Tuesday, May 7, 2013

"FIRST, DO NO HARM" ... A Version of the Hippocratric Oath for Government Officials Is Desperately Needed

Although not explicitly stated as such, the Hippocratic Oath for physicians is commonly referred to as the duty to "First, do no harm."

What a great idea for U.S. politicians. In other words, if they'd stop trying to save us and would instead commit to keeping their hands off the economy, especially in areas such as regulating and spending initiatives on energy, health care and education, we'd all be much better off.

We the People are much more capable of taking care of ourselves than the government knows best gang of 'do-gooders.' It's a simple matter of MOM and people-to-people voluntarism over OPM and government coercion.

By doing nothing "helpful," they'd be doing something really worthwhile by doing nothing harmful. Thus, all the government knows best gang really needs to do is take seriously the Hippocratic Oath to "First, do no harm."

Let's take natural gas as a simple example of how government could "First, do no harm" and its effect on our nation's overall economy, employment levels, financial mess and national security concerns. Energy independence would be a huge positive in each of the aforementioned areas, and North America as a whole would be much stronger in every way if we joined forces with our close neighbors in Canada and Mexico to achieve energy independence.

Geopolitical Benefit Raised in Debate on Exporting Gas has this to say about our abundance of North American natural gas, world economics and U.S. national security:

"For more than a year, the debate over whether the U.S. should export some of its natural-gas bonanza has centered on how exports could affect the U.S. economy and manufacturing.

Increasingly, though, the geopolitical implications of exporting U.S. gas are shaping the debate, with proponents optimistic that the potential dividends for U.S. national security could tip the scales in their favor.

Proponents of U.S. gas exports, including current and former lawmakers, say that exporting some U.S. gas would bolster America's relations with allies in Europe and Asia, weaken the hold of major energy producers such as Russia and help further isolate Iran. . . .

Lawmakers on the House Energy and Commerce Committee's energy and power subcommittee will examine the "direct political implications" of the U.S. gas boom at a hearing Tuesday.

"Opening trade in natural gas with our closest allies is clearly in the national security interest of the United States," said former Sen. Richard Lugar . . .

The wrangling over how best to take advantage of U.S. energy resources reflects a huge shift. Since the 1970s, U.S. dependence on foreign energy suppliers constrained its foreign policy. Today, proponents of strategic exports believe the U.S. could turn energy to its advantage.

In the last few years, the U.S. has been the world's biggest producer of natural gas, thanks to widespread use of techniques such as hydraulic fracturing. That turned the U.S. from a prospective importer of natural gas into a putative exporter.

The U.S. gas boom is already having an impact on global energy relations, even before the U.S. has exported any significant amount. Liquefied natural gas from the Middle East once meant for the U.S. has been diverted to Europe instead, freeing countries there to renegotiate onerous gas contracts with Russia.

The prospect of significant volumes of U.S. gas flowing onto the world market has U.S. allies clamoring for access. In Europe, gas prices can be as much as three times higher than in the U.S., and in Asia prices can be as much as five times more costly. Even including the cost of liquefying the gas for transport overseas, U.S. gas remains appealing for now.

"New flow of LNG supply from the U.S. to Asia is an essential game changer that would contribute to energy security as well as economic and geopolitical stability in Asia," said Toshimitsu Motegi, Japan's minister of economy, trade and industry, in a speech Friday in Washington, D.C.

He said he hoped approval of gas exports to Japan would be the first order of business for Ernest Moniz, who is awaiting Senate confirmation as secretary of energy.

India's ambassador to the U.S. has publicly pleaded for U.S. gas as a way to get cleaner-burning fuel. Companies from the U.K., Spain, South Korea and India have signed preliminary contracts to import gas from the U.S. if the government approves export projects. Even countries such as Germany, which have traditionally relied on Russia for gas, have told U.S. lawmakers they are interested in access. . . .

Proponents of gas as a geopolitical weapon have proposed legislation that would expedite export approvals for NATO allies and Japan. Exporting gas "is an opportunity to strengthen our economy and strengthen our hand in the world," said Rep. Tim Ryan (D., Ohio), a co-sponsor of a House bill. . . .

Even China, whose demand for natural gas is expected to soar in coming decades, could be a market for U.S. gas exports, proponents say.

That would help improve the U.S. trade balance and help China address pollution caused in part by reliance on burning coal, they say.

"It would also put us in a better place when we go to do various negotiations with the Chinese, whether that's on issues such as North Korea or others," said Rep. Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.), a co-sponsor of the House legislation who said he would raise those issues at Tuesday's hearing."

Summing Up

Setting  the internal U.S. game of politics aside, which we should do in order to "First, do no harm," after supplying our own domestic needs, the exporting of as much natural gas as possible is a no-brainer.

Develop the energy, sell the energy and accept the benefits while "doing no harm."

What's not to like?

Now let's see what the gurus in Washington decide.

To harm or not to harm ourselves in the name of internal politics, that is the question.

Thanks. Bob.

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