The Energy Choke

[This article originally ran as the editorial from the March 21st issue of HUMAN EVENTS newspaper.]

Jobs and economic growth are being deliberately strangled.

The American economy was already nursing a broken ankle from high unemployment and suffering heart palpitations as it tried to figure out how it could cover the impossible cost of its government. Now it feels a terrible pain gnawing at its belly, as food prices experience their sharpest climb in 36 years.

Our economy is just beginning to feel the choking grasp of soaring fuel prices around its throat. Growth requires motion and motion requires energy. The cost of energy is tied into the cost of virtually everything else… and our dependence on foreign energy sources puts us at the mercy of long, oily tentacles that reach back into the most unstable parts of the world.

This dependence is the predictable result of deliberate policies, from locking private industry out of Alaskan oil fields, to hounding oil rigs away from the Gulf of Mexico. Some of these policies have been pursued in defiance of court orders, so they cannot be dismissed as momentary lapses in judgment.

The Obama Administration is intentionally choking the life out of America’s dynamic, highly mobile economy. All of the “alternative energy” fantasies it sustains with taxpayer money share the common feature of reducing choice and freedom. Solar panels produce energy when it’s sunny outside. Wind turbines provide power when nature sees fit to provide wind. Electric cars can be driven only short distances, after the owner completes a cumbersome recharging procedure. “High speed rail” is nowhere near as fast or convenient as personal automobile use or air travel.

All of these “alternative solutions” would move America to a lower level of energy, in which citizens would spend a great deal more time waiting instead of doing. This reduced level of activity would be much simpler for statists to manage.

Everything becomes more valuable when its supply is limited. Rationing a limited supply of motion would bring great power to the masters of Big Government. Increasing the price of everything limits the consumption of everything. For both practical and ideological reasons, President Obama and the Democrats see reduced consumption as a virtue, at least for the “little people.”

It is imperative for Republicans to help the electorate see the future Democrats have planned for them. This is not merely a matter of paying a little more at the pump and driving a bit less often. Even labor unions, among the most stalwart Democratic constituencies, have noted that an out-of-control EPA is smothering jobs in key states with oppresive environmental regulations.

Union leaders fear the GOP will use these lost jobs as cudgels against Democrats. “If the EPA issues regulations that cost jobs in Pennsylvania and Ohio,” warns Stewart Acuff, chief of staff to the president of the Utility Workers of America, “the Republicans will blast the President with it over and over… not just the President, but every Democrat from those states.” Let’s hope those fears are justified, and the Democrats are relentlessly hammered for their energy policies. Middle America needs to fight back while it still has some air in its lungs.