June 13, 2010 – A scramble by Democrats on Capitol Hill to prevent a particular vote on a particular bill highlights for us two of the most pernicious threats to our liberties. Here’s the story.
In 2009 the Obama administration’s Environmental Protection Agency classified carbon dioxide gas—what you exhale from your lungs and what all plants breathe in—as a dangerous pollutant that the federal government can regulate. This means the EPA can regulate automobiles, manufacturing facilities, and pretty much every activity necessary for the support of human life.
But under the Congressional Review Act, passed as part of the Republicans’ Contract for America in the 1990s, a simple majority vote of both houses of Congress can overturn an executive branch regulation. And Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski has introduced just such a bill, which could garner support from Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller from coal-producing West Virginia and a few others of his party who worry about voter backlash against President Obama.
Obama would certainly veto such a bill, and Republicans as yet do not have enough votes to pass it. Still, Democratic leaders are trying to prevent a vote from being taken because even a losing vote could be an embarrassment to Obama. But the real embarrassment is the anti-carbon regulation itself. Consider the two pernicious ideas that, combined with human irrationality, are behind this regulation.
To begin with, for decades environmental cultists have been indoctrinating Americans to see the environment—that is, everything that isn’t us or isn’t made by us—as somehow of value not to us but, rather, above, beyond, and independent of us. Trees aren’t of value because their owners can enjoy walking through a forest of them or cut them down to make their houses. Those trees are sacred! They deserve respect. They have "rights." We should feel guilty about harming them.
Those dedicated to a human-centered philosophy must prepare the ground for the re-establishment of individual liberty.
A generation has been raised on this anti-human dogma. Few dare to object or to explore its implications. Many are as scared to raise questions about environmentalism today as a skeptic would have been to raise questions about religious dogma in Dark Age Europe—or would be in many Islamic countries today. Sacrilege is a terrible charge for many.
Al Gore, the Savonarola of this cult, has declared carbon to be satanic. It must be sequestered! It must be exorcized! And those indoctrinated in the cult will let themselves be driven to frenzy, to abrogate their minds, to follow the dictates of their deity.
Enter the other idea found in a small group of elites who believe that most adults are simply incapable of running their own lives and, in any case, don’t deserve to. These elite politicians see people as their playthings to be remolded, along with the world in which they live, in light of elite dogmas, including the environmental ones.
The eco-cult has given them the perfect excuse to claim unrestricted authority over every aspect of our lives. If they control everything that has to do with carbon, they control everything that has to do with life. And any individuals who might otherwise speak up in defense of their own right to life will be self-silenced for fear of being accused of heresy about the environment by the cult.
In Congress the move to take the power to control carbon emissions from the EPA will likely fail. But the debate could indeed be damaging to the cult and its political proponents. It could expose the hell-on-earth that such regulation will bring. It could expose the malevolent, anti-individual, and anti-human premises on which the regulation is based. And that could put Obama and the Democrats in a very awkward political position.
But that’s just why those who oppose the EPA regulation should force the debate, even though they’ll likely lose this time around. They need to educate the public and the upcoming generations about what is behind such controls. Just as Enlightenment thinkers in the past prepared the ground for individual liberty, so those dedicated to a human-centered philosophy must prepare the ground for the reestablishment of individual liberty in the future.
Edward Hudgins is research director at the Heartland Institute and former director of advocacy and senior scholar at The Atlas Society.