and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

Barbara's Column

A taxing week, to say the least
by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Ah, you are so great, and I am so small,
I tremble to think of you, World, at all;
And yet, when I said my prayers to-day,
A whisper inside me seemed to say,
"You are more than the Earth, though you are such a dot:
You can love and think, and the Earth cannot!"
William Brighty Rands

I love that poem, always saw it as a rebuttal to people feeling small. I don't even like the political phrase "the little people."

On the other hand, looking at the reality of billions of stars in millions of galaxies, and the fact that many people, while perhaps loving, don't seem to think very much ... maybe we're not more than the Earth. Nevertheless, we human beings are an amazing part of nature, certainly smarter than the average tree, chicken or goldfish. Not so sure about dolphins, chimpanzees, parrots, Lassie or my cat. Take Chris Matthews and Rosie O'Donnell. I've heard commentary from squirrels that made more sense.

Some in the environmental movement perceive Gaia, the earth, as a living, breathing entity, which may or may not love anyone but Uranus, yet can be sad about environmental damage and capable of getting even with those who cause it. However, as the more commonly-named "Mother Earth," she stuffed herself with oil, gas, and coal for our energy use (what other reason would they be there?), and is likely to make excuses for her children's behavior.

Like many mothers, though, she may warn against waste and a lack of appreciation, might expect responsible behavior and allow consequences if the kids don't obey her reasonable laws.

There is another viewpoint, that earth is just a rock among many rocks, unaware, uninterested in its inhabitants, which we are either by accident or God's plan. Regardless, celebrating Earth Day seems like a good idea to me.

But there's a problem: the environmental issue has been claimed by liberals, some just ditzy, many with political agendas depending on wildly exaggerated dangers, with whom one doesn't want to spend much time. I also have this same problem with various social issues. I can see both sides, but prefer to hang out with only one of them, when the other side is wrong about the freedom and fiscal responsibility issues that are my top priority.

I was thinking about this last week during the Tea Parties, when some commentators noted that the same people who are attacking Barack Obama on budget deficits and bailouts didn't organize against these when George Bush was president. This may be true, but not because we didn't care. A lot of us were opposed to Bush on the deficits and on illegal immigration, and in those last months, his bailouts but were reluctant to join the people who had been Bush-bashing for the wrong reasons for eight years. We also didn't want to assist candidates who were far worse on these issues and very wrong on others.

I assume there are people who have a similar dilemma, who share some conservative positions on high taxes and wasteful spending, but don't want to hang out with people with whom they disagree on abortion, gay marriage, or war issues.

If the economy remains center stage for a while, some of the strange bedfellows may be sharing blankets, even rallies, in protest against future bailouts by taxpayers of failed Big Business. People on different sides of the political spectrum, especially young taxpayers who will have to pay for it all and their grandparents suddenly have a lot to talk about.

The environment may still be on voters' minds, but the focus will be on "green" investments and won't encourage politicians to risk the economy on job-destroying "climate-change" initiatives. This gives us all a time-out from Al Gore's "Inconvenient Truth" to discuss the actual truth, which by definition isn't politically motivated.

I love my Mother Earth, am even enchanted by the Gaia concept, which while not technically true is charmingly lyrical. My carbon footprint is small, for an American and I'm not apologizing for being technology-rich while some people, whose ancestors didn't emigrate, are still carrying water from the village well, visiting an outhouse, and moving animal dung for fuel on oxen-powered "honey wagons." (Yes, I've visited, but I wouldn't want to live there. Thank you, paternal grandparents, for leaving).

I recycle, never litter, plant things, and live a fairly simple life. But I'm not giving up long hot showers, unplugging appliances at night or driving a toy car. I think the planet may be warming, again, as it has over the ages, or it may not, depending on when and where one measures Antarctica; but it's not my fault, either way. I recognize that making people afraid of the climate and/or dependent on government is the goal of some power-seeking politicians, so I challenge their environmental assumptions.

However, I do think it's good to conserve resources and avoid conspicuous consumption. The latter includes mansions and private jets. Earth Day-wise, I'm more than Al Gore, though I'm such a dot; I can think for myself, and his fans cannot.

The comments made and opinions expressed in her columns are those of Barbara Anderson
and do not necessarily reflect those of Citizens for Limited Taxation.

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her column appears weekly in the Salem News and other Eagle Tribune newspapers; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette; and occasionally in the Lowell Sun, Providence (RI) Journal and other newspapers.