Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Three stories in today’s news–none of them the type of story I would normally write about–illustrate a common theme. The first is from Britain, where eco-crusaders Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are being accused of hypocrisy for repeatedly zipping back and forth to Nice on a private jet.

Interior of a Cessna 680 Citation Sovereign

Meanwhile, Prince William booked his family on a £73 commercial flight to Scotland, in what is viewed as a rebuke of his younger brother. But why be hard on Prince Harry? When the world’s leading global warming alarmists gather in ritzy locales to vote on rules that no one will follow, they burn up a lifetime’s worth of CO2 just getting there.

Then there is Barack Obama. “At a certain point you’ve made enough money.” “You didn’t build that.” “There’s only so big a house you can have.” It turns out, though, that the Obamas haven’t yet reached those limits. Barack and Michelle have bought a $14.85 million estate on Martha’s Vineyard from the owner of the Boston Celtics. This is not, of course, their only home, but most of us would find it more than adequate:

Of course, I don’t begrudge these people their money, just their hypocritical and self-interested posturing.

Next, consider what is happening in Brazil. Tens of thousands of fires are burning in the Amazon basin. There are always fires this time of year, but apparently there are more than usual this year. Critics say this is because they are being deliberately set in an effort at deforestation, and blame Brazil’s conservative president, Jair Bolsonaro, because he has advocated economic development of some forested areas.

Camila Veiga from the Brazilian Association of Non-Governmental Organisations [said]: “The fires are the consequence of a policy of environmental devastation, of support for agribusiness, of increasing pastures.”

(It is not clear to me whether there is any connection. There are a lot of fires this year in Paraguay and Bolivia, too.) The European Union is pressuring Brazil to fight the fires more effectively, and “Norway joined Germany yesterday in halting Amazon protection subsidies.” I take it this means that some countries are paying Brazil not to cut down the rain forest. Bolsonaro’s critics emphasize the ecological importance of the Amazon rain forest:

Brendan Howlin, the leader of the [Irish Labour] party, said yesterday that the destruction of the Amazon would have a catastrophic effect on the environment.

“The potential loss of the Amazon rainforest would have serious consequences around the world, including for Europe, given that a fifth of all oxygen is generated by the Amazon and it keeps centuries’ worth of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere,” he said.

He added: “The European Union has influence over Brazil, given the desire of South American countries to engage in greater trade with Europe. Now is the time for the EU to put down a strong marker that we will never reward Brazil through trade if the Brazilian government continues to allow the destruction of the Amazon rainforest.“

We see this dynamic again and again in relations between the developed and underdeveloped world. Poor countries want to get richer, and they can only do so by developing their resources and consuming energy. Wealthier nations both hector and bribe them, but they–in particular, their elites–have no interest in moderating their own lifestyles.

The same dynamic exists between Western liberal elites and ordinary citizens of their countries. Like Brazilians, Indians and others in developing countries, most Americans have figured out that when Obama said, “At a certain point you’ve made enough money,” he was talking about you, not him. And, as Glenn Reynolds wrote, when Obama said–just last year!–“There’s only so big a house you can have,” he meant you. Not him.

In short, most people have caught on to the fact that fraud is the essence of liberalism, and in this regard, the average American is in much the same position as the average Brazilian.

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