A lot of very serious people think that America can reverse its lagging competitiveness by focusing on increasing the amount of physical exports. In fact, this notion that America’s economic well-being is tied to the current account balance may be the dinosaur mindset at work. For those tasked with supporting sustainability, you have to be really careful of this line of thought because of the potential that the resources may be under valued.
Agriculture and natural gas production are both seen as major sources of future exports. In fact, a lot of very serious people can’t wait to exploit as much of the natural gas reserves as soon as possible. However, little conversation is dedicated to the mismanagement of America’s oil reserves at the start of the last century. And the fact that Saudi Arabia was the real beneficiary of America’s loose oil stewardship policies.
The same people who say that America has a natural gas supply that will last a hundred years are the same people who guaranteed a President Mitt Romney. They told Americans that cigarettes weren’t addictive and that the stock market was the best place to put retirement saving. Some third party should at study whether the rush to export could squander both natural gas reserves and contaminate America’s water supply.
America is a land of wide open spaces. It’s a place where you can always change your fortunes by changing your zip code. But, it is also a land of ghost towns. And you only have to look back as far as rural Oklahoma of 1940’s to see what happens when climate instability and techno economic change conspire. So, this would be a great time to have at least a passing conversation about the true value of exports.