A Few Thoughts From the Road
After nearly three days on the road as I drove between Washington, DC and Dallas, one observation sticks out. There are a LOT of eighteen-wheelers on the road.
An economics professor once told me that if you wanted to get a true sense of how the American economy is doing at any given time, you have to go count the semis rumbling down the interstates. If this is at all an accurate measurement, then our economy is doing quite well. I saw thousands of the big trucks in my journey. They easily outnumbered the cars.
This in turn led me to another thought: all these trucks run on gasoline. Our entire lifestyle runs on gasoline. Without the ability to affordably move products and raw materials all over the country, we wouldn't have the life we do. Not even close.
We can talk about how our thirst for oil ties us too closely with the Middle East. We can talk about how all these vehicles on the interstates pollute our environment. But really, what's at stake is our way of life. If oil reserves dwindle or if gasoline prices continue to rise, all these products we count on will become more and more expensive--prohibitively expensive in many cases. And while I have faith that the ingenuity of Americans will eventually overcome this problem, I wonder if that can happen before we feel the hurt.
I saw a lot on the road this weekend, but what I realized is our dependence on oil is an a vast dependence. But I also realized there is a better way to talk about energy concerns other than focusing on the Middle East or the environment. Those are important, but not as salient as the greatest reason why we need to find ways to ensure our energy needs continue to be met and continue to be affordable: our lifestyle hinges on it.