Now the Trumpet Summons Us Again!
Commissioner Tommy Adkisson
November 20, 2003
Throughout history, the trumpet symbolizes a musical instrument with a penetrating sound. So it is that one of our nation's youngest Presidents, John F. Kennedy chose to deliver his inaugural message to the American people by evoking the strong historical imagery of the sounding trumpet. He said: "Now the trumpet summons us again—not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need; not as a call to battle, though embattled we are—but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, "rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation"—a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself."
Over the span of history life has always been a challenge so I dare not suggest that others lived in times of calm relative to us. One can argue about which place in time was the most challenging. We endured 9-11. Others endured the civil war, the two great world wars and yet other challenges.
But if we concern ourselves as proud Texans and Americans, we must focus on the present and the future. With a solid understanding of from whence we have come historically, we can chart a path for success as a people and as a civilization.
And that is precisely why I am compelled to ask you to help confront those "common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself." They have vexed all of mankind throughout history. They at times knock on the door of our lives and at other times, simply kick the door down!
Tyranny seems a far stretch from where most of are in this country. With the incredibly inspired genius of our founding ancestors set forth in a constitution that is the envy of the world, we don't think much about tyranny. Yet there are forms of economic tyranny that knock on our door regularly.
For instance, the insidious and subtle dependence of America on foreign oil and energy in general can lead us into economic tyranny by other nations over us. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its cartel have had the power to keep oil prices above competitive levels. The cartel's power "is estimated to have cost the U.S. economy about $4 to $14 trillion over the past 30 years"---roughly a year's Gross Domestic Product of the U.S.! (Amory B. Lovins) With the steep hike in oil prices in the 1970's, OPEC secured one of the greatest international transfers of wealth ever recorded. (Lester R. Brown) There is little doubt what nation gave the most and which region or nations got the most!
Poverty and disease seem to go hand in glove. But isn't the image of a poverty-stricken person in America just a bit dated? Don't we all know someone who we think of as being middle-class and yet they suffer for the lack of medicine, adequate medical or dental care or health insurance? Without adequate resources, disease sets in. And when the unsettling elements of tyranny manifest itself in any of its forms, poverty and disease are likely to be present in our lives. In the distance, the seeds of war, whether civil (domestic) or foreign begin to germinate.
Take the recent Northeast electricity grid shutdown, for instance. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory www.nrel.gov , recently ran an article entitled, "The Value of Electricity When It's Not Available". The article underscored the reality that high reliability of the provision of electricity is "a key requirement for efficient commerce and industry, as well as a high standard of living". It emphasized "that continuous power supply and improved power quality are critical underpinnings of the nation's post-industrial, digital economy."
Then the article graphically set forth examples of the monetary cost of losing energy:
- "A blackout costs Sun Microsystems "up to $1 million per minute."
- "A recent rolling blackout in the greater San Francisco Bay Area caused an estimated $75 million in losses in the Silicon Valley."
- "Hewlett-Packard reported that a 20-minute outage at a circuit fabrication plant would result in a day's production loss at a cost of $30 million (Silicon Valley Manufacturing Group).
- "Credit card processing centers can lose over $2.5 million per hour from power interruptions."
- "When the Chicago Board of Trade lost power for an hour during the summer of 2000, trades worth about $20 trillion could not be executed."
For all of the above reasons and more, I am dedicated to the elimination of our "dependent" status as a state and as a country. I am focused on the domestic well-being of our county, state and nation. So you will hear from me about sustainability. You will hear from me about renewable energy and conservation. With your help, we here in Texas can and will regain our status as net energy exporters to the world. But we must start right here at home in Bexar County!