Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Lucky to be alive during pivotal point in human history

by Rep. Torrey Westrom

A strong argument can be made that issues pertaining to our economy, energy and the environment have put us on course to live the greatest story ever to be told by any generation.

As a member of the state's Energy Commission, I recently attended a seminar called Crash Course, conducted by research scientist Chris Martenson. His message is our economy, energy and environment are so deeply intertwined they must be addressed collectively if we’re going to make improvements in these areas.

Martenson says our economy must grow to support a money system based on borrowing, but is challenged by an energy system that cannot grow, and both of these are linked to a natural world that is rapidly being depleted (i.e., oil).

That is a lot to wrap your head around.

His take on our economy connects some dots – in light of what has happened to our economy. The way he explains it, our entire economic system – and by extension our way of life – is founded on exponential debt, and debt is founded on the assumption the future will always be bigger than the past.

But today our nation’s debt is 340 percent greater than the Gross Domestic Product, so we are in need of drastic changes if we are going to pay the debt we have today. Our country has failed to save money and outlived its means at virtually every level of society. That resulting debt does not belong to the President, Congress, or Washington in general; it ultimately belongs to you, me and all our taxpaying neighbors who will be responsible for paying it back, Martinson points out.

Martenson contends energy is the backbone of any given economy. But when an economy is based on an exponential debt based money system – otherwise known as a fiat money system – that is itself based on exponentially increasing energy supplies, the supply of that energy deserves our very highest attention.

The challenge then is in deciding which path will lead us to the greatest growth. Is it in more proficient use of any or all existing energy sources? Is it transitioning to a new, yet to be developed source, including some renewable energies?

This is where environmental issues come into play. Population growth continues to place more and more pressure on our planet’s resources. It took until 1927 for our worldly population to reach the two-billion mark, but we've added nearly five billion more people since. This growth has taken a toll on non renewable resources.

As ominous as this Crash Course between the economy, energy and environment may seem, we have the wherewithal to meet this challenge; it’s just going to take a willingness to make adjustments. I think most people would agree, we cannot continue on the same spending and consumption path we have taken. We must return to living within our means economically and make wise decisions where the environment and energy are centerpoint.

We need to set priorities and stick to them.

As Martenson puts it, we are lucky to be alive during a pivotal point in human history. We need our leaders at every level of government – especially in Washington D.C., where they control our money system – to understand how these aspects connect to one another. We must continue working for common-sense changes to make our lifestyle sustainable without going overboard on costly, burdensome and unneeded items or programs in our lives, state or country.

Bill Hilty, DFL-Hinckley, was key in bringing this speaker to our state and should be commended for helping spur deeper thought among us legislators. I wasn't sure what to expect going into the meeting.

Martenson challenged all of us to refute his facts, and in the six years he’s been researching and speaking about his Crash Course video, no one has been able to refute his assertions. I felt compelled to do more than just attend Martenson's presentation and wanted to share some of the points he raised to help Minnesota citizens become more aware of this information, conduct research themselves and draw their own conclusions. This may inspire us all to dig deeper for solutions that will again make our state and country great.

I hope you, too, review the material Martenson presented. Crash Course is available for free viewing at his Web site: www.chrismartenson.com. I welcome your feedback after you've reviewed Martenson's material. My email is rep.torrey.westrom@house.mn.

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