What’s Left for the Left?

In the December 5th Wall Street Journal, KimStrassel discusses the boot that may soon drop on the U.S. economy as a result of current discussions within President-elect Obama’s transition team.  Ms. Strassel has quickly distinguished herself as one of Washington’s most insightful analysts of the big picture, and on the issue of what makes the economy grow – energy – she has once again hit the nail directly on the head. The premise of the piece is that the left has thus far beendenied much in President-elect Obama’s upcoming administration, but may receiverepayment for their support in the form of the energy and environmentselections.  Ms. Strassel has picked up on something that the media seemsto have selectively missed.  With the ascension of the left of centerCenter for American Progress’s John Podesta atop the Obama transition team,there is a strong possibility that the new administration will exert its moreradical inclinations on the very stuff that makes all economic progresspossible in the first place – affordable and reliable energy. 

Nothing is more central to America’s economic strength asthe ready and available provision of affordable energy to run our factories andfarms, power our industries and businesses, heat and light our homes and makepossible our daily commutes.  In a phrase, energy is the lifeblood of theeconomy.

In the midst of a deep recession with millions of Americanslosing their jobs, this makes the Obama energy and environment team at least asimportant as the economic team.  But the signs are not good.  Thebuzz in Washington is that the President-elect seems to be taking his cues fromthe John Podesta, George Soros principalfunder of the Center for American Progress) and Al Gore crowd.  Atop theObama short-list for key energy andenvironmental posts are individuals who have long practiced the politics ofscarcity and government rationing, setting the stage for an even longer andmore protracted economic downturn.   

The U.S. has plenty of energy resources.  We are theSaudi Arabia of coal and oil shale and yet ninety-six percent of our governmentlands lie fallow for energy production.  Leasing these lands would be aninstant job creator and an economic stimulus plan that wouldn’t cost U.S.taxpayers one red cent.  On the other hand, if government policies forceenergy prices higher and increase federal control over who gets to use energy,how much they get to use and which sources they are allowed to choose from,Americans and American businesses will surely suffer. 

Affordable, reliable and abundant energy working in freemarkets with the hands of free people has been the most liberating force everto affect the globe.  The U.S. has became the world’s most powerful nationnot by force, but rather by using energy to produce affordable goods andservices, all the while taking the drudgery away from everyday life through theapplication of increasingly efficient energy technologies.

Let us hope that President-elect Obama rejects individualswho seek to restrict growth by restricting access to energy.  Let us alsohope that his picks reject the false notion that we are running out of energyand support the production of our vast domestic resources.  Let’sleave the energy future to the free market, not Washington bailout artists.


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