Do You Want to Live in a World Where?

In Economics, Environment, Life by Max McGuire0 Comments

Do you want to live in a world where environmentalists determine:[1]

  • Whether you will drive the large, luxurious, and safe car that you prefer or the small, less comfortable, and more dangerous car that they prefer?
  • Or whether you will even drive at all, or take public transport, or walk, or ride a bike?
  • The temperature at which you set your thermostat?
  • What kind of light bulb that you will use?
  • What type of insulation you will have in your home?
  • How much air flow there is in and out of your home?
  • Whether you will use disposable or cloth diapers?
  • Whether you will use plastic or cloth grocery bags?
  • Whether you will use nuclear or fossil fuels, or expensive wind or solar energy?
  • Whether you will eat organic or non-organic foods?
  • Whether you will eat meat or vegetables?
  • Whether you will eat a wide variety of delightful and helpful foods that are transported to us from all around the world, or just those foods that grow within 25-50 miles from where you live?
  • How many children you will have?
  • Or if you will have any children at all?

I certainly don’t want to live in a world like this, and I would guess you don’t either.

But as Cal Beisner explains in the above video from the Cornwall Alliance’s DVD Series, Resisting the Green Dragon, these are in fact the questions that many environmentalists would like to determine for you.

As a resident of Portland, Oregon, one example from this list particularly hits home:

“Or whether you will even drive at all, or take public transport, or walk, or ride a bike?”

Portland, often touted as one of the most well planned cities because of the “smart growth” policies of the government planners, is supposedly a model for the country for transit and urban growth planning.

But those of us who actually have to live and commute here know better.  I would say it’s more like a model for other cities of what not to do.

Growing up in Portland, I have seen the devastating effects the government planners have caused in traffic congestion and housing prices, and the extra burdens they have placed on taxpayers to cover the costs of subsidized rail transit and subsidized high-density housing.[2]

In a recent post by Randal O’Toole, Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute, from his blog The Antiplanner, we learn:

“According to the Texas Transportations institute’s latest urban mobility report, Portland has more congestion today (measured by hours of delay per auto commuter) than Los Angeles did 30 years ago, when LA was considered to be about the worst congested city in the world.

It’s no wonder, since Portland and Oregon have added virtually no new road capacity since the 1970’s, when the region’s population was about half of what it is today.  Although officials complained … that new capacity was too expensive, the region hasn’t hesitated to spend roughly $5 billion on light rail lines that carry an insignificant share of the region’s traffic.”

That’s right, Portland and it’s regional transportation agency TriMet (along with the help of the Federal Government), have sunk billions into a light rail system that only a small percentage of the population uses, while neglecting to add desperately needed road capacity, when cars remain to be the transport of choice for more than 90% of urban passenger travel.

And now they’re building an idiotically expensive bridge just for public transit and pedestrians.  No evil cars allowed!

But before I digress any further, what does this all come down to?

The urban planners and environmentalists want to tell you how to live your life, because they know what’s best.

Ultimately, it’s about power:

O’Toole, in his book The Vanishing Automobile and Other Urban Myths: How Smart Growth Will Harm American Cities, frames it like this:

“Who gets to decide how you travel and where you live, work, and shop: you, or a government planner who thinks cars are immoral and that you should walk to the grocery store and take mass transit to work?”[3]

Smart growth advocates say this form of government planning is necessary to prevent urban “sprawl”, which they blame for congestion, pollution, unaffordable housing, and high taxes.[4]

But instead of fixing or saving these problems, smart growth makes them worse.

Urban sprawl is not a real problem.  As with global warming, it is an invented problem.

A problem invented to take away your rights and give more power to the government planners.

Decisions about how you should travel and the types of decisions Beisner lists in the video are not part of government’s God-given role to determine.  They should be determined by individuals acting in their own self-interest in a free market.

For more on the pitfalls of smart growth specifically and government planning in general, see the numerous articles and books written by Randal O’Toole which can be found on his page at the Cato Institute and at his blog The Antiplanner.  O’Toole spent many years working for environmental groups and has a unique background to bring to these topics.

For a Biblical view of population, resources, and the future, I recommend reading Cal Beisner’s book Prospects for Growth, which also includes an excellent chapter on Growth and Planning.

Last but not least, grab yourself a copy of the recently published DVD It’s Easy Being Green When You Have No Choice, which includes interviews with both Beisner and O’Toole, and exposes the hidden agendas behind smart growth and sustainable development.


[1] Beisner, E. Calvin. Resisting the Green Dragon: Session 10 – The Move Toward a Global Government. Rec 2010. The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation. DVD.

[2] O’Toole, Randal. The Vanishing Automobile and Other Urban Myths: How Smart Growth Will Harm American Cities. Bandon: Thoreau Institute, 2001. 27. Print.

[3] Ibid, 29.

[4] Ibid, 27.

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Max runs a solo CPA practice in Portland, Oregon. His new blog on environmentalism from a Christian’s perspective can be found at ecotruth.com.

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