W&A Monthly Newsletter, April 2018: Finding the Future

By: John Wilson    

I remember once taking a trip to New Bedford to tour the waterfront and visit a whaling museum. It was a beautiful city and lovely waterfront, but underneath it was the corpse of an entire industry that once fed a lot of people and lit homes all over America. Whaling. I bet there was a time when no one could imagine it disappearing. Except, it did. Vanished. Almost overnight. There are a lot of people who think the same thing will happen to the U.S. oil industry. In fact, they’re actively pursuing it with the push toward solar and wind power and electric cars.

But, they’re hampered by a myopia peculiar to this country. They’re a little disconnected from life. By that, I mean they work their jobs, live in nice homes, and go to the store to buy what they need without really understanding where all that stuff comes from. They’ve likely never seen a slaughter house, visited a factory, or done any of the myriad hard things that need doing when it comes to creating consumer goods. We’ve moved manufacturing overseas, placed food processing plants in the wilderness of the US, and done everything we could to distance people from the “how” of making their goods. They just expect them to be in the stores. We’re a modern-day version of a Melanesian Cargo cult.

The other day I listened to a lady rail about the absolute need to ban fracking. This was at a meeting she drove to in her car wearing clothes made of synthetic material. The speaker did his best to talk her down and get her to understand there was a lot at play, but she was having none of it. She wanted fracking gone and the gasoline would just come from wherever when she pulled up to the pump. To her the bathwater was dirty and needed dumping and someone else could look out for the baby.

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