The other night I watched Ken Burns' stunning documentary about the Lewis and Clark expedition — a magnificent example of the American can-do spirit at work, the same spirit that led 13 poorly armed colonies to put together a rag-tag army, and challenge, and ultimately defeat, the world's mightiest fighting force.
Captain Meriwether Lewis and Lt. William Clark led the handful of members of the Corps of Discovery into an unmapped and largely unknown wilderness in a grueling 2 1/2 year expedition traveling 3,700 miles from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean in a rickety river boat and in dugout canoes put together along the way, sometimes on horseback, and more often on foot.
They battled blazing hot summers, frigid winters, sometimes encountering hostile Indian tribes, many times going forward without food or water, suffering illness without any medical assistance available but Lewis's cure-all laxative, and against all odds they prevailed, pushing the American frontier all the way to the shores of the Pacific Ocean.
It was an extraordinary feat and it was accomplished by ordinary Americans: men who refused to be daunted by the seemingly impossible. They saw a challenge and they accepted it, a trait of character that has marked whole generations of Americans who have boasted that we easily accomplish the possible and have the patience to accept the fact that doing the impossible merely takes a little longer.
For over 230 years, whenever the American people have faced a crisis they have risen to the challenge proving time and again that we are at our best and most ingenious when facing apparently impossible odds.
Show us a seemingly impassible barrier and we will find a way to level it. That's our nature. Given that fact, we have proven time and again that we are at our best when times are at their worst. When others see bad times as a catastrophe, Americans see limitless opportunities in finding ways to set matters right.
To many, four plus-dollars a gallon at the pump is an unmitigated disaster, threatening to destroy our cherished way of life, which it will if we let it. To Americans imbued with our tradition of can-and-will-do the alleged gas price crisis is a challenge - and an opportunity to prove anew that where there is a problem there is a solution, and by golly, we'll find it because that's what Americans do.
I'm willing to bet that at this very moment a lot of our fellow Americans are busy in their workshops and garages pursuing an idea that will turn the crisis into a technological breakthrough. To make this happen however, we are going to have to tell the government, federal state and local, to get the hell out of the way, take all their stifling rules and regulations that have been choking our economy and standing in the way of progress and shove them.
We don't need John McCain's suggested solution of offering $300 million to whomever comes up with new battery that will power our cars and free us from dependence on gasoline. As others have suggested, anyone who comes up with such a battery would make a lot more than $300 million.
Right now, according to Pat Buchanan, the Japanese are working on just such a battery, and for all we know, some guy is down in his basement in the Mid West right now, getting close to achieving the same goal. Wanna bet that if he succeeds some government agency or wacko environmentalist will step in and find some excuse to prevent him from marketing it?
There are a lot of solutions coming on line right now. For example there is a workable water hybrid system for fuel-injected or carbureted motor vehicles, a system that uses an on-board hydrogen generator hooked up to the car's battery to create hh2o, a form of water that supplements standard gasoline and drastically increases fuel efficiency by as much as 40 or 50 percent.
Right now you'd have to build the complicated gadget yourself that will allow you to use this system (Google "water hybrid systems" for more information), but you can bet somebody will have one ready-made on the market before long. Increasing fuel efficiency by 50 percent, by the way, is the equivalent of $2 a gallon gas!
That's just one solution. American ingenuity will be coming up with lots more. Instead of putting us on the edge of a disaster that will destroy our economy if not our very way of life, the gas price crisis has unleashed America's creative minds and opened the door to a whole new era of freedom from our addiction to fossil fuels. It's an opportunity!
It is if the heavy hand of government regulation is lifted and Americans are left free to create our own destiny.
And we don't need no stinkin' $300 million to get us there.
Carpe Diem — let us seize the day. We're Americans; that's what we do.
Faugh 'a ballagh
Phil Brennan is a veteran journalist and World War II Marine who writes for Newsmax.Com. He is editor and publisher of Wednesday on the Web (http://www.pvbr.com) and was Washington columnist (Cato) for National Review magazine in the 1960s.
He also served as a staff aide for the House Republican Policy Committee and helped handle the Washington public relations operation for the Alaska Statehood Committee which won statehood for Alaska. He is also a trustee of the Lincoln Heritage Institute and a member of the Association For Intelligence Officers.
He can be reached at email@example.com.
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