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Purveyors of Paranoia - May 23, 2001

By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
contributor to

The avalanche of propaganda, which has swept through the print and broadcast media recently, has frozen out accuracy along with the truth. It seems that talking points highlighting the flaws of the Bush administration's energy plan were prepared before the president had even had the opportunity to reveal its content.

No one is claiming that the Bush plan is beyond all criticism. Any sweeping, long-term bipartisan plan is going to contain things that please some and anger others. Nevertheless, it remains a genuine plan put forth with sincere intentions. Disciples of the inordinate left have chosen to take a path of disingenuous and cynical demagoguery, which is destined to create a worsening energy climate in California and in the nation.

Critics of the Bush plan portray the president and vice president as unctuous characters who answer to big oil executives. Of course, energy executives are depicted as cold-blooded tycoons who seek to undermine the valiant accomplishments of high-minded environmental activists. The methodology being utilized here is worth noting. The environmental movement has grown into a multi-billion dollar fundraising and lobbying industry. As with any industry, money is the lifeblood and raising money is far easier when a particular tool is employed. Fear.

Environmental extremists and their intemperate allies talk a great deal about alternative energy sources. Yet, they are opposed to most available remedies. Nuclear power is dismissed as a deliverer of doom. The harnessing of wind energy is rejected for its danger to birds. Hydroelectric power, created through dams, hurts fish. Natural gas involves building nasty wells and pipelines. Use of clean burning coal and new coal technologies means that we would have to engage in mining.

The stated goal is to preserve the ecology. Flies, poison weeds and rats are steadfastly protected. But when it comes to human beings, there seems to be little care about whether they lose their homes, farms, livelihoods and lifestyles.

The Sierra Club released a proposed energy policy that included twelve ideas, eleven of which corresponded to similar recommendations contained in the Bush plan. However, this detail did not stop the production and broadcast of an array of attack ads, which no doubt had a costly price tag attached to them.

If groups such as these are so concerned about conservation, why did they not run ads merely asking people to conserve? The Democrat leadership apparently lacks the will to pursue conservation. The cover of the Democrat "alternate" energy plan displayed a gleeful family washing their prized vehicle, a luxurious and hefty SUV.

Over the last twenty years, our nation has spent six billion dollars exploring alternative sources of energy and still only a fraction of a percent of total energy consumption is being filled by these sources. The simple fact is that no one could prepare a twenty-year comprehensive energy plan without increasing the use of conventional sources, including oil. Opponents of the Bush plan promote fanciful conspiracy theories, while they simultaneously push for the same price caps that created the California disaster in the first place.

Americans expect to see leadership from their government officials. They also expect that, if liberated, individuals operating within the free market system will come up with solutions to address even the most serious of problems. It's simply in our nature. If certain elected officials do not come to this realization, and quickly, the blackouts will inevitably roll on eastward and fittingly dim the lights on some political careers.

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James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.

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