One of my favorite thinkers, Bertrand Russell, once said that he would never die for his beliefs as they were apt to change. Indeed, adapting to new circumstances is not only a sign of intelligence; it is the key to humanity’s survival. Russell placed logic and reason above personal opinion and emotional reaction. He determined that what is reasonable is more often than not, the logical way forward. Sometimes that’s the middle ground, the compromise of two dichotomous opinions—but very often, it is not. Personal opinions, politics and perceptions just get in the way of admitting that. I say all this as a primer to the fact that I am about to rant about the boom-bust mentality of Wyoming’s economic leaders and why we must eradicate it from our collective coffers as well as our collective consciousness. I say this not because I am a crunchy tree hugger with a desire to get my social justice merit badge before the end of the year, but because, as Mr. Russell I am sure would agree, it is the reasonable thing to do.
Be reasonable first and foremost. Should we risk our entire state’s future on the whim of a few self interested folks and their finite negative press product and ever changing price tag? I would say logic dictates the answer to be no. They cannot meet demand, lots of bad press. If it were any other product you wouldn’t even still be thinking about it.
Why are we bidding the backbone, the structure of our state economy on a finite product? Is the short term benefit worth it? Those comfortable jobs are fleeting, grievances are never addressed and retirement packages for the top of the food chain always come before saving jobs when profits decline (not go away you understand, just go down a bit). Oil pros are the ones that tell me it’s running out. 70 years if we’re lucky one veteran oil executive and former engineer told me-15 years ago when I worked at an oil museum and my husband worked in steel, before he started working in coal(remember, reason over personal).
Fossils are finite. Wind is a renewable energy source. We can expect sunlight for a predictable number of hours every day. That ocean is always doing that ocean thing. Oil and coal will run out regardless of the number of tantrums One Percenters throw. Fossil fuel prices remain volatile and energy lobbyists have too much influence in the halls of power—wherever those halls of power may be and whatever side of the aisle they may belong to. Logic dictates, people. Logic dictates. It’s not politics, it’s reason; and it’s reason we must turn to when the dichotomy between two opposing viewpoints seems too wide a gap to bridge in any other logical manner.
Most importantly, we can’t avoid the most reasonable way forward simply because it may come from the other side of the aisle. Reason, not party politics, should always lead this state, let alone this nation. And as reasonable voters, we should ensure that happens as often as possible. By encouraging our state reps to diversify our economy, rather than squirreling away billions of dollars in slightly shady-sounding slush funds that seem blatantly politically motivated, we could move away from this up down see saw swing shift nonsense and into a more mature, informed way of doing business.
boom-bust is not sustainable. This manic depressive state economy is ridiculous—and for the poorer folks among us, bloody well dangerous. Not everyone can be an oil executive, a coal engineer or a ‘consultant.’ You can’t have a stable economy if the general working population does not have access to stable employment. So why would you encourage the monopoly of an industry that you knew would do otherwise? There’s no logic here.
We need to admit to ourselves, regardless of personal opinions or emotional reactions that fossil fuels are a finite product. We must also admit that right now, we need those fossil fuels to keep our country ticking over because, despite everyone spouting on about alternative energy, there simply isn’t enough consistent infrastructure to just jump from one source to the other. What is reasonable is using the fossil fuels that we have now to create the infrastructure for the alternative energy we’ll need later. People won’t change until they’re forced to, we all know that. When it’s adapt or die time everyone will be glad we kept those pesky fossil fuels around long enough for them to hand over the reins to the next stage in energy’s history. We need to do this soon before supplies become scarcer and prices rise higher once again. After all, isn’t that just good business sense?
When we are reasonable about things, we can see the boom-bust mentality must stop, fossil fuels must continue alongside alternatives for a while at least and Wyoming must diversify her economy. I hear sustainable agriculture is trending across the rest of the nation. Cultural tourism could add a major boost to the state coffers if expanded and then managed correctly. There are opportunities and new economies all around us. And here we are, pretending that we’re happy with the end of the loaf. Wyoming is abundant with natural and cultural resources. If we utilize them in a reasonable and sustainable manner, it won’t be too long before boom-bust can go bye-bye for always.
*The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of West Winds Magazines or its affiliates.