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Social engineering: national suicide

By Henry Lamb
web posted December 1, 2008

Social engineering by government always ends in disaster.  Social engineering occurs when government passes laws and regulations that force citizens to behave the way government thinks they should behave.  Prohibition is a great example of social engineering.  In 1919, government decided that its citizens should not drink "intoxicating liquors."  This "government-knows-best" idea produced more than a decade of lawlessness far worse than citizen intoxication.  Prohibition was repealed in 1933.

Free people in a free market always produce the best products, most efficiently, at the lowest price.  Every time government "engineering" intrudes into the market, products, efficiency, price – and consumers - ultimately suffer.  

Social engineering is always proposed with the best of intentions and sold with grandiose utopian promises.  The promises are rarely realized, and the unintended consequences are never anticipated.

Among the goals of the social engineers in the 1970s was a "right" to affordable housing.  A U.N. treaty set forth this right and Congress quickly enacted the Community Reinvestment Act, which required lending institutions to extend loans to people who would not qualify for a loan in a free market.  Social engineers in the Clinton administration were not satisfied with the number of loans made to unqualified people, and further intruded into the free market by further relaxing lending standards.

Social engineers applauded the great success of their engineering, claiming more people than ever before were now homeowners.  All was well with the world - until the unqualified borrowers failed to meet their responsibilities and defaulted on their loan payments.

Social engineers are quick to point the finger of blame at "greedy capitalists," but the blame lies not with the market, nor the market's propensity to profit.  The blame lies squarely with the social engineers who dared to force the market to make loans to people who could not, or would not, repay them.  The result is the current economic disaster. 

Government, at every level, whether controlled by Democrats or Republicans, is full of social engineers.  The recent elections added a bumper crop of rambunctious social engineers, all eager to intrude into the market wherever possible. 

"Cap-and-trade" is high on the priority list of social engineers.  It is being sold using the utopian promise that it will reduce greenhouse emissions and thereby save the planet from global warming. It will do neither, of course, but the inevitable unanticipated consequences will be far worse than anything yet experienced.

Social engineers will "cap" allowable greenhouse gas emissions at a level they determine to be appropriate.  This level will be substantially below the 1990 level, and require a dramatic reduction in the use of fossil fuel.  This maximum emissions cap will be allocated among all the businesses that produce greenhouse gases, and each business will be required to reduce their emissions to this arbitrary limit – or – purchase "credits" from businesses that have not used their entire allotment.    This is also known as putting an arbitrary value on hot air.

Businesses will be forced to buy credits – and pass the cost on to their customers.  Or, they can invest in new technology, if available, and pass these costs on to their customers.  Either way, higher energy costs are inevitable.  Energy is the fuel that powers the entire economy.  This cap-and-trade engineering will force a reduction in energy use, forcing a reduction in economic output, at higher prices.  The magnitude of economic impact of this scheme is negative beyond comprehension.  The tragedy is that the scheme is totally unnecessary and, according to more than 31,000 scientists, will have no effect on global climate.

Social engineers are also chomping at the bits to ratify more U.N. treaties, each with its' own devastating consequences.  The U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea was approved by the Foreign Relations Committee last December, but Conservatives kept it away from a Senate vote.  It will surely be revisited by this new crop of social engineers.

Another treaty high on the priority list is the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.  This treaty will effectively destroy the family, in that it gives government – not parents - the authority to dictate the way children are raised and educated. 

Throughout the 20th century, social engineers steadily gained influence.  The 21st century appears to be a continuation of this trend.  This has been possible, not because their philosophy is valid; it clearly is not.  Social engineering has expanded because the determination of their advocates has been met by apathy from their opponents.

Americans who believe in individual freedom, free markets, and the prosperous America created by our Founders, must realize that this wonderful system of government must be defended daily from the social engineers who believe they know best how everyone else should behave. ESR

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

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