Time to Exorcise the Oil Monster

Unfortunately, the Democrats’ best intentions on environmental issues are usually misguided and poorly conceived, and have been fraught with unintended (but predictable) consequences, because they are formulated and put into action by wishful-thinking politicians with no common sense. Compliment these programs with incompetent administration by government agencies, and, well, you know what happens. A botch job. And one could argue this is the good 10%. This isn’t to say we should stop pursuing alternative energy solutions; just that we need to develop them in an economically sensible way.

Now, here’s what the 90% fantasy part costs us:

  • Skyrocketing gasoline prices. The increase in gasoline costs all of us, from the average commuter to the on-the-road salesman to the building contractor to the elderly person who stays at home but pays higher prices for all her purchases.
  • Lost jobs to countries that aren’t afraid of drilling for and refining oil.
  • An enormous number of jobs lost to other countries in manufacturing and production. Lots ‘n’ lots of jobs.
  • Filling the pockets of hostile countries with our money. Sure, we get most of our foreign oil from Mexico and Canada, but it is still a world market when it comes to price.
  • Vulnerability. Our economy and national defense are at risk as long as we are not in control of our own energy sources and supply.

I got tired of my mother telling me to be careful when I wanted to go out at night. I got tired of my kids telling me to “butt out” of their personal lives when they were in high school. I get tired of missing three-foot putts. But I am really tired of the argument “Well, starting now won’t help for years,” so we don’t drill for oil and we don’t develop nuclear energy. Had we ignored this short-sighted reasoning over the last 40 years we would be in much better shape today. If we start ignoring that excuse now and formulate a realistic energy policy, we can avoid this conversation in the future.

And yes, changing course now will have an immediate, though small, effect on prices for oil. How much is uncertain, but most economists agree that expectation of increased oil production will have some beneficial effect on current prices.

Am I advocating giving up on alternative energy programs? Not in the slightest. Spending tax dollars in conjunction with private enterprise to develop sustainable energy that is viable is a worthy venture. But we should not force economic dependence on new programs until we know how to implement them and know they will work -- not just hope.

Easing restrictions on nuclear power and dams can go a long way in meeting our electrical needs over a longer term. We know they work. The coal industry -- also under constant attack -- is grossly underutilized. We need to start promoting these industries instead of vilifying them. We need to treat these industries as our salvation instead of our nemesis. And we need to drill, baby, drill.

A farmer doesn’t quit growing his best crop hoping that some new crop will work. Similarly, stopping U.S. production of oil before we had adequate alternatives in place was pure idiocy. It still is.

If the main issue for elections is always the economy as the oft-quoted statement says, then a main sub-issue in the next election should be energy. And that means oil.

Of course, we might become great friends with oil exporters in the Middle East, and Mexico may stabilize. Then our oil problems will be trivial. And, of course, other emerging industrial countries like India and China are going to use restraint in polluting the air, and will agree to send our manufacturing jobs back to us in a sign of good will. And, of course, the environmentalists will put away their pipe dreams for the benefit of the American public.

Fat chance -- of course.

Meanwhile, will someone please get the monster out from under my bed? I can’t sleep.