Is it even possible to get it more wrong than The Oklahoman editorial board? I really don’t think so.
— KOKH FOX 25 (@OKCFOX) February 17, 2016
Devon Energy Corp.’s announcement it was laying off 700 local employees this week led to the newspaper’s editorial harangue lamenting the public sector’s refrain for “more money” and how the layoffs represent the “hard reality of life.” Yeah, I know, it doesn’t make a lot of logical sense.
This followed another editorial the day before in which the newspaper castigated Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (get ready for a mouthful) for his “climate change alarmism platform,” the said point being that fossil fuels are here to stay and don’t you forget it, Bernie.
One suspects these are some of the last illogical gasps coming from a dying industry itself. Here are the wheezy gasps: Oil companies, newspapers? The way of life as it should be. Green energy, creative digital media? Not for a long time, folks. We’ll all be dead by then, anyway.
Let’s be clear the layoffs are devastating for the local economy, and no one should be happy about it, especially given the state budget crisis and even if it was entirely predictable. I feel for those people losing their jobs, and I hope they can find other work here soon, but that might be problematic given the state’s continued lack of economic diversification despite what some local leaders are telling us.
But let’s also be clear that it’s the shortsighted type of thinking that gets presented on the editorial page of The Oklahoman on a daily basis about renewable energy and the shortsighted boom and bust mentality of the oil business (remember, “drill, baby, drill”?) that got us here. Repeat after me: It didn’t have to be this way. Business, political and, yes, local corporate media leaders failed all of us because of basic greed and the craving for power. Repeat: It didn’t have to be this way.
Oil and gas companies participating in the recent hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, boom, (you know, the boom creating all our earthquakes while probably polluting our groundwater), could have drilled with more restraint and future foresight while expanding more into areas like wind and solar power. Now oil prices have dropped so low the layoffs are coming in droves. How difficult is it to figure out and anticipate basic supply and demand on an intensely tracked commodity such as oil? Why can’t we develop long-range energy policies locally and nationally?
— Sierra Club (@sierraclub) February 17, 2016
With such basic and available foresight, companies could have drilled fewer wells and maintain lower levels of staffing through basic attrition rather than layoffs. Instead, these companies with the endorsement of state political leaders, who gave them tax breaks, and corporate media leaders, such as The Oklahoman, who put them on a pedestal while collecting their advertising dollars, chose the reckless path paved with the usual and ugly intentions of greed and power. It’s the old story.
The argument The Oklahoman makes that fossil fuels are still a major factor in our energy needs throughout the world is so obvious and sophomoric it almost deserves our undivided non-attention. The real point that should be made, however, is that just about anyone who makes the case for green energy is an “alarmist” under the myopic, backwards view of The Oklahoman.
Here’s the key paragraph in the editorial discussing the Devon layoffs:
This is the hard reality of life in the private sector. The U.S. energy industry is in the spotlight today, but any business — restaurant, IT firm, florist, you name it — that wishes to survive must adapt in order to do so. It’s a lesson the public sector would do well to embrace. Instead, “more money” is the usual refrain, and all too often any talk of trimming or changing is dismissed, as we saw at the Legislature this week with a modest consolidation bill involving small, low-performing school districts.
In other words, our schools, colleges, underpaid teachers, the poor here, those who can’t afford health care, our roads and highways and our overcrowded prisons must face the “hard reality of life” and get with the picture and no one in the public sector should dare ask for “more money,” especially now, for some of the most underfunded educational, social-related and health systems in the nation.
This is what passes for conventional, wise thinking and economic policy in this place, and it’s our doom.
The global oil glut is not going away anytime soon. https://t.co/DUWvl1P9sY
— Jeff Spross (@jeffspross) February 17, 2016