Though you wouldn't necessarily know it based on news coverage, the United States in the reign of President Barack Obama is enduring the most prolonged period of slow growth and high unemployment since World War II. The president asserts that he saved us from another Great Depression, which, like his claim that the stimulus would "create or save" millions of jobs, is about as provable as the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin.
The Obama administration has done little to spur job creation, but a great deal to inhibit it. The president mocks the idea of deregulation ("cut two regulations and call me in the morning"), but the new layers of rules and directives his administration has layered over the already-existing sedimentary encrustations cannot have helped.
There is one segment of the economy that has defied the trough, though, and that's energy. The U.S. is now the world's leading producer of hydrocarbons. The International Energy Agency predicts that the U.S. will produce more petroleum than either Saudi Arabia or Russia by 2015. For the first time since 1949, the U.S. is a net exporter of gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel. For the past several years, the oil and gas industry has added between $300 billion and $400 billion annually to the economy. Without the hydrocarbon boom, the economy would still be in recession.
Obama has attempted to take credit for the boom in domestic energy production. His website boasts, "The President established a national goal in 2011 to reduce oil imports by one third ... "
The president can issue goals and schedules to his heart's content, but like so much else about his tenure, these words are piffle. As Mark Mills, an energy analyst at the Manhattan Institute notes, the president had absolutely nothing to do with the energy renaissance that is reshaping our economy and can do more.
Neither did Big Oil. Small businesses, most with fewer than 15 employees, are responsible for 75 percent of America's energy production. "Fracking" is only part of the story. The boom in on-shore energy production is the result of American technological prowess wedded to entrepreneurial genius. Computers and cameras guide probes below ground, minimizing dry holes. Horizontal drilling permits seams long inaccessible to be tapped.
Rumor has it that in North Dakota, epicenter of the Bakken formation, workers are in such demand that McDonald's is paying up to $18 an hour. The state currently enjoys the lowest unemployment rate in the nation and boasts a $1 billion budget surplus.