America's native criminal class
By Paul Driessen
There is no distinctly native American criminal class, Mark Twain observed – except Congress.
A century later, government power and intrusiveness have increased exponentially. As a result, virtually every business and interest now employs lobbyists who can navigate Washington, explain technology to tech-challenged members and staffs, show why provisions are vital or disastrous, and give clients "a seat at the table" where subsidies, mandates, taxes and penalties are meted out.
The system is both the cause and result of far too many congressmen becoming members of what commentator Charles Krauthammer calls an "ambitious, arrogant, unscrupulous knowledge class" that has arrogated unto itself the right to rule American citizens – today in the name of saving planet Earth.
Even legislators who don't keep wads of thank-you cash in their freezers have committed misfeasance and malfeasance, by handling vital energy, environmental and economic matters in ways that would likely be prosecuted if done by businessmen. Lawmakers, eco-activists and companies routinely engage in social experimentation and central planning akin to previous Great Leaps Forward – and refuse to acknowledge the damage their actions inflict on workers, families, minorities and other businesses.
They have locked up enough oil, gas, coal and uranium to power the United States literally for centuries. Representatives of six of the nation's eight biggest petroleum-consuming states routinely vote to ban drilling off our coasts and in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
The Interior Department says these lands could hold more than the proven oil reserves of Iran or Iraq: 139 billion barrels that could be obtained with today's technology. When Congress tells Americans we can't have energy that is rightfully ours, it forces us to import more oil, export trillions of dollars, and give up jobs, tax revenues, royalties and security that developing US resources would generate.
Drilling bans also increase the risk of more spills from tankers carrying oil to replace what politicians have put off limits. In sixty years of offshore oil operations, only the 1969 Santa Barbara blowout resulted in significant oil reaching shore. Offshore oil platforms rarely pollute; they create magnificent artificial reefs. As a scuba diver, I've seen them firsthand, including the beauty where that blowout occurred.
When Senator Maria Cantwell and colleagues demand that President Bush tell Saudi Arabia to produce more oil – or else – they are saying: We don't care if we're devouring oil the rest of the world desperately needs, and driving up the cost of food and fuel for the poorest families on Earth. No drilling for US oil.
When Congress doles out subsidies for ethanol, it converts tens of millions of acres of crop and habitat land into cornfields, diverts billions of gallons of water and fertilizer from food to energy, and sends fuel and food prices even higher.
When it excoriates corporate executives for making profits – and silently endorses NRDC campaigns to stop petroleum leasing and drilling in western states – it shows it's happy to eliminate jobs and energy production in the face of soaring demand and prices, and turn those states into playgrounds for wealthy elites, unaffordable for average Americans.
But for sheer arrogance and economy-wrecking, nothing compares to climate change legislation, like the 491-page Warner-Lieberman bill. The Senate rejected it last week, but it will surely be back.
32,000 scientists have signed the consensus-busting Oregon Petition, saying they find "no convincing evidence" that human greenhouse gas emissions disrupt the Earth's climate. Atmospheric CO2 levels have been rising about 3% per year, while average global temperatures have not increased since 1998. Indeed, the 1.4 degree F global decline in 2007 offsets the total net warming during the twentieth century, notes meteorologist Anthony Watts. Not one of the computer models that conjure up apocalyptic climate scenarios forecast this temperature stabilization and downturn.
However, Senators Clinton, Obama, McCain and colleagues still insist that US carbon dioxide emissions be slashed by 71% – to levels last seen in 1937, during the Great Depression, when our population was one-third of today's, and electricity use was in its infancy. They would increasingly tax the 85% of our energy that is generated by fossil fuels. And sequestering all that plant-fertilizing CO2 would cost trillions of dollars in soaring energy costs, and require vast quantities of electricity.
Many people and lawmakers are only now recognizing the magnitude of these costs. But Senators Reid and Boxer remain determined to enact punitive climate legislation. They have the support of numerous activists, banks, scientists and corporations, who call it landmark "green" legislation – as in $$$$ for research, complex cap-and-trade tax deals, government handouts, mandates and subsidies for unreliable renewable energy, and opportunities to gain advantages over competitors.
The climate bill "would make an unprecedented investment in conservation of wildlife and habitats," the National Wildlife Federation recently told outdoor writers – by preventing fanciful computer-generated climate disasters. Notes the Wall Street Journal: the $3.32 TRILLION in cap-and-trade auction revenues that Senator Boxer "expects to scoop up" by 2050 are exceeded only by the trillions in "revenue handouts" she has already promised to friendly companies, activists and local communities.
Certain politicians are promoting a 3-month gasoline tax holiday. But climate legislation would mean this brief holiday is followed by decades of energy and climate tax slavery. Gasoline could hit $6 or even $8 a gallon, and the soaring cost of electricity and natural gas could more than double by 2030, according to the American Council on Capital Formation and other analysts.
The impact on services for poor, elderly, disabled and homebound people – and on airlines and manufacturing industries – would be disastrous. In impoverished Third World countries, the effects would be catastrophic and lethal, as global warming pacts are translated into ever higher prices for food, and a permanent dearth of affordable electricity for economic growth, lights, refrigeration and sanitation.
Make no mistake. Warner-Lieberman and its unsavory kin have nothing to do with saving the planet. They are about the power to control – and curtail – the power we rely on: for homes, offices, hospitals, food, consumer products, transportation and modern living standards.
They are about who gets to decide: how much energy we will have … where that energy will come from … what it will cost … whether there will be enough to lift more families out of poverty … and who will be the winners and losers in the new world of government-mandated energy scarcity. They are about creating a massive, regressive tax and regulatory scheme – to take the hard-earned incomes of millions, and redistribute it to constituencies that politicians judge are most likely to keep them in office.
It's truly ironic. Fifty years ago, Democrats were defending the Jim Crow laws they enacted to keep blacks from schools, lunch counters, buses and drinking fountains. Today, Democrats are leading the fight to impose what Congress of Racial Equality chairman Roy Innis aptly calls "Jim Crow energy policies" that block access to energy, drive up prices, and keep minorities from achieving economic civil rights.
Even more ironic, four decades ago, Republicans led by Senator Everett Dirksen wrote and enacted landmark civil rights bills. Today, a biracial Democratic presidential candidate and Senate Republicans like John Warner and John McCain are championing Jim Crow energy and climate policies that trample on economic opportunities and civil rights.
These policies are criminal – far more so than anything Mark Twain ever dreamed possible.
Paul Driessen is senior policy advisor for the Congress of Racial Equality and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power ∙ Black death.