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.

May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human, enough hope to make you happy.


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