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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Punishing Young Workers

I have a company with about 35 employees. While we have a goodly number of older employees like me, we also have quite a few younger employees, some just out of college. Both single and married, these hard working, enterprising young people are in their early, full time employment years. Because they come with little or no experience, they start on the bottom rung of the economic ladder, just as their parents did. Regardless, they are energetically working their way up the ladder of success, as they define success. These young employees mirror millions of other young people in America of both sexes, all races, and with various God given skills and abilities. It’s an exciting time for these young people, especially because they have been blessed to be Americans. They know from their parents and from their grandparents that the United States is the land of opportunity where anyone can climb the ladder of success, regardless of their background, if they work hard, take risks, and their efforts are blessed by God. It is this freedom to go as far as you choose with your education, and then find a job that fits you. It’s what the founders might have called the pursuit of happiness.

As Americans we grow up thinking that this kind of freedom and opportunity exists for people all across the globe, but sadly that’s not true. It’s not just in countries where a dictator runs the show that opportunities like those that exist in the United States are denied. No, the soft socialist countries like those in the European Union—England, France, Germany, Italy, etc.—don’t give their citizens the opportunities to achieve and succeed like we do in America. The stories of men and women who achieved success from the most meager and even desperate circumstances in the US are too numerous to recount. It is a vital part of our American legacy.

Sadly today, the federal government, at the direction of President Barack Obama, is hell bent on a course that threatens to bring an end to the opportunity to be upwardly prosperous in our land. This war includes punitive taxes, stifling regulations, and the topic of this blog, needlessly expensive energy—electricity, gasoline, diesel, coal, fueloil, and nuclear power.

Expensive energy kills jobs and puts people out of work. It hurts everyone, but it hurts the poor and young workers the most. It hurts the poor because when you are poor and trying to work your way up the economic ladder, the percent of money you spend on gas for your car and fuel for your home is much higher than it is for those more prosperous. In fact, high energy costs are one of the largest impediments to upward economic mobility for the working poor.

For a young person who is relatively new to the marketplace, high energy costs cause great pain. Discretionary income and financial assets are generally at a minimum for the new worker in his first full time job. And when he or she gets married and then has children the problem only increases. If the couple needs housing, they are forced to live further from their place of employment to get a home that is adequate for their growing family. The price of the home costs more for a number of reasons, one of which is the cost of energy that brings the materials to build the house. Higher gas costs increase the amount that must be spent by the company and the workers to get to the construction site. But that’s only the beginning. Since young married couples have to live farther away to afford housing, their personal cost of transportation to their job increases when gasoline prices go up.

None of this seems to be on the radar screen of the Obama Administration. Or (and I hope this is not the case), they just don’t care about the poor or the young. President Obama stubbornly refuses to open up drilling that would dramatically reduce the cost of gasoline, the cost of fuel oil, and even the cost of natural gas. That latter item—natural gas—is a strange case. On the one hand, he takes credit for the development of natural gas coming from shale and, on the other hand, his Department of Environmental Protection (EPA) is suing to stop exploration and production of natural gas from shale.

The sad truth is that this President has no interest or desire to lower the price of energy. His intent and desire is to raise the cost of fuel. While he sneeringly mocks Republican Presidential candidates who want to lower the price of a gallon of gas from nearly $5.00 to $2.50 or less by allowing full and total exploration and production of our vast oil, coal, and gas reserves, he pursues an intentional program designed to drive Americans into smaller and smaller and more expensive cars. He seeks to move Americans from homes in the suburbs to anthills—small condominiums where people are concentrated together. His is a recipe for a less prosperous America that is no longer the land of opportunity, but instead a weak, European socialist state.

He is punishing young workers to satisfy his dream of a socialist America where a few chosen elite decide where you will live, how much prosperity you will be allowed, what kind of car you will drive, and even what kind of food you will eat. The poor will no longer have an opportunity of climbing the economic ladder. Instead the poor will become permanent wards of the state that can be countedupon to deliver their votes on election day. Obama and his socialist friends think of them and of you and I as the little people who need guidance and direction in order to live lives that they choose for us.

By intentionally driving up energy costs, he is interfering with the free choices of millions of individual Americans and substituting for their choices those of a few bureaucrats and politicians who know better than we do how to live our lives. The dream of the Founders is slowly dying as those who despise America and everything it stands for seek to create their utopia. But it will never be enough. They will continue to regulate, control, and stifle individual freedom and individual choices until the lamp of liberty has been snuffed out entirely. That is the way of tyrants. Socialists like Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Castro, Chavez and their followers may seek utopia, but the end result is always the same—tyranny.

Whether the intentions are good or bad, it makes no difference. As has been said, if your house burns down, it doesn’t matter if it was caused by an arsonist or a fool with matches, the result is the same. If we continue down the path of Obama, the end result for our children and grandchildren will be tyranny, nothing less. It all comes down to the outcome of the 2012 election.

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