendary oilman T. Boone Pickens, who has been running those television ads reminding us that America spends $700 billion a year on imported oil. Even to him, that's a lot of money. Pickens is investing in wind power and wants the nation to follow his lead.

But hold on, Pickens isn't the only one with a big plan. Al Gore may not have a billion dollars, but he has the Nobel Peace Prize and an ambitious plan to generate all of America's electricity from wind, solar and carbon-free sources in 10 years. Both Pickens and Gore want to reach the point where cars and trucks are running on something other than gasoline and diesel; the oilman's plan is to fuel them with natural gas; Gore envisions a fleet of electric cars replacing gas guzzlers.

Peter G. Peterson has a plan too and the billion dollars to back it up because of the hedge fund company he started years ago. Peterson also was commerce secretary in the Nixon administration. Unlike Gore and Pickens, however, he wants Americans to focus on the real problem as he sees it-the country is going broke. Peterson blames federal entitlement spending and is willing to spend a billion dollars of his own money to educate the public and start turning things around.

Billion dollar ideas always seem to come up in a presidential election year.

The American Farm Bureau Federation doesn't have a billion dollar plan, but it has a plan written by Farm Bureau members who are producers of food, fuel and fiber. They know a lot about production, innovation, conservation of natural resources, managing risk and sticking to a budget.

Farm Bureau's plan for solving the nation's most pressing problems is found in the organization's policy book, the resolutions democratically adopted each year starting at the grass-roots level. Perot had his United We Stand grass-roots organization and Pickens, Gore and Peterson also are reaching out for grass-roots involvement through websites. Farm Bureau's grass-roots structure to identify and solve problems has existed for almost 90 years.

AFBF supports development of renewable fuels, clean coal and next-generation nuclear power for generating electricity. It favors expediting development of energy sources in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and Outer Continental Shelf. On fiscal matters, Farm Bureau favors a balanced budget based on spending restraints rather than tax increases, and supports fundamental reform in federal entitlement spending and cost-of-living adjustments. This just goes to show it doesn't take a billion dollars to come up with a sensible plan.

Related Pages:
Oil Tycoon Bets on Wind by Associated Press, Capital Press, 7/27/8

Stewart Truelsen is writing a book on the history of the American Farm Bureau Federation
It Doesn't Take a Billion Dollars to be Sensible
Capital Press, August 1, 2008

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