Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Google on the Mountaintop

ROR reader Cedar Bristol sent me this article by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. from the official Google blog as an all-too-common example of businessmen using their wealth and influence to tighten the noose of statism around the rest of us. According to Kennedy (and apparently Google's leadership), we are guilty of the desecration our mountaintops and Google's technology can help us see it. Kennedy writes:

[G]oogle provides us all with unprecedented access to the world’s information. In Appalachia, nonprofit organizations are using that information in innovative new ways to reveal the destruction caused by mountaintop removal coal mining, and to demand for the people of Appalachia the "free and good government" that [Thomas] Jefferson envisioned.

If the American people could see what I have seen from the air and ground during my many trips to the coalfields of Kentucky and West Virginia: leveled mountains, devastated communities, wrecked economies and ruined lives, there would be a revolution in this country. Thanks to Google Earth, you can now visit coal country without ever having to leave your home.
I am reminded of the campaign a few years back that noted that since even a technological achievement such as Internet runs mostly on energy from coal, we should not be so quick to condemn it as a power source. That point seems utterly lost on Kennedy. Instead we see this:

Each day coal companies detonate 2500 tons of explosives – the power of a Hiroshima bomb every week – to blow away Appalachian mountaintops to reach the coal seams beneath. Colossal machines then plow the rock and debris into the adjacent river valleys and hollows, destroying forests and burying free-flowing mountain streams, flattening North America's most ancient mountain range. According to the EPA, 1,200 miles of American rivers and streams have already been permanently interred, leaving behind giant pits and barren moonscapes, some as large as Manhattan Island. I recently flew over one 18 square-mile pit – Hobet 21 – which you can now tour in Google Earth.
It gets even better.

We are literally cutting down the historic landscapes where Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett roamed and that are so much the source of American's values, character and culture.
So we are presented with two basic choices: civilization (complete with computers, central air conditioning, heart monitors and CAT scans) or an untrammeled historic landscape. And people have the audacity to claim that the environmentalists aren't anti-man.

In his message to me, Mr. Bristol says we should resurrect our James Taggert Award for Loathsome Self-Damning Anti-Bussness Pandering. If we do, I'd put Google right up top of the list, for when they give their platform to greens like Kennedy and his ilk, they fully earn all the bile we can give them.


Grant said...

The mainstream media has read the tea leaves. It's sees an Orwellian future just as clearly as anyone else. There's always room for a "Ministry of Information"; they're all trying out for the part.

Cedar Bristol said...

It occurred to me after I wrote that email that even better than a James Taggart award would be a wiki. I'm going to do it, but it will be a couple of years before I'm able, so I kind of hope someone else will grab the idea and run with it.

You could call it "The Hairshirt Who's Who" or something like that and list important business leaders, the accomplishments that made them important. And then detail the ways in which they are eroding the freedom that made their success possible.

During WWII, the British wanted Jews in Palestine to fight on their side, and at the same time they wanted Arabs in their middle-eastern possessions not to flock to the Nazis more than they already were. So they passed some measure, I can't remember what it was called, but it was designed to reassure the Arabs that they weren't going to create an Israel. Ben Gurion, who saw the need to fight on the British side of the war, but at the same time wanted to create a Jewish state said something like "We will fight the war as if there were no declaration, and we will fight this declaration as if there was no war."

I think that a similarly compartmentalized attitude toward characters like Bill Gates is the best approach for one who wants to advocate capitalism. On the one hand, you do yourself a disservice if you fail to appreciate his success, because it belongs on the top whatever list of great success stories in history. on the other hand, you do yourself a similar disservice if you allow yourself to minimize just how bad his politics are. Ditto for Jack Welch and his support of the Kelo vs. New London decision. And nearly every other business leader not named John Allison.

Cedar Bristol said...

Oh, and let's not forget the importance of the fact that businessmen as a group have never been the greatest supporters of capitalism and have, in fact, been its worst political enemies.