Has it really been a third of a century since President Jimmy Carter installed solar panels on the White House roof? Has it really been over a quarter century since President Ronald Reagan yanked them down?

Yes and you betcha.

"On June 20th, 33 years ago, President Jimmy Carter installed solar panels on the White House roof. Seven years after that, Ronald Reagan took them down," writes Brian Merchant in "It was the end of 70s, a decade wracked with stagnant economic growth and a pair of debilitating oil price spikes—the second, caused by the Iranian revolution, actually occurred in 1979. The nation had seen firsthand the danger of rely ing too heavily on oil, and ordinary folks were sick of being besieged by high gas prices. So Jimmy Carter made what seemed to be a reasonable move: He started organizing a framework by which to wean us off the black stuff."

Today, as America limps through a recession that will never recover without the stimulus and savings promised by renewable energy, perhaps it is time to revisit the the "Carter Initiative" on a grander scale.

What if our nation began a stimulus jobs program specifically to build wind and solar farms on public land to provide energy for all government buildings and installations? Not zapping the actual source energy to each building of course, but putting enough energy in the grid to equal or exceed the amount of electricity the government uses?

For social progressives and others who favor a stimulus program that puts people to work as opposed to bailing out corporations it's a no-brainer - it would be good work in a growing field of endeavor. The farms could be all over the country, providing work in nearly every region.

For fiscal conservatives it's also a good idea, as the work would pay for itself in electricity. Even for defense hawks it's a good idea - you can never have too much energy independence and sources of electricity!

Imagine being able to tell our children a generation from now that our government's entire electricity usage comes from renewable sources? Wow!

Thousands upon thousands of jobs would be created building, transporting, installing and running the farms. Thousands more jobs from support industries would also be created.

The United States would leap forward on its path to energy self-sufficiency! And the resulting leaps forward in renewable energy technology would surely drive prices on panels, windmills and the like down, making it easier and more affordable for more businesses and individuals to participate in the renewable energy revolution.

As the nation slowly comes to grips with the fact that one quarter of every collected tax dollar ($550 billion out of typical $2.2 trillion annual receipts) goes just to paying the interest on the national debt, the need to cut everything, everywhere becomes ever more apparent.

Come on people, heed that light bulb popping on over your heads ~ This is a "bright" idea!


Christopher Bifani is an artist, writer and musician from Wilmington, North Carolina. His email is Bifani