Someone else’s ‘new normal’

Every so often I point out how other states are taking advantage of avenues our fair state of Maryland cannot – or will not – compete in. One such area is energy exploration, which has benefited states like Texas and Alaska for decades, and more recently turned North Dakota from a state which was stagnant in population and lacking opportunity to America’s fastest-growing state, with a “new normal” of energy-led growth. Indeed, taxable sales increased 28.7% from 2011 to 2012, according to North Dakota Tax Commissioner Cory Fong.

Obviously in the several states results may vary, and Maryland doesn’t have that same petroleum-rich land mass that North Dakota does. But in the western end of our state we do have the potential for some nice job creation if we allow the tapping of the natural gas-rich Marcellus Shale formation like Pennsylvania has done for several years. And who knows what we could find under Maryland’s offshore waters? It’s doubtful we’ll ever be confused with a state like Louisiana, where dozens of oil platforms lurk just offshore, but the potential is there for a healthy bump in economic activity should we choose to take advantage of this.

One thing which seems to be lost in the question about whether oil and natural gas exploration would be good for the state is the sort of jobs created. Say what you will about the energy industry, but they tend to pay better than flipping burgers at McDonald’s. Sure, it’s likely to be demanding physical work for those who are semi-skilled, but they would be making a living sufficient to support a family – reminiscent of a bygone era where dad went to work 40 hours a week at the auto plant “makin’ Thunderbirds” (as the old Bob Seger song went) and mom could afford to stay home with the kids. And it also brings up the point about not necessarily needing a college degree (and the tens of thousands of dollars of associated debt) to make a good living. Then again, those who have the intelligence and drive to be engineers or even technicians and complete the college training required would find a very welcoming field. Our neighbors to the west in West Virginia have heeded this call.

Back in the 1970s, at the height of the oil crisis, those of us in rural areas had a saying that we should trade the OPEC nations a bushel for a barrel – they had plenty of oil but they needed food to feed themselves – and we had plenty of it. But in America we could develop the potential to sell other nations both the bushel AND the barrel simply by getting out of the way of energy production and dropping this silly notion about producing ethanol from corn.

Why not get the best of both worlds? All we need is some truly forward-thinking leadership, the kind which realizes we have the potential under our very feet to be dependent on no one outside of North America for our energy needs and future growth therein.

The Maryland campaign begins

Now that Mitt Romney has won the Illinois primary – it was called for him barely a half-hour after the polls closed – one of the next “big” states on the docket is Maryland. (Louisiana comes first, on Saturday.) But Romney is the first major candidate to make a late push in the state, scheduling an event in Arbutus (3:30 at the American Legion Post 109, to be exact) later today. Something tells me Bob Ehrlich is going to show up at this event in his hometown.

One other piece of news worth mentioning is that Romney got another late endorsement from Harford County Executive (and 2014 candidate for something) David Craig, who said in part:

America is yearning for leadership. We are yearning for someone who can improve our course, who can inspire  ingenuity, and who can get our economy churning. That man is Mitt Romney.

As Governor, Mitt Romney inherited large deficits that he turned into record surpluses, through focusing on the economy by signing job-creating incentives into law and by slashing the red tape that hinders small business growth.

In 1999, the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics had been bogged down in a bid-rigging scandal, sponsors were fleeing, and the budget was bleeding red ink. When Mitt Romney came on board, he revamped the organization’s leadership, trimmed the budget, and restored public confidence.

He is a leader with executive experience and a proven track record of fixing what is broken, and America is broken.

I would tend to disagree with parts of that statement, but all the endorsement proves is that Craig is like a number of other politicians who seem to be banking on Romney being the “electable” Republican.

But the reason I really wanted to bring this up was to do some lobbying.

If a Republican candidate is to win in November, he is going to have to gather some crossover Democrats and conservative independents who respond to his message. And what better place is there to test drive such a message than an area where Democrats have the voter registration advantage but Republicans hold the offices? Yes, I think Salisbury would be an ideal stop for a Presidential candidate.

Most of the campaigns are spending time in Louisiana this week, which makes sense. But the only candidate who is planning on spending significant time in Maryland next week insofar as I can tell is minor candidate Fred Karger, and my gut feeling is he’d come nowhere near the Eastern Shore because, to put it charitably, he’s not exactly conservative.

I realize that presidential campaign schedules are made on the fly, but I’m sure we would be happy to welcome Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, or even Mitt Romney around these parts. Special added bonus: Delaware votes April 24.

So there is your offer. Take advantage of our hospitality while you can.

A ridiculous waste of time

If this doesn’t show you how government works, I don’t know what will. I was tipped off on this by a release from Americans for Limited Government, which noted in part:

Governor Jindal  was joined by local Louisiana officials in submitting the barrier island containment plan and discussing it directly with the President on May 2, gaining what seemed like Presidential approval for an expedited approval process to contain the oil.  One month later, President’s man on the ground is taking an Internet survey.

The question is whether to build a set of barrier islands off the coast to protect the more delicate areas from the effects of the continuing oil spill. Who knows, had this been done a couple weeks back there may have been containment already in place.

There’s no doubt we are swimming in uncharted waters regarding the entire Deepwater Horizon incident since the safety record of these rigs was previously exemplary.

In the government’s defense, comments are only being accepted until 7:00 p.m. our time so if you have something to say do so quickly. I say, “be like Nike and just do it!”