Question: does economics violate social justice simply by principal? What is the goal of economics – to increase GDP growth? Does that take into consideration the wealth gap? Does a higher GDP necessarily bring about a higher standard of living for everyone? And if not, is it really what we should be focusing on, then? Perhaps I’ve got economics all wrong. I have to go do some reading.
Next, the oil debate. Most Vermonters enthusiastically support alternative energy resource. We agree that biking to work is better, electronic cars should become more practical, and that foreign affairs decisions are all too often made with oil concerns on the mind. We don’t want to ruin the natural environment to drill in Alaska. But here comes the kicker, what I’m having trouble addressing. Oil has significantly improved the way of life for a lot of people I know (and at this point, knowing little about the topic, that’s all I can speak for). Norway is incredibly well-off today, economically sound, able to sustain a healthy and successful semi-socialist economy, and the youth is educated and has access to a world of opportunities. It wasn’t always like this, though; the discovery of oil brought loads of money into their economy and played an enormous role in the country’s development.
This small city in Siberia, Khanty-Mansiysk, cherishes its oil reserves. It boasts the highest rate of oil production in Russia, which has enabled the city to blossom. Modern, exciting architecture, a new university and medical school, and, if it’s not too early to judge, a higher standard of living are all connected to the influx of oil-related capital. September 2-3 is the national oil appreciation holiday, and KhM is sure celebrating. (I even saw a poster for the celebration at a dance club, featuring a DJ and free entry for ladies. Dress code was black latex, resembling oil slicks. Just kidding about that last part.) Drilling oil here has had such a positive, notable effect on this city and on Norway, so how can I be justified in opposing drilling and supporting alternative energy choices, without addressing how it’s helped them grow?
I suppose my justification would be this: even if oil helped a city/country to grow, one must remember it is only a limited resource. It will run out, and thus, research on alternative energy sources is obligatory. I’ll try to avoid being hypocritical in my evaluation of the role oil plays in the world, but I will continue to advocate using as little oil as possible and supporting research on alternative energy.