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Sustainable development; unsustainable freedom

By Henry Lamb
web posted May 31, 2004

America's rise to global dominance is the result of free people choosing their own representatives to make the laws by which we live. When elected representatives make laws that stray too far from the will of the people, those representatives can be replaced by representatives who more accurately reflect what the people want.

Sustainable development is designed to take this power away from the people, and place it in the hands of unelected individuals who cannot be replaced by the people, regardless of how far the laws they formulate stray from what the people want.

The essence of sustainable development is revealed in this "We Believe" statement issued by the President's Council on Sustainable Development:

"We need a new collaborative decision process that leads to better decisions; more rapid change; and more sensible use of human, natural, and financial resources in achieving our goals."

This "new collaborative decision process" is being constructed throughout the nation in the form of visioning councils, stakeholder councils, historic commissions, heritage commissions, regional councils, and a variety of other appointed bodies that are not accountable to the electorate.

This transformation of government was endorsed by President George Bush in 1992, and fully embraced by President Bill Clinton in 1993, when the PCSD was created by executive order, expressly for the purpose of implementing the U.N.'s Agenda 21. The federal government has handed out millions of dollars in grants to communities and non-government organizations to create and fund these councils to be developed community-wide, and regional plans to implement the recommendations set forth in Agenda 21.

Charlotte, North Carolina is one of hundreds of cities undergoing this transformation to sustainability. A regional commission is being formed to set policy for a 16-county area of North and South Carolina. Under the guise of coordinating transportation needs, and controlling air pollution, the regional plan that emerges from this commission will go much further, to limit or extinguish the freedom of people subject to the commission's jurisdiction.

Shelby County, Alabama has been undergoing this same kind of transformation for many months. The plan includes strict urban boundaries around towns and villages, forcing land prices and taxes to skyrocket. Outside the boundary, only one home per 160 acres is allowed.

In Richland County, South Carolina, the transformation has been underway since the late 1990s. The plan would create "villages" for people, and prohibit land owners from using their own land for homes. This plan goes much further. It would, according to the Thoreau Institute:

"...place numerous other restrictions on residents throughout the county. They must get permits to do anything, from holding a yard sale -- no more than two per year -- to putting up a front yard fence -- no more than four feet tall. New homes must have front porches and meet other requirements that will add tens of thousands of dollars to their cost -- not insignificant in an area where 77 percent of housing is worth less than $100,000."

Similar restrictions on individual freedom are being imposed all across the country in the name of sustainable development.

Virtually all these plans, from one end of the country to the other, reflect the policy recommendations set forth in Agenda 21. The federal government provides funding for the organizations that spearhead the visioning and planning process, and then uses federal funding as an incentive to pressure local governments to adopt the plans. Once these plans are adopted, long-cherished individual freedoms vanish.

What's worse, is the absence of accountability of elected officials. "We had to adopt it, or our funding would be cut off," is a frequent response of elected officials when challenged by disgruntled individuals. Officials who do oppose the process or the plan developed by non-elected "professionals," are typically ridiculed and marginalized as "right-wingers" out of the mainstream.

Consequently, we are seeing the transformation of the policy-making process in America, from one that reflects, and is controlled by the will of the people, to a process controlled by the selected elite, who have found ways to impose policies fashioned by the international community, to achieve what they believe to be sustainable development.

Freedom and sustainable development are mutually exclusive ideas. Freedom encourages people to do what they want to do; sustainable development dictates what people may, or may not do. Freedom empowers people to control government; sustainable development empowers government to control people.

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

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