I am pleased to introduce Tim Dunn, CEO of CrownQuest Operating, one of the top oil producers in Texas. Tim is also the vice-chair of the Texas Public Policy Institute and a thorough-going, thoughtful conservative. I asked Tim if he would consider writing a primer to the nation’s energy issues, one which broke it down for the average man or woman staring at the gas pump and wondering “What am I going to do?” and “What is the country going to do?” The first installment is below:
The 5-minute ENERGY Blog by Tim Dunn
POST 1: IS AN ENERGY CRISIS LOOMING?
No one knows the future, but here is a prediction:
Whether we face continued energy abundance in the US, or face a looming crisis will largely depend on the political choices we make in the next dozen or so years.
Energy is to the economy what food is to a human. You can’t get much more basic than the need to eat. Energy provides the ability for humans to accomplish many times more than their own physical efforts. It is energy that drives the machines that allows an American to be many times more productive than workers in non-industrial economies, from tractors to computers.
The US economy needs Calories to burn for the same reason the human body needs Calories to burn: to accomplish work and activity, to generate heat and support life. Impoverished people do not have sufficient Calories from food, so they suffer a lack of energy to work and might even die.
So what is the outlook for “food” for our economy? Are we headed for a subsistence diet of gruel and bread crust, or will we continue to eat beef and potatoes?
I would say “It depends.” It depends on a number of factors. But what I believe it depends on most is the political choices Americans make over the next dozen or so years. And the primary question is “Who decides?” Who will make energy choices for Americans?
If we decide as a country that policy experts in Washington DC should make decisions about energy, then I predict the bureaucracy economy in DC will be very fat and powerful, and the rest of the economy will get very thin and weak. On the other hand, if we are able to retain our heritage of self-governance, and allow individual Americans to make their own choices in a free marketplace of ideas, businesses and consumer choices, then I think we will have a fit and prosperous economy for the indefinite future. And, of course, the bureaucrat economy will have to go on a diet.
It’s one or the other. We can’t have market choices and a centrally planned economy.
There is every reason to believe we have plenty of resources. Some prices may increase. Adaptation and innovation will be needed. But I don’t think retreat is necessary. We won’t need to put everyone in the economy (except the rulers of course) back on a subsistence diet.
The Ruling Elite and their sycophants seem to understand this well. The burning of fuel, including human food, generates carbon dioxide as a by-product. Regulating carbon dioxide emission means controlling essentially any activity that generates work. It is an avenue to a centrally planned economy. They get that.
Whoever controls the energy economy will control, well, the economy. Right now consumers have substantial control of the energy economy. We still get to make most of our own transportation choices, for example.
And that, I think, is what is under attack. Statists don’t like us being able to make our own choices. They prefer a smaller, more controllable economy. Industrial forces much prefer regulations that limit competition (ie our choices) and guarantee profits. And political forces see the immense money flowing through the energy economy as an endless fuel source for the economy they care most about: the political patronage economy.
If energy decisions are made in a self-governance manner, in the marketplace, then we will have hundreds of millions of enthusiastic and gifted Americans working every day to solve energy problems and make energy work for our mutual benefit. There is great reason to hope and be optimistic with that perspective.
But if energy decisions are made by a handful of “experts” we will get what every other country who has ever adopted central planning gets: tyranny and poverty.
I am optimistic. Even though I think the battle will be tough, I believe the American Spirit will prevail, and we will find a way to preserve our heritage of self-governance.