The "Sustainability" Con

The word “sustainable” has become a favorite term of the American Left. We hear about “sustainable” energy policy, “sustainable” transportation systems, “sustainable” growth, even “sustainable” communities. Now, sustainable is a perfectly good word, it’s just that liberals misuse it egregiously.  They never ask the question that any claim of “sustainability” requires, which is: At what cost?

Because, unless cost is considered, just about anything is “sustainable” – all you need to do is throw enough money at it (usually someone else’s money, by the way). What are really needed are policies that are economically viable (i.e. SELF-sustaining).  When subjected to that test, almost every liberal policy gets a failing grade.

Take Ethanol (“Take it…PLEASE!” to paraphrase Henny Youngman). It requires more energy to produce a gallon of Ethanol than it contains. It is also inefficient – it reduces gas mileage by several miles per gallon. Finally, it is the epitome of unsustainable, because it is heavily subsidized by the tax payers. If it were priced according to it’s actual cost, no one would buy it.

The same goes for most “alternative energy” projects, windmills, solar, etc. None of these projects would even exist without massive government subsidies, courtesy of the tax-payers (meaning the 53% of Americans who actually pay taxes). The only ones benefiting from such pie-in-the-sky projects are those in bed with the government, like G.E. which has reaped billions in government subsidies and tax credits for embracing “sustainable” technology.

Here in Minnesota, the big push is for “sustainable” transportation, which in Liberal-speak means PUBLIC transportation – never private vehicles. No surprise, because liberals hate automobiles. They much prefer to see their fellow citizens crammed into buses and trains. The problem though, is that Minnesota, especially the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area, is not like London or New York with their hub-and-spoke configurations.

Instead, we have broadly spread-out city and suburban areas, where people may live in one suburb, and work across town in another suburb – only a small percentage of workers live in the outlying areas and commute to a “downtown” job. Thus, while bus routes might work for some inner city residents, most of our people want and need the flexibility of their personal automobiles.

Then again, liberals have never been known to let reason and logic get in the way of spending billions of tax-payer dollars on boondoggles like “light rail” and other such nonsense, no matter how economically unsound they turn out to be. And remember that NO light rail system anywhere in America has ever been able to survive without massive infusions of tax dollars.

But perhaps the most puzzling buzz-phrase is “sustainable communities” – what in heaven’s name is that? Once again, the answer has nothing to do with building communities that are self-sustaining, an almost impossible concept to begin with anyway. No community, other than perhaps the Amish, could even come close to being truly self sustaining. We all need food, fuel, clothing, and numerous other goods that come from outside our communities, even from outside the country.

No, what liberals really mean by “sustainable communities” is a neo-socialist vision of a world where people are forced to live crammed together in inner cities, giving up their personal automobiles in favor of buses, trains, and (you knew it was coming) bicycles. No kidding, liberal Democrats have for years pushed bicycle lanes in downtown Minneapolis, and even actual bike paths in St. Paul, along with public service campaigns designed to persuade people to take a bike to work instead of a car.

Bicycles…in Minnesota…in January.

So the next time you hear some liberal spouting about “sustainable” this or “sustainable” that, just remind yourself that what they are really talking about has nothing to do with the real meaning of the word, and everything to do with taking away more of your personal freedoms. Government mandated light bulbs. Ethanol. Light rail. Electric cars. Wind farms. “Big Brother” thermostats in your own home. And on and on.

But it’s all for the “greater good” you see…

John Caile