Return to the INE Main Page


From Governor Michael O. Leavitt's State of the State Address:
"Shaping the Future: The Promise and Potential of the 21st Century"

From: NEN, Vol. 5, No. 10, Jan. 1998, pp. 1-2.
New Energy News (NEN) copyright 1998 by Fusion Information Center, Inc.
COPYING NOT ALLOWED without written permission.


From Governor Michael O. Leavitt's State of the State Address:
"Shaping the Future: The Promise and Potential of the 21st Century"

[Editor's Note: On rare occasions, a new concept emerges that can change the world. On January 19, 1998 in his address to the Utah State Legislature Governor Leavitt concluded with just such an important and challenging economic concept. Bold added by editor.]

January 19, 1998

Last month, I was asked to participate in a panel discussion with a dozen world-renowned economists, futurists and a handful of corporate leaders. There we were on the 107th floor of the World Trade Center by those huge windows overlooking New York Harbor. The Statue of Liberty in the distance.

The point of the panel was to discuss the future, and to get it [the discussion] rolling we were given a scenario: "Look forward to 2015 and tell us what will be most surprising." It went around the table. And then it came to me.

You're surrounded by the smartest economists in the world, what do you do? Mesmerize them with macro theory? No, you create a diversion. At least that's what I did. "Since we are forecasting the future," I said, "I will tell you how the Nobel Prize in economics will be won in 2015." ...[edit out the body of State of the State address]...

I would like to conclude tonight by taking you back to the World Trade Center, and to our discussion about who would win the Nobel Prize for Economics in 2015. At the root of this is a lesson I've learned from public service that I believe offers a key to the state of our state in the 21st century.

The big surprise is that the Nobel Prize for Economics in 2015 will not be won by an economist, but by a sociologist who comes up with a new economic theory called the Economics of Goodness.

It is a simple but powerful idea. Every nation or state has economic assets that produce wealth. It may be minerals, a seaport, favorable climate. But there is an asset of immense power inherent in any community that will use it - the inclination of its citizens to do the right thing, voluntarily. The operative notion is that there is nothing more economically devastating than a growing population of people that instinctively do wrong. And there is no stronger economic force over the long run than people doing right.

Just one example: imagine the economic heft of a nation free of drug and alcohol abuse. Health care costs would plummet, worker productivity would skyrocket. Families torn apart by the abuse and financial hardship wrought by substance addiction would remain together. Welfare rolls would fall. Crime costs would shrink, and that society would build fewer prisons. Imagine the power of a nation able to invest those trillions of dollars into education, investment or research. Such a nation would dominate the world economy.

One of the participants who heard this couldn't contain himself. "You're turning this into a religious discussion," he said. Before I could respond, one of the best known economists in the world beat me to it. "Wait a minute," he said. "I'm an atheist and this isn't about religion. It's about the supply and demand of human behavior and the predictability of its consequences."

It may be the only time I have said amen to an atheist. The discussion went on for nearly half an hour. Finally, another one piped up, "This kind of discussion irritates me," he said, proceeding to talk about the different values employed in the diverse world cultures. "Who's to say what's right? It is all relative."

It isn't relative. The idea that behaviors are relative was not invented by this generation, but it has been perfected by this generation, and this generation will ultimately declare it a fallacy. Because the recorded history of mankind is replete with examples that certain behaviors produce a long-term positive result. They are ageless, timeless principles. People who work hard, are honest with each other and practice kindness and compassion will prosper. Civilizations built on a foundation of strong families and communities, patriotism and individual responsibility will endure. A nation is but the aggregate character of its people.

This is our moment to define a new century for our children. We are defining it tonight in the sunset of the 20st century. We are charging ahead to shape, to polish and to perfect it in the sunrise of the morrow. Thank you. Good night and God bless Utah.

Editor's comments: Nearly all of the readers of New Energy News that I have met are involved in efforts to bring about a dramatic change in the way the world produces and distributes energy you are involved not from greed but from a concern for the well-being of your children, your grandchildren, and the world. You readers are an important part of the Economics of Goodness. But it was Governor Leavitt who has said it best and we commend this concept to you. Governor Leavitt also said, "I am asking the legislature this year to make a clear statement to out-of-state utility companies that want to dump nuclear waste in the west desert, near a military compound where cruise missiles sometimes get lost. Our policy is simple: we don't want it!" By the time you read this, we believe that Governor Leavitt will be aware that there is technology being developed (partly in Utah) that will stabilize nuclear waste on-site and avoid the dangers in packaging, transporting, and storing for thousands of years.

Return to the INE Main Page
Feb. 23, 1998.