Have you ever heard something good about the federal government's role in Katrina?

Did you know that the Coast Guard rescued 24,273 people with their helicopters and boats? They also evacuated 9,462 patients and medical personnel to safety. They flew 100 helicopters with four-man crews day and night into neighborhoods full of power lines, trees and other hazards. They had to hover up to 100 feet above the ground to avoid obstacles while hoisting people. Their rescue swimmers had to enter foul water to prepare people for rescue.

Did those heroic crews or the agency ever get credit or praise for their heroic efforts? Not that I know of. There was very little publicity at the time. You have to dig diligently to find published comment. Instead you hear consistently how the Bush administration abandoned New Orleans because the residents were black.

Now the presidency is the immediate object of contention again. New schemes are being proposed to solve our problems. Hillary and Obama are vowing to grab oil company profits to finance alternative energy schemes, few of which will ever be significant. Biofuels are already straining food supplies while supplying a puny fraction of our needs. Wind power is working, but there isn't enough land where the wind blows to make it a major energy source. Solar sources require very large land areas to supply even one large city. Nuclear, the most effective solution, is getting short political shrift. Our nation plainly lacks the political will to initiate logical, practical energy projects that have real potential for success.

If oil companies made zero profits, how much less would gasoline cost? Not even 50 cents a gallon. Who then would bother to deliver gasoline at all? Oil company stocks are owned by a vast number of folks directly and through their pension plans. How would they like a big drop in value? Liberal politicians want foreign oil suppliers to increase production and reduce prices. Hillary recently threatened OPEC nations with retribution. But her party is adamantly opposed to increasing our own supply. Does burning our own oil produce more CO2?

Fourteen years ago Bill Clinton vetoed a bill that would permit drilling in ANWR. The wisdom now is that it's useless to do anything in ANWR, because new development there will take 10 years. My children and their children (and likely your children, too) will still be here in 2018.

Prices are really set by market forces. Put simply, real prices are rising only slowly. It's the U.S. dollar that is sinking rapidly. The Federal Reserve is busily inflating the currency with negative interest rates. This has been going on since the Greenspan days. His easy money policies were the fuel for the current housing bubble. (Mr. Greenspan is quite defensive about it.) It is typical that government will pay its debts with inflated currency. Consequently we are well on our way to serious monetary problems. Mr. Bush will be lucky to leave office ahead of the crunch.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi are poking President Uribe of Columbia in the eye to avoid a mutually beneficial trade agreement. Columbian goods now enter the U.S. duty-free. U.S. goods would enter Columbia duty-free under the new agreement. That means stuff like Caterpillar tractors, which they buy in quantities. Mr. Uribe is also successfully fighting the drug cartels. Does Nancy care? I doubt it. She and Hillary seem not to want a friendly Columbia. All this while they ridicule Mr. Bush for our 'lack of respect around the world.' They care not if Columbia buys Japanese tractors instead of Cats made in Peoria.

George E. Edens is a resident of Lake Oswego.

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