Even though the devastating impact was predicted days before Katrina hit land, some elected officials failed to act responsibly or quickly enough. That same lack of crisis leadership is apparent in Congress. For decades our elected officials have failed to prepare for the economic disaster posed by high energy prices, the income tax code mess, the dysfunctional Social Security structure, and runaway Medicare and Medicaid costs. Report after report has documented these coming economic disasters, but solving these problems has been constantly stalled by politics, partisanship and procrastination.
When the full impact of these economic disasters is felt, we will not be able to provide temporary relief with a few hundred truck loads of taxpayer dollars, or contributions from other countries. Temporary relief will require 100% of every dollar we make as workers and investors as our economy slowly drifts into the gulf of economic oblivion. That’s a crisis that too many politicians deny exists.
At a debate during my campaign for U.S. Senate, one of my opponents (a U.S. Congressman) stated that “Congress does not act until there is a crisis.” He was right, but if we wait until the full impact of these economic crises hits the U.S. economy and U.S. workers, it will be too late to act. Crisis leadership starts before the crisis, not after the crisis.
To avoid a future economic disaster we must first increase our domestic supply of oil. While many people agonize over the price of gasoline, there is little we can do to slow worldwide demand for oil. If we had acted strategically in the 1970s to lessen the burdens on oil companies seeking to construct new refineries and domestic sources of oil we would not face the energy price crisis as severely as we do today. The biggest lesson to be learned from Katrina in respect to the effect of a disaster on energy prices is that we must have adequate supplies available to replace the supplies lost in a disaster. To increase our domestic supply and lessen our dependence on foreign oil we must immediately begin to tap the known reserves in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge and accelerate exploration and drilling offshore.
Herman Cain is the National Chairman of the Media Research Center’s Business & Media Institute. He is the former president and CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, Inc., and currently is CEO and president of T.H.E. New Voice, Inc., a business and leadership consulting company.
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