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Liberty and Tyranny II

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

As a child growing up in the 1970s, I was always taught that Franklin Roosevelt was a great president – largely because his New Deal policies lifted us out of the Great Depression. But my teachers never told me that Roosevelt raised the top income tax rate to 79 percent before raising it to 90 percent.

The year after the 1929 stock market crash, unemployment was less than nine percent. It would not fall below that level until our nation was involved in World War II. In fact, unemployment would peak at 24.9 percent during FDR’s first year in office. Now that unemployment is rising to levels approaching those of the early days of the Great Depression, we are in grave danger. The statist welcomes each oncoming crisis as an excuse to grow the state at the expense of individual liberty.

America’s very real economic crisis comes at a singularly inopportune time. It threatens to feed economic statism at a time when enviro-statism is on the rise. Mark Levin coined the term enviro-statism in his recent book Liberty and Tyranny. It is a term one must understand if one is to comprehend fully the statist agenda and its threat to constitutional liberty.

Those of us who lived in the 1970s recall the establishment of the EPA during the first year of that decade. Needing something to justify it existence, the EPA banned DDT in 1972. The ban was, of course, in response to Rachel Carson’s 1962 book Silent Spring, which argued that children were especially vulnerable to cancer – all without specific evidence that DDT was causing cancer in children.

With each passing year it is becoming more and more obvious that the ban on DDT has killed millions of children – especially in Africa – by crippling our ability to fight malaria. The home where Carson wrote Silent Spring is now a National Historical Landmark. Levin summed the situation up best when he observed, “There are no landmarks or memorials for those who suffered or perished from the banning of DDT.”

But the statist does not understand what Mark Levin is saying. The statist fails to recognize unalienable rights, which come from a Creator. To him, the creed “earth first” is more meaningful.

Nor does the statist understand the concept of the trade-off. His smug arrogance allows him an unlimited confidence in his capacity to find a “solution” to a “problem.” That is why Greenpeace statists campaigned against the incandescent light bulb in India. The fact that it emits carbon dioxide was a problem. So they proposed a ban as a solution.

In their rush to impose their enviro-statist agenda on India – a nation where 600 million live without electricity – they forgot about one thing: The polluting effect of burning kerosene for light. But the statist rarely stays around long enough to determine whether his “solution” may have caused another problem.

The statist Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards of the 1970s were intended to cut gasoline use, which would reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Of course, the more fuel-efficient cars have allowed drivers to pay less and, well, drive more. The statist rarely mentions that in 1970 we imported twenty percent of our oil. The “solution” did not work. Today, we import sixty percent of our oil.

And what about trade-offs? In order to meet standards imposed by Congress, we began to build smaller and lighter vehicles. The evidence indicates that thousands die annually in these smaller, lighter cars. But, remember the mantra: Earth first!

Indeed, urban planners are talking more and more about the concept of “smart growth.” The goal of these planners is to establish a closer balance with the ecosystem by forcing man into increasingly dense areas where cars are not needed. Instead, people rely on public transportation and bicycle paths. The statist may insist he is not a communist. But, clearly, he wants to bring people closer together and establish a communal existence.

What appears, at times, to be a lack of continuity in the statist’s message can best be explained by the statist’s insatiable appetite for problems, which provide opportunities for statist solutions.

For example, in 1975, Newsweek ran an article called “The Cooling World.” In it, they concluded that “The central fact is that after these three-quarters of a century of extraordinarily mild conditions, the earth’s climate seems to be cooling down.” In 2008, Newsweek ran a piece called “Global Warming Is a Cause of This Year’s Extreme Weather.”

But the statist is not merely satisfied with monitoring the weather affecting everyone who ventures out-of-doors. In California, statists are currently considering “programmable communicating thermostats” for all new homes in the Golden State. These devices will allow power authorities to set air conditioning and heat levels in private homes in accordance with what they deem to be the public good.

Don’t think for a moment that the statist will fail in his attempt to control every inch of our private property in search of “solutions” to environmental “problems.” The federal government has already (in 1992) outlawed the 3.5-gallon toilet and replaced it with the 1.6-gallon toilet.

A government that can control the inner workings of a bathroom is, indeed, a statist’s dream. But we will flush these and other issues out in a third, and final, installment tomorrow.

In the meantime, pick up a copy of Liberty and Tyranny, by Mark Levin.

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