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Of course, more grubby concerns lie behind progressive environmentalism. As Al Gore demonstrates, thundering against the “dysfunctional” modern world and its “technological hubris,” “increasingly aggressive encroachment into the natural world,” and “froth and frenzy of industrial civilization,” as he wrote in Earth in the Balance, can make one rich––Gore’s net worth increased from between $1 and $2 million in 2000, to around $100 million today. The sermons condemning our destruction of the natural world can provide the political rationale for taxpayer-funded subsidies for “green energy.” Indeed, Gore’s investments in companies that benefit from green crony capitalism may make him the world’s first “carbon billionaire,” as the New York Times’s John Broder put it. More recently, the collapse of firms like Solyndra, beneficiary of half a billion dollars worth of now-vanished taxpayer money, has illustrated just how lucrative apocalyptic environmentalism can be. As Investor’s Business Daily described Gore’s unholy alliance of federal subsidies and environmental catastrophism, “The American consumer and taxpayer are on the wrong end of his green Ponzi scheme.”
Crony capitalism aside, the Keystone decision reflects Obama’s larger progressive ideology that sees America’s free-market economy as inherently unjust, and our reliance on fossil fuel as the enabler of this oppressive system, as well as being a danger to the environment. Indulging Disneyfied fantasies about nature is merely the honey that helps this anti-capitalist, redistributionist poison go down more easily. Thus delaying the Keystone pipeline fits in with the class-warfare rhetoric that for now is the central narrative of Obama’s reelection campaign. Just as attacks on “income inequality” and the “greed” of the “1%,” along with debt-financed, multi-trillion-dollar increases in social-welfare transfers, serves his aim to redistribute income and increase government power, so too weaning us off oil is part of Obama’s promise to “fundamentally transform America” by attacking the engine of American prosperity, power, and national self-reliance. In this way he can move us closer to an America more like Europe: just one unexceptional pole in a multi-polar world.
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