Mark W. Hendrickson
Mark W. Hendrickson is a faculty member, economist, and contributing scholar with the Center for Vision and Values at Grove City College, Grove City, Pennsylvania. These articles are from V & V, a web site of the Center for Vision & Values.
A Book Review of Brian Sussman's Eco-Tyranny
Eco-Tyranny: How the Left's Green Agenda Will Dismantle America, by Brian Sussman. WND Books (April 17, 2012), 315 pp., List Price: $25.95
In Eco-Tyranny, author Brian Sussman sounds a timely and important warning: The radical "greens" are not in retreat. With the defeat of cap-and-trade legislation in 2010 and the increasingly discredited alarmist theory of anthropogenic global warming, the greens may have lowered their public profile; however, with the full cooperation of the Obama administration, they are forging ahead with their illiberal agenda of gaining ever more control over the American economy and people.
Sussman, a trained meteorologist and veteran San Francisco talk-show host, has followed up his 2010 demolition of the global warming quackery, Climategate, with a book that takes a big-picture view of the history, ideology, and goals of the anti-capitalist, anti-people green movement.
The event that drove Sussman to write Eco-Tyranny was a federal document to which a Department of Interior employee had alerted him. On October 5, 2009, President Obama signed an executive order titled, "Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance." Although that title hints at the immense scope of the order, it understates the frightening extent to which it expands the power of the federal government and constricts the rights and liberty of private citizens. According to Sussman's Interior Department insider, the long-term goal of President Obama's "green team" is to "divide the country into sectors where all humans would be herded into urban hubs" while most of the land would be "returned to a natural state upon which humans would only be allowed to tread lightly." (The full text of the 14-page executive order is reproduced in the appendix of Eco-Tyranny.)
Far too few Americans are aware that environmentalism is one of the most virulent illiberal ideologies in the world. Sussman traces the history of illiberal environmentalism from the 1800s up to the present, and he includes a helpful summary of key dates in the appendix.
Remarkably, Sussman shows readers that such destructive figures as Marx, Lenin, and Hitler were intellectual and political forerunners of the modern illiberal green movement. Readers will be interested to learn of the four left-wingers who influenced and shaped the thinking of Rachel Carson, whose 1962 book, Silent Spring, marked the birth of the modern environmentalist movement.
Eco-Tyranny shows how closely the American left has worked to fulfill the United Nations' explicit plans to hamstring American prosperity, using hundreds of billions of our own tax dollars against us.
Yes, we the American taxpayers have financed the green elite's war against efficient energy sources. Sussman includes chapters devoted to the green attacks against nuclear energy and fossil fuels, with another chapter devoted to the wasteful, uneconomical boondoggles of wind and solar energy. It is with no little irony that Sussman retells the story of President Obama denouncing oil as an undesirable source of energy from the headquarters of the now-bankrupt solar energy firm, Solyndra.
After his "greens against cheap energy" chapters comes an excellent chapter tracing the greens' multi-decade campaign to limit Americans' access to water. What becomes clear from Sussman's "big-picture" view of the green movement is how monstrously misanthropic it is. The radical greens are committed to reforming life in America to make it less free and less prosperous.
The quibbles that I have with Eco-Tyranny are minor. There are silly errors of detail - the kind of mistakes that slip into books that are rushed into print (e.g., erroneously stating that the late Indian Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, had been married to "the Gandhi," meaning the mahatma; writing that a man who was born in 1901 died at age 39 in 1939; calling ANWR the "Alaskan" rather than "Arctic National Wildlife Refuge"). My other gripe is the gratuitous use of derogatory or ideological adjectives - denigrating former President Carter as a "peanut farmer" and a tendency to label everyone who cares about environmental quality as "liberal" or "radical," when, in truth, many Americans who have been seduced by the green movement are not leftists, but simply decent people who value a clean environment.
The book's afterword contains a 12-point agenda for rolling back the greens' well-advanced, oppressive agenda. It includes abolishing the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Energy and the Endangered Species Act; turning ownership of federal parks to the states; divesting federal lands to the private sector; reducing the multiple legislative and administrative barriers to the development of our nation's abundant fossil fuel resources and much more.
To say that such an agenda is dauntingly ambitious is an understatement. But the very fact that that the list covers so much ground indicates how far advanced the green agenda is. Indeed, the greens have spent decades putting into place their oppressive infrastructure of bureaucracies and regulations. When one looks at his own stated plans for the future, then one realizes that although undoing the mischief of decades will be a prodigious task, Sussman's pro-liberty, pro-prosperity, pro-human and, yes, pro-environment, agenda is imperative.
We need more knowledgeable people like Brian Sussman sounding the alarm - and more people heeding it.
Obama's Popularity with Young Voters
According to a recent USA Today/Gallup poll, Americans under the age of 30 favor President Barack Obama over Mitt Romney by almost a two-to-one margin. This is a startling statistic. What explains the lopsided support for President Obama among younger Americans?
I think the two main reasons are ideological and personal.
It's no revelation to say that young people tend to be more liberal about issues like the redistribution of wealth. You may have heard the old adage, Anyone who is not a socialist when he is 20, has no heart; anyone who is still a socialist when he is 30, has no mind. I lived that adage. I was a young socialist 40 years ago who voted for the likable-but-too-conservative George McGovern. Then, after emerging from the collegiate cocoon, weaning myself from financial dependency on others, and seeing the real-world devastation wrought by socialism, I embraced capitalism.
The fact of the matter is that our intellect develops more slowly than our feelings. In my case, my youthful concern for the poor never left me. I simply recognized that markets, however imperfect, are far more effective at reducing poverty than government programs and socialist dystopias. Likewise, today's youth generally have good intentions; they just don't always perceive the optimal means to attain their goals. When you combine that intellectual immaturity with the barrage of leftist indoctrination that many colleges inflict on them - plus their support of certain Obama social policies - it is no wonder that the under-30 segment of our population favors President Obama.
As significant as the ideological factor is for explaining the millennials' support for him, the president's personal attractiveness to them looms equally large. Indeed, the young are not unique in voting in response to a presidential candidate's likability. We have known at least since the Kennedy-Nixon race (JFK's fresh-faced handsomeness contrasted with Nixon's off-putting jowly, five o'clock shadow during their televised debates) that many Americans vote for a president on the basis of the wrapping rather than the contents of the package - the triumph of image over substance. This may not speak well for our country's political maturity, or perhaps even for democracy itself, but personality often trumps policy.
I have spoken to several under-30s recently, and I was struck by how often they referred to President Obama as cool or "hip." Indeed, he can be very winsome. He has that charismatic, incandescent smile; the ability to project gravitas and dignity in one moment and then to be disarmingly informal and down-home normal in the next; the talent for delivering a text in tones that are alternately inspiring, warm, soothing, or fired with passion; and a knack for coming across as level-headed, genuine, reasonable, quietly confident, and so very accessible in his well-crafted television commercials.
If young Americans want to vote for President Obama because he is cooler than Romney, that is their right and privilege. It is sad, though, that they seem oblivious to the high price they are paying for "coolness." Underneath the hip, attractive surface is a president who says many of the "right" things about helping America move forward, and then cynically acts in ways that hamper progress. Many young Americans (and not a few older ones) who find Obama attractive have a hard time connecting the dots and comprehending just how harmful his policies have been for young Americans.
Do the under-30s really want a president who has tried and succeeded in raising the price of electricity and gasoline; who has hastened the day of Social Security's insolvency by cutting the revenues to that program; who has raised future taxes on young Americans through the reckless addition of trillions of dollars to the national debt; whose policies have pushed food prices higher; who has tried to keep home prices from falling to levels that would make them affordable to younger Americans?
Do they want four more years of an aggressively anti-business, hyper-regulatory administration that has squelched job growth and employment opportunities?
Do they want to continue down the path to a European-style welfare state like Spain, where close to half of young adults are unemployed?
I think not, but that is the kind of country they may vote for. Too many young Americans don't connect the current economic stagnation with the president's policies. They are charmed by his personality while being harmed by his policies. Because I too was once young, I understand that President Obama is like the Pied Piper wooing, attracting and seducing the young, who merrily and blindly follow his bewitching tune. I hope they veer off this path before it reaches its inevitable tragic end, a future they don't want to experience. *