Earlier today, the Arlington County Board approved greater incentives (see the "Board Report for item #24 on the agenda) for “building green,” meaning the the county will offer “greater bonus density for higher levels of environmental sustainability.” According to the county’s press release:
“The changes reflect how green building policies such as Arlington’s have helped transform the green building market in the past five years. The County relies on the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, to evaluate proposed site plan projects and encourage the construction of energy efficient and environmentally sustainable buildings.”
Just what is this “sustainability?” According to a column by Morgan Poliquin, posted at the Ludwig von Mises Institute, “Nomenclature and in particular, catchy phrases and slogans, are integral to the institution and leadership of political action and violence as well as simplifying or condensing the rational for such action into neat and all encompassing phraseology.”
One such “catchy phrase” is “sustainable development,” which Poliquin says was coined in 1987 by the former Prime Minister of Norway, “who, at the bequest of the then Secretary General of the United Nations, established and chaired the World Commission on Environment and Development. Her Committee produced a report entitled Our Common Future in which the definition first appeared.” According to Poliquin:
“Legislating sustainability is another attempt to replace the collective decisions of many in the market place with the coercive will of the few. In a free market, with increasing scarcity of a given resource, its price tends to rise, encouraging economizing on behalf of those who consume the resource.
“Why then all the fuss about making industries such as mining sustainable? Perhaps the people behind the legislation — the intellectuals, the legislators, and the large business firms that already dominate their industries — form an alliance that serves their own self-interests. The revered intellectuals sit on endless committees defining meaningless terms like sustainable development and are paid handsomely for doing so.
“They are also lauded, much like actors, by their own organizations, which continually self-produce awards. Mingling with media, wealthy patrons, government officials, and business leaders, they frequent the most exclusive locations on the planet to discuss the implementation of their leadership. The self-interest of the legislators and government is readily apparent as their incomes are derived from the taxes that society is required to pay, purportedly for their management of the new laws and regulation that will ensure sustainable development.”
Poliquin concludes by writing:
“Nobody can decide what is "sustainable" for another person. Every action requires a weighing up of costs and benefits. To implement any one person's idea of sustainability on everyone else will result in loss. The idea that people are not able to make these decisions on their own, and require leadership and coercive laws to determine what is best for them, is essentially to implement slavery.
“Communists told us to follow them because humanity was at stake. Today we are told that the planet itself is at stake. It sounds like a new way of saying the same old thing. To sacrifice the needs of individuals for the sake of the many will result in great benefits to the very few, at the cost of the many.” (emphasis added)
We growled about Arlington county’s overuse of sustainable and sustainability on February 9, 2009. Today’s County Board decision is further evidence they are part and parcel of the enviro-statists.