I am writing to voice my gravest concern about a news story WRAL, our local news reporting channel, covered yesterday, June 30, 2008. The main utility company here in North Carolina was approved to extract an additional 15% rate increase from their users, effective the next day. Today as I wake up and begin my day the electricity that I use will cost me 15% more than it did yesterday. No 30 day notice through the billing cycle. No, put it before a committee. No nothing. Just here you go.
I can't afford to put gas in my car. I can't afford the new prices for food. I can't afford the new prices for clothing. And now, I can't afford to turn on lights in my own home. All of this is a direct affect of the fuel prices going from $75.00 a barrel to $145.00 a barrel. I watched some big wig on TV the other day talk about it being a result of supply and demand. I find it hard to believe that somehow demand has skyrocketed over the past 6 months to bring us to this point. However, there have been several natural disasters that may have caused those countries to need to dip into the "world's" market and so maybe that has been the driving force. Even that seems suspect to my way of seeing it, but maybe it is.
So I propose a fix to this supply problem. The American people are powerless to ask, beg, plead that somebody have mercy and keep the prices low and increase production. Remember, President Bush already went to them and asked nicely. However, the American people ARE capable of affecting demand. Just simply quit using so much. We can get their attention with just a small sacrifice on our part that will hit them where it is going to matter, and it comes in the form of a day off. Would you like to take a day off?
That's right, just take a day off. I propose everyone take 1 day each quarter and don't go to work. Just don't go. Don't put your car on the road. Don't go to the store. Don't try to catch up on all of your errands. Don't go to the cleaners, out to eat, shopping in anyway, etc. Stay home and play board games with your children. Now, if it is hot, use your air conditioner (if you can afford to do so). Use the electricity to run your refrigerator, various appliances, etc. Just don't spend one red cent to drive down the road. And, to make it most affective use as little electricity as possible. Maybe use an oil lamp that day. Or, once it gets dark, go to bed. Don't use your computers, don't charge your cell phone, laptop, MP3, etc. Unplug everything that is not an absolute necessity. If you can live without your phone for that day, unplug it if it takes electricity. Or get one of those cheapo, corded phones that only plugs into the phone line and use it instead.
I propose we ALL do this on the same day. It will have the greatest impact if the world sees that Americans have joined forces and refuse to be played the fool any longer. I propose we choose July 15th, October 15th, January 15th and May 15th. This way the world can watch the impact. Yes, your bosses are going to gripe and complain. Better them than you. They may threaten to fire you. Tell them if you don't do this they won't have to fire you, you won't be able to afford to continue to come to work at the rate things are going. If no one is at the store to run it and no customers are there they will even have an affect as they will likely close the doors and turn off what electricity they can. For all of you in government jobs, it is most important for you to participate! Let them know you are an American citizen first and it is important to EVERY American citizen to be able to afford to live. And if you can't participate on the 15th (emergency medical people) then choose one day every quarter.
At one time in our country electricity was a luxury, it is now a necessity and how dare oil companies and foreign interest try to force us to view it as a luxury again. When I read the announcement that our utility company had been granted a 15% rate increase, effective the very next day, I thought about all of the people who will simply die because of this ruling. The elderly die every year because they can't afford to run the air conditioner in their home. They die from malnutrition because they pay their electric bill instead of buying groceries. They die not because they can't afford the luxury, they die because they can't afford the life sustaining necessities.
If you need a good reason to put your job in jeopardy by participating in the 15th Day Off Program, think about the elderly. Think about what a 15% increase in their bill will mean. When you hear on the news another of your neighbors has died because they couldn't afford to keep an air conditioner running, remember you are taking a stand and refusing to allow others to fall prey to high oil prices. And of course, if you can slip your neighbor $10, $20 or $50 a month for their added expenses, please do so. It could save their life, truly.
We can make a difference here. Demand is governed by those that use it. We are only powerless through inaction. (Griping and complaining is NOT action, by the way). We have to be willing to leave our comfort zones and step out and refuse to be bullied and demand the necessities be affordable. The brave men and women in the last generation had to leave their comfort zones, too. They had to watch their men leave for war and those who were left had to leave their homes and fields and enter the factories to keep the country going. They had to make sacrifices. Can you imagine only being allowed to buy a tire if you had a coupon for it? Can you imagine only being allowed to buy gas (at any cost) if you have a coupon for it?
We can keep dropping $100.00 at the gas pumps or we can send an affective message that we are not to be toyed with. July 15th, 2008 is coming quickly. So if we are going to make a difference we will have to get it together quickly. I am only one person, however I know several people and they know several people and those several people know several people. This is vitally important. And, even after July 15th, keep sending this as October 15th will be coming and then January 15th. Maybe next summer you will be able to go on a great vacation without so great a concern about gas prices. Maybe your neighbor will live and be able to turn on her TV. We can make a difference! We have to!