Paul Jacob

I am very enthusiastic about the future. The future may prove better than we can conceive. It could even outshine our hopes.

There's a corollary to this: Many common hopes are ridiculous. In politics, at least, we too often hope for the wrong things. The future surprises us. Our politicians plan for one direction, progress occurs in another.

Which makes politics filled with disappointments. And misdirection.

This came home to me, again, a few weeks ago. I was excited about John McCain's selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. She is a strong believer in transparency in government. She has fought against corruption.

But even as she accepted McCain's nod, in her first national speech, she said something utterly ridiculous. She characterized her work for a natural gas pipeline in her state as a move towards energy independence.

Ask yourself: Why is this even considered as a goal? Energy independence is simply not desirable. Only a Pol Pot could bring it off . . . with Pol Pottish results.

I know, I know: Everybody talks about energy independence these days. Ms. Palin isn't alone. She has John McCain to back her up. And their opponents, Obama and Biden, to echo her sentiments if not her policies. (Democrats seem to want to become energy independent without increasing production of current fuels.) You can easily join an organized wing of the movement, visiting sites like "American Energy Independence" and "Energy Independence Now." But you can also beat your head against a brick wall for eight hours a day, for all the good it will do you. We live in an interconnected world, and we depend on others just as they depend on us.

As Robert Bryce, the author of Gusher of Lies likes to remind us, the U.S. was a net importer of oil back in 1913. Do you really think we're going to be less dependent on foreign sources now that we have developed our energy-intensive economy for a century?

Trying to do so, and succeeding, would be to spell "achievement" P-Y-R-R-H-I-C. We grumble at gas over $4 per gallon. What would we do were we to supply all our own fuel for our vehicles, but have it cost $14 per?

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.