Obama science czar: Redistributionism as the cure for American exceptionalism

posted at 2:19 pm on September 9, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

With more focus getting applied to Barack Obama’s czars, the first to receive scrutiny should be John Holdren, Obama’s science czar. Michelle has outlined Holdren’s odd views from the past, including statements in books published in the 1970s that suggested forced sterilizations and social pressure for abortions, among other things. The College Politico finds something a little more recent in this interview in 2007, conducted in the virtual-reality environment of Second Life, in which Holdren discusses his views on science and economics:

HOLDREN: There has been a strain of what many people call “US exceptionalism” in the United States, the notion that the United States is so big, so important, so powerful, so technologically advanced that it can and should do what it wants. I think this strain is misguided.

Q: Will Americans need to reduce their living standards? Is that politically viable, or will technology [unintelligible] do it?

H: I think ultimately that the rate of growth of material consumption is going to have to come down, and there’s going to have to be a degree of redistribution of how much we consume, in terms of energy and material resources, in order to leave room for people who are poor to become more prosperous.

Consider that a foreshadowing of Barack Obama’s Joe the Plumber moment.

First, Holdren doesn’t know what “American exceptionalism” means. He can’t even get the term right. American exceptionalism has nothing to do with our size or our technological prowess, except in tertiary terms. Exceptionalism springs from the unique nature of our nation’s birth, the historical leadership in personal freedom that America has shown (with very notable failures, such as slavery and post-Civil War Jim Crow), and especially the role America inherited in the 20th century as the guarantor of Western security and international shipping.

This is no philosophical quibble, either. Part of the reason America consumes more relative to other nations on a per-capita basis is because we produce more for the consumption of others, and out of necessity for our role as global cop.  That is a large part of the reason that our defense spending outstrips those of other Western nations, as they do not contribute nearly as much to that role.  Seeing as how Holdren can’t figure out what he opposes, it comes as no surprise that he doesn’t see the connection between that role and consumption of resources, either.

One can oppose America’s role on the world stage from either the Right or the Left, and challenge the notion of American exceptionalism itself — but it helps to start off by knowing what it is.  Holdren should get bounced for his ignorance as well as opposed for his radical, redistributionist views.  This interview strongly suggests that Obama’s science czar got picked not for his dedication to science but for his redistributionist views under the cloak of climate change.


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