Thursday, June 22, 2023

Small: Conservatively stewarding or else

Conservatively stewarding or else
By Jonathan Small

Broadly speaking, a conservative champions free markets, limited government, individual initiative, personal responsibility, and empowering families.

Progressives’ view, in practice, can be summed up in this quote from former President Barack Obama’s chief of staff Rahm Emanuel: “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.”

Need examples of progressives exploiting problems and crises? Government distortions and intervention in health care have caused massive health-care cost growth, and then government by way of Obamacare created a $1 trillion-plus government welfare program that raises health care costs further. Government overreach and government spending fuels significant inflation growth. So then progressives responded with an “inflation reduction act” that didn’t lower or eliminate government-caused inflation, but instead increased tax burdens through massive green energy subsidies.

Since progressives often want to seize problems to expand government control, conservatives must think long-term and solve public-policy concerns before they metastasize and the public entertains the left’s command approach.

In Oklahoma, three areas in public policy—energy, environment, and agriculture—need thorough engagement by conservatives for the thriving of all Oklahomans and to prevent progressives from being able to seize them to expand government.

Regarding energy, reliability and stability of energy sources, and the fuel or power needed to facilitate a first-world state, conservative engagement is required. The winter storms of 2021 that resulted in Oklahomans now having to shoulder billions in utility costs over the next 30 years demonstrate the seriousness of the matter. Discussion is needed on why this happened, how complicit government is in what happened, the truth we all need to understand about significantly more stable energy provided by dense burned fuels in comparison to “renewables,” and what happens when reliability and stability aren’t chief aims of energy policy.

Regarding environment, Oklahoma is growing and now has more than four million people. With growing populations and people living life generation after generation, thought must be given to the materials we use and materials management. When an unbiased analysis is done, conservative solutions for re-using materials such as composting and ending government provisions that inappropriately establish winners and losers regarding materials management can help with addressing material-management needs.

Regarding agriculture, Oklahoma needs to address issues such as soil health, lack of value-added opportunities in Oklahoma for agriculture, and water needs for both agriculture and Oklahomans’ use of water in general.

Examples of Oklahomans providing conservative approaches to challenges and opportunities in agriculture and environment policy include the Noble Research Institute based in Ardmore and Bergen Enterprises based in Norman, which are putting into practice conservative solutions to environmental and agricultural needs in a few of their business endeavors.

There is much work for conservatives to do to address critical energy, environment, and agriculture needs in Oklahoma. Let’s get to work before progressives try and seize them.

Jonathan Small serves as president of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs.


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