House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is in China today, attempting to outdo her despotic hosts in Beijing with her own matronly brand of authoritarianism. Pelosi argued that government tyranny is essential for saving the planet from the looming specter of climate change.
Obviously, Pelosi didn't use the exact phrase, "government tyranny is essential." That would be crazy! But greater government tyranny would be the necessary outcome if her policy prescriptions and those of her compatriots in Congress should come to pass.
Here's what Pelosi did say on Thursday to a complaisant audience of nodding bureaucrats, budding Communist Party courtiers and sundry lackeys of the regime at Tsinghua University: "I do see this opportunity for climate change to be ... a game-changer. It's a place where human rights — looking out for the needs of the poor in terms of climate change and healthy environment — are a human right." (Read that again: "It's a place where human rights... are a human right." Tautology, anyone?)
"We have so much room for improvement," Pelosi added to a student interlocutor who asked how she, The First Woman Speaker of the HouseTM, would prod Americans to cut back on their carbon emissions. "Every aspect of our lives must be subjected to an inventory ... of how we are taking responsibility."
By "we," of course, Pelosi means "you," and by "our lives" she means those of you plebeians who are not elected officials, government bureaucrats or favored members of the entertainment-political-industrial complex. Rest assured, you'll pay. It's funny how Republicans receive so much opprobrium for trucking in fear -- fear of jihadist terrorism, inordinate fear of communism, fear of expansive government overreach and so forth -- yet we're supposed to bask in the fear of environmental catastrophe peddled as fact by Pelosi and her ilk.
Pelosi obviously did not come up with this idea of subjecting "every aspect of our lives" to an "inventory" by herself. She had help. The mindset, encouraged by many academics and activists but certainly not shared by all, is illustrated brilliantly by an exchange in the latest issue of the Claremont Review of Books (I think the correspondence may be behind a subscriber's firewall. In which case: Subscribe!). David Shearman and Joseph Wayne Smith of the University of Adelaide wrote in response to a review-essay by Steve Hayward. Their book, The Climate Change Challenge and the Failure of Democracy, gets some rough treatment from Hayward. Shearman and Smith object to the idea that antiquated notions of liberty should hinder the vital work of Saving the Planet. They ask:
Is Hayward really implying by his critique that freedom is more important than life itself? Is this a modern day version of "better dead than red?" If so it is absurd. No life, no freedom. Why should freedom be the ultimate value? Because it produces lots of money? Why should money then be the ultimate value? How do you stop the regress?
This is a stupid objection and a deliberate misreading of the essay, to which Hayward responds:
Environmentalists usually argue against what they call "false choices" (i.e., that economic growth and environmental protection are incompatible), yet Shearman and Smith insist upon a categorical tradeoff between liberty and life itself, which false choice ironically reinforces my point. Fine: I'm willing to accept that but would, along with most Americans, insist on Patrick Henry's ringing reply.
I hope Hayward is right that most Americans remain reluctant to trade their rights for the possibility of reducing the globe's temperature by half-a-degree Fahrenheit (or Celsius... pick your poison) some decades hence. But regulation is slow, remorseless, difficult to see coming and even more difficult to resist. Seldom are power grabs as naked as the Waxman-Markey bill now winding through Congress, even though it's fair to say that few people have or ever will actually read the bill under discussion.
Often the proposals come in the garb of reasonable and incremental proposals and exhortations to do good. In Great Britain, for example, the chief executive of the Committee on Climate Change says that Britons will need to change their diets if they have any hope of cutting carbon emissions. According to the Times of London:
Government advisers are developing menus to combat climate change by cutting out “high carbon” food such as meat from sheep, whose burping poses a serious threat to the environment.
Out will go kebabs, greenhouse tomatoes and alcohol. Instead, diners will be encouraged to consume more potatoes and seasonal vegetables, as well as pork and chicken, which generate fewer carbon emissions.
Beer and whiskey harm the planet because "the growing and processing of crops such as hops and malt into beer and whisky helping to generate 1.5% of the nation’s greenhouse gases." Yet David Kennedy insists his committee is not attempting to force anyone to anything. "We are not saying that everyone should become vegetarian or give up drinking but moving towards less carbon intensive foods will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve health,” said Kennedy.
Kennedy's assurances should fool no one. It may be true that Kennedy and his band of despotic do-gooders do not wish to ban the production of certain foods and beverages -- today. They almost certainly want to tax beef, lamb, beer and whiskey to such an extent that only the rich, well-connected, and aforementioned favored members of the entertainment-political-industrial complex could afford them. Americans must know this is coming to the United States. As for me, they can have my bottle of Rittenhouse Rye when they pry it from my cold, dead hand.
You've got to hand it to the liberal greens, though: They love "life" so much that they're willing to wipe out most everyone's standard of living to make it last as long as possible.
The dead may be carbon neutral, but they can't pay taxes, either. And, really, what's more important than that?