America, once doomed because it had no more oil, is now even more doomed because it has too much:And what are the "real underlying problems" the country needs to be solving? The usual: "building human capital and promoting sustainable economic growth." The "other drivers of long-term prosperity, such as education and infrastructure." (Ah, infrastructure: code for "turn over all your money for boondoggles and pork.") What's more, although it will be wonderful to convert oil- and coal-burning plants to clean shale gas, that will only make people lose interest in climate change without eliminating enough CO2 to save the world.
It looks like the United States is showing the early symptoms of a particularly nasty case of the Resource Curse. The dreaded syndrome, also known as Hugo Chávezitis, tends to strike countries when they tap into large finds of oil, gas, or other valuable natural resources. Although such bonanzas clearly have their advantages, the influx of new wealth often leads countries to neglect real underlying problems or the requirements of long-term growth simply because they can spend their newfound riches to paper over their troubles.
The dire warning about Chavez should make the reader stop and consider how our two countries might approach a resource boom differently. Chavez, no doubt, would love to blather about"building human capital" and promoting "sustainable economic growth," while driving long-term prosperity with "education" and "infrastructure," if only he could commandeer the proceeds of the boom and administer it all through a tight clique of central planners who know best. Here in the benighted old U.S.A., we haven't quite reached the point where our wise leaders will have the sole power to direct the use of the new resources. It is to be hoped, therefore, that the private sector will put a lot of them to use driving long-term prosperity with old-fashioned things like widely dispersed business and jobs.
We've got some Hugo Chavezitis going on here, that's for sure, but it doesn't take the form of a shale boom. It's personified in President Obama, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi, and its primary symptom is the belief that confiscation is a substitute for production, as long as you have progressive ideas for how to spend the loot.