Cliff May

Put me in the supply-side camp. It seems obvious to me that energy is indistinguishable from wealth, and that the democratization of wealth – more of it for more people – is good, not bad. Indeed, democratizing wealth – private homes, refrigerators, televisions, cell phones and cars -- has been among America’s greatest achievements.

Almost anything you might do to improve your life requires energy. It takes an energy source to read a book after the sun goes down, to keep cool on a hot day, to cook a meal, to transport the kids to soccer or music lessons, to surf the web, to visit far-flung friends and relatives or go on vacation with the family.

To those politicians and “activists” who are demanding we do less, have less and learn to like it, we should say: Stuff it. Americans have no reason to feel guilty about living like Americans.

On the contrary, it is the anti-energy politicians and activists who should feel guilty. Their policies will cause pain to the middle classes – and they will crush the poor. Consider the African farmer who wants to fuel his tractor or transport some surplus crops to market so he can earn a little cash with which to buy what in the third world passes for luxuries: a metal roof for his hut, a transistor radio, a wrist watch and a bicycle. You really think he should be told that he’s better off not getting “addicted” to energy and to please keep his carbon footprint small?

Logic and morality – even more than self-interest – should prompt us to pursue energy abundance and diversity, to use fast-advancing technology to derive power not just from petroleum products but also from the wind and sun, clean coal and nuclear reactors. As soon as possible, our cars, trucks and buses should break their addiction to gasoline; they should running as well on ethanol, methanol, natural gas, electricity and who knows what other fuels decades down the road.

If we do that, families, farmers, engineers and miners win. Terrorist-sponsoring regimes that currently have us over a barrel - literally - lose. Shouldn’t that be the goal?


Cliff May

Clifford D. May is the President of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.