Poor Choices Have Crippled America's Economy

Published on 9th November 2009

I recently got a speeding ticket. The flashing red lights in my rear view mirror told me I was in trouble. I'd made a poor choice: failing to observe the speed limit signs-and was cited for going 70 in a 55. I suffered consequences for my poor choice. We've all made poor choices that typically result in having to pay the consequences. Some consequences are big and others, like my speeding ticket, are small.

I got the ticket driving though the vast open space between Edgewood and Santa Fe--the same area where many "old West" movies are filmed. I was reminded of the old West. Picture a family living out on a ranch--a la The Waltons. They have a faithful and reliable work horse that is responsible for a major portion of the family's economic well-being. Instead of nurturing and taking care of this important part of their economy, they abuse it by smacking it in the knees with a sledgehammer. The horse can still walk, but its productivity is hampered and it is difficult to get the same results from the horse. So the family gets a new pony and hopes that one day the young horse will grow up to be big and strong like the one they'd crippled. Maybe it will, maybe it won't. But in the mean time their output is greatly diminished.

If the above were a true story, wouldn't you say, at the very least, that they'd made a poor choice? This little example is analogous to America. Our lawmakers are making a series of poor choices that have greatly diminished our national output and hampered our economic growth. They have smacked the strong horse of mining/manufacturing and energy development (which are intricately connected) and replaced it with a pony of service industry and renewable energy. While it may someday be able to carry the load, it cannot today. The consequence of these poor choices is a crippled economy.

In my home state of New Mexico, government bureaucrats recently passed a Traditional Cultural Property Designation on the largest acreage to ever receive such an assignment-all in the hopes of blocking uranium mining. Uranium is needed for nuclear power. Manufacturing needs vastly more power than a roof of solar panels can provide. Currently in America we have more than 100 nuclear reactors but most of the uranium used comes from foreign sources-yet we have it here. We are sending money overseas instead of creating good paying jobs for Americans and increasing tax revenue. A poor choice.

Throughout America, we have vast oil and gas resources that could be providing valuable energy, plus economic stimulus. But we have put them in a lockbox--inaccessible to Americans. Meanwhile, other countries drill right next to our border (often in a less environmentally friendly way), access the resource and benefit from the financial gain. A poor choice.

Coal provides the most cost-effective electrical power and has the proven potential to be converted to liquid fuels as well. Coal is America's single largest energy source and coal mining is a major employer. Yet, on October 16, the EPA has threatened to rescind a permit for a coal mining project that had been previously authorized after spending ten-years for a full environmental impact statement. Never before has the EPA vetoed a previously approved mining project. If this goes through it will be a first. Another poor choice.

Further impeding access to our natural resources, Congress is considering bills that would prevent a wide range of economic opportunities by declaring lands rich with a variety of resources as "wilderness." Bills such as S 874 and S1689 are co-sponsored by Senators Mark and Tom Udall who have a long heritage of such actions. If these pass, it will be another poor choice.

Looking at the repeated poor choices made by our lawmakers, it is no wonder that America's economy is crippled--if not totally lame. We are betting on the weak ponies of solar and wind when we have proven providers.

When I got my speeding ticket, I had to pay the consequence of my poor choice. I did pay, but I am the only one who had to pay. When our lawmakers make poor choices, we all pay for them--unless we make them pay the consequences. We cannot fire the EPA, for example, but we can elect officials who support resource expansion and reject those who make poor choices.

By Marita Noon,

Executive Director, CARE (Citizens' Alliance for Responsible Energy).

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