Environment: Globe Touts Cambridge's Feel-Good Foolishness

April 8th, 2007 6:55 AM

The great William F. Buckley, Jr. once famously said that he "would rather be governed by the first 200 names in the Boston phone book, than by the Harvard faculty." The National Review founder might well feel the same about the elected officials of Harvard's home of Cambridge, Massachusetts. For as described in a Boston Globe editorial of this morning, How green was my city?, Cambridge's city earth mothers and fathers have unveiled a nonsensical exercise in feel-good environmentalism. A nonsensical exercise which, of course, the Boston Globe heartily applauds.

Beware government programs with slogans, particularly ones of the breathtaking hubris inherent in "saving money and the planet" that Cambridge has slapped on this project. Yes, forget about our brave warriors confronting terrorism worldwide. The true heroes are those professors of feminist studies and purveyors of Marxism who screw in fluorescent light bulbs.

The essence of the program is the creation of a revolving $70 million fund to pay for insulation and more efficient light bulbs and air conditioners. The Globe assures us that "the program will need no local or state tax money." So where will the money come from? "From conservation fees on utility bills and from a statewide utility rate increase." I see. It's not a tax. It's a "fee." And local residents will surely feel much better knowing that the additional dollars they're being forced to spend aren't for taxes; they're for higher statewide utility rates. And of course, driving up utility rates should help drive more businesses, jobs and people out of the Commonwealth, which should in turn lead to less despoiling of the environment. Talk about your win-win!

And what will be the global impact of the program? Will it stave off by one milisecond Al Gore's doomsday drowning of Wall Street? Please. Even if people accept that man is responsible for global warming, so long as India and China continue to churn out CO2 unabated, what happens in one smallish city on the banks of the Charles is less than meaningless.

All of which is not to say that the program is worthless. Far from it. It will surely give those Prius-driving Harvard profs one more reason to feel morally superior to their colleagues at institutions in other, less-enlightened burgs.

Mark has an LL.M. from Harvard. Contact him at mark@gunhill.net