Drilling is an immediate stimulusWritten by Maggie Thurber | Toledo Free Press Writer | email@example.com
By the time you read this column, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, also known at the $1 trillion stimulus, may be law. The House passed the measure Wednesday, and the Senate was expected to put it on the fast track, with President Obama waiting to sign it into law.
It should come as no surprise that I oppose this package, as I’ve done with all the other so-called “stimulus” ideas. I’ve never understood the logic that government spending (which can only come from borrowing money, taxing citizens or printing bills) can actually cause the economy to expand. It might appear to work on a short-term, but eventually the bill comes due and we’re in worse shape than before the government decided to “help.”
Democrats and liberals believe that government spending will solve the problem. Republicans and conservatives are more inclined to support tax cuts as the alternative. With these two strongly held but opposing views, I couldn’t help but wonder if there was something government could do that wouldn’t pit the two sides against each other.
I had a journalism teacher in college who encouraged us, when faced with questionable uses of words, to “change the sentence entirely” to avoid the problem. In an effort to apply such an approach to the stimulus, I tried to see if there were potential actions Congress could take that wouldn’t result in additional spending and could still garner the support of both parties.
The idea of drilling for oil came to mind.
Think about it. Congress could decide to open up many areas that are currently off limits to drilling. That wouldn’t require any government spending. They could streamline the permitting process which, again, wouldn’t require any government spending.
They could pass a law that limited the number of lawsuits special interest groups could bring to try to stop the drilling. Again, that doesn’t cost anything in terms of dollars.
The immediate impact would be that oil companies — using their own funds — could begin the process of designing and building oil rigs in various places. If permission to drill were given, it would mean architects and engineers would instantly be put to work. As plans were completed, steel and other supplies would be ordered, instantly creating a demand in those industries for raw materials and goods. As structures were built, steelworkers and carpenters and other trades would find work. As the oil was extracted, shipping, piping and other distribution industries would see the impact.
Other industries, dependent upon oil as a raw material, would find increased supply from a local supplier. Plastic manufacturers, one of the biggest users of oil, would be more competitive.
In the outgrowths of the decision to drill, it is U.S. workers and companies who benefit. That means the impact of a decision that costs no tax dollars is an immediate and positive influence on the economy of our country.
Mexico and Brazil are ramping up their drilling in The Gulf. They are eagerly building new drilling platforms, even considering selling their access to other countries — like China. They are there, taking the oil right from under us — and then selling it back to us with a markup. Why shouldn’t we access that same source of oil for ourselves and, in the process, help accomplish a key goal of Democrats and President Obama to “reduce our dependence on foreign oil?”
Yes, I know, environmentalists think this is bad. But they are a special interest group — and a small one, even if they do have a loud voice. President Obama said he wanted to bring “change” to Washington. It would certainly be a change for a president to support a common-sense approach to accessing our own oil and not cater to the special interests who oppose such a plan.
My support of drilling does not mean I want the freedom to use as much oil as I can get my hands on. No, I believe we need to conserve our resources, just like most other people: I just don’t believe that “conservation” means “never using.”
I also support the private sector (not government) continuing to develop alternative energy sources. But we are decades away from being able to have those other energy sources supply more than an extremely small percentage of our energy needs.
So while we continue to conserve and innovate, let’s drill. It won’t cost any tax dollars and it would be a quicker solution to the economic crises than anything Congress had included in the stimulus.
Former Lucas County Commissioner Maggie Thurber blogs at http://thurbersthoughts.blogspot.com.