Lie Down America,
The American Dream Is Over
Oscar B. Johannsen
[Reprinted from The Gargoyle, May 1977]
History may some day record that the week of April 17-23 was the one
when serious attempts were made, to change the direction of America's
progress from one of growth to one of retrogression.
In a series of .TV addresses, the President of the U.S. strove to
convince its sights and opt for a lower standard of living. The excuse
for altering the traditional viewpoint of looking forward to continual
improvement in the future to one of expecting one what is, at best,
only stagnation is that an energy crisis is at hand. Dire forecasts
are made that unless conservation is practiced, there will not be
enough natural gas and petroleum in the foreseeable future. A secret
CIA report has been adduced as evidence that the necessary energy
supplies may not be available within a generation or so.
That the world will run out of fossil energy within the next hundred
years is simply incredible. Superficially, it might appear to be
plausible on the premise that the earth is of finite size. But what a
size! The earth's diameter is 8,000 miles, and its volume is 268.3
million cubic miles. As far as puny man is concerned, the earth is
almost infinite in size.
It is not unusual for Cassandras to predict that man is so profligate
that he may consume all of a particular raw material. When wood was
the most important source for construction and fuel, cries were
repeatedly made that unless conversation was practiced the world would
be running out of wood.
Today, one rarely hears such pronouncements for there is almost as
much lumber available as before the pioneers starting clearing our
forests. This is because lumber is a renewable product. Despite the
fact that this was always known, many expected a growing shortage of
lumber. Modern methods of reforestation, which are being put into
effect by private enterprise, assure us that there need never be a
shortage of lumber. That assumes, of course^ as long as the State lets
the industry alone. If the State, with its unwieldy bureaucracy
impedes the lumbering industry in the same way that it impedes the oil
and gas industry, then, of course, there will be shortages.
It is true that as oil and gas take so long to reproduce, for all
practical purposes it is non-renewable. But the world is so large and
m an has just barely scratched its surface seeking these products that
the probability is great that much more exists that man could even
dream possible. We do know there exists millions of barrels of oil in
shale. Someday, methods may be devised to extract this oil at
reasonable costs. The point is that until such time as exploratory
efforts have encompassed much more of the earth and come up with
little or no additional supplies, it is not unreasonable to assume
that tremendous quantities still exist awaiting being tapped.
The crisis from which America suffers is not one of energy but of
politics. The State has grown, to such a size that Albert Jay Nock
labeled it "our enemy". The American State is now so big and
all-embracing as to make the British State against which the Founding
Fathers revolted an innocuous infant by comparison.
The bureaucracy which the American State has created is stifling the
productive genius of the people. It is like a cancerous growth which
cannot be stopped but which feeds voraciously upon those who actually
produce the goods and services we all need. What is amazing is how
much American business has produced despite this gargantuan
It is this bureaucracy which has created the so-called energy crisis.
Its rules and regulations have so bound and restricted the oil and gas
industry that it can produce only with the greatest difficulty. The
bureaucrats, aided and -abetted by the professional do-good
environmentalists, prevented the building of the pipeline to bring the
oil of Alaska to us for years. Only the Middle East oil embargo forced
a relaxation of the red tape to permit the building of the pipeline
and only after the American people were so frustrated that they
demanded an end to the nonsense preventing its construction.
It is believed that huge supplies of oil and gas lie off our
continental shelves. Yet only 5% of the coastline has been explored.
The remaining 95% is tied up with bureaucratic red tape which inhibits
business from even going out to see if any actually exists there. But
it is not only red tape which restricts production. The State actually
forbids production of certain forms of energy.
The President is forbidding the completion of the Clinch River Liquid
Metal Fast Breeder Reactor Demonstration Project. This is an
experimental nuclear reactor, which while it produces nuclear energy,
at the same time would produce more atomic fuel. To prevent its
completion is madness, and a denial of the genius of man. Reactors,
such as this one, give real promise for the production of unheard of
quantities of energy.
If we had a President as Thomas Jefferson he would be leading a
campaign to destroy all the prohibitions preventing energy production.
Instead we have a President who mounts a big propaganda campaign
urging and even trying to force us to conserve energy. This is
ridiculous. The entire universe is probably nothing but energy.
Einstein proved that matter is really nothing but a form of congealed
Energy is here to be used. For us not to utilize it on the specious
assumption that some forms of it may not be available in the future is
to turn one's back on progress. The President, in effect, wants us to
curl up and hide in a corner, instead of going out into the world to
use our intellectual and physical prowess to mold this world of energy
to our own bidding. Even if temporarily one form of energy is in short
supply, if we are let alone, we will find alternate forms to do the
America did not grow great with the negative philosophy the President
is propagating. It grew because we had the highest degree of freedom
of any large nation, and because the people's philosophy was that they
could produce ever better and more goods and services than their
If we are going to claim that the summit has been reached and that
now we must be happy with less, then it is only a question of time
until ours, the greatest civilization which man has ever known, will
suffer the same fate which overtook Rome.