December 7, 2009
The Cuckoo's Nest Visits Copenhagen
One of my all-time favorite novels is Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, later made into an Oscar-winning film. Set in an institution for psychological patients, Cuckoo's Nest is a cautionary tale about all institutions -- schools, churches, businesses, government bureaucracies, etc. It dramatizes the horrors of what can happen when those in charge hijack an institution and place their own ambitions and lust for power, prestige, and control above the welfare of the very people whom the institution was created to help.
The United Nations fits the Cuckoo's Nest paradigm perfectly. It is ostensibly dedicated to some of mankind's loftiest ideals. The U.N. Declaration of Human Rights affirms: "Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security of person." "No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest." "No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property." "Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion," etc.
In practice, though, the U.N. welcomes, legitimizes, and empowers regimes that systematically trample those rights. U.N. officials readily betray the welfare and liberty of billions of individuals in their pursuit of world government. With cynical irony, the U.N. extends the voting privilege to regimes who would never permit an honest democratic vote in their own countries. Also, because the major obstacle to global government is a strong, sovereign United States, U.N. delegates from illiberal regimes routinely gang up to vote against our interests.
Why would any American want to strengthen the U.N.? Some individuals crave the unprecedented powers that a worldwide government would have. Others pathologically hate liberal democracy, free markets, and limits on government power, and so despise American sovereignty. Most pro-U.N. Americans, to give them the benefit of the doubt, are idealists who believe that the way to establish peace on earth is to do away with nation-states. No nation-states, no wars, right? Not so.
It amazes me that the same people who loathe private-sector business monopolies believe that a global monopoly of governmental power would be benign. When Stalin consolidated hegemony over the fifteen republics that constituted the Soviet Union, there was no more war in the conventional sense, but the Soviet Union remained an exceedingly violent place. The government warred against its own people, but the disarmed populace couldn't fight back. The death toll was enormous.
Those who believe that a one-world government would produce peace on earth should google "R. J. Rummel and democide." They will learn that wars have killed far fewer people than have strong governments. Competition in business serves consumer welfare far better than monopoly, and so does political competition. The 20th century featured lab-like experiments proving this: East and West Germany, North and South Korea, China vs. Taiwan and Hong Kong, east of the Iron Curtain and west of it -- in all cases, people voted with their feet to leave countries where there was a deadly monopoly of political power to live where politicians competed for the citizens' approval.
This week, the U.N. is pursuing all three of its nefarious goals -- trashing the rights of individuals, pushing for global governance, and knocking the U.S. down a few pegs -- at the "climate change" meeting in Copenhagen.
U.N. Goal #1: The highest estimated costs of a global cap-and-trade regime that I have seen were not from a global-warming skeptic, but the U.N.'s own figure of $552 trillion during the 21st century. Since global GDP today is around $65 trillion, the U.N. is talking about sacrificing nearly a decade's worth of wealth in the name of combating climate change. Since the most lethal environment for humans is poverty, the U.N.'s call to reduce wealth by that unfathomable amount would cause tens of millions of unnecessary deaths -- a gargantuan genocide or democide -- and the violation of the most fundamental human right of all: life.
U.N. Goal #2: Preliminary language composed in advance of the Copenhagen confab calls for creation of a new U.N. body called "the Conference of the Parties (COP)." COP needs sweeping powers because "the way society is structured will need to change fundamentally." Such "change" won't be cheap, so the U.N. seeks a "massive scaling up of financial resources" to fund COP.
Surprise! The U.N. wants to levy taxes! This is huge because if the U.N. ever gains the power to tax sovereign nations, national sovereignty will be in mortal jeopardy. The era of one-world government will draw near.
U.N. Goal #3: The climate change claque seeks to penalize rich countries -- especially the U.S. -- for our prosperity. According to Friends of the Earth, "A climate change response must have at its heart a redistribution of wealth and resources." President Obama emphatically believes this. He wants to redistribute American wealth abroad. He doesn't understand that rich countries became rich by embracing the principles of private property and free enterprise, while poor countries shunned that same road to prosperity. The U.S. didn't get rich by taking wealth from poor countries; and what poor countries need to prosper is not transfers of U.S. wealth, but to adopt the right values and policies.
Thankfully, it appears that the Copenhagen meeting will not produce a CO2 emissions control agreement against the backdrop of global cooling, the Climategate scandal, and economic weakness. Nevertheless, what the U.N. insiders and Obama are plotting there is monstrous. This week, the cuckoo's nest is in Copenhagen.
Mark Hendrickson, Ph.D. teaches economics at Grove City College and is Fellow for Economic and Social Policy with the College's Center for Vision & Values.