Energy Independence Idiocy

Ilana Mercer, September 19, 2008

McCain has declared energy independence by 2025. Obama claims the same, when what he really wants is a “move away from an oil-based economy.” Since oil is the second most efficient, cheapest source of energy, Obama’s wish is your and my demise.

For ordinary folks, the biomass-based economy means life without the basics.

The charmed lives of Babs (Streisand) and Barack will not be disrupted. When the affluent relinquish their earthly possessions to return to nature, it is usually with the aid of sophisticated technology, and the option to be air-lifted to a hospital if the need arises. (Nor do the affluent dispose of their effluent with the aid of the earth-friendly Mother’s Compost Commode.”)

McCain and Obama, mind you, were of one mind, before the former got religion on drilling. Both men now bellyache incessantly about energy independence—a fantasy that has only grown more fantastic since the down-with-drilling House Democrats pushed through a worse than worthless energy bill.

According to Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI), the Bill will “block exploration of the Outer Continental Shelf, Alaska’s North Slope and the Inter-Mountain West; contains no nuclear energy or clean coal-to-liquids technology; … prevents the building of new refineries and includes $19 billion in energy tax hikes on American consumers, manufacturers and small businesses.”

There is something unenterprising and developmentally backward about a country that, as a matter of principle and policy, refuses to assuage its people’s needs by utilizing elements that lie inert in nature.

Most “resources” in nature are useless lumps of nothing. If not for man’s ingenuity, iron, aluminum, coal and oil would lie purposeless and pristine in the wildernesses; the matter and energy abundant on earth would come to naught. This unwillingness to harness a much-needed resource is contemptible. The ability to discover and transform natural resources into usable goods, and develop “resource-enhancing and sustaining technologies,” is, after all, unique to man.

At least to some men. Americans used to be the best at reaching for the sky; now one must look to China or Dubai’s skyline for the most impressive skyscrapers. And to Saudi Arabia for the best oil installations. The Saudis are good at—and have no qualms about—getting oil out of the ground. Their facilities showcase state-of-the-art equipment.

It’s not that America doesn’t have impressive companies primed for exploration. It does. Take Anadarko Petroleum; it employs some of the finest geologists and engineers. On one of the company’s many deep water rigs drilling goes on six miles down. Anadarko invests hundred of thousands of dollars daily launching remotely operated vehicles to explore the sea floor. By CNN’s telling, it has “global positioning systems and thrusters underneath the ship to keep it in place over the wellhead.” And “computerized lifts that pull pipe 270 feet at a time with nothing more than the flick of a wrist.”

America’s vilified oil companies are quite capable of taking care of business. All the same, the likes of Anadarko Petroleum can’t do what they do best because of overweening politicians, whose weenie constituents have empowered them (let’s be honest about it) to adopt the Green Brigades’ Red gospel.

America is loosing its edge thanks to the environmental ideologues—citizens and civil servants alike—that run and overrun it. Until the U.S. catches up, officials had better quit the idle, anti-trade talk.

The idea of trade is that everyone does what he is best and most efficient at, and indirectly exchanges (through money) the products of that labor for stuff others do better and cheaper. To aim for self-sufficiency is to aim for bankruptcy.

In addition to the highly specialized work he does, my time-deprived spouse changes the oil in his motorcar. Granted, the man is more than capable of doing this—and most things around the home. However, how viable is that? The time devoted to the oil change is time better spent doing more lucrative or creative work. (Like playing the guitar,” also the second greatest love of his life. Or so we hope)

The division of labor is the hallmark of efficiency and the condition for prosperity.

As our friend Bob Murphy puts it in the Politically Incorrect Guide to Capitalism: “It would be silly if experienced tailors insisted on growing their own food while farmers insisted on sewing their own clothes to ‘create employment opportunities’ for themselves.”

Trade, not democracy, is also the best antidote to war. The more economically intertwined countries are, the less likely they are to go to war. Boycott Iran less and barter with it more and it’s bound to tone down its belligerence.

America now uses nearly 21 million barrels of oil a day,” 60 percent of which it must import. Energy independence is a foolish fetish on a good day—all the more so considering domestic oil production has been falling for 35 consecutive years.

So drill AND trade, baby, trade.

  September 19

CATEGORIES: Capitalism, Economy, Energy, Free Trade, Iran

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