"Sustainable justice" = redistribution of scarcity
By Paul Driessen and Duggan Flanakin
Presidential candidate Barack Obama promised that his Administration would "fundamentally transform the United States of America." He gave a clue to exactly what he had in mind when he told now-congressional candidate Joe "The Plumber" Wurzelbacher: "When you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody."
Not necessarily – especially when activists, regulators, politicians and ruling elites do all they can to ensure there is less and less wealth to spread around.
Just last week, the Civil Society Reflection Group on Global Development Perspectives released a new report to the United Nations Rio+20 Earth Summit on Sustainable Development. The executive summary of No Future Without Justice begins with the heading, "The World Is in Need of Fundamental Change." The document then offers "solutions," which include "universal fiscal equalization" and a "massive and absolute decoupling of well-being from resource extraction and consumption."
The 18-member Group includes no Americans – but condemns the US and other governments for their dedication to economic growth, rather than wealth redistribution, and demands that governments play a key role in promoting "sustainability" and welfare. They insist that all governments provide universal access to public health care, guaranteed state allowances for every child, guaranteed state support for the unemployed and underemployed, and basic universal pensions and universal social security.
It is, in short, the total nanny state – but with little or no resource extraction or economic growth to support it. In other words, it guarantees sustained injustice and redistribution of increasing scarcity.
The Group admits that human civilization "will still need some form of growth in large parts of the world, to expand the frontiers of maximum available resources for poor countries." However, the massive investments needed to shift to a totally renewable energy and resource-based economy will require "massive de-growth (shrinkage) of products, sectors and activities that do not pass the sustainability test" – as devised by them, affiliated organizations and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
Key financial support for the push toward "sustainability" includes a "greener" and "more progressive" tax system featuring a financial transaction tax, abolition of subsidies for all but renewable energy, cutting military spending while dramatically increasing "stimulus" spending, a compensation scheme to pay off "climate debts" to poor countries supposedly impacted by hydrocarbon-driven climate change, a new regulatory framework for financial markets, a financial product safety commission, and still more regulations for hedge funds and private equity funds. The Group also demands public control of financial rating agencies and a government takeover of international accounting standards.
To ensure that "sustainable development" permeates every aspect of society, the Group proposes a new "Sherpa" for Sustainability (with cabinet rank), a parliamentary committee on policy coherence for sustainability, a UN Sustainability Council, a Universal Periodic Review on Sustainability, and an Ombudsman for Intergenerational Justice and Future Generations. It also proposes an International Panel on Sustainability that builds on the "success" of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Of course, guiding all this would be the world's premiere political body and bastion of freedom, fairness, democracy and human rights – the UN General Assembly.
To guide this "fundamental" shift toward the sustainability paradigm, the Group laid down eight principles – the key being the "precautionary principle," which forbids any activity that might involve risk or "do harm." Its own sustainability prescriptions are, of course, exempted from any reviews under the precautionary principle.
The objective, they state, is to build economies that drastically limit carbon emissions, energy consumption, primary resource extraction, waste generation, and air and water pollution. Society must also stop the asserted and computer-modeled loss of species and ruination of ecosystems.
All this naturally will require mandatory changes in consumption patterns and lifestyles (at least for the common folk), and the recognition that work (unlike capital) is not a production factor. Indeed, says the Group, work is not even a commodity. Moreover, only "decent" work qualifies under the sustainability paradigm. (While "decent work" is never defined, it presumably includes backbreaking sunup-to-sundown labor at subsistence farming, which under the Group's agenda would be called "traditional" or "organic" farming and would not be replaced by modern mechanized agriculture.)
What is the source of all of this gobbledygook? Agenda 21, the centerpiece of the original Rio Earth Summit – which is being perpetuated, refined and redefined at parallel proceedings in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, while the main sustainability discussions are ongoing in Rio de Janeiro.
Agenda 21 states, for example, that "achieving the goals of environmental quality and sustainable development will require ... changes in consumption patterns." This too would be achieved under UN auspices because, as Earth Summit creator Maurice Strong has explained, the days of national sovereignty are over, and the world needs to embrace a system of wealth transfer to ensure environmental security.
In short, "sustainable development" is a system that requires a redefinition of business activity, away from the pursuit of personal profit – and of government activity, away from the pursuit of individual happiness and justice – and toward the pursuit of societal good, as defined by activists and the UN.
Simply put, as Brian Sussman points out in his new book, Eco-Tyranny, the ultimate goal of those who endorse the sustainability paradigm is to expunge "the most precious" rights expressed in the American Declaration of Independence: "that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among them are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness – that to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed."
The Agenda 21 and sustainability paradigm also rejects and undermines Adam Smith's belief that mankind's natural tendency toward self-interest, profit and self-improvement results in greater prosperity, opportunity, health, welfare and justice for all.
Most of all, the UN/Maurice Strong/ Civil Society Reflection Group vision is merely the latest embodiment of Plato's Republic. Under Plato's thesis, an educated, elite, but benevolent and mythical, ruling class acts on the belief that its self-appointed philosopher kings have all the right answers, and do not require the Consent of the Governed. The rest of humanity must fall into lockstep or face the consequences; however the results will be exemplary.
Unfortunately, as Alexander Hamilton observed, men are not angels. Moreover, it defies experience and common sense to suppose that the elitist UN, UNEP and environmental activist community will ever display wisdom detached from ardent ideology – or benevolence toward the humans they seek to govern.
Paul Driessen is senior policy advisor for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power - Black death. Duggan Flanakin is director of research and international programs for CFACT.