The Supreme Court Turns the Ratchet

Conservatives are properly aghast at the United States Supreme Court's April 2, 2007 decision.  It ruled that the United States Environmental Protection Agency can, if it wants, regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant, whatever the law may say.

But really, what is so surprising?  All they have done, the liberal wing and the moderates, is give the ratchet of compulsion one more turn.

Last week's decision amounts to this:  On one more issue the bullying class will have the power to tax Americans and order them around to its heart's content-assuming that it has a heart.  What's not to like if you are a liberal?

Let us rehearse the trail of tears in this cruel age of compulsion.

First they came for the children.  In a nation that was 90 percent literate the bullying class decided in the mid-nineteenth century to force everyone to pay for "free" education.  Then they decided to force parents to send their children to the free schools. Every year the government's compulsory education system fails to improve and every year the bullying class adds more regulation and compulsion.

Current cost: about $750 billion a year according to

Then they came for the workers.  In the richest nation in the world they decided to force workers to save for their retirement.  But the bullying class didn't save the money it had forced the workers to pay. It spent it all on buying votes.  And now young workers are to be forced to pay for the pensions of retired workers whose contributions have been wasted on two generations of excess government spending.

Current cost: about $875 billion a year.

Then they came for the sick.  In the 1940s the bullying class began ratcheting up compulsion in health care with the

Hill-Burton Act.  It offered modernization grants to non-profit hospitals in exchange for provision of charity and reduced-cost care.  The scale of this government encouragement steadily grew over the years till in 1986 the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act required hospitals that participated in Medicare and Medicaid to provide emergency room care regardless of ability to pay.  Current compulsory cost of free government health care: about $850 billion a year.

Then they came for the blacks.  In the 1960s liberals in their finest hour passed civil rights acts that prohibited discrimination on the basis of race.  But blacks didn't immediately step into the front rank of American society.  So the bullying class proposed a solution: quotas and timetables.  Pretty soon the administrators of  government schools and universities and even big corporations discovered that they liked it.  It gave them power.  Cost: indefinite postponement of Martin Luther King's dream of Americans judged by the content of their character.

Then they came for the family.  In the feminist revolution it was decided that women were wasted at home raising children.  The fall from transcendence into "stagnation" was a "degradation," an "absolute evil," wrote Simone de Beauvoir.  So women were to be bullied out of their suburban nests and into the workplace.  What with brilliant careers, abortion on demand, and no-fault divorce (all heavily advocated by the bullying class) many women found themselves at age 50 wondering why they hadn't had children. So successful was the forced migration into the workplace that Europe has entered upon a demographic death spiral. Cost: The end of Europe as we know it.

It is amazing that so much free stuff requires so much compulsion.

Now they have come for us all.  Just about all of our friends in the kingdom of fauna emit carbon dioxide. But we humans have gone an extra step; we have learned to emit carbon dioxide by proxy.  It is a skill that has given us unimaginable wealth and freedom.  But the bullying class has a plan to put the genie back in the bottle.  If it controls carbon dioxide it controls everything that moves.  Estimated cost: incalculable.

Years ago Tom Bethell divined the problem with the Supreme Court.  It was the Strange New Respect article in The New York Times or The Washington Post.   Supreme Court justices are people; they want to be liked.  And the way to earn your Strange New Respect article in Washington DC is to advance the compulsion agenda of the bullying class.

There's an opportunity here for conservatives.  Change the culture.

There will always be three to four liberal justices on the court.

There will always be three or four conservative justices.  The opportunity is the go-along-to-get-along justices in the middle.

Imagine an America in which elite newspapers published Strange New Respect articles about politicians who had mellowed out from narrow-minded advocates of compulsion into cultured moderates who couldn't be bullied into ratcheting up yet another program of comprehensive and mandatory uniformity.

Then let us make it so.

Christopher Chantrill is a frequent contributor to American Thinker.  See his two websites and . His Road to the Middle Class is forthcoming.