Economist: America on brink of energy independence, free-trade prosperity
BY LAURIE WINSLOW World Staff Writer
Saturday, February 25, 2012
2/25/12 at 4:59 AM
Freedom, like oxygen, is vital for life.
It's a key ingredient for U.S. prosperity and a concept that's gaining ground worldwide as many countries begin to recognize that freedom really is the way to build wealth.
Economist and author Barry Asmus spoke Friday about the beauty of American freedom, adding other wide-ranging thoughts. As senior economist with the National Center for Policy Analysis, Asmus has spoken to audiences ranging from Western European leaders to corporate and community groups, and Friday he shared his message during a Tulsa Town Hall lecture at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center.
Asmus is the author of nine books, including his latest, "Bulls Don't Blush, Bears Don't Die." He has testified before the House Ways and Means Committee regarding the income tax system. In his writing and speaking on political and business issues, Asmus is an unapologetic advocate of free enterprise.
He began by thanking his audience for gathering at 10:30 a.m. to listen to an economist, which by nature is the "oddest bird." As he said amid chuckles from his audience, economists have predicted eight out of the last three recessions.
In a rapid-fire presentation, Asmus shared a gamut of observations, ranging from the importance of freedom and limited government to the nation's future as a major energy producer and Oklahoma's role in that, as well as thoughts on Social Security, health care and why taxing the rich doesn't work and how spending more than we make is unsustainable.
As an energy state, Oklahoma is beautifully positioned for the new and globalized world, Asmus said.
America is about "to become the Saudi Arabia of gas and oil," he said, predicting that within about 10 years the U.S. will be independent of Middle East oil.
He noted that the United States is home to four of the largest natural gas fields in the world. The ability now to drill several thousand feet underground and engage in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing - whereby water, sand and chemical additives are used to break into shale and release oil and gas - open many opportunities, he said.
"We are going to be a major energy exporter," Asmus said. "We are going to be energy independent. Oklahoma will be at the front end."
Looking ahead, Asmus said people will be living very well at the end of this century compared to the end of the 20th century, when half of the world's population was in poverty, with about 3.5 billion living on less than $2 a day.
"We will end the 21st century very, very differently," he said. "Countries like South America, Africa, China, India are getting their economic acts together and understand we need a system that expands economic wealth. The whole world is in a maturing stage in figuring out how to create wealth."
Communism, socialism and fascism don't work, Asmus said, but freedom and limited government work.
"Freedom is a country's best investment. Freedom is a virus for which there is no antidote," he said.
The Founding Fathers were obsessed with limited government and designed a Constitution that delegates and enumerates freedom through checks and balances, Asmus said. They were certain that big government means a smaller citizen, and they wanted no part of it because a government big enough to give people anything they want is also big enough to take everything they have, he said.
Asmus noted that although the United States has less than 4 percent of the world's population, it produced 90 of the 100 most important inventions in the 20th century, has eight of the 10 major medical complexes in the world and 40 out of the 50 greatest universities in the world.
The good news, he said, is there will always be jobs because "God has created us with unlimited wants, which means there are unlimited jobs."
Asmus said he also is encouraged when meeting today's young people. Before his main presentation, he spoke to about 100 students from different schools and encouraged them to choose a profession, a job that makes them happy - something they do best and can become specialized at through hard work and practice.
"This is about you - youth, vibrancy, creativity, opportunity," Asmus said. "Every one of you can grab the brass ring if you want to. ... And whatever brass ring you grab - nothing, nothing can be done without work. Anyone who succeeds has to work hard."
Original Print Headline: Wealth through freedom
Laurie Winslow 918-581-8466
Economist Barry Asmus speaks to students before a Tulsa Town Hall presentation downtown on Friday. JOHN CLANTON/Tulsa World
Economist Barry Asmus talks with Mary Ellen Thomas II, a freshman at Booker T. Washington High School, before his Tulsa Town Hall presentation at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center on Friday. JOHN CLANTON/Tulsa World