What Export-Oriented America Means
Joyce Park stashed this in History
I had guessed technology and a growing developing-world economy would expand demand for U.S. exports, but I missed the fact that the U.S. discovered a huge amount of shale oil and natural gas recently. Wow, that's a game changer.
This is my favorite paragraph:
It’s not just that Silicon Valley and the Pentagon and our universities give the United States a big edge with smart machines. The subtler point is this: The more the world relies on smart machines, the more domestic wage rates become irrelevant for export prowess. That will help the wealthier countries, most of all America.
It's a tautology that the rich get richer, but this succinctly explains the subtle reason why technology accelerates that.
The American poor and lower middle class will have considerably greater opportunities, at least if they are savvy with information technology and disciplined enough to take advantage of these new free or cheaper goods. Of course, this will not come close to helping everybody. These internet tools reward the self-motivated, who will be disproportionately well educated, even if their parents lack higher education, wealth and connections.
Never before has their been more opportunity for people to better themselves for free if they wish and they're willing. Money and class do not loom nearly as large. We're much closer to a meritocracy where attitude, resourcefulness and discipline are the limiting factors.
Education is important, yes, but I think non-cognitive/cultural factors are more vital. Plenty of work ethic among the Amish and they never attend college. Many immigrants who never completed a high school equivalent raise children who attend the best schools and excel there.
Planet Money had an excellent piece on the importance of preschool and one of the key insights was that the real benefit wasn't formal book-based education at all -- it was the social factors many in the lower socioeconomic strata never learn the true importance of (showing up on time, appropriate dress for an interview, proper workplace behavior, etc.)
I keep thinking about this:
The second force behind export growth will be the recent discoveries of very large shale oil and natural gas deposits in the United States. Come 2030, the United States may well be the new Saudi Arabia of energy markets. We have new fossil fuel discoveries to draw upon, enough to fuel this country for decades, and there is plenty of foreign demand for those resources.
The shale gas revolution started at the beginning of the last decade, as the technology of “fracking” (hydraulic fracturing) became easier. Fracking uses compressed water, sand and some chemicals to liberate natural gas from underground repositories. Fracking suddenly accounts for 20 percent of domestic natural gas production—a very rapid increase—and the number is slated to rise further over the next few decades, possibly to account for half of all U.S. natural gas output. This is a technology pioneered and mastered by the United States, and it is the United States that has the greatest capacity to transport the product, market it and deliver to the final customers, including those overseas. The United States also has the greatest capacity eventually to monitor and control for the environmental concerns fracking raises. Even if not all the recently discovered fields pan out or meet expectations (as already seems to be the case with the Marcellus field in the Northeastern United States), the door is open for further discoveries and improvements in extraction technologies. Related new technologies will also boost domestic production of oil.
By contrast, in the European Union the development of natural gas extraction is being thwarted by the nuclear power lobby, environmentalist lobbies, the influence of Russia and the difficulties of fracking in a densely populated area. (Only Poland and the United Kingdom seem to have significant potential to increase natural gas exports.4) These particular constraints reflect some more general reasons why European economies are usually less flexible than America’s — namely, that European cultures and politics are less geared toward rapid economic change.
Energy is going to shape domestic and global policy for the rest of our lifetimes.
I had no idea how shale oil and natural gas were going to change the game for America.
Also, I've heard from a few geologists that the oil companies believe that most of the entirety of the front face of the Rocky Mountains, beneath the Oglala Aquifer, is a truly massive reservoir of oil dwarfing the Saudi reserves. I'm no geologist and couldn't find any thing with a quick googling but since oil tends to occur along the receptive front of plate collisions, it seems plausible to me.
Of course, they can't go prospecting for it as long as the water is in the way. :-\
Time to extract the water...
I couldn't find anything about this on Google, either.
The water will be gone soon, and then the high plains will become high desert.
This year has been a terrible drought, too.