The recent waste of the public’s time with the Will Smith-Chris Rock fiasco at the boring Oscars (second worst audience numbers ever) hit a nerve. It has been bad enough listening on Fox and Breitbart to endless rehashes of CNN and MSNBC tirades, to the mantras repeated over and over as if the entire “news” industry were being run by Occupy Wall Street copycats. How rare – and refreshing – it is when someone talks positively about how to do things right.

An old friend once told me she rejects the phrase, “Never forget,” and instead promises to “Always remember” – a positive affirmation that confesses a positive act. Similarly, the U.S. Treasury has long focused its training for spotting counterfeit money by having agents study the real currency until they can spot any deviations quickly. When you know what (or who) is real, fakery is easy to spot.

But focusing on the negative always leaves us angry and depressed.

Just look at how the Left is “teaching” American history – using the negativist 1619 false narrative whose goal is to encourage children to hate their country and its leaders. Or at critical race theory, which teaches that the entirety of Western civilization should be discarded because (not unlike other cultures) it at one time espoused human slavery – and because “whiteness” is inherently evil. The negativist CRT ignores the long march toward human equality that its bipartisan expositors now seek to destroy.

We must always remember that the hated, much vilified Republican Richard Nixon opened the door both to a possible Chinese takeover of world commerce and to the creation of the powerful, self-seeking regulatory state (including the Environmental Protection Agency). Leaders of both parties continue to cede authority to bureaucrats who see their job as curbing entrepreneurship and imposing “societal” mandates.

But was it the heavy dose of federal regulation, or the technological advances made by the private sector in response to market demand, that brought such incredible improvements in air quality in just three decades – and more since? Was it doomsayers or entrepreneurs whose work has led to burgeoning prosperity, expanded life expectancy, and gains in literacy and personal freedom in much of the world?

The EPA’s 2019 report Our Nation’s Air emphasized that levels of criteria pollutants [lead, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, and ozone] identified in the 1970 Clean Air Act had fallen by 74 percent by 2018 despite 275-percent growth in the U.S. economy, a 50 percent increase in energy consumption, and a 60 percent rise in population.

In a sane nation, we would be celebrating. Not here.

Perhaps to save their jobs but more likely to increase their power and influence, the EPA bureaucrats and their fellow travelers invented a “new” “criteria pollutant” – harmless, odorless, and vitally necessary carbon dioxide — and snookered even a gullible U.S. Supreme Court to go along with the scam (though the Court may be about to burst that bubble at least a little bit).

Armed with their 2007 victory in Massachusetts v. EPA, the increasingly leftist bureaucracy quickly moved to impose a myriad of restrictions on economic activity (and even noneconomic activity) in the name of saving the planet from Evil Carbon. The zealots empowered by these bureaucrats had been screaming “global warming” since they quit screaming “a coming Ice Age” – with the culprit for both cooling and warming the “evil” carbon dioxide.

Of course, if their arguments were true, historic levels of CO2 would have long since killed off all life on the planet. Moreover, they slyly use the term “carbon” rather than the accurate, and positively viewed, term “carbon dioxide,” which people know we exhale and plants inhale to maintain the cycle of life. A growing world population benefits from higher crop yields brought about by higher CO2 levels.

Then their “scientists” – under direction from federal and even private grant makers – “found” evidence of damage from “global warming” (now known as “climate change” – a totally meaningless term) in nearly every human activity. Further “studies” have now “revealed” that “climate change is inherently racist.” Which, given that God [or universal forces far beyond human influence] controls the climate, implies that God [or Nature herself] is inherently racist.

Of course, the same zealots and bureaucrats also link climate change to the COVID pandemic, if only to use COVID lockdown strategies to force “compliance” with ridiculous electric vehicle and anti-gas appliance mandates. [The proposed Securities and Exchange Commission regulations are the latest in the theater of the absurd. HONEST answers to their myriad climate questions – given that the only real “climate risks” most face are the bureaucrats themselves and their mandates — would likely yield contempt charges for what would be contemptuous rules.]

Waste, fraud, and graft have become the standard fare in federal spending. But imagine if people got together and prioritized how to spend [or not spend] federal dollars to achieve the greatest good for the greatest number at the lowest cost. Our lives would likely improve overnight.

But rather than celebrate our achievements in air quality and move forward into cleaning up America’s waters (for example, Baltimore’s water problems may dwarf those in Flint), we spend gazillions on a phony war against a phony enemy all for the purpose of lining the pockets of non-achievers who are skilled at obtaining huge grants, siphoning off huge salaries, and quietly declaring bankruptcy (Solyndra, anyone?).

And there’s the challenge – there are plenty of ways Americans can improve our society, yet who is even taking the time to address them? Surely many poorly maintained roads, bridges, and water and wastewater systems are begging to be upgraded. But that help is not coming. Congress passes a trillion-plus “infrastructure” bill – but the bulk of the money will enrich academics and activists for “research,” “reeducation,” and countless other assaults on our freedoms.

Six decades ago Jack Kennedy inspired Americans to “put a man on the moon.” Today, we have teachers who want to “moon” their students.

Three decades ago, Newt Gingrich led the GOP to an historic victory by offering a “Contract with America.” Today, we need an American revival, as my pal Scott McKay says. We need to find common ground and reject the bickering that has left families divided, friendships broken, and futures smashed to bits.

But we also need people of courage to call out the lies, the half-truths, the insider trading, the phony censorship by partisans whose deceptions provided them with great power. We know from history that power is a corrupting influence, and that decentralization of power is one of the bulwarks that made America unique – and the world’s most sought-after destination.

The best way to ensure decentralization of power – and thus begin an American revitalization — is to stop ceding power over our own lives and to start (or continue) building lives and communities that make government less and less relevant beyond its most primary raison d’etre.

And that means ceasing to accept the diktats of those who use the power of government to demand we submit in shame and adopt their language, their terminologies, their amoralities, their greed and abandon our own families, communities, and heritage to chaos.

How do we get there? Let us always remember to review our history, to search for the good our forebears have done, and to teach our children how much better our lives – and those of generations after us – will be if we follow in their better footsteps.

Author

  • Duggan Flanakin

    Duggan Flanakin is the Director of Policy Research at the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow. A former Senior Fellow with the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Mr. Flanakin authored definitive works on the creation of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and on environmental education in Texas. A brief history of his multifaceted career appears in his book, "Infinite Galaxies: Poems from the Dugout."