by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
If you grit your teeth when you hear discussion of a successful business or entrepreneur “giving back” to the community, you’ll likely appreciate this excerpt from Charles Cooke’s recent National Review cover story on Canada’s tar sands.
The government employees have an unfortunate tendency to couch their discussions of the oil sands in politically correct nonsense jargon. The oil companies are somewhat guilty of this too, being especially prone to smug talk of “giving back to the community.” I loathe this conceit. Companies that follow the rules and sell great products that people want to buy should not have to promise to “give back” to society as if they were convicted criminals who had done something wrong and must atone for their crimes.
Fossil fuels are the foundation of the modern economy. They give us heat, light, food, technology, and transportation. They make possible travel, education, and medicine, among an endless parade of things that even their discontents cannot live without. As George Orwell noted of coal in 1937, carbon is inextricably linked with our prosperity — the “caryatid upon whose shoulders nearly everything that is not grimy is supported.” In our search for supplies, there is of course a need for some regulation and for self-awareness. But there is no need whatsoever for the companies that make our lifestyles possible to prostrate themselves in front of us apologetically.
The people I meet in northern Canada are selling what the world wants. Ultimately, that is what their opponents hate.