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Energy Alliances: A Cautionary Tale

Updated on September 24, 2014

A strapping young man was making his way in the world; he was fresh from the university where he majored in Philosophy, Law, Economics, and Statesmanship. His parents, who adored him, had recently died and left him no wealth except for his education, his morals, and his work ethic. Having to secure his future, he sought a mate, a partner with whom he could grow, develop, and prosper.

There was a woman in his village that owned a large, fertile plot of land, but because the woman was uneducated, ill-tempered, and prone to violence and superstition, no man would have her; and because she lacked industriousness, the land remained uncultivated. The young man thought to himself that if he married her, he could educate her, change her, and together they would cultivate the land and prosper greatly.

The woman knew the young man was seeking a mate, and so dressed in her finest clothes, wore her most fragrant perfume, and spoke sweetly to the young man whenever he addressed her. After some time the day came when he proposed to her, and, taking advantage of his youth and inexperience, she readily agreed. Finally she had the opportunity to have someone work her land for free.

The man toiled and cultivated the land, and the woman lived in great wealth. She never helped him farm, however, as she saw no need to; she warned him that if he didn't adhere to her demands, she would banish him from the land, and he would return to poverty. He feared her, and she knew it.

She created debt in the marketplace, which her husband was forced to pay; she created conflict between their neighbors, which her husband was forced to reconcile. As he worked in the fields, she often let thieves into their bed and into their home, thieves that nourished themselves from the fruit of her husband's labor, thieves that plotted and planned her husband's demise. But she didn't mind; they were old lovers of hers, and when too much went missing, she simply blamed her husband for not protecting their land and their wealth.

Eventually they had children, but the children suffered as well; their mother consumed as much as she was able, leaving just enough for the children so that they would have the strength to help their father cultivate the fields. The man tried to provide for them all, but it was impossible; the more he produced, the more she squandered, the richer she became, and the greater his fear of leaving her.

The History of Oil & the Impending Energy Crisis

One day, the children's cries reached the neighboring village, and a woman from that village visited the man when his wife was away at the marketplace. She told him that she had heard of his alarming situation, and offered him a solution; she too, had lands that needed cultivating, but unlike his wife, she was educated and knew how to create wealth, just like him. Her parents had passed as well, but they had left her with a strong work ethic and a similar moral code; if they wed, they would share her land equally, and could cultivate their land together, and prosper not only themselves, but their children as well.

The children begged their father to take her up on the proposition, but the man was consumed with fear and doubt - what if the woman changed her mind? What if the land didn't prosper? And worse, what if his wife went after him and killed them all? Like a deer in the headlights, the man did nothing. "Better the devil I know," he reasoned to himself, as he fruitlessly toiled away.

His wife continued to create debt and conflict, and the earnings were decimated. The land became barren; the children starved and perished. The woman from the neighboring village found a suitable mate, cultivated her land, and prospered greatly; eventually, the man and his wife were forced to get their sustenance from her farm.

What is the moral of this story?

"Let he who is able, understand."


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