Before we get to our critique, let's just note that we like the premise of David Brook's latest NY Times op-ed, "Carpe Diem Nation."
Europeans who settled America gave their lives a slingshot shape. They pulled back so they could shoot forward. They volunteered to live in harsh conditions today so their descendants could live well for centuries. The pioneers who traveled West did the same thing. So has each generation of immigrants — sacrificing the present for the sake of the future.
This future-oriented mentality had practical effects. For decades, government invested heavily in long-range projects like railroads and canals.
Today, Americans have inverted this way of thinking. Instead of sacrificing the present for the sake of the future, Americans now sacrifice the future for the sake of the present.
Again, we love the premise of Mr. Brooks' op-ed, that America has been - and needs to be - focused on the future, on investing in the technologies, education, R&D, and cutting-edge infrastructure that will bring a better life for Americans today, as well as for many generations of Americans to come.
But how on earth is approving the Keystone tar sands pipeline - as Mr. Brooks recommends - "sacrificing the present for the sake of the future?" In fact, it's exactly the other way around: the Keystone Pipeline is simply doubling down on a dirty, carbon-based energy source (oil) of the early 20th century, with seriously negative consequences - environmental and otherwise - for the future. We'd also point out that there's basically no evidence of benefits for the present from this pipeline (e.g., according to a Cornell University study, Keystone "may actually destroy more jobs than it generates"). Instead, what we need to be doing is sprinting towards a sustainable, prosperous, clean energy economy for the future. It's a shame that Mr. Brooks doesn't seem to understand this crucially important concept.