Tags: miniter | energy | us | economy

Author Miniter: Energy Could Drive US Economic Growth

Sunday, 26 Aug 2012 04:57 PM

By Henry J. Reske and John Bachman

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Increasing the sources of energy and utilizing existing means such as coal could drive economic growth in America, giving companies more money to expand and hire, author Brandon Miniter tells Newsmax.TV

Miniter is the editor of the new book, “The 4 % Solution: Unleashing the Economic Growth America Needs,” from the George W. Bush Institute. The book taps some of the leading economic thinkers, including five Nobel economists who’ve written chapters.

“Some of the bigger ideas in there are already getting picked up in the national conversation such as energy,” he said. “You know, we take a look at North Dakota as the classic example. Their unemployment rate is at 3 percent and their GDP growth for the year is at 7.6 percent. I don’t suggest that those numbers are hittable for the country just by embracing energy but it gets at the point that if we can increase the sources of energy, lower the cost of energy, we can produce here in the United States.

“You know, one of the details that came out in this book that I didn’t realize comes in a chapter by Floyd Kvamme, he’s a tech entrepreneur, and he looks at energy and says, ‘That’s actually one of the bigger drivers that send a lot of these factories overseas.’ His example is that there’s lights-out factories being built in China. That means there’s no employees there, that the lights literally are going to be turned off while the factory is running. It’s not labor costs that’s driving those factories overseas, it’s actually often the case the tax rates are driving it over there but also the cost of energy. And if you can lower the cost of energy, you can significantly increase growth in this country by giving companies more capital to start new factories to, hopefully, hire Americans.”

Miniter noted that the United States leads the world in reserves for fossil fuels.

“Coal is a huge piece of that,” he said. “Wyoming has, you know, very large coal deposits as does West Virginia and other states. So coal, particularly with new technologies, can be burned more cleanly. It certainly can be a significant piece of the energy picture.”

Miniter explained the four percent in the title of his book refers to the targeted annual growth of the country’s gross domestic product – or GDP.

“Since the end of World War II we’ve averaged about three percent, a little bit more than three percent annual growth,” he said. “So if we get to four percent we’ll be growing faster than we have on average for the past 70 years or so. But what we would also be doing is growing at a rate that is consistent with what the power of tens to power us out of a recession.

So we’ve grown at more than four percent about 23 years out of the last 60 so, typically, what happens is we have a recession, we have a slowdown and then we have significant growth that catches us back up to the average of where we would have been, overshoots that a little bit, produces a significant number of jobs for Americans and puts us on a pretty good footing.”

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On another subject, Miniter said there are ways to reform Social Security so it doesn’t destroy us down the road, including encouraging people to either stay in the workforce longer and the creation of private Social Security accounts.

“There’s a lot of different things that we can do to get Social Security to encourage growth,” he said. “One of them that’s the easiest one to pull out and for people to get their hands would be, obviously, private accounts. If you had a private Social Security account, it would function like a 401K. You’d be saving money for the future which would mean that capital would be being pulled up for that to be invested and other uses while you’re waiting for retirement. But that’s only one idea. There’s lots of other ideas that can change the incentive in Social Security that would encourage people to stay in the workforce which would then increase GDP.”


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