The Great Deconstruction: Competing Visions of the Future


During the Great Recession, America’s wealth has diminished while indebtedness has increased. This is simply a matter of fact. How the United States will marshal its resources and deploy its wealth in the future is a matter of great public debate. Previous installments of the Great Deconstruction series have explored the debate over the growing size of government and the impact the Tea Party movement may have on a possible smaller role for future government.

The current administration has its own vision of how to address the coming period of deconstruction. John P. Holdren, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology, shied away from using the term “de-development” that he endorsed in past writing. When asked by CNSNews how he would “de-develop” the United States, Holdren said he would use the “free market economy” to implement “stopping the kinds of activities that are destroying the environment and replacing them with activities that would produce both prosperity and environmental equality”.

But this stated new appreciation for market forces likely does not mean he has shifted from his belief that resources “must be diverted” from advanced countries to the underdeveloped countries. An example of how Holdren’s vision of the future may be implemented as policy in the United States can be found in this administration’s actions towards energy and in particular, oil drilling. The BP oil well, Deep Horizon, has been officially capped yet the federal ban on all drilling in the Gulf remains in place. The administration estimates the ban cost just 8,000 – 12,000 jobs but Baton Rouge-based Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association believes that the moratorium may put as many as 46,000 rig workers out of work. If all workers on deep water rigs were laid off during the suspension, the moratorium would lead to the loss of 23,247 jobs.

In contrast, the same Administration approved $2 billion in loan guarantees from the US Import Export Bank to Brazil’s state owned oil giant, Petrobas, to open the giant Tupi oilfields in the Santos Basin fields near Rio de Janeiro. The oil recovered from the Tupi fields will not go to the US and US taxpayers, but it will make Brazil richer and energy independent

Critically much of what the Administration has proposed follows the contours of “de-development”. This can be seen in a host of initiatives that would hit Americans economically from the “cap and trade” scheme, support for solar and wind energy, as well the attempt to regulate greenhouse emissions through the EPA.

Oddly the Administration has not put much priority on nuclear power, which is arguably the most effective way to reduce greenhouse gases. Despite announcing an $8 billion loan program for nuclear power plant construction, there is only one nuclear power plant under construction in the US, compared to 50 worldwide. Jeff Immelt, CEO of General Electric, joked that the nuclear industry’s most important output these days is press releases. Nuclear power remains banned in many states. Just 6 states are able to generate more than 40% of their electricity from nuclear power.

The drive to de-develop America begins with control of energy. This includes actions to restrict access to our natural resources. The United States has 31 billion barrels of oil reserves on-shore in the lower 48 and Alaska. Off-shore oil reserves include 60 billion barrels along the coastal US and 26 billion barrels in off shore Alaska. Yet almost all of these reserves remain untouchable. Drilling in ANWAR is still banned and due to the BP oil leak in the Gulf, a drilling ban remains in place on the only coastal resource previously open for drilling.

The US oil reserves are a pittance compared to our reserves of oil shale deposits. Estimates put oil shale reserves at 1.5 – 2.0 trillion barrels or five times that of Saudi Arabia. “The technical groundwork may be in place for a fundamental shift in oil shale economics,” the Rand Corporation recently declared. “Advances in thermally conductive in-situ conversion may enable shale-derived oil to be competitive with crude oil at prices below $40 per barrel. If this becomes the case, oil shale development may soon occupy a very prominent position in the national energy agenda.” Shell utilized a process called “in situ” mining, which heats the shale while it’s still in the ground, to the point where the oil leaches from the rock. The process eliminates the need to mine the shale to get to the oil. The Administration has shown little sign of encouraging the development of these resources, particularly in the areas controlled by the federal government.

US policy towards the coal industry is no more favorable. U.S. coal production decreased in 2009, dropping by 8.5 percent to a level of 1,072.8 million short tons. The decline in coal production in 2009 was the largest percent decline since 1958 and the largest tonnage decline since 1949.

In sharp contrast, the administration openly promotes green technologies like wind and solar. Unfortunately, these sources provide just 1% of our energy requirements.

De-development, the Obama Administration’s version of deconstruction, is very different from a growing political movement aimed at reducing the nation’s debt and current spending. The Great Deconstruction will not come from a government policy of reducing energy consumption to bring America into a more correct distribution and use of the world’s resources. Rather, it will come from the people demanding a smaller bureaucracy, more efficient government and government employees actually willing to do the job they are paid to do.

The election in November offers the most profound choice for the future of America that we have seen in decades. One choice espouses government control of our natural resources, motivated by the strategy of “de-development” and expensive, rationed energy. The other choice seeks deconstruction of unsustainable and dysfunctional bureaucracies and intends to choke off the money supply from Congress and defund these programs.


Robert J Cristiano PhD is the Real Estate Professional in Residence at Chapman University in Orange, CA and Head of Real Estate for the international investment firm, L88 Investments LLC. He has been a successful real estate developer in Newport Beach California for twenty-nine years.

Other works in The Great Deconstruction series for New Geography
Deconstruction: The Fate of America? – March 2010
The Great Deconstruction – First in a New Series - April 11, 2010
An Awakening: The Beginning of the Great Deconstruction – June 12, 2010
The Great Deconstruction :An American History Post 2010 – June 1, 2010
A Tsunami Approaches - Beginning of the Great Deconstruction - August 2010
The Tea Party and the Great Deconstruction – September 2010


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I for one am growing a bit

I for one am growing a bit weary of hearing story after story after story about how government spending is the cause of all our problems and that we have to "take our country back"... whatever that means because if it means returning it to the party that just got finished placing us in a recession then no thanks.

Government spending is nothing new. Look back over our history and it has been and will likely continue to be an issue. For example when Thomas Jefferson enacted the Louisiana Purchase it too was met with fierce resistance from not only congress but many of his constituents as well.The primary concern was over the cost of that transaction. It doesn't matter what party is in power or time period we're talking about either. Big spending has always been a fixture of American politics. Somehow many Americans believe that the party they feel best represents their ideology also holds the key to proper economic management. In reality both parties spend copious amounts of money.

I can agree that spending is a problem- as it has been for decades. But perhaps a bigger part of the problem is in the way everyday Americans manage their personal finances. Much of the reason we're in a recession was due to the accumulative effect of millions of Americans bankrupting their finances on houses, cars and gadgets. At the peak of the boom the national savings rate was actually negative. We all know people who did this: perhaps they stretched to get into a house they could just barely afford on an adjustable rate loan, or maybe they refinanced and took a couple of trips to Europe and bought a new BMW. Sure- it didn't help that the financial industries tied to real estate eagerly enabled this type of behavior with various toxic loan products. But at the end of the day the end consumer has it in their own best interest to make sound financial decisions. I could have done the same as many others and squeezed into a $600,000 small starter home but I chose to rent and save my money instead. If Americans at large had made that same decision we might be in better economic condition.

I think JFK summed it up best when he said: " Ask not what your country can do for you, but what YOU can do for your country". That applies quite well to today's situation. Sure- government has to set an example. Government spending is not a great thing either. But we as everyday citizens also share that responsibility.

A partisan and self-serving argument.

How soon we forget. We had a conservative Republican president, a conservative Republican House, and a Republican conservative Senate for 8 years, and what did we get? An even MORE bloated and bureaucratic goobermint, plus such fiscal irresponsibility that it drove the nation to the edge of bankruptcy. And then said conservative Republicans voted to throw money from helicopters all over the parasites, fools, crooks, and thieves of Wall street.

Now, most of those same fools are back claiming "this time we really mean it" and posturing as though there were some fundamental difference between them and the Democrats. What a lot of bull!

The US is headed for the ash heap of history. It doesn't matter who controls Congress after the elections, Democratic or Republican, nobody will do anything to stop the ever-accelerating slide onto the ash heap of history. Our Republican and Democratic poli-critters are uniformly buffoons, crooks, thieves, and parasites.

Got a local food system? Got a local energy system? Got a local economic system? If not, better get busy, because when the ash heap of history gets here, the most important government and systems in your life will be local.

If you always do, what you always do, you will always get, what you always get. The time to build the cellar is before the tornado hits.

Distortion, not deconstruction

This is a silly and distorted reading of Obama administration goals and policies. To promote a sustainable, safe, environmentally sound and forward-thinking energy policy in no way constitutes "de-development."

Unforunately, this kind of misleading partisan content--with talking points lifted directly from Fox News-- undermines the credibility of the entire site. Just for the record:

1. The Tupi oil loan was initiated by the Bush Administration.

2. The oil industry's dire predictions of job loss due to the moratorium, which affects only new have in fact not come true.