This will probably be my last “major” posting before the American elections. Although I know the social issues are what Christians are “supposed” to focus on, I’m taking a different tack and look at an economic one, one which I’m all too familiar with and which has shoved itself back into people’s consciousness–the oil industry.
Back in 1980, my brother and I went to London for an offshore oil show. Part of our trip was to head out to Wembley (near the old football stadium) to visit our largest customer’s UK office. British/European car buffs that we were, the car park was what we first wanted to see. (I’ll get to that later.)
Since the main function of the Wembley office was engineering, and ours was equipment, the fit wasn’t the best. But we managed to spend some time with a senior official who gave us an overview of offshore oil development in Europe, which was well underway by the early 1980’s.
Up to that point Europe was very short of internal oil and gas production; most of it came from the Middle East (and we all know how much fun that is.) The discovery of North Sea oil and gas revolutionised the whole energy picture for the continent, and the countries that had it either onshore or offshore (UK, Norway, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands) weren’t going to miss the opportunity. However, as was explained to us, all of the countries realised that it was a limited resource. So they organised the permitting and pace of development so that the benefits of the revenue stream would be stretched out to the maximum benefit of the country (and that included not overwhelming the country’s economy with oil money, especially important for the Norewgians.)
True to form, all of the countries involved (and again especially the Norwegians) put into place an environmental and safety regime to insure that the development would be suitable for all forms of life. This drove many Americans, used to the free form environment of the Gulf of Mexico, crazy. But the key thing is, it was done. The oil and gas was developed and the countries benefited. As a side benefit they advanced the technology of offshore oil development, which has spilled over into other endeavours.
Today, it’s fair to say that the Democrats, on the whole, would like to see a more European style of economy come to these shores. For them this involves putting into place the social net they see in Europe (universal health care, a robust dole for the unemployed, widespread trade unions, etc.) and the high, progressive taxes to go with them. What’s generally missing from their programme is the economic development facilitation, and no where is their animus against this more evident than with offshore oil development. The Republicans forced them, kicking and screaming, into letting the moratorium on this on both left and right coasts to expire. It’s a given that, under an Obama presidency and a Democrat controlled Congress, that would be reimposed, and our dependence on foreign oil imports stretched out.
Fuelling this animus is a luddite, romantic vision of a country, once depopulated, being returned to its pristine state. Such a vision drives the environmental movement, and drove much of the 1960’s radical revolt, another reason why people such as William Ayers matter. Under such a regime we would have the worst of both worlds: a socialistic economy without the drive for the wealth creating development it needs to live on. Even the Soviet Union was committed to industrial development.
It would be nice for a more reasoned approach to prevail, but emotionalism has always driven this country’s life. In the meanwhile what I’ve just explained is one reason why I’ve never voted for a Democrat for President and don’t intend to start now.
And the car park? Because of British tax laws, it was advantageous for employers to furnish company cars to just about everyone. So that was done on a very rank-driven basis. UK Ford had won the biggest contract, so out at the edge, near the street, were the little Escorts and Fiestas. Approaching the main entrance to the building (which was in the back) were the larger Cortinas and Granadas. Right in front of that entrance was the car park attendant, shining up the Managing Director’s XJ series Jaguar, parked so that same Director wouldn’t get wet in the frequent British rain.
Having worked for a company (Texas Instruments) where there weren’t any reserved spaces, let alone company cars like this, it was an eye opener. But when tax-driven decisions dominate, strange and inegalitarian things like this happen. That’s someting to think about when voting for those who claim to spread the wealth around.