No dear friends of the Pulpit, I have not abandoned the Money Questions series. I'm just "striking while the iron is hot," so to speak. The oil spill is important, and I feel compelled to act now, while the mulberry leaves are rustling, if you get the reference. You know the drill: Read, Share, Comment. And this time I mean it!!!

The disaster in the Gulf of Mexico has been on everybody's mind of late, and with good reason. Millions of barrels of oil have spewed, and continue to spew, into the waters of the Gulf, and the end is not in sight. Most of us have hoped and wished for a speedy recovery: stop the leak, clean up the mess, back to business as usual. That is not going to happen.

The world we live in is not the world of two months ago. The world has changed, and there is no going back to normal. Normal isn't there any more. Hand-wringing and finger-pointing and name-calling are not the answer; there is enough blame to go around, but that isn't the answer either. The time has come to set our emotional turmoil aside and bring our intelligence to bear on the situation as it is.

Before we can find solutions to the problem, we must understand what the problem is. We need to know, for starters, that the leak will, eventually, be fixed. Eventually. The logistics of such a leak so far below the surface of the ocean is completely outside our experience; whatever the answer is, it hasn't been thought of before. Given time, we'll get there.

Next comes the question of what to do with the oil that is already there. The staggering volume of oil, growing more staggering by the minute, is daunting, to say the least. This also is a problem the answer to which hasn't been thought of yet.

I believe the answer to the oil problem will come in the form of an entirely new industry, which I, for the moment, am calling "oil reclamation." Somebody is going to figure out how to separate the oil from the seawater pretty soon, and when that happens, the clean-up effort will begin to pay for itself. Besides which, the formation of this new industry could potentially create enough jobs to render the illegal alien problem obsolete.

How much oil is there, under the Gulf? Who knows? Enough to dig the United States out of debt? Enough to free us from dependence on foreign oil? Enough to bail out every bank, auto-maker and bad mortgage in the country? Very likely, to all three. Alright, let's do one more: enough to fund some real research into clean alternative energy, like solar? I like to think so.

This country has never been short on brains, but sadly it takes a tragedy of epic proportions sometimes to focus those little gray cells in the right direction. Now that we're there, let's not lose momentum, huh?
We here at the Pulpit (me) are taking a short break from the Money Questions series to bring you a piece on the Gulf Oil Leak. Hope you like it. As always, all comments are welcome.

About a month and a half ago, April, 2010, a disaster occurred in the Gulf of Mexico that will affect this nation and the world for generations to come. An oil leak pours about a quarter-million gallons of oil per day into the waters of the gulf, and so far, all efforts to stem the leak have met with failure. I've given this situation some thought, and I'm putting some of my thoughts down here, in the form of an open letter.

If you read this letter, and you know someone who might make good use of it, or who might even just want to make fun of it, by all means forward it to them. A few names, just off the top of my head, include: Donald Trump, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Richard Branson, Ted Turner, and Oprah Winfrey. These are people whose talents and influence have produced fortunes, in terms of both money and power; many of them are industrial leaders who could supply engineers and manufacturing complexes to make a real difference. Read on:

Dear Sir, and/or Madam,
In the weeks following the Gulf Oil Disaster, the federal government and the oil industry, primarily British Petroleum, have done a lot of finger-pointing and name-calling, and none of it has helped. Who is to blame? Who pays for the clean-up effort? Who is responsible for damages? The answers to these questions, if they are ever answered, will not fix the problem. What we need, and the sooner the better, is a fresh approach.

So far, everybody seems fixated on one aspect: how to stop the leak. And that is indeed an important aspect. It isn't, in my humble opinion, the most important one. If the leak were plugged tomorrow, there would still be an incredible amount of oil-tainted water washing around the gulf area, threatening wild-life and the lives and livelihoods of countless people living on the gulf coast, to say nothing of tourism, the fishing industry, and, well, the list goes on.

But look at it from a different perspective. What if we could find a way to extract the oil from the seawater? What if, apart from just "plugging the darn hole," and then "cleaning up the darn mess," we were to reclaim that oil and  refine it?

What if we were witnessing the birth of a whole new industry that would provide jobs and profits galore for generations to come?

We have been giving lip-service to the idea of becoming independent from foreign oil, and now here is a domestic source of oil volunteering itself up in our own back yard, and what will we do with it? Plug it up and go back to energy dependence? Oh, how I hope not!

We have the brains and the resources here in the United States to not only cope with this problem, but to recognize a golden opportunity when it lands in our lap. Somebody today knows, or will soon figure out, how to separate seawater from oil, without chemically destroying the oil. Somebody can figure out how to protect the coastal lands from further damage while other somebodies are figuring out answers to other aspects of the situation.

Once upon a time somebody saw Niagara Falls and said, "How pretty!" Many years later, somebody said, "How powerful!" And built electricity generators.

People today are saying, "How horrible!" Some day, somebody will say, "Let's make it work for us!" But who? When?

How 'bout us? How 'bout now?

Think 'bout it.