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President's Council on Sustainable Freedom

By Henry Lamb
web posted February 9, 2004

Perhaps the best thing that George W. Bush can do for the country, and for his presidency, is to take a leaf from Bill Clinton's playbook, and issue an executive order to create the President's Council on Sustainable Freedom.

Bill Clinton created a President's Council on Sustainable Development, which operated from 1993 to 1999. Its influence continues to permeate virtually every agency of government at every level. The purpose of Clinton's Council was to analyze existing legislation and regulations to find ways to implement the recommendations contained in the U.N.'s Agenda 21.

The purpose of George Bush's Council on Sustainable Freedom should be to analyze existing legislation and regulations to find ways to implement the principles of freedom set forth in the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence.

Clinton appointed Cabinet Secretaries, chief executives from environmental organizations, and a handful of executives of industry (but only friendly executives, such as Ken Lay from ENRON). George Bush should appoint Cabinet Secretaries, chief executives from property rights and resource use organizations, elected officials from state and local government, and ordinary business people.

Clinton's Council was financed by donations from huge foundations, supplemented by staff from the various agencies. Bush's Council should welcome private donations, supplemented by staff from the various agencies. Clinton's Council operated for seven years; Bush's Council should sunset after five years.

Environmental organizations and Democrats would howl and scream, claiming that the project is unnecessary, and caters to right-wing extremists. Bush should ignore the noise, just as Bill Clinton ignored the protests from property rights and resource use advocates in 1993.

No one can deny that America's freedoms have been systematically eroded by government, in recent years. Since the first purpose of government is to protect America's freedom, it is a perfectly legitimate function of government to analyze, and to correct the laws and regulations that are eroding those freedoms.

Many of the laws and regulations that have been enacted were designed to benefit society, in one way or another, with little or no thought about the possible negative impact on fundamental freedom guaranteed to every American by the Constitution. The Endangered Species Act, for example, was designed to benefit society by protecting the Bald Eagle, and a few other species thought to be on the brink of extinction.

Over the years, however, this law, and its attendant regulations, has elevated the status of nearly 2000 species of weeds and bugs, above the right of a land owner to plant a crop. Laws written to confiscate the assets of criminals, are now being used to confiscate property of un-convicted suspects, and sold to finance law enforcement agencies.

Congress has been unable, or unwilling, to stop the proliferation of these laws and regulations, and there is little evidence of sensitivity to the growing problem, except by a handful of legislators.

Much, if not most, of the problem arises from the rules promulgated to implement the laws adopted by Congress. At a meeting of the President's Council on Sustainable Development, the Secretary of Commerce reported the he could implement 67 of the Agenda 21 recommendations by changing the rules of existing legislation.

An honest analysis, aided by independent individuals who are affected by the rules and regulations, would likely reveal that the principles of freedom could be advanced by changes in the rules of implementation. Honest analysis, and an effective response, cannot occur without strong leadership. Bill Clinton provided that leadership for those whose goal was to advance Agenda 21 in American policy. George Bush can provide the leadership, and the opportunity, for those who wish to advance the principles of freedom.

Unless some dramatic action is taken to preserve and apply the principles of freedom in public policy, freedom cannot be sustained. Individual freedom is the defining characteristic of America, and the power that made the nation great. Without that freedom, America will continue to drift toward the socialist goals of Agenda 21, and to the ultimate goal of a world governed by the consensus of international socialists who believe that government, not God, is the grantor of human rights and freedoms.

George Bush would do well to create a President's Council on Sustainable Freedom, and thereby declare his commitment to advancing the principles of freedom at home, as well as around the world.

Henry Lamb is the executive vice president of the Environmental Conservation Organization (ECO), and chairman of Sovereignty International.

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