The spirit of a nation is determined by its commitment to individual liberty. On the battlefield America’s warriors have been known for their passion and resourcefulness as a result of their freedom to make reasonable choices. While the spirit of the nation is liberty, the blood of a powerful economy is energy. Self-driven citizens and energetic entrepreneurs have limited opportunity and scale if their power sources are mules and oxen. A nation thrives with liberty, and a vital economy grows through energy.
It’s a curious situation….well, actually, it’s a criminal circumstance that our political leadership continually refuses to address the dire consequences of our unconstitutional entitlement programs. One does not have to be an actuarial specialist to understand that our country is condemned to insolvency if the profligate spending is not curtailed. The end of our fiscal house of cards will come sooner rather than later, yet many politicians dismiss the reality of the “unsustainable” scenario. Others claim to be aware of the pending fiscal doom, but for political reasons offer mere half-measures for rectifying the problem.
At the same time that government is derelict in its duty to acknowledge our spending and entitlement programs, it has become a major obstructionist in our efforts to develop new sources of proven energy that would provide the impetus to help our economy grow. The very same politicians who refuse to recognize the pending fiscal collapse also refuse to accept data that suggest we have ample domestic energy resources for the near term. The North Slope of Alaska, offshore sites (deep and shallow), shale deposits and oil sands, when combined, should provide enough natural gas and oil production to carry our nation for nearly two centuries….far longer than the entitlement programs will maintain any hint of solvency. Yet in their infinite ideological and Nanny State wisdom, they ignore the probable (entitlement and fiscal collapse) and deny the possible (energy extraction). The United States is the Saudi Arabia of coal deposits, but our fearless (i.e. fearful) leaders reject that resource along with all fossil fuel development. A new, greener, renewable energy source would be welcome, but for the moment none is available that is cheap enough, reliable and massive enough to replace the fossil fuels.
To escape the dismal fiscal box that we and the career politicians have built will require a two-pronged strategy: drastically cut spending and government while jump-starting the engine of economic growth. Our political leadership is doing neither. In fact their continued dawdling and diddling is allowing the situation to become much worse. There are some flickers of enlightenment, however, that may develop into a unified policy of reducing government while allowing the private economy to prosper. Congressman Bob Latta (R-Ohio 5th C.D.) has introduced HR-1777 which would be a “sense of the Congress” to allow development of many of the dormant petroleum deposits that have been placed off limits by Congress, the Administration and the bureaucracy. The Latta resolution has been referred to the Judiciary Committee for further review. Let’s hope that it does not meet a fate similar to Osama bin Laden’s. The Latta piece is not as comprehensive as I would prefer, but it is a movement in the right direction for the necessary domestic energy exploitation that we must have for reigniting our economy.
For anyone who has worked with trees, you know that sometimes one must prune the tree to help it grow…particularly to grow in a manner that is most beneficial for the tree and the owner. Our government is resisting the pruning and refusing to fertilize the roots. The first step towards a sound energy policy would be to return the sequestered land and resources to the states. The initial step towards a sound fiscal policy is to allow the states to determine what levels of social policy they wish to embrace and which ones they desire to discard. Odd, isn’t it, that the clearest most efficient remedies for our national fiscal and economic ills involve reinvigorating our federal model as designed by the Founders? Reducing our problems and localizing our solutions is the surest way for us to resolve our budgetary excesses and redeem our energy shortages. Smaller government is the path to greater freedom, lower debt and enhanced prosperity. Come on, States, exercise your rights, and do so now!