Guest column/America finds itself engaged in a world war
The United States is at war with the rest of the world and our central government has barely mentioned it to us. We have no plan for winning the war, and even worse, we are losing battle after battle and things are going rapidly downhill. Communicating in newspeak, the central government is behaving as if all’s well. It is not. Our nation has entered what pilots fear and are carefully trained to avoid: a graveyard spiral, only this one is economic.
At stake is our way of life, standard of living, our children’s futures and our national sovereignty. Instead of targeting our external enemies, an Orwellian Washington chooses to attack and diminish our own institutions and place the jackboot of central control on more and more of our throats every day.
I am talking about the unrestricted global economic war being waged against us by most of the rest of the world and from which we are refusing to defend ourselves, much less take the offensive. Despite having superior intellectual, technological and natural resource weapons, we refuse to employ them for either defensive or offensive purposes. Instead, we have decided to unilaterally disarm ourselves and provide aid and comfort to our adversaries.
We have chosen to become an irresponsible tax-and-spend debtor nation, consuming much more than we produce and buying more than we sell to the rest of the world. Rather than growing our economy, we are inflating our currency and running up our debt at a record rate while we continue the out-of-control spending and borrowing at the behest of an uncaring and unaccountable central government.
Beyond a bleak economic future for all of us, our growing debtor status removes our freedom to act in our own interest on the world stage as we continue to subsidize and fund the very nations that are sucking the life out of our economy. Even worse, many of those we subsidize are fanatically dedicated to destroying our nation and killing us and our children without hesitation.
The road to recovery must begin with becoming energy self-sufficient. Low-cost and abundantly available energy undergirds our capacity to develop and redevelop components of our economy that we have abandoned or forced out of the country. During the next 25 years, our electricity needs will at least double. About 40 percent of our power is now generated from coal and it is essential that we continue to either maintain or expand current levels of utilization if we hope to grow the economy.
As is true of prudent financial investing, our nation’s energy portfolio must remain balanced in order to move us toward energy independence, drive down costs, expand the economy, protect against global energy exigencies and help reduce our nearly $600 billion annual balance of trade deficit. Coal and coal products remain a large and critical factor. Rather than artificially and arbitrarily rearranging that portfolio for partisan political purposes, we should let market forces apportion our commitments. Now is the time for the government to remove its foot from our energy air hose so we can catch our economic breath.
The grotesque 70-year failure of central planning in the former Soviet Union should have served as a lesson. Central government planning enslaved the population and eventually led to rationing, shortages, a shrinking economy and the demise of the Soviet system. The 300 million or so residents of the old Soviet Union were controlled and repressed by the 4 percent who were Communist Party members. They manipulated and controlled every aspect of life, yet couldn’t feed the nation or provide opportunities for much more than a 19th century lifestyle for most people.
If we are to avoid the looming disaster and retake control of our national destiny, it is imperative that we make energy independence a first priority. That is the first decisive step on the pathway toward rapid expansion of our economy, toward reversing the negative balance of payment problem and repaying our national debt.
Allowing the market to drive the blend of our energy portfolio will lead to strength through balance and diversity and provide protection from government-induced shortages and inefficiencies. A diverse energy portfolio is not unlike the cross-grained structure of common plywood, offering strength in every direction, with each component compensating for stress on the others and bound together by a common glue.
Coal is increasingly firing the rapidly emerging economies of Asia and India, where they understand and embrace coal-based energy growth. A new coal-fired power plant opens in one of these countries every month and about 90 percent of the world’s coal production is now consumed outside the United States.
Just as modern America was built on coal-derived energy and products, so our recovery will depend on maintaining or expanding our use of this abundant and well-understood resource well into the future.
(Wallace is a senior fellow at the Public Policy Foundation of West Virginia, teaches on the graduate faculty at Muskingum University and is a board member of the West Virginia Access Center for Higher Education.)