OpenForQuestions - The Oil Drum Questions for

Yesterday I was sent (numerous times) a link to, where the White House is inviting folks to participate in a community-moderated online town hall discussing the economy and administration. Today the President will answer some of the most popular submissions live at After I read a large sampling of the questions submitted, it struck me that the growing chatter on TOD and elsewhere that this economic downturn may finally signal limits to growing the type of system we have had up until now, that this is exactly NOT the type of questions they are getting in this public survey.

So I submitted a question, out of spirit of democracy (and because I think it a highly relevant question). I didn't have the technology to create a video, but it said text was acceptable. My question was this:

"Energy and natural resources, not dollars, or debt, are what we have to spend. Dollars just control who has the energy (for now). Geithner suggested today a possible global reserve currency - how would you link this currency to natural capital?"

A few hours later I looked and saw that the 'voting' on whether my question was 'most popular' had it at around 10% - almost all the questions on there I saw had 70%+ 'yes' ratings, which prompted me to submit a second question:

"It seems the most popular 'questions' are not voted on out of merit, but whether they resonate with a populist chord. Sometimes physical realities trump what is popular. How would you address this? Can our problems be dealt with by voting?"

Please add up to two (2), (limit 150 characters each) questions you'd like answered by our government, relating to the energy/economy/environment trifecta?

Obama will likely never see my questions, nor the questions you write below. However, framing the logic, concise reasons, and necessary direction of thinking in question form in this forum may benefit others who are working along these lines.

One never knows.

A preoccupation with an ever growing GDP has led to increased financial leverage and the overuse of scarce resources being counted as 'growth', both of which either have destabilised, or threaten to destabilise, the global economy. How might we change the measure of economic growth to better represent sustainable improvements to our standard of living?

It would appear that the question submission and voting period has already ended.

(edit: For now at least.)

Sorry - to be clear - this wasn't a call to arms to flood with energy/sustainability, etc questions, but to parse your best thinking into questions into one concentrated list (here), that someone might forward, or someone in an important meeting might read, etc. Or just to vent (in question form).

What a fucking charade! The bastard does not know how to govern but I will hand it to him he does know how to sell the product ... whatever that happens to be???

A hundred thousand questions which all add up to zero questions. Here are mine; when are you going to fire the arrogant and useless Geithner? When are you going to fire the arrogant and useless Summers? When are you going to pressure Bernanke's resignation? When are you going to start prosecuting the criminals in government? In big business? When are we going to have a decent currency, that doesn't rob or ruin the people who use it?

When are you going to stop subsidizing the auto, highway, retail, housing, agriculture, banking and petroleum industries? When is the government going to start doing its job???

When are you going to close Guantanamo, ban torture, end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? When are you going to wind down the National Security State? When are you going to ban private armies?

When are you going to end the shadow banking system? When are you going to put an end to derivatives? When are you going to reform the tax code?

When are you going to get serious and stop pretending?

Where are you gonna go when the mobs are hellbent on burning the White House and the Treasury to the ground?

I hear Paris is nice this time of year ...

When Steve? There is no chance of anything in the way of "change you can believe in" from the economic policies being crafted by the wall street/Fed/Hedgies in the Obama economic cabinet. How in god's red hell did he pick these people who are the very people who deregulated derivatives and promoted these toxic securities while working in Wall Street? Their idea is to protect themselves from their idiocy by tapping taxpayer money to pay off their mistakes. Nothing will change politically until Joe the Public comes to the obvious realization that our so called democracy is a sham. Real political power is in the hands of the Financial Wall street establishment which of course includes the Fed, Hedge funds and all varieties of private equity to control the economic rules and regulations designed to benefit the financial oligarchy in power.Posturing from our sideshow congress about AIG bonuses is a distraction to obscure the real looting of our currency, our treasury and our children's economic future by these misguided greedy and deranged Keynesian bankers and politicians. Until the great unwashed masses realize that their destiny is not controlled by a constitution , a bill of rights or a representative democratic form of governance and realize instead that their American political system has been hijacked by these wealthy financiers.....until they figure this out and then rise in great numbers massing in Wall Street and NY to demand the return of their government, there will be no change. Sadly, despite a change of party and the replacement of an imbecile with a smooth salesman, nothing much has changed in Washington. Any lingering hope I used to have that my vote counts on election day has vanished. We are probably a long way away from a French Revolution style of revolt which it will probably take to effect real change.. It may be possible to effect change by flooding the White House and congress with a blizzard of mail and email demanding the resignation of Obama's economic goons who bear a huge responsibility for causing this crisis in the first place.The policies of extensive debt and leverage which caused this debacle is being promoted to cure this debacle. These policies may delay the ultimate plane crash.They will not prevent it and a default on a national scale looks unpreventable IMO.

..until Joe the Public comes to the obvious realization that our so called democracy is a sham.

Most thinking people realized this at some point during elementary school. But what is Joe supposed to do about it? Vote for Nader? Riot? Joe with a mortgage & car payments, kids, a job he needs to keep... SWAT team visits in the middle of the night are a bit traumatic. So is jail. Joe bends over & takes it. Perhaps he even pretends to like it. The recent election at least made one thing perfectly clear: a Bush or an Obama, doesn't matter, BAU is sustained until it simply can't be anymore.

Dear God:

Man, I have a few questions for you, like when are you going to ban evil from the world? When are you going to kick the Devil's butt? When are you going to make intelligent people who will believe and do as I say and not something else? When are you going to get with it and bring Adam and Eve back into the Garden--after all knowledge is important and a little sex adds a lot to life? Why don't you end all wars? Who's paying you for all those prayers you answer and favors you grant? And how come you haven't made me rich, but give all the money to those bankers?

You've got a great line there, old god, you say you are omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent, yet you can't get anything done. You screw up left and right. It's time you move out and let me take over.


This is a recent reply I got to my snarky email (see below) to these guys...

quite frankly I still haven't figured out if their site is a poe or not.

"Information Age Prayer Staff"
Add sender to Contacts
"Fred Magyar"
hey! nice website.
We were thinking about just sticking to monotheism right now - this certainly makes the prayers more manageable than what your suggesting! ha ha,
Thanks though for your funny suggestion! (yeah yeah, I know you were serious)
Stay in touch,
-Information Age Prayer

On Thu, Mar 19, 2009 at 11:07 PM, Fred Magyar wrote:

You guys have one heck of a lot of work to do, so get crackin...

We have more Gods than you can shake a stick at. Godchecker's Mythology Encyclopedia currently features over 2,850 deities.

I expect specific prayers or sacrifices to be offered for every single deity on that list, no exceptions, lest you be accused of religious discrimination.

We will be checking on you.

Ahmed Lee Wojciechowski

UN Secretariat of the Anti Blasphemy Council

It is happening now. Go here to listen.

When you say America will "recover" and "prosperity will be restored", do you have in mind that America should enjoy the same system of cultural extravagance that created the current debacle?

If your answer is "no", what do you have in mind that would be appreciably different, and how would you lead in that direction?

the question i settled on, & sent in didn't attempt to relate energy as i was [accurately] thinking the question had to fit the online audience. i stuck to the economy.

"Your bailout programs seem to be increasing the have/have-not gap; at the least this is the perception. Maybe as part of getting taxpayer money bankers could weed your family garden. Seriously, the rage is strong. How will you address this gap?"

even more seriously on individual/social/gov change i wrote here;

re individual change we almost always need sufficient 'emotional experiences' to change- our beliefs, ways of thinking,& rewiring us emotionally as well; especially for a major shift/change.[ often takes a trauma]

so yes after,[rarely before something like]
" political and financial collapse,"
will the opportunity to be a catalyst for change be 'ripe'.

we will get leaders then; hopefully a great one.

we at TOD are asking folks to make changes that go against almost all of our hardwiring; & certainly our developmental/cultural wiring. I'm mostly working in small circles; friends/family & some very limited success there[& retraining myself!!!].

Information doesn't really "trickle up" in a situation like this, particularly if it departs to a useful degree from consensus.

After the call for questions closed at 9:30 a.m. ET Thursday, more than 90,000 people had submitted more than 104,000 questions for the president. The questions spread across several categories and more than 3.6 million site users ranked the vat of queries based on their perceived importance.

Obama answered seven of the most popular questions, according to a CNN tally.

This sort of process seems little more useful in terms of investing one's time to help the world than is investing one's money on a lottery ticket to help their financial future. To a high degree it's an illusory mechanism at best.

Indeed, at least a ticket in a fair lottery has somewhat-commensurate investment/payoff probability. It seems like this sort of situation, with a popularity filter, is more akin to a contest to "name the first family's new dog". Even if we mobilized 15% of respondents, the likelihood that we could raise the actual odds of the dog being named "Ratfuck" would be low. (By the way, I'd pay good money to see that happen, but I digress.)

Of course, using this exercise to focus our ideas as Nate suggests is fine. However, to the extent that, having done so, we feel like we've actually done something useful, it's problematic, getting into "opiate of the masses" territory.

There are ways of framing & leveraging important questions and placing them conspicuously in front of decision-makers to alter national and international policies, bypassing the cultural error-correction mechanisms. We simply aren't employing them effectively.

Mmmmm.... lotus....

This sort of process seems little more useful in terms of investing one's time to help the world than is investing one's money on a lottery ticket to help their financial future. To a high degree it's an illusory mechanism at best.

I would prefer a lottery for the questions. At least then a "minority viewpoint" question would have a small chance of being seen. This way only the usual drivel, plus the questions that are on the news every day will be seen.

I'm afraid your experience was similar to mine, a week before the inauguration they had a similar -though larger question gathering and voting proceedure. The most popular questions were strikingly bizarre (like will you declassify the alien technology in area 51?). I don't think this sort of proceedure is valuable, beyond the PR value. The same sorts of information can be obtained more accurately from polling data.

Rather than doom and gloom, I think talking about prearations for BAU-lite has a better chance of getting through. And a good part of the preparations for BAU-lite are like th early phases of a more serious transition. But, getting heard above the rabble is difficult. I try via bloggers around the edge of the administrations circle, people like Krugman, and Brad Delong, are at least occasionaly consulted by the lower levels of the administration. These attempts at direct democracy don't appear to be viable forums for getting less popular issues raised.

I would prefer a lottery for the questions. At least then a "minority viewpoint" question would have a small chance of being seen.

On one of the citizen statements for BHO was:
"The cure for crime is literally, the grease on the end of your nose, sir.
150 mg in a single dose taken by mouth cures delinquency and alleviates all
symptoms of drug abuse."

I'm not sure that the above POV would be helpful and enlighting to the Pres.

Funny :)

I saw a man sitting in the tube (underground train) in london many years ago who suddenly, just like that, licked the end of his nose.

Strartling :)

Nate, in re: your question, don't take this wrong, but I think the problem may be not the bias of the site's participants, but the phrasing of the question. Your question is extremely hard to follow if you don't have an in-depth background in these issues - that is, people don't necessarily know what you mean when you say that resources are what we have to spend, or how that is linked to dollars. I think the problem may be less populism than clarity.
I'm not suggesting I could do better - the brevity of these questions makes it necessarily difficult to do so. But I do think that it is a bad idea to immediately leap to the conclusion that your question wasn't popular because of the ideas - at least in this case.

My own question:

"What contingency plans does the White House have for dealing with an economy that, due to resource constraints, does not grow again for a very long time? How likely does the White House view this potential contingency?"


Sorry I'm too late to add my question:

I borrowed a hundred thousand and I'm going to Vegas to put it all on black. The odds are good, but if things don't work out for me can you get the taxpayers to pay off Vinnie? I don't work on Wall Street. Does that matter?


Uh, that should be a hundred billion, right?

You're not a 'Master of the Universe', so no need to be greedy. :D

What a great data gathering tool the White House has created. About a hundred thousand e-mail addresses on file so far. I am trying to resist my paranoid feelings and believe they will only use these to send propaganda out, maybe not until the next elections. I do hope there isn't a group somewhere under "homeland security" following up on this information. A list of trouble makers and wrong thinkers is always useful.

Call me Mr. Gullible, I never once thought of that.

I don't have any questions for the man, I'm trying to take Orlov's advice and learn to ignore politicians.

Of course Nate, Robert, Jeffrey and the other named posters are protected by their exposure to the public eye. On the other hand, Stuart no longer posts here...

I have no way to know for sure, but NSA has some (secret) capability to seed learning classifier algorithms to datamine the "meaning" of Internet data streams. Classifying Obama's email response traffic would be a trivial subset of all email traffic.

Would NSA actually do that? Would Obama direct NSA to do it? My first impression is that NSA would not. My second impression is that the problem at hand is so important and has so much to do with public opinion that they might do it afterall. Add to that, signals intelligence has become a deeply entrenched, highly reliable feature of our national security apparatus.

See The Spy Factory at


Here are some parts of the transcript.

BRIAN REID: The most curious piece of equipment in that room is a completely flexible monitoring system that can be told on a moment's notice, "Please monitor all conversations that contain the word hummingbird. Please monitor all conversation that goes to Mobile, Alabama. Please monitor all conversations that contain both the word hummingbird and go to Mobile, Alabama."

NARRATOR: NSA has turned its giant ear to listen in on America.

BRIAN REID: Based on everything I know, I believe that there are between 15 and 30 of these secret rooms around the U.S.

NARRATOR: The post-9/11 rules authorized NSA to listen in to Americans both inside and outside the U.S., without any special court approval.

NARRATOR: Calls and data from the Middle East and North Africa are collected and relayed to a listening post, tucked in the hills, outside Augusta, Georgia.

NARRATOR: As NSA began tapping in to fiber optic cables as well as satellites, information began to flood in like never before.

According to a Congressional study in 2008, some intelligence data sources grow at a rate of four petabytes—that's four quadrillion bytes—per month, the equivalent of 12 filing cabinets of new information for every American citizen, every year. But what does it all mean?

ERIC HASELTINE: Computers, today, tell people what things are: "Here's some data that you asked for." They don't tell you what it means. So there is some work going on to try to marry the power of computers to the power of humans.

NARRATOR: Specialized software can help extract important information based on context and meaning. Dr. Robert L. Popp does advanced research on these kinds of programs, known as classifiers.

DR. ROBERT L. POPP: Say you wanted to build a classifier for Al Qaeda, the term, the concept, Al Qaeda. The way it would work is you, as an analyst, would go find all these documents—whether they're emails or things on the web or whatever—but all these documents that in your judgment are narratives associated with the concept of Al Qaeda.

NARRATOR: In the future, by refining the software and harnessing enough computing power, these classifiers could potentially reduce the mountain of information human analysts have to examine.

The concept of clustering categorical data by means of a learning classifier algorithm is effectively visualised in Chapter 5 "Intelligence Overload".

There's a huge amount of data-mining going on, much of it funded by marketing and service-level-monitoring companies.

In that recent book about Blackwater, the author says that some 70% of the intelligence budget is spent on services provided by the private sector.

With enough data on browsing, mailing and chatting habits, it's easy to place people into a auto-generated categories; basically clustering of habits and interests.

A lion does this in a blink of an eye, surveying a herd of zebra, looking for ones that don't move like the others. Weak? Sick?

Similarly, the technical panopticon can filter out the masses of mass-consumers who never dream of peeking behind the curtain.

The rest can be clumped and grouped based on who they know and what they read.

All this data can be collected and processed via marketing opt-out rules, legally, by data warehouses.
Maybe they have a small number of clients for the in-depth analysis, like some three-letter agencies, for instance.

.. mail lists, myspace, blogosphere, facebook, twitter, ... :)

Years ago, an oil well instrumentation salesman at Prudhoe Bay told me something quite profound.

"Anything you can measure, you can control."

Now, I imagine learning classifier systems used to measure and shape public opinion with highly directed feedback mechanisms. In that case, Homeland Security isn't about homeland security or counter-terrorism. Maybe it never was.

Question #1. What is the Obama administration's plan to deal with falling oil production levels from existing U.S. oil fields and foreign oil suppliers such as Mexico, Venezuela, Russia, and virtually all other countries around the world?

Question #2. When President Obama FINALLY gets around to adopting a puppy for the White House, will it be allowed to dig and play in the new White House organic garden?

Legalizing marijuana is not the kind of change President Barack Obama can believe in - at least not as a remedy for the ailing U.S. economy.

On Thursday, Obama tackled the issue head-on, only half-jokingly, at an online townhall meeting where he noted that the idea was a favorite among the 3.6 million people who voted on more than 100,000 questions submitted on the White House website.

"I have to say that there was one question that was voted on that ranked fairly high, and that was whether legalizing marijuana would improve the economy and job creation," he said to laughter at the White House event.

"And I don't know what this says about the online audience," Obama said, tongue-in-cheek. "This was a fairly popular question. We want to make sure that it was answered."

"The answer is, no...


I would have simply asked either "Is the economy really ever going to return to where it was, based on consuming the world's resources at an ever-increasing rate?"; or "Has the administration started a project determine how to run the economy without growth?"

Having said that, I assume Obama thinks we must try to get back to some sort of a functioning economy based on the system we now have, in order to organize industry etc. to build alternative energy, smart grid, universal health care, and so on. He perhaps thinks we can't just chuck it all over the fantail and hope somehow a new global economic system will suddenly appear fully functional on Monday. Perhaps he thinks people have to eat, every single day of the year. I believe that's what he thinks, and I agree with that thinking. Many of us here who are anti-BAU might want to think about how we get from 'here' to 'there' whatever that desired 'there' is. Transitions aren't easy. Big transitions in human society often involve an enormous amount of death and bloodshed. I would guess that's not Obama's first choice.

Suppose we assume that wethe people will never really go back to the bonkers consumerism we've just emerged from. And that we therefore get a depression for a decade or so. In such a circumstance I think people will, one at a time, "make other arrangements". Meanwhile the president can help people pretend to themselves that recovery is around the corner, so they can keep sane and calm even as they individually take steps to make themselves less (or un) dependent on the old system. I don't know a better way to make a transition.

Does anyone expect Obama to just throw down a bolt of lightning that changes this economic system into a totally new one ?

Jim Kunstler & Richard Heinberg and Christopher Swan and (way back when) Barry Commoner all asked when will we put back the rail network, rehab the branchlines? As Barry Commoner put it in 1979: America must commence with vast expansion and extension of railway mains. Linked to renewable energy propulsion. 30 years, wars and threats of wars, & counting...

Why are we even talking about expanding Mexican trucking into the north 48, when Canterell is pooping out? Instead of trucking, the freight in North america needs systematic re-orientation to rail haul, beginning with surface freight crossing borders. Canada too... Has Rahm Emanuel met Roscoe Bartlett?

The Mexican trucking initiative is about substitution of Mexicans for Americans, at Mexican wage rates.  Nothing to do with oil on either side of the border.

If the Mexicans want anything, let them pay for it in oil.  Lets send all their illegals back home; Carlos Slim is the richest man in the world, so he can pay for their educations and health care instead of the American taxpayer.

What do you mean specifically by the type of system Nate? What kind of bounds are associated with the current type of system we see?

A simple question:

"Are you even aware that there is another school of economics, one based on biophysical science?"

Question Everything [even presidents.]

Great link, thanks!
Have you ever seen this lecture series?
It goes well with the concept of Humanity 2.0, however like all major upgrades it has unintended consequences and can have a few bugs that need to be worked out.

I did see this series. Thanks.

As you say, there will always be 'bugs' in every release. That's what keeps evolution going!

I would ask a two part question: Do you think America can grow without further indebting itself? If so, why?

Do you think that a country where 20% think you're a magician who can just wave a wand and change everything, 20% don't care, 40% are drunk or zipped out on drugs, 20% are hardcore criminals, and 100% are delusional--do you think such a country can be governed or is worth trying to change?

I have a question "Why can't I view the questions?" every time I click "view questions" the home page just reappears, yes I registered>

It works for me without being registered. Clicking on "View Questions" opens what appears to be a window frame containing the questions. It also works by clicking on one of the topics in the left window pane under "Pick a topic:"

The questions under "financial stability" are mostly about legalizing marijuana, lowering credit card fees & interest rates, breaking up companies that are too big to fail, reregulating the financial industry, sending the bailout out money to consumers and the flat tax.

Hmmm, I detect a strong note of cynicism in these posts. Made me feel quite at home. Recently I heard Gerald Celente who is a trend forecaster (predicting now a major economic collapse in the US) describe himself as a political atheist - that allows him to look at the information without bias he says and has helped him be a successful forecaster. I realized I am a political cynic - I have political beliefs on what is good and might work, I just don't have ANY belief that anyone in politics is not totally bought out by special interests.

Orlov is IMO dead on right. Forget politics. Ignore Obama, McCain, Gingrich, Biden, Hillary, etc. Make friends with your neighbors, put in a garden, acquire skills, start using barter instead of money now. Form a mental expectation of collapse so you are not blown out of the water when it happens. Stop expecting solutions from our government or any national government. Think about personal solutions and if your local neighbors are ready for it, town solutions. Get his book "Reinventing Collapse". Amazing that he can write on the most serious predictions that most of us have ever heard and do so with humor.

I also suggest becoming comfortable with your own mortality. Everyone alive today is going to die anyway, its just that we might die somewhat earlier than expected. Why wait until you have terminal cancer to come to terms with the fact that you will die at some point. If we become as Orlov predicts the Former United States of America then just as in the Former Soviet Union life expectancy is going to go down.

The lowered life expectancy in Russia is caused to a great extent by widespread severe alcoholism. A great many very poor countries have life expectancies exceeding Russia and nearly the current USA level. Statistically, if you don't drink, don't smoke and keep your weight down you have done more for yourself healthwise than the most expensive health care can do at this point in the technology. The health care industry has convinced the public that health is for sale-it isn't-health care isn't health, it is the caring of the sick.

Totally agree. "Healthcare", as "provided" by the "health care industry" is a "product" whose main purpose is to produce profit. It tracks very poorly with health which is governed more by living conditions and personal choices.

I firmly believe that if everyone opted out of the "healthcare" market by dumping their "health insurance" immediately that things would improve significantly. There would naturally continue to be catastrophes and individual tragedies -- and just as now, communities would pull together (or not) to help the afflicted.

Saving an 88 year old man from terminal heart failure (for a couple of years) because our "greatest healthcare system on Earth" can replace his aortic valve does not justify ignoring the commonsense needs of hundreds of less fortunate who only need a clean dry place to sleep. Of course, in our system there is no connection between these things. In America, everything is unconnected from everything else.

You have it right! It used to be "do no harm," but now it's "make all the profit you can," and the doctors are just pushers for the pharmaceuticals.

Good health can be maintained just by staying away from doctors, hospitals, and pharmaceutical drugs--plus you'll remain solvent. And it is totally ridiculous, as you say, to "save the life" of some old geezer with an expensive operation or chemotherapy routine.

Yes, I know the lowered life expectancy in Russia post collapse was due to alcoholism. And why was there more alcoholism post collapse??? Do read Orlov's Reinventing Collapse. Basically males of middle age who were highly invested in their jobs or politics were demoralized by collapse and turned to alcohol. They often died drunk in snow banks per Orlov. Do you think it will be different here? I think it may be much worse. Orlov reports that women who (due to the failure of Russian Agriculture) already had been keeping kitchen gardens, did best. They accepted things and just got busy trying to survive while many of the men sat around and bemoaned the state of affairs over vodka. Orlov proposes that among other preparations you prepare yourself mentally for a very different world.

Interesting to consider this process in the light of Tainter and civilizational collapse.

A great many wise questions coming from the hoi-poli and no means of placing these questions on the elites political agenda or even of confirming that the elites are aware of the issue.

Also strange to observe this big gulf between the rulers and the ruled in what is showcased as an experiment in populist democracy.

And, as a non- American, glad to see Steve of Virgina asking those questions. Just wish more American's had the same concerns.


I think the more pointed question(s) would be, "The price of oil skyrocketed to $147 a barrel last July, 2008; what are we planning to do as a nation when (not if) oil again reaches this price level and beyond? Isn't world oil production 'post-peak' and therefore going into irreversible decline? If so, what are we going to do about it?"


The siphoning of trillions of dollars to the connected should give you some implication of the future plans for the USA when oil depletion really bites.

Hi Folks,

The real questions are not being asked as the real problems are often hidden:

Q.1. Have the effects of shifting baselines been taken into account?



"where Ro equals the amount of Reality which fails to reach the Control Unit, and Rs equals the total amount of Reality presented to the system. The fraction Ro/Rs varies from zero (full awareness of outside reality) to unity (no reality getting through)." (From: "The Systems Bible: the Beginners Guide to systems large and small", John Gall, 2006. P.46-7)


Hi Nate,
Although I visit this site almost dayly, I didn't post any comment for a long time. Today, on your suggestion I sent an e-mail to the WhiteHouse. If it's any little chance to influence, maybe it's now. I tried to be as far of cynical as I can:

Mister President,
In your high position you are probably facing challanges unprecedented in the last half century or more. Of course I'm talking about about the current world financial storm. My feeling is that behind the obvious most discussed causes of this crisis there are other factors, less obviously linked, but not necessarily less powerfull. Last July prices of raw energy ( oil, coal, nat-gas) went to an unprecedented spike, before crashing to one third of that price.
Probably, not sure, they have bottomed out. I fear that US and world economy are on a roller-coaster just now. Supposing that the financial crisis is quickly fixed by fire-extinguishing policy with a few trilion $, we may get quickly back to the last July situation on raw-energy prices. And that may cost US half a trilion $ per year more only on imported oil ! That negates most of financial intervention for financial problem fix-up.

Mister President, I'm convinced that both peak-oil and climate change as result of CO2 emissions are real and urgent and both require as solutions alternative energy solutions pursued with vigour over extended period of time. And they require also funding in the order of trilions of $. Of course, not govermental finacing, but most certainly strong govermental support, probably by legislation and incentives. Just now, the price signals of raw energy are too noisy and confusing to lead by themselves to a smooth free-market only solution. On my opinion your leadership is needed on this problem, just because a worst case raw-energy crunch may be much more dangerous than the worst case of this financial crisis, both in depth of crisis and extension of time. Just now, the whistle-blowers on energy problems seem to got a little sleepy, both EIA and IEA. They may convey the idea that business-as-usual is the current paradigm, maybe a few clouds 10 years down the road. Most probably they are wrong or not willing to produce strong signs of distress in an already stormy economic environment.
Let us not forget that current financial crisis was not predicted by most economists and bussiness-men, except for a few mavericks. Probably now, most economists and business-men are focused on the financial crisis.
But you have to look beyond this, as now the most difficult problems are interconnected. Even seemingly different problems as auto-industry and Iran-nuclear-policy may be connected, through oil prices.
So, Mr. President my questions are:
1. Are you aware that the financial fix-up must not be over-done, as to not feed-back into an energy crunch that even may undo the financial doing?
2. Are you aware of the immediate urgency of pursuing a strong alternative energy policy as common solution to both peak-oil and global warming dangers ? That by-products of it would be stronger US role in a better, more stable world?
Mister President, I wish you a fruilful and clairvoyant presidency.