01/19/2009: "Vaclav Klaus"
Big cities are very similar. I don’t like big cities. Sure, there are some good things about them, but I don’t want to live in one. Driving around in a big city is no fun at all. Especially when the only vehicle you have is a pick-up truck with limited vision.
I had reservations at the Sheraton. I did not know what exit to take until I saw that the Hotel was a big skyscraper. I quickly changed lanes and saw a middle finger out the rearview mirror (How un-island-like, I thought). Since I forgot the address I was trying to locate the hotel by looking up through my sunroof.
It was hard to see around all the tall buildings but I discovered that one of the best ways to get a clear view is to slow down in an intersection and look up in both directions. This is also a good way to get the finger. There it was again. My hotel was down 2 blocks on the left.
After a few more turns around the block I came up to the entrance. I cut off a few black SUV’s when I swerved to get in the right lane. Then just as I am about to turn into the Valet parking entrance, a large man in a dark suit puts his hand up to stop me. He is speaking into one of those “Bluetooth” gadgets. With an impatient motion he signals me to back out.
Well dangit! Does he know that I just spent 20 minutes driving around trying to find a way through this maze? So I roll down my passenger side window and say, “ Look buddy, I am a guest at this hotel. What’s the problem?”
He speaks into his phone thingamabob and says something like, “Just a minute guys I have some idiot here to clear out.”
Then he leans in the window and I glance a weapon strapped to his side.
“Look behind you sir. We have a Head of State coming in. Please go around the block or park somewhere else.” He slaps my hood a few times and motions me forward.
When I looked in my rearview mirror I felt really stupid. There was a line of black SUV’s just like the ones I cut off and a few motorcycle cops. All of their vehicles had red and blue flashing lights. Traffic was stopped on the entire block and I was the only other vehicle. I must have missed these guys while I was looking up through my sunroof.
I did about 4 more laps around the block before they had the lobby cleared and I finally pulled up to the valet. I checked into my room and then went to look around the hotel.
The first guy I run into is Vaclav Klaus. He is the President of the Czech Republic. He received a Ph.D. from the Institute of Economics of the Czech Academy of Sciences. He lived under Communist rule for most of his life. Now he is the democratically elected political leader of his country.
He is standing with a bunch of Secret service guys as I walk toward him. They are all wearing transmitter doohickeys with curly wires attached to their ears. The guy who stopped me at the hotel entrance is with the group and he recognized me and apologized straightaway for making me go around the block. He introduces me to President Klaus as the guy who was blocking the hotel entrance. Mr. Klaus smiled and gave me an autographed copy of his book, Blue Planet in Green Shackles. Later, I had the privilege to attend a dinner party where he was the guest speaker.
I want to tell you what he said that really impressed me. I also want to tell you about his book. Thanks for investing the time to read this column so far. I will now try to get to the point.
Independence day for the Czech people was when they threw off the oppressive yoke of communist rule. From his perspective, he cannot understand why Americans are willing to give away our freedom so easily. The crucial question of his book is “What is endangered: climate or freedom?”
Mr. Klaus was very sincere when he said,
“As someone who lived under communism for most of my life, I feel obliged to say that the biggest threat to freedom, democracy, the market economy, and prosperity at the beginning of the 21st century is not Communism or its various softer versions. Communism was replaced by the threat of ambitious environmentalism. This ideology preaches Earth and nature, and under the slogans of their protection-similarly to the old Marxists-wants to replace the free and spontaneous evolution of mankind by a sort of central (now global) planning of the whole world.”
Klaus sees precise parallels in the way communism and environmentalism are effectively used to destroy human freedom under compassionate slogans such as caring for mankind and fostering social welfare. In both cases it is completely about power.
The communist experience has shown that without human freedom, free markets, private property, and the profit motive, “neither human beings nor nature can be treated decently.” These essential elements of freedom are certainly not the culprits of the world’s ecological problems. “The aggregate outcome of independent actions of millions of informed and rational individuals, unorganized by any genius or dictator, is infinitely better than any deliberate attempt to design the development of human society.” Says Klaus.
Weather you agree with Vaclav Klaus or not, I feel his perspective is important to the debate over climate change. We should not pretend that the debate is over because of “consensus”. The term consensus is always used to avoid debate. Remember that the greatest scientific discoveries in history came about because someone dared to break with consensus.
We should never forget the fact that the world is constantly in a state of change. There never will be an “ideal” state of the planet. Since the beginning of time the Earth has seen significant fluctuations in climate. Natural processes in the universe and in solar activity cannot be stopped by changes in human activity. We should not give up our freedom to those who disregard this fact.