Monday, January 21, 2008

Patrick Deneen, Everything Must Go...

Everything Must Go...

From that day forward we began selling overseas everything of value that we had built up over the preceding hundred years or so. Here's why: the extraordinary energy bonanza of the oil age made possible the massive expansion of our economy during the century that oil production rose annually. The massive energy infusion of our domestic oil reserves effectively allowed us to ignore any concomitant and at times steep costs of that economic system given the increasing levels of oil production from 1865 until 1971. Costs like the creation of an enormous interstate highway system, the build-out of America's suburbs and the resulting massive alteration of our patterns of living, the built-from-nothing cities in deserts and swamps with their massive air-conditioning costs and irrigation demands, the expansion of a continental system of commerce with its energy intensive forms of production and transportation - all these and more were easily borne during a period of increasing domestic energy supplies. It was the oil reserves in Pennsylvania, Texas, California and Alaska that provided us the illusion that it was our ingenuity and Protestant work ethic, and not this one-time geologic blow-out, that made possible such achievements that would have been inconceivable to previous ages.

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