American Sum Superbus
Two thousand years ago the proudest boast was "civis Romanus sum." Fifty six year ago, according to John F. Kennedy, the proudest boast was "Ich bin ein Berliner."

Today, in a world where the United States seems to constantly be on trial for what those on the Left consider to be its many moral failings, the proudest boast is "American sum superbus."

American sum superbus translated from Latin to English means proud to be an American.

This isn't a commentary about Donald Trump, or Ilhan OMar, you can turn on any news channel for an always running, never-ending commentary on both of them. This is a commentary on something more important, something much bigger...and that is the value of American idealism, exceptionalism, democracy, private property and free-enterprise.

When John F. Kennedy gave his famous speech in West Berlin in 1963, the entire world was watching to see if the American President would stand up for freedom and democracy feet away from the Berlin Wall, where the Soviet Union had trapped millions of people behind an iron curtain of economic suffering, hopelessness, and despair.

Kennedy didn't disappoint. In fact, President Kennedy gave what is today considered the greatest defense of freedom and democracy ever delivered by an American President. It was the down payment on President Reagan's speech delivered on June 12th, 1987...that speech was also delivered in the City of West Berlin. And like Kennedy's, Reagan also called attention to the atrocity of tyranny.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend a meeting in Goleta to watch a presentation on the economic benefits of the ExxonMobil's Santa Ynez Unit Restart. My friend Dr. Mark Schniepp gave the power-point presentation...the information he shared had been put together meticulously over the course of several months. And it was compelling.

The numbers were, as expected, very impressive...assuming you are capable of being impressed by how much economic benefit there is when private industry is allowed to do what private industry does.

In the case of the ExxonMobil Restart, private industry produces economic value...in the form of energy. That energy produces tax revenues, income, jobs, and ultimately opportunity for people who need it. And isn't that really the point to everything we do in and out of government?

The question of how does what we do benefit people? Is a question that should govern the people who run our government...as well as those who run companies, businesses, organizations, and corporations. And not just does it benefit certain people, and not just some people who live in a certain town, or city, or country, or who live in a certain climate...but how does it benefit all people, who live in all places and in all climates.

A tall order? Absolutely, but so what? Is there a moral alternative?

Unfortunately, in Santa Barbara County we often get the alternative.

The differences between some people who live in Montecito, or Hope Ranch, or Mission Canyon, and those who live in Guadalupe, or Lompoc, or even Santa Maria, is as stark as the difference between people living in East Berlin and West Berlin in 1963.

Some Germans enjoyed freedom and opportunity, while other Germans were condemned to living deprived lives filled with hopelessness and despair.
Freedom is indivisible, Kennedy said, and when one man is enslaved, all are not free. Today, in too many areas of our North County, and yes, in the South County as well, too many families aren't living their best lives...these families are trapped in economic desperation, hopelessness, and despair.

Not only do they lack a high-paying job, they lack the training and education to get one. The available jobs are too few, and the schools they rely on are under-funded. They've been left behind...intentionally or not, make no mistake about it, these families are being left out of the American dream. And we must act before another generation is left behind in Santa Barbara County.

The ExxonMobil "Restart" should be approved by the Board of Supervisors when it comes before them for a decision. But not because it is good for ExxonMobil. And not simply because it will generate this amount of taxes, or because it will create that number of new jobs, or because of some indirect positive impact, as important as all of those results are.

And let me reemphasize, those results are vital to addressing the economic conditions facing tens of thousands of families struggling to survive in Santa Barbara County.

The ExxonMobil Restart should be approved because it is the right thing to do from the standpoint of America's tradition as a democratic, freedom loving society. Because America is a country that values robust industry, free-enterprise and that protects and defends private property and economic opportunity for all.

I understand the temptation some politicians have to try and engineer the right public policy outcomes. The desire to try and design a local economic and social system of acceptable inputs and outputs. An eco-system that reflects their particular priorities, or their stated "values". But by doing so they risk imposing a sort of Procrustean approach to local policy making.

For those who remember their Greek Mythology, Procrustes was the Innkeeper in Attica who in order to make sure his guests fit perfectly into their bed would chop off the protruding parts of their body, including hands, feet and even the head. For sure all of his guests fit in their beds perfectly but often to hellish results.

The Board of Supervisors should avoid turning Santa Barbara County's economy into a Procrustean bed, where some industries and sectors are cut off and thrown out to allow for some sort of arbitrary standard of what the perfect economy and society might look like according to their enlightened state of mind.

Nobody is that wise. And in the face of bigger, and larger questions and challenges, sometimes the right answer is pretty simple, and in the case of the ExxonMobil Restart, that answer is yes! Absolutely! Of course.
Joe Armendariz is the Executive Director of the Santa Barbara County Taxpayers Association and director of business development for Armendariz Partners.