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Unsustainable freedom

By Henry Lamb
web posted May 27, 2002

The opposite side of sustainable development is unsustainable freedom. Sustainable development means: government-managed integration of economic development, environmental protection, and social equity.

The concept of government-managed economic development is the opposite of free enterprise and free markets. The concept of government-managed environmental protection tramples the concept of private property rights. The concept of government-managed social equity penalizes individual achievement, enterprise and excellence, and rewards the opposite.

Sustainable development is government-managed development; freedom cannot survive in a government-managed society.

In a land that celebrates the recognition that "all men are created equal," with the inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, a person can no longer live wherever he chooses. If the choice is outside the urban boundary; in a critical habitat area; within the "view-shed" of a scenic byway; or is inconsistent with any of the government's management requirements, freedom is sacrificed on the altar of sustainable development.

Moreover, those people who have chosen to live within what has been designated as a buffer zone, or a proposed connecting corridor between wilderness areas, are being forced off their land in order to reshape our free society into a sustainable society. Klamath Basin farmers live in a proposed buffer zone. The Endangered Species Act was the vehicle chosen to deprive the farmers of their water to force them off the land. Although the farmers have won the battle for now, it is a temporary victory. Environmental organizations have sued to force the government to protect the fish, and force the people off the land.

The bible of sustainability is Agenda 21, adopted at the U.N. Conference on Environment and Development in 1992. The 10th anniversary of its adoption will be celebrated at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa, August 26 - September 4, 2002. More than 40,000 proponents of global governance are expected to gather to adopt a Plan of Action to speed the "wrenching transformation of society" into sustainability.

Agenda 21 was neither debated nor adopted by the United States Congress. It was imposed by Executive Order in 1993. Congress has allowed its implementation, and indeed, has adopted piecemeal legislation that effectively moves America closer to compliance. The Community Character Act, which offers bribe money to states that adopt the "Growing Smart Legislative Guidebook," is one example. This "guidebook" provides model legislation that imposes sustainable development on local governments.

The transformation of public education - Goals 2000 and School-to-Work - is basic to transforming society to sustainability. Schools no longer teach facts, knowledge and information to prepare students to achieve their maximum potential. They teach values, attitudes, and beliefs to prepare students to cooperate in a managed, sustainable society.

Students are being required to choose their work field by the eighth grade, and are guided toward the receipt of a "certificate of competence" in their work field. Government-managed development will hire only certified workers. Schools are being transformed to provide a managed workforce for a managed economy. In education too, freedom is being sacrificed on the altar of sustainable development.

Six national organizations came together three years ago to launch the Freedom 21 Campaign, in hopes of countering some of the negative aspects of Agenda 21. Subsequently, Freedom 21 Santa Cruz, was organized, to counter the impact of Local Agenda 21 in Santa Cruz - the first local community to adopt a local version of sustainable development.

Compared to the full force of the President's Council on Sustainable Development, supplemented by hundreds of well-funded, orchestrated environmental organizations, the Freedom 21 campaign is hardly a blip on the Agenda 21 radar. But it is gaining traction.

Armed with a full understanding of Agenda 21 and its corrosive effect on freedom, local grassroots organizations are confronting elected officials, and winning battles for freedom. The "Smart Growth" legislation proposed in Kentucky was soundly defeated. A Sierra Club-sponsored Smart Growth initiative in Arizona was also soundly defeated. Sanibel, Florida withdrew its endorsement of the Earth Charter. Florida's five-year "Sustainable Development" pilot program was not renewed.

With increasing frequency, freedom-loving individuals are interjecting themselves into "visioning councils," and "stakeholder councils" to insist that property rights and individual freedom be identified, valued, and protected in all visions of the future.

Freedom cannot survive sustainable development. But then - sustainable development cannot survive in a free society. Every candidate in every election should be asked to publicly declare his commitment to a free society, or a sustainable society - it cannot be both.

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

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