Thomas Sowell

 Among the many luxuries that wealth can buy is insulation from reality -- the most dangerous luxury of all. Another dangerous luxury is a sense of being one of the wonderfully special people with superior wisdom and virtue. Environmental extremism flourishes among those who can afford both luxuries.

Did you know that people in the wealthy San Francisco suburb of Sausalito, across the bay, own 80,000 acres of land in Kenya? What are they doing with it? They are setting it aside as a nature preserve, in order to keep poor people in Kenya from hunting animals for food on those 80,000 acres.

 There are laments from Wildlife Works of Sausalito, the owners of the land, that poachers are hunting in this sacrosanct wilderness anyway and that 20 percent of the meat sold in Nairobi comes from animals killed in this preserve. According to the San Francisco Chronicle: "With half the population living below the poverty line, the temptation to poach for bush meat is strong."

 What are rich people doing, in the first place, trying to stop poor people on the other side of the world from getting something to eat? They are feeding their own egos by hindering poor Africans from feeding themselves.

 It's not a racial thing. The green zealots would stop anybody from doing anything they don't approve of. They talk grandly about "protecting" this, "preserving" that, or "saving" something else.

 From what? From other people. Nor is this just a matter of buying up things to keep them out of other people's hands. Far more often, green zealots want the government to deprive other people of the right to use land or resources for their own purposes, rather than for the recreational or other purposes preferred by the green zealots.

 They want bans on the building of housing under "open space" laws. They want "historical preservation" laws to keep old buildings -- even an old racetrack -- from being torn down, because that could be a prelude to building homes for other people.

 In the United States, those other people have just as much right to the "equal protection of the laws" under the Constitution. But what is the Constitution when the green zealots are on a crusade?

 Denying other people the same rights that you claim for yourself is the essence of bigotry. People who call themselves environmentalists could more accurately be called green bigots.

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

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