The Stone City

Words Made to Last

Monday, March 06, 2006

That Dare Not Speak Its Name

Via Kevin Drum, we find that Barack Obama has proposed a new use of government's "soft power":

The federal government would pay 10 percent of the $6.7 billion in annual health costs for retirees that are weighing down General Motors, Ford and Chrysler if they'll commit to building more fuel-efficient cars, Obama proposed in a speech Tuesday before a panel at the National Governors Association conference. He called it a "win-win proposal for the industry."

This sort of deal, where a few industry champions negotiate a deal with the government, should remind every supporter of the equitable rule of law of its spiritual predecessor, the Tobacco Trust Treaty.

Here, the signs of the coming abuse are between the lines, in the details absent from Mr. Obama's proposal: what exactly would "commit" mean? How would the auto industries use the vagueness of this phrase in an attempt to gain a competitive advantage? And, given their willingness to bargain away the rule of law for a tactical gain, how much of the coercive power of government would lawmakers put at their disposal?

That alarm bells are not ringing across the country at this sort of give-and-take between the federal government and a de facto oligopoly only illustrates how low our standards of governance have become.

Mr. Drum also provides a link to Mr. Obama's speech, which is long on manly rhetoric, but whose only specific proposals are in support of ethanol. [Mr. Drum seems to think this is the good kind of pork, since it serves a cause he supports. Has it not occurred to him that almost any cause has some supporters?] Mr. Obama's speech also demonstrates an understanding of the virtues of recycling, as he repeats the phrase "national commitment" or "commitment to energy independence" half a dozen times.

However, one thing is conspicuously absent: to wit, any mention of nuclear power. If we wish to decrease use of fossil fuels, nuclear power is the only tried option; the only economically viable option; and the only technologically feasible option. To favor energy independence is to favor nuclear power, just as to favor reduced emissions is to favor nuclear power.

But Mr. Obama cannot bring himself to state the obvious, presumably for fear of offending the fake-green constituency. The "love that dare not speak its name" is our own need, if we are to preserve both economy and environment, or if we are to avoid endlessly empowering our mortal enemies, for the one thing that we have perversely denied ourselves: fission.

[Cross-posted to Chequer-Board.]

[Update 18 April: Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore makes the true green case.]