Let’s suppose for a moment, that our present government was in charge in the days when America was being built. The colonies became states, you remember. They linked up via commerce as well as politics and the North industrialized. Our ancestors moved west, opening the continent with pioneers, followed by railroads and the growth of cities, populated by developing industry and burgeoning agriculture. American inventors provided electrically powered lighting and the telephone. Henry Ford put a car into every garage and paid the workers a living wage to do it. American shipping carried the results of all the productivity to the rest of the world and America became that world’s richest nation, from scratch, in a little over a century.
But all that history occurred under what was still then a small, weak government. Industrialization took people off the farms and pulled them into cities where the transitional instabilities created a lot of unemployed. The Civil War dumped a lot of ex soldiers onto that, plus a lot of displaced Southerners. That brought the Progressives onto the scene, promising to use Federal power to help the displaced victims of “Progress.” Our present governors are the heirs, both Democrats and Republicans, of that movement. (The first Progressive President was Republican Theodore Roosevelt.)
So, we’re back at the Westward Expansion, except that Barack Obama is President and Harry Reid (of the soon-to-be Nevada Territory) while not yet a Senator, has much influence in the Senate. The Midwest has been purchased from France, the Southwest and the Pacific Coast ‘acquired’ from Mexico (itself divorced from France) and the government in Washington is trying to figure out how to deal with all of it. We know what happened: Free and cheap land was handed out to induce investment and settlement while government stood well back and let the risk-takers run. But under today’s governors?
Well, all that free land belonged–sort of– to Indians, right? And government uses tax money to protect them. Obviously then, government would have to provide lawyers so the Indians could take the developers to court, (where they would remain today) so the Midwest and West would now be a buffalo preserve closed to public use to protect a threatened species. Railroads, power generators and Henry’s autos, all big-time polluters, would be refused the needed licenses and permits at their start, never getting off the ground. Transcontinental highways disrupt all sorts of little lizards, funny fish and spotted owls; better stick to those oxen-drawn Conestoga wagons and forget the roads. Oh, and you won’t need showers and bathtubs (only about 12% of U.S. homes had bathtubs in 1900) since heating all that hot water uses too much polluting energy. Petroleum would, except for lamp oil, remain in the ground where it belongs. A green paradise lost, right?
Well, maybe not entirely lost, if our government can help it. You may not be able to enjoy the scenario in your lifetime, but looking ahead along current economic and regulatory conditions, there certainly seems hope for your kids…