AOC receives a ‘modest proposal’

Published 5:14 pm Wednesday, October 9, 2019


Contributing columnist 

The irony of an immediate existential climate crisis is if the crisis is upon us within a handful of decades, there is little to be done about it now; the time required to correct the problem would be past the crisis date.

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The studies indicate lowering CO2 levels by restricting emissions would barely make a dent in the problem before the so called “trigger point” would be reached. Hence, true believers demand immediate radical responses. On the other hand, CO2 increases lead to increased “greening” across the globe and in fact, the world currently has a shortage of CO2 compared to the historical levels that supported life on earth.

Recently, Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) conducted a town-hall meeting on climate change. At the end, a very young woman stood and distraughtly asserted that something must be done immediately, or we will shortly perish. She turned to the audience and told them they were CO2 emitters; so, their only expedient was to start “eating our babies.”  

The heckler was a member of a right-wing extremist group who was mocking AOC. The woman is a gifted actress as well as a wing nut. It is unfortunate because the irony she invoked was more historically significant and is more relevant than can be revealed by a simple taunt. 

Jonathan Swift wrote “A Modest Proposal …” in 1729 as commentary on the major public policy problem of his day: the grinding poverty and widespread famine in Ireland. The “Irish problem” can be traced directly to this crisis since the punitive laws imposed by the English overlords caused the problem in the first place. Suspending those laws was a solution close at hand.

Swift wanted to shock the aristocracy into action. Hence, he proposed a monstrous solution to both Irish poverty and the famine: he suggested the English aristocracy purchase Irish children for their own consumption. This offense was followed by a long and detailed account of how the children should be prepared for consumption and how nourishing they would be. The “modest proposal” commodified Irish children which correctly described the aristocracy’s attitude towards the Irish. I would like to say Swift’s proposal was a turning point; but it was not.

I would also like to say AOC’s heckler was sending the same message to the religious zealots behind the politics of an existential climate threat. Forcing the global economy on an energy starvation diet within a few decades would kill millions of people and force those currently in poverty to remain in poverty indefinitely. Like the English aristocracy, the elites in the climate Armageddon movement must objectify the suffering of others in order to endure the misery that would surround them if they got their way.

In fact, AOC’s plan has no chance of ever working. The Russians, the Chinese, the Indians, and countless smaller countries will not cut their own throats just to please AOC. Her messianic personality blinds her to these facts.

Fear is a detestable political tool. It is never invoked by people who have sound rational reasons behind their proposals. It is always invoked by people who want the public to make irrational and irreversible decisions quickly. Using fear as a political tool is very dangerous.

Recently, psychologists warned us that “climate change anxiety” is rising significantly among our children. This was evidenced by the children who appeared before congress and the UN. The Left was quick to charge skeptics, such as myself, with child abuse. Outside of my grandchildren, very few children even know who I am.

Consider an analogy between the Salem Witch Trials and the apocalyptic environmental movement. In Salem, irrational fear made people brutally murder other people and irrational fear is now being used to make people believe in a looming climate crisis. As you recall, the Salem adults’ irrational fear of witches was the proximate cause of the children’s hysterical accusations of witchcraft. Those accusations led to the deaths of innocent people.


Bob Martin is Emeritus Boles Professor of Economics at Centre College.