Last, we must not focus on short term relief at the expense of long term growth. Hard economic times understandably prompt many to look to various outside programs for support. But short term relief does not address the underlying problem, which is sluggish economic growth. Part of the solution may be to examine local economies that are growing. Innovative drilling technologies have already brought tremendous development to Texas and North Dakota (where unemployment is just 2.6 percent), and they have the potential to do the same for Oklahoma, Colorado, Louisiana and California.
America is now the world’s top oil producer. Theoretically, this domestic oil boom—in addition to reviving local economies—should have lowered fuel prices across the country, encouraging further growth. Unfortunately, inadequate pipelines and expensive ethanol mandates, along with instability in oil producing regions like Russia and the Middle East, have meant that prices have remained high even as supply has increased and demand has declined. However, it is a contributing factor that makes living in certain cities easier for the middle class.
But the oil boom is not the only factor that makes living in Houston or Dallas easier for the middle class than living somewhere like New York. The cost of housing—the single largest expense for most families— in New York is driven up by regulations on new construction and a multiplicity of taxes. This means modest earners must live in cheaper areas and then shell out even more cash for transportation.
American ingenuity created the drilling technology that is bringing economic growth to parts of the nation. Ultimately, a society’s prosperity is generated by the creativity and hard work of its citizens. For the long term health of our economy, we need policies that unleash the innovative and enterprising potential of our people.
Bishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD, and co-authored, Personal Faith, Public Policy [FrontLine; March 2008] with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.