OK people, this is one of those days where I get a slap in the face about the little, tiny, utopian bubble of a world that I live in, where people aren’t crazy conspiracy theorists because its such a waste of time and energy.
Because, in fact, there are a lot of crazy conspiracy theorists, and sometimes we apparently need to be reminded of this.
So, there is an idea going around that urban planning- you know, how cities actually try to make informed decisions about how and where they grow?- is actually an international, UN-led conspiracy to rob people of their private property rights and force you to accept burdensome environmental regulations. And this is not a tiny little fringe of people, this is actually a loud enough fringe of people that the NY Times recently wrote an article about it. Yep, according to these folks, public transportation and open space preservation is in fact a communist plot. Sigh.
OK so normally I don’t waste my time on stuff like this, there’s too much important work to do in the world to listen to this kind of thing. Except for the fact that the people who think this are actually getting legislation introduced that embodies this craziness. Check your recent spate of state bill proposals in your state, and you might just find something quite fascinating like WA SB5011, scheduled for its first public hearing today, which states in part:
The state of Washington and all political subdivisions may not adopt or implement policy recommendations that deliberately or inadvertently infringe or restrict private property rights without due process as may be required by policy recommendations originating in or traceable to Agenda 21… or any other international law or ancillary plan of action that contravenes the Constitution or the United States or the Constitution of the state of Washington. Since the United Nations has accredited and enlisted numerous nongovernmental and intergovernmental organizations to assist in the implementation of its policies relative to Agenda 21 around the world, the state of Washington and all political subdivisions may not enter into any agreement, expend any sum of money, or receive funds contracting services or giving financial aid to or from the nongovernmental and intergovernmental organizations defined in Agenda 21.
Yep, apparently our state is in imminent danger of implementing the nefarious Agenda 21, a non-binding UN resolution that asks member countries to consider the importance of preserving open space and reducing resource use. Kooky, you say? Yes, I would say so. But the problem is, legislation like this gets us mired in the semantics of what constitutes an “inadvertent infringement of property rights”, which, according to these folks, seems to be pretty much anything related to wise resource use and smart growth planning. And, of course, how we grow and plan our cities has everything to do with GHG emissions, which is why I think responding to proposals like this, crazy as they may seem, is exceedingly important.