by Rod D. Martin
March 14, 2012
As with every topic in Washington, the National Debt, if thought about at all, is thought about with precisely zero creativity. Democrats are worse: they see a never-ending need to spend, combined with a never-ending need to tax. Republicans are a little better, having after decades of refusal finally accepted in the 19990s Reagan, Gilder and Laffer’s lessons that encouraging economic growth solves most revenue problems given time. Unfortunately, in the 2000s some of them learned to spend like previous Democrats; and even worse, today’s Democrats have learned to spend like children who believe money grows on trees.
This last bit, by the way, is not true. The Democrat version of this — that the money trees are hidden from the rest of us in walled gardens kept by greedy 1%ers? That therefore taxing the 1% to infinity will work just fine?– well, that isn’t true either.
I note these things to remind you how dismal most of these discussions really are, so that you can appreciate true creativity when you hear it. Because you’re about to.
If you haven’t already heard him say this in what has been an incredibly long primary campaign, let me introduce you to the man who should be President, Newt Gingrich. The former House Speaker some time ago applied that lost art — math — to the issue of the national debt, and he found a number that quite surprised him, to wit: the anticipated income to the federal government of all the new oil and gas drilling expected as a result of the fracking (that’s hydraulic fracturing for those of you from Rio Linda) revolution would pay of the entire U.S. national debt in just twenty years.
Take tax hikes off the table: you can confine that discussion to the realm of the proper size and scope of government. Pay off the debt by granting drilling permits: expand investment, expand employment, expand capital formation, expand manufacturing, increase research and knowledge and the chances of tomorrow’s great tech revolutions, all with one easy policy decision any sane leader would take anyway.
And why should it not be this way? Virtually all human history from the Flood to the Reformation saw an economy that barely grew if at all: nearly every advance, nearly every single thing we have or know came into being only in the past quarter millennium. Why should it shock us that technology is the solution to almost any problem, particularly of problems related to scarcity. Governments take and redistribute; entrepreneurs and scientists create, in the Imago Dei.
How disturbing that the only American politician to have this idea, something CEOs and CFOs across America would have turned up as a matter of course, is Newt Gringrich, now likely not to be our President. On the other hand, perhaps this is a bit of a balm to those of us who’ve opposed Mitt Romney: if he really does apply business sense to our government, most of its problems truly aren’t that hard to figure out.
UPDATE: It occurs to me to add one thought. I am most distressed that the Federal Government owns that much of America’s land: it mostly didn’t in 1900, and it was a central tenet of the CPUSA (Communist Party USA) platform that most of the country’s land be nationalized for very good reason. But just as one cannot just do away with Social Security in one swipe without stealing all the retirement savings from millions of people, likewise perhaps those nationalizations can save us in this unique time, as we pay down the debt at the same time that we seek to release Americans from and disenchant them with the soft governmental master which enslaves them.
We shall see.