Pundit vs. Pundit! Hassinger, Turkheimer and Agenda 21

November 30, 2012 9:00 am

by Mike Hassinger · 37 comments

Round 1:

Hassinger: The awful, terrible, compelling thing about conspiracy theories is that the good ones always have a grain of truth in them -and so it is with Agenda 21. It is, in fact a real program created in the late 1980s and eventually formally adopted in 1992 by the United Nations, to promote some happy-hippy horsecrap about the need for “sustainable” development all over the world. (Why the United Nations, an organization chartered to “maintain international peace and security,” needs to concern itself with building practices in Decatur, Georgia is beyond me, but there it is.) But those who fear the insidious implementation of Agenda 21 threatens their property rights or their representative governments or the sacred tradition of American suburbs (dating back to 1947) really don’t have anything to fear. The UN never succeeds at anything! Ask the people of Rwanda about the Spring and Summer of 1994 if you don’t believe me. While bureaucrats at the UN were prattling on about using “sustainable development” to address  “worsening of poverty, hunger, ill health and illiteracy, and the continuing deterioration of the ecosystems on which we depend for our well-being,” 800,000 or so Rwandans died because the UN was afraid to call genocide by its name.  

But just because Agenda 21 is a bureaucratic circle-jerk propagated by the professional circle-jerkers at the UN, doesn’t mean it’s not happening. It just means it’s not happening quickly. “Sustainable development” has been around quite awhile -some say the term is actually derived from “sustained yield” -a goal for lumbermen since the middle ages- the idea that you take what you need and make sure you leave enough for future generations. Sounds pretty banal -unless you want something that’s not “sustainable,” like a third story on your house, or to clear-cut your back yard to put in a putting green. Then, you’re having to explain yourself to a County administrator, who’s got a degree in Urban Planning, and was taught by a professor who helped develop the sustainability standards at the UN Global conference in 2005. Those standards become requirements, the requirements become regulations and the regulations become laws. That’s how bureaucracy works -not like a flood, but a constant drip, drip, drip.

Turkheimer: Agenda 21 is a completely non-binding international framework for sustainability passed in 1992 at the Rio Earth Summit. The framework, which sets out very loose aspirational goals for making communities more efficient and less carbon-intensive, was signed by then President George H.W. Bush and later upheld by Presidents Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush.

Since the framework was adopted, right-wing conspiracy theorists have pushed bizarre theories about Agenda 21 being a central tool for the United Nations to create a one-world government and take away the rights of local property owners. In recent years, elevated by the megaphone of extreme pundits like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, these conspiracies made their way into mainstream politics. Today, Agenda 21ers — many affiliated with the Tea Party and the John Birch Society — are peddling fears about Agenda 21 in order to stop basic efficiency and renewable energy programs on the state level.

The problem with conspiracy theories is that combined with slippery slope arguments, they make any attempts at compromise impossible. They make even discussion of sustainability, or honest debate about global warming, or the proper width of a sidewalk, all about communal farming and redistributing your patio to a Malaysian family. But you could have the discussion if it were just the slippery slope idea you were up against, but it isn’t. It’s the C-O-N-spiracy, which means that no argument that has any point even approximating a subject or position that is in Agenda 21 have any merit, because it’s all a jedi mind trick by people who went to Ivy League schools and who hate your half acre lot and your SUV and everything you are about. Because if people believe the other side’s arguments aren’t positions but just part of an immense plot, they become the enemy, not fellow citizens, and the become tools of an Agenda, rather than people. Because people you have to listen to, have to take what they think seriously. People whose opinions are just created by something else – a machine – are not.

George Bush’s ideas have no merit! Why? Because his cronies rigged voting machines to elect him. And if you believe that, then no argument in favor of Bush administration policy is effective because it is just a neo-con(spiracy).

“9/11 was an inside job!”  Try telling those people otherwise.

The “Birther” movement didn’t end with the birth certificate, because conspiracy theories are unassailable by logic, reason, or evidence. So they have no room for the very basic ideas of what a Republic is: discussion among those who disagree to come to a mutually agreed upon solution.

Agenda 21 is sweet because it provides a Unified Theory of Extremism. It is an attack on private property by a supra-national group, the UN. It picks up on a long line of scary non-entities, (the Tri-Lateral Commission, the Bavarian Illuminati, NKOTB etc) to convince enough people that intellectual city dwellers and their ilk are out to steal their lawn, drip by drip, and no amount of reason, evidence, and logic can convince them otherwise. So, in 1992, some people got together and suggested it might be a good idea to encourage sustainable growth, efficient use of resources, and to try and preserve some forests, and that one drip, followed by nothing else, is the evidence that a flood is imminent?

TheEiger November 30, 2012 at 9:40 am

What? No mention of the Bilderberg Group? You know you cannot have a true conspiracy story debate without talking about these peeps. http://www.bilderbergmeetings.org/index.php

Stefan November 30, 2012 at 10:36 am

Dang. Good point.

Jimd2411 November 30, 2012 at 9:43 am

Supporters of Agenda 21 are very patient. They know it can be enacted by fiat but must be built from the ground up. Have a look at ICLEI.org and look around the site. I’m sure there are many in local governments who don’t realize they are a part of and are promoting the ultimate goals of the UN. Much of the terminology sounds innocuous and even desirable but don’t take the words on face value. We did that with “hope and change” and “fundamental transformation.” Words matter and are powerful. Find out what is meant by them!

Ed November 30, 2012 at 9:46 am

There aren’t a ton of fallacies in this post. Nope.

Lea Thrace November 30, 2012 at 9:49 am

NKOTB is real and we should all be protected against their brainwashing. I fell for their trickery when I was a wee young lass. But I have learned. And I will fight against their tyranny always!

Bridget November 30, 2012 at 10:41 am

New Kids on the Block? Yes, I fell for their trickery also…

Charlie November 30, 2012 at 10:45 am

Everyone knows you can’t properly do the New Kids Dance on less than an 8′ sidewalk.

Rick Day November 30, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Try dancing Gangham Style within one Georgia Dome seat space. It can be done with sustainable dance neighbors!

David Staples November 30, 2012 at 10:05 am

I don’t know how much I believe that Agenda 21 is taking over everything, as I do that government has simply gotten too big period. Just as one example, we currently have a zoning application open to convert part of our farm from one zoning classification to another. As part of that application, we’re asking for a sign permit for two signs (one at each entrance) as well as the approval to have up to four electric meters on the farm. The way Cobb County code is currently written, only one electric meter is allowed per “lot”. (The discussion about the lack of definition of “lot” when properties are typically defined by “parcel” or being in a certain “land lot” is a different discussion altogether.)

Thus, we’re having to ask for the county’s permission to have a meter on our barn and a meter on our house so we don’t have to spend thousands trenching a line between the two (in addition to asking permission to put up a small sign at each entrance). As well, if we ever wanted to put in a well on another part of the property to be able to fill up water troughs without running 1000′ feet of hose, I don’t want to have to go back to the county to ask permission yet again.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time reading through Cobb County’s code over the past few years. Do you know that Cobb even defines the types of hats allowed to be worn by drivers of taxis and limousines? “Hats must be of the baseball style or chauffeur’s cap.”

http://library.municode.com/HTML/10572/level4/PTIOFCOCOCOGE_CH126VEHI_ARTIVTALI_DIV1GE.html#PTIOFCOCOCOGE_CH126VEHI_ARTIVTALI_DIV1GE_S126-127APHYDR

…or that in adult entertainment establishments it is illegal to do anything illegal? “No person shall conduct any illegal activity in or upon any premises licensed under this division.” Can someone please explain to me the purpose of explicitly writing out in code that it is illegal to do anything illegal?

It seems to me that instead of focusing on Agenda 21, people should simply become more active in their local municipal governments. Don’t like a variety of the guidelines from Agenda 21? Work on electing local officials who share your same beliefs.

Charlie November 30, 2012 at 10:15 am

And in writing this you’re illustrating the problem with the Agenda 21ers (do they have a nickname yet? How about the permanently paranoid?).

Everything you mention is a valid concern with the size/scope/complexity of govenrment. Making these kinds of obeservations and asking “why is government involved in this?” is a great way to highlight that government is too large, and reaches much farther into our lives than is required to maintain a free yet orderly society.

Agenda 21 folks read this and somehow conclude that this is because we’ve lost our sovereignty to some secret cabals from Europe. So instead of battling the Cobb County commission, they want us to battle….I’m not sure who, really.

Three Jack November 30, 2012 at 10:24 am

Well stated David. Property rights are under assault at the local level so that is where folks should spend their time working to protect what is left of these rights. Land Use Plans are implemented based on unelected appointed committees spending months picking winners and losers, then presenting the plan for local elected officials to approve. A property owner can lose significant value under these ‘community’ plans without even knowing their property is being re-classified.

Stefan November 30, 2012 at 10:32 am

And if so they have a remedy under the taking clause, provided they can show their economic use is impaired. That said, the problem comes from being unable to debate these issues, which often happens. There are city and county meetings across the country where any attempt to discuss a sustainability policy is shouted down by shouts of “agenda 21″.

And what you are referencing there is the taxi cab code, which is a set of minimum standards the industry created so that people would feel ok about getting in a cab.

And as for the language not allowing any illegal activity on the premises, the difference is that governments want to have a carefully circumscribed licensing procedure for adult entertainment, and want the ability to revoke those licenses without bringing criminal charges. So if they find illegal activity (i.e. activity punishable under the criminal code) they want the ability to terminate the license civilly, by saying it is a violation under the code section allowing their permitting. Does that make sense?

David Staples November 30, 2012 at 10:51 am

So people wouldn’t feel comfortable getting in a cab with a driver wearing a cowboy hat, or shorts, or a sweater (without a collared shirt underneath)? As the code is written, it appears to me that if a driver has a meatball sub for lunch and happens to have some of the sauce drip out of the sandwich onto his / her shirt or pants, the driver is required to change clothes before continuing to operate that vehicle for hire. Whatever the reasons, if a taxi pulls up and I don’t feel comfortable getting in that cab, I’ll simply find another mode of transportation or call another cab. Having a stained shirt isn’t reason enough for me to avoid hiring that driver. To me, this is a bit more regulation of this particular industry than is needed.

As for the illegal activities, I suppose that makes sense, but instead why not explicitly state that any illegal activity found to be taking place on the premises is cause to terminate their permit? Instead, we have something that sounds rather redundant. Why not specifically spell out in every other ordinance, perhaps under the zoning section, that it is illegal to do anything illegal on any property under that zoning classification? Whether poorly worded, or simply the result of a commission that figured they’d find out what was in it after they voted for it or whatever, I don’t know… but it just sounds… odd, for lack of a better word.

Stefan November 30, 2012 at 11:02 am

Of course you would, because overall you have faith that cab drivers won’t drive you into the woods and kill you. But getting to that level of faith requires people to get into a cab to begin with, and we are conditioned not to accept rides from strangers. To get past that, taxi drivers (and chauffeurs even more so) have to maintain a level of decorum so that potential customers are not put off of the entire idea of taking a taxi. Which means all of them have to meet the minimum level or else they cause the entire business to decline.

David Staples November 30, 2012 at 11:38 am

Using that same logic, should we also not codify minimum dress codes for every other business? After all, do we really expect that our BBQ is safe if our server is wearing a t-shirt? How do I know the food isn’t going to kill me? Would having a collar on their shirt make it more likely that they won’t cause the entire restaurant industry to collapse?

Or did you just identify the REAL reason the real estate market collapsed? I bet there was a real estate agent or mortgage lender out there somewhere wearing a cowboy hat wasn’t there? This whole real estate market situation we’re in was THEIR fault! ;-)

Stefan November 30, 2012 at 12:02 pm

I wish all real estate agents had to wear Western wear. That would be brilliant.

I suspect you think our BBQ is safe because of USDA oversight of the meat and local health inspections, but really there isn’t any immediate threat to your well being in a BBQ restaurant, whereas getting into a cab late at night is another story.

David Staples November 30, 2012 at 12:43 pm

I don’t think our BBQ is safe necessarily because of USDA oversight… I think it’s safe for several other reasons including: those involved in the creation (from raising of the meat to the preparation) usually end up eating it and they don’t want to eat bad meat any more than you or I do, as well as the threat of a lawsuit should they serve bbq that is tainted in some form or another. But yes, local health inspections do also play a part in that in making sure that the environment where the food is prepared is mostly sanitary.

But the rather restrictive dress code for taxi drivers I don’t think relates to how safe a passenger feels at all. I think it has more to do with the condition and appearance of the vehicle more than it does that a driver has shorts on. I think the dress code should be up to the individual company that owns the taxi service. Those companies that maintain a nicer fleet for reasonable rates and require their drivers to maintain a certain dress code will probably flourish moreso than companies using mid-80s Toyota minivans that smell like smoke and drivers wearing clothes looking like they just came out of a battle zone. That’s just how the free market works.

Furthermore, I can recall back about 5 years ago when my wife and I were staying in San Francisco for a couple of days, after a week in Napa, where we took a cab / town car service. One instance was actually a mid 90’s Toyota minivan that smelled like smoke. I don’t remember what the driver looked like, but this was probably 9 pm and it was raining and we didn’t feel like waiting for the next street car to come along. I can tell you, though, that I actually felt safer in that cab than I did in the town car that took us to the airport from our hotel. I don’t recall what that driver was wearing either, but I can guess that the driver was a fan of auto racing. Weaving in and out of traffic and “drafting” are not exactly something I want a driver doing while I’m riding with them.

saltycracker November 30, 2012 at 1:05 pm

How far to go with restrictions to avoid a costly/miserable encounter is the challenge. I can assure you there are many more bad encounters with unrestricted cabbies than your good one. I have a few ranging from overcharging ride arounds to being set up with thugs……
Legit appearances improve your odds over gypsy cabs. That is common sense.

David Staples November 30, 2012 at 10:40 am

From my talks with the 21ers (will that work?), I’d say they want to battle anyone at any level who wants to [continue to] implement anything related to Agenda 21. Instead, all it takes is simply talking to your home owners association county commissioners. Thankfully, the rear side of our house is south facing, so I don’t have to get a permit to put a satellite dish in the front yard…

b. “In a noncommercial or single-family district, subject to the provisions contained in this section, such antenna shall be located only to the rear of any principal structure. If usable satellite or communication signals cannot be obtained from the rear location, the antenna may be located in the side yard, subject to applicable setbacks.

c. If usable satellite or communication signals cannot be received by locating the antenna in the rear or to the side of the principal structure, such antenna may be placed in the front yard or on the roof of the dwelling structure, provided that a satellite reception permit is obtained prior to such installation. Such permit shall be issued upon a showing by the applicant that usable satellite signals are not receivable from any location on the property other than the location selected by the applicant. A satellite reception permit shall not be required for installations complying with subsections (2)a and (2)b of this section.”

David Staples November 30, 2012 at 10:53 am

Since I can’t modify, the home owners association was supposed to be struck through. Yes, Cobb County seems more like one big home owners association sometimes than a county government.

bruhsam November 30, 2012 at 10:11 am

I’m with David Staples on this one. Be active at your local level and you need not fear the (illusory) Agenda 21 conspiracy. If you don’t like your municipal or county land uses or zoning, by golly get elected and change it. Or move. Voting with your feet is a time-honored tradition.

saltycracker November 30, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Active yes, having someone tell me to like it, pay up, endure the nuisance or leave is BS.

Max Power November 30, 2012 at 10:29 am

Holy crap. Someone get Hassinger some medication stat because I needed four shots of Elijah Craig before I could make sense of the post. Seriously GOP, this is why you’re a joke. We have real problems in this state and you’re worried about an imaginary boogeyman, that will train liberal professors, who will then take part in a sustainability conference, and then codify it in the zoning ordinances, then use the bar codes on the back of street signs to tell the UN peace keepers where to go to enforce the UN mandate.

Glad you’re worried about that while in the meantime this once great state continues to decline.

Bob Loblaw November 30, 2012 at 10:31 am

A’men. PP is lowering itself by hosting this absurd debate.

Stefan November 30, 2012 at 10:35 am

Friiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiday. Friday.

And the reality is that when people simply dismiss Agenda 21 as meaningless, they are ignoring the effect it has on the debate, which is incredibly significant. Anti-government conspiracy theories, of which this one is chief, are part of what create the partisan divide and prevent good ideas from getting traction.

Mike Hassinger November 30, 2012 at 10:56 am

Keep drinking, Max. I get better.

John Konop November 30, 2012 at 10:34 am

Three Jack made an excellent point a week or so ago on this issue. The leaders pushing Agenda 21 warned about private/public ventures yet they support an unelected board to run our schools and spend our tax dollars at will on private/public ventures. I also agree that the commissioners at the local level need some monitoring by the public, but Agenda 21 is just “Tin Foil” issue used to fire up their base, while solving nothing.

Spacey G November 30, 2012 at 10:44 am

Do not be distracted by the global shiney stuff. Or Chip Rogers’ hair products. Property issues in Georgia are just that – OUR property issues. They don’t belong to imaginary cabals of creepy old men in ornate, darkened rooms in faraway European estates. (Not that such folk don’t exist. I’m quite sure they do. They make for some great scenes in Hollywood thrillers, too.)

Know local. Be local. Act local: http://www.dailyreportonline.com/PubArticleDRO.jsp?id=1202578670800

Stefan November 30, 2012 at 10:49 am

Did you know opposition to to the anti-sovereignty plot Agenda 21 was a plank in the RNC? It cannot be relegated to the bin of unimportance because of the emphasis it has.

Bob Loblaw November 30, 2012 at 10:54 am

Outlawing all abortions, even when a pregnancy is doomed for failure, where a rape victim is knocked up or a young girl is impregnated by a relative also was a plank in the RNC. Add Agenda 21 to it and re-visit Max Power’s statement, above.

John Konop November 30, 2012 at 11:10 am

I agree!

Stefan November 30, 2012 at 11:13 am

True. But people talk about the that all the time, and it is a relatively small part of actual legislative work. This touches almost every policy and program that government takes par t in.

SallyForth November 30, 2012 at 12:53 pm

Stefan, having trouble with your fingers today? Maybe it’s time for you to get ready for a new SNL routine tomorrow night – we’ve been missing you. :)

John Konop November 30, 2012 at 11:18 am

This does not help the GOP in the future!

…….Fears of Agenda 21 go mainstream in the Republican Party platform……..

……….Fears about the nefarious nature of sustainable development officially reached the mainstream of American politics this week with the release of the 2012 Republican Party platform. “We strongly reject the U.N. Agenda 21 as erosive of American sovereignty,” the 54-page platform states in a section on U.S. involvement in international treaties.

It’s an inconspicuous line, but one indicative of the rightward drift of GOP ideology. Concerns about Agenda 21 were once exclusively the province of conspiracy-minded groups such as the John Birch Society, an organization perhaps best known for its founder’s assertion that President Dwight Eisenhower was a “conscious, dedicated agent of the communist conspiracy.”

Over the past 18 months, the idea that environmentally friendly building projects are the work of a hidden hand has found an enthusiastic audience among tea party activists suspicious of government regulation. They now frequently sponsor events to educate one another on what they regard as the dangers of local smart-growth projects.

“The tea party groups are very much involved in this. They’re hosting a lot of speeches,” said Larry Greenley, director of missions for the John Birch Society. “They see it as a threat to their way of life, and they choose to work on it.”

U.S. Senate candidate Ted Cruz, a tea party-favored Republican from Texas, has agitated against Agenda 21, stating on his campaign website that it seeks to “abolish … golf courses, grazing pastures and paved roads.”

In January, the Republican National Committee approved a resolution calling for a formal stance against Agenda 21 in the 2012 GOP platform and denouncing the U.N. accord as “a comprehensive plan of extreme environmentalism, social engineering, and global political control” that is being “covertly pushed into local communities.”….

http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/national/fears-of-agenda-21-go-mainstream-in-the-republican-party-platform/1248666

Harry November 30, 2012 at 11:26 am
ricstewart November 30, 2012 at 11:39 am

What took you so long?

SallyForth November 30, 2012 at 12:56 pm

Ahhh….. Harry is back to form, in Beckistan no less.

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