Contributor Post Created with Sketch. The Abundance Revolution — Rob Long

 

James Pinkerton is one of our side’s most original thinkers. I’ve known Jim since the George H. W. Bush Administration, and he’s never failed to make me think, and think hard, about America’s future.

Here he is at Breitbart.com looking back at America from a (mythical, possible) 2064. He ties some things together —North Dakota’s natural gas boom, the feckless Obama Administration’s foot-dragging on the Keystone XL pipeline, federal land grabs, anti-progress environmentalists, Chinese competition, and American entrepreneurship — and delivers a pretty optimistic summation of what he calls the great Abundance Revolution. It starts in Nevada, on the ranch of Cliven Bundy.  From Breitbart.com:

…as we look back and study the events of 2014, we can see the results of the Green elite’s ideologically-driven effort to squelch even the relatively small amount of prosperity that Americans were then enjoying. That is, it was the Green elites who unwittingly opened the door to the Abundance Revolution and the fantastic increase in wealth that Americans have since realized over the last half-century. 

We can point to three events, all occurring in April 2014.

The first triggering event, now the stuff of lore and legend, was the incident in Bunkerville, Nevada, in which Cliven Bundy, then an anonymous citizen, joined by several hundred supporters, faced down a federal army led by an ally of then-Sen. Harry Reid. The incident began on April 5, 2014, when the federal government attempted to seize Bundy’s property; that attempt, which struck many as overkill, led to a series of confrontations that ultimately inspired national news coverage. 

What highlighted the incident further were the comments of Sen. Reid, who referred to Bundy and his allies as “terrorists.” That seemed such an excessive reaction that observers grew curious as to why Reid felt so strongly.

Some clues as to the government’s behavior were found in an opinion piece on Fox News by Wayne Allyn Root, the future national leader, in which Root asked, “Why is US Senator Harry Reid so concerned with a local Nevada rancher?” Presciently, Root noted that Reid allies were involved in “green energy” efforts, which required vast tracts of land for solar facilities. As Root opined: 

Reid and the BLM [Bureau of Land Management, a now-defunct federal agency] needed a “cover story” to take the land away from the ranchers. So they claim it’s about protecting the “endangered” desert tortoise.

But if the protection of the desert tortoise was so important to the BLM, why did the same BLM kill hundreds of desert tortoises last fall?

If protecting the tortoises was so important, why has the BLM constantly waived rules protecting the desert tortoise for multiple solar and wind projects? If cattle are a danger to tortoises, why are solar panels and wind turbines not a danger?

Root concluded, “There’s much more to this story.” Then he added: 

My educated guess is that someone in the government already has big plans lined up for the Bundy Ranch. Someone is going to make a financial killing with this forceful land grab. Someone powerful in government wants the Bundy family off their land (after 140 years).

Exactly. Root’s suspicions were vindicated, as we know, in surprising ways that made Root famous and left Reid’s career and reputation in ruins.

I hope it all does, in fact, turn out this way. Because we do need that kind of revolution in America:

Yet we must also note a larger trend, which had been building for decades prior to the events of April 2014. And that trend was the greater scientific and technical knowledge that led to a deeper understanding of how to exploit natural resources and use them for ever-accelerating wealth creation.

That lack of appreciation for the value of natural resources did not change, of course, until the fracking boom of the early 21st century. Once fracking started happening on a large scale, and once North Dakota grew to be one of the richest states in the union, people across the country began to realize that fracking could make them rich, too.

Still, it took a while for the political system to absorb the idea that America could be truly rich. In 2009, for example, President Obama launched a “stimulus” program for the economy that completely ignored the idea of expanding energy production—even as a study from the Congressional Research Service found that the US had the greatest energy resources of any country in the world; the study found that American possessed greater energy reserves than Saudi Arabia, China, and Canada combined

Yet the Obama administration, focused on “climate change,” chose to ignore this data; indeed, it did everything it could to oppose greater energy production. The administration instead pursued such nostrums as printing money through the “quantitative easing” monetary process.

Meanwhile, during the Obama presidency, Americans could see that North Dakota wasn’t unique in its energy abundance; it was simply early. News reports began to notice that huge reserves of energy were to be found all through the Midwest and Northeast, in California and everywhere offshoreeverywhere, period.

Here’s where, for me anyway, this future-past scenario gets complicated:

The Republicans, meanwhile, although receptive to the idea of greater energy production, were slow to fully champion the idea, because they were locked into their priority of cutting federal spending; it seemed that the Abundance Revolution was a threat to their idea of shrinking government. And so it took time for Republicans to realize that rapidly enriching the private sector was a better way to “starve the beast,” at least on a relative basis, than the familiar frontal attack on entitlement spending. It was the prospect of tens of trillions in new wealth in the private sector that eventually motivated the GOP to embrace a truly comprehensive “all of the above” energy strategy. 

In addition, both parties contained a group of well-meaning centrists who worried about “climate change.” Half a century later, the debate over whether climate change was happening back then has never been settled, but as we know, the climate-change issue was mooted by the Carbon Sequestration Revolution of the teens and twenties. And so we could freely burn not only natural gas and oil but also, in addition, coal—and coal added many trillions more to national wealth. 

In other words, technology once again changed the game: Today, when we think of carbon dioxide, we think of such wondrous carbon sinks as high-rises built of carbon nanotubes, thousand-yard-high “Avatar Trees,” and the new Carbon Islands archipelago in the Pacific, which now vies with the Hawaiian Islands as a resort destination.

Okay, maybe that’s a little too “Tom Swift.” But then, so are iPhones. And what Pinkerton is sketching out may be fuzzy in the exact details, but anyone betting against technology and American engineering knowhow is probably betting a losing hand.

Prosperity, as Pinkerton sees it, will follow an energy first policy. But what we’re really talking about, when we talk about “energy first” is an “America first” policy, which would be a sea-change from the prevailing sentiment in Washington, on both sides of the aisle.

Energy independence doesn’t make much free-market, free-trade economic sense, but it does carry a rock-solid national defense logic. So, yes, betting against American energy resources and American entrepreneurialism is probably a loser, but the sense I get from the progressive elites is that they don’t mind America’s losing. In fact, they look forward to it. 

 

There are 14 comments.

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  1. KC Mulville Inactive

    It’s funny. Every video game for the last twenty years has instilled the principle of paying attention – and expanding – your basic resources. Whether it’s the ancient games of Civilization or Age of Empires, or the latest 3D shooter games, you need to maintain and expand your resources. 

    It strikes me as incongruous that a generation raised to appreciate the power of expanding resources, even if they’re indoctrinated otherwise during college, would voluntarily “lose the game” for no good reason when resources can be generated with minimal cost (economic and environmental). 

    • #1
    • April 21, 2014, at 8:40 AM PDT
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  2. Merina Smith Inactive

    Good point about video games, KC. Maybe they will prove to be more than just a gigantic waste of time. Rob, I’d be interested to know something about Pinkerton’s predictions on social issues. Much as libertarians like to assert that social and economic issues are minimally related, there is abundant evidence that this is not true. How can a socially chaotic society achieve what he predicts?

    I’d also be interested in his take on human work and endeavor. Yes, we all appreciate innovations that help humanity, but in individual lives we need to have meaning, purpose and labor. I like to think that if robots do more of the grunt work, humans labor can be channeled into making life for even poorer people more customized and refined. Instead, however, individual lives and society seem to be becoming more coarse and meaningless. These ethical questions are just as important if not more so than the issues he addresses.

    • #2
    • April 21, 2014, at 9:03 AM PDT
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  3. BuckeyeSam Inactive

    Pinkerton seems like an intelligent and a thoughtful man. But his television spots leave a lot to be desired. His appearance on the Sunday FNC media show made me cringe. He used to appear on Jon Scott’s old Media Watch show, and he was passable. But yesterday, he made me want to deny he is one of the good guys. If he can’t do better, he may want to stick to writing.

    • #3
    • April 21, 2014, at 9:31 AM PDT
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  4. Pilli Inactive

    If we combined the “All of the above” energy policy with the fictional presidential decree (from Frank Soto’s nearby post) that eliminated all bureaucratic regulations, wouldn’t that be sweet?

    America Unlimited!

    • #4
    • April 21, 2014, at 9:50 AM PDT
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  5. Gretchen Inactive
    • #5
    • April 21, 2014, at 10:26 AM PDT
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  6. raycon and lindacon Inactive

    Marina Smith — “How can a socially chaotic society achieve what he predicts?”
    Russia also has vast natural resources. Marina is right.

    • #6
    • April 21, 2014, at 10:36 AM PDT
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  7. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    This “carbon sequestration” notion is pure idiocy. Talk about flushing resources!! There is zero evidence that human carbon emissions are responsible for destructive climate change. Zero. In fact, the temperature/climate evidence seems to suggest that carbon emissions do not cause warming, as measurements have detected none for over 15 years, despite continuously increasing human contribution to the concentration. The only thing we know for sure about atmospheric carbon is, it is an essential component of photosynthesis. Or, in other words, we know it’s plant food. What a waste of time and money developing “sequestration” technology. Only the government would fund something this stupid.

    I get that playing futurist requires one to head into the realm of the fantastical. “Carbon sequestration” isn’t quite fantastic enough, imo. I think we’re much more likely to need to adapt to cold, which might even impel us to pump more carbon into the atmosphere to act as a greenhouse counterbalance to whatever is making us colder (solar inactivity and cosmic particle effects in the atmosphere, e.g.). 

    Or how about life after an EMP?

    Pinkerton shows a certain lack of imagination in this regard.

    • #7
    • April 21, 2014, at 12:43 PM PDT
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  8. Steve C. Member

    If we have the will, we can have the comparative advantage of cheap abundant energy. An advantage we benefitted from for 60 years. We don’t need energy independence, it’s a chimera, like unicorns. And while we’re speculating, how about eliminating the variety of designer gasoline blends imposed by the great and powerful EPA.

    • #8
    • April 21, 2014, at 8:16 PM PDT
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  9. Z in MT Member

    Just a sidenote. The North Dakota boom is in oil not natural gas.

    • #9
    • April 21, 2014, at 8:20 PM PDT
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  10. Z in MT Member

    He is right about the abundance though, the Bakken has proved that tight shale oil reserves can be economically recoverable through horizontal drilling and fracking which really means the reserves of oil world wide is probably 5 to 10 times larger than previously thought.

    • #10
    • April 21, 2014, at 8:26 PM PDT
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  11. OkieSailor Member
    OkieSailor Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Proven oil reserves have increased, not decreased throughout the petroleum era due to the fact that as we use what we’ve found we keep discovering even more. The truth is we don’t know how much is left to discover but there surely is more than we yet know about. There is no scarcity of energy as far as we yet know and future discoveries and developments will no doubt make various forms of energy less expensive to exploit if we can keep the regulators at bay.

    • #11
    • April 22, 2014, at 3:24 AM PDT
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  12. Misthiocracy got drunk and Member
    Misthiocracy got drunk and Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Bjorn Lombord posted a couple of graphs on Facebook this morning that are kinda interesting:

    graphs

    Full Size Version Here

    • #12
    • April 22, 2014, at 8:34 AM PDT
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