19 Sep 2018

Two Kinds of People – One Digs the Ditch, the Other…

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The standard joke posits that there are two kinds of people – those who believe there are two kinds of people and those who don’t.  In today’s politically charged environment almost any issue will have two kinds of people – two willful camps squaring off…

  • Liberal / Conservative
  • Climate change panicked / climate change ambivalent
  • Endangered species handwringer / endangered species realist
  • Vegan / everyone else
  • Conventional energy / renewables
  • Less filling / tastes great

And so on, ad infinitum…

The PolicySmith’s son (and editor) gave the best example of “the two kinds of people” notion to come along in some time – those who will dig the ditch and those who won’t.  Who among us hasn’t worked with the mentally inert who will not dig his/her part of the ditch?

These free-riders take on many forms – the no show, the smooth talker, the sick-out, the self-appointed supervisor, the poser – the list is endless with examples of shirking, guile, stupidity and finger-pointing.

Hats off to those with shovel in hand, digging the ditches in the face of those who can’t, won’t, don’t want to, are afraid to, or simply oppose ditches requiring them to alter their behavior or have an original thought.

My son’s observation brought into clear focus one more example – though not a shirker…it’s the digger of useless ditches, the one who labors mightily in a project that cannot stand on its own.  It’s not a ditch to serve a purpose, it’s a sink that is an endless drain sucking time and resources with no prospect of purpose or utility.

One long-serving congressman and senator comes to mind as long-time laborer in the fruitless vineyard.  The senator has wielded a shovel doggedly for decades, in the morass of renewables all the while opposing the established and wealth-creating domestic oil and gas now turned into a juggernaut, having been freed of government-imposed shackles.

Edward Markey has been in Washington, D.C. since the mid-1970s.  He has been in public life since the PolicySmith embarked on a career in oil and gas 40+ years ago.  From the day he took office, Mr. Markey has given zero consideration in oil and gas matters.  His sole contribution is blanket opposition.  Even when lower consumer prices were obvious results of oil and gas legislation, he vigorously opposed even the most benign measures.

His constituents, by and large, consume expensive fuel oil imports to heat their homes.  Cheaper natural gas from the Marcellus could be transported with additional natural gas pipelines.  Markey opposes such pipelines.  Increased domestic oil supplies are now available thanks to the Keystone Pipeline.  Markey opposed it.  Additional supplies of oil and gas can be harvested by more offshore oil development and lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and other regions.  Markey is opposed.

In service to his vigorous and obstinate opposition to all things hydrocarbon, Markey sought and was granted assignments to the two most influential senate committees relating to energy – Energy and Commerce and he serves as the Ranking Member on the Committee on Natural Resources.  A rational observer might surmise that such assignments carry an obligation to hear all sides and arguments on issues before these committees.

His website claims “Ed stands up to the lobbyists and industries that have a vested interest in polluting our environment.”  It is difficult to find an industry, much less a lobbyist, that has vested interests in pollution.  It is the height of cynicism to freely enjoy the fruits of domestic oil and gas jobs, tax revenues and society’s conveniences on one hand and decry the providers of same on the other.

As for the much-maligned lobbyists, the PolicySmith proudly admits membership in that cadre. For decades government affairs representatives, lobbyists, industry association officials and others have sought meetings with Markey to deliver realities and benefits of conventional fuels.  Markey refuses to dig that ditch.

Here’s a ditch he’s proud to have dug – (from his campaign website) “Ed Markey is passionate about revolutionizing our country’s energy policies to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and pave the way for more clean energy jobs here at home. Ed has always believed that America must lead in the development of clean energy technologies or we risk losing our advantage to countries like Germany and China. Ed has fought to protect federal policies that enhance clean energy, which have helped bring more than 70,000 jobs to Massachusetts.”

No mention of the taxpayer subsidies to prop up “clean” technologies, which by the way have a larger carbon footprint than natural gas by a wide margin.  And no mention of the loss of avian life from both solar and wind installations, nor of the failed Cape Wind project, nor Germany’s sordid record on renewables or the dumping of China’s solar panels in the U.S.  And, there is nary a whisper of the miniscule percentage of supply provided by renewables today and moribund prospects for future increases.

Having never worked in private industry, he has no firsthand knowledge of such enterprise.  To be elected in Massachusetts, if your name is not Kennedy, one must begin early.   Serving in the Army Reserve during law school and in private practice got him an early start down the road in his political aspirations.  He served three terms in the state legislature beginning at age 24.

His voting record and political positions are mainstream Eastern liberal – Chair of Senate Climate Change Task Force, railing against any upward movement in gasoline prices, anti-offshore drilling (and onshore for that matter), oppose oil exports, and his campaign website trumpets these positions…

“Ed’s also taken on the Republicans’ “Drill, Baby, Drill” campaign by opposing the Keystone XL pipeline and helped prevent drilling in the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. He secured funding to restore and re-sand America’s oldest public beach, Revere Beach and was instrumental in pushing to have the beach declared a National Historic landmark.” (What the beach has to do with energy is anyone’s guess.)

By any measure Ed Markey is a smart politician.  He’s made his way in Massachusetts despite not being a Kennedy.  Like the legions of them, he’s made “public service” into a comfortable life.  There is no imminent price to pay for the luxury of championing causes which, if adopted, would inflict great financial and environmental harm, especially on his constituents.

It’s an easy, happy and self-satisfying existence when the working ditches are dug by others, while the ones he digs are filled with angry accusations fired at productive energy sectors, taxpayer subsidies for pie in the sky and platitudes for the ignorant majority in his electorate.

His tenure gives new meaning to public service – or —  servicing the public.

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