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Jump starting jobs in Valley

September 4, 2011
Larry Ringler - Business Editor ( , Tribune Chronicle |

The answer to jump-starting America's jobs machine is right in front of us - or, actually, right below us.

It's called drilling and fracking and whatever else it takes to responsibly tap our homegrown supply of natural gas and oil.

The logic is too overwhelming to ignore.

Safe drilling - I must stress safe - will create thousands of jobs. We're seeing it locally in Marcellus Shale natural gas exploration, soon to be followed by Utica Shale work.

V&M Star's new local mill to make high-tech drilling pipe already is adding hundreds of paychecks to the economy, with more to come.

Thousands of jobs can be created nationally, from workers to run and maintain the drilling rigs, to workers to install pipelines, to truck drivers to haul away waste and others to work in refineries, all the way to restaurants, retailers and grocery stores. The list goes on and on.

Cheap energy goes well beyond jobs to extract and refine it. Increasing the supply of gasoline, natural gas, propane and other fuels drives down the price of that energy.

It's an automatic tax cut, a pay raise, a magic lottery ticket all rolled into one. People spend that kind of money because they feel they can rely on it every week or month.

It's not a one-time stimulus check that people save instead of spend. As wise as saving is, it doesn't create jobs.

It's not a temporary cut in the Social Security payroll tax, a foolish attempt to pump money into the economy that will weaken an already fragile retirement program.

Boosting our energy supply would help our trade deficit and national debt by allowing us to export natural gas and oil, specifically to China, our chief creditor. Unlike solar panels or wind turbines, our oil and gas can't be outsourced to China.

Developing our own energy also would reduce the outflow of our dollars to the Middle East, making us less dependent on oil from that increasingly unstable region.

President Obama is expected to stress infrastructure jobs in his jobs speech after Labor Day. Infrastructure, however, is just a means to an end. Roads and bridges are only useful if a truck is driving over them carrying something that someone is willing to buy. A building is only as good as the number of businesses able to pay rent so they can sell something to someone.

Without end demand, building roads and bridges is a temporary fix that leads nowhere. Demand comes from jobs, and jobs come from businesses with enough orders to justify hiring for the long term.

Anything less is a dead end.



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