Pages

Friday, December 1, 2006

A Day of Inconvenient Truths

Listen (RealAudio)

Former presidential candidate and senator from Tennessee, Albert Gore, Jr., spent the first half of 2006 jet setting throughout the United States and Europe to tout his new documentary,
An Inconvenient Truth. In it, he proclaimed the end of the world as we know it, but despite his Bible Belt origins, his apocalyptic vision does not include even a whiff of biblical prophecy. He is a proponent of sudden, disastrous, worldwide climate change due to global warming, the kind imagined in another recent movie, The Day After Tomorrow. So, any day now—perhaps even as soon as this coming Sunday—everyone north of the Tropic of Cancer or thereabouts will either be frozen solid or huddled, shivering and blue, in their own custom igloos.

The irony of the Gore movie's title is delicious, right alongside Bill "The Gambler" Bennett's Book of Virtues and the late Sam Walton's Made in America. An Inconvenient Truth purports to marshal the facts on global warming and predicts the dire consequences of ignoring them. Yet, the movie itself turns a blind eye to the mounds of scientific evidence that contradict its premise. They are themselves rather inconvenient.

For instance, the Cato Institute's Patrick Michaels has written two well-documented books, The Satanic Gases and Meltdown, both of which conclusively explain that, while there has been some increase in global temperatures over the past few decades, the warming trend has been quite gradual and natural—and certainly will not produce catastrophic results. In fact, temperatures rose much more rapidly in the decades before 1940, and there were no adverse effects then. Michaels' offerings are just a few of the many books and studies published in the last few years to balance the environmentalist left's Chicken Little scenario.

That is exactly what it is: a fake crisis, based loosely on debatable science, promoted to advance a political agenda. As Michael Crichton explained in his book, State of Fear, movers and shakers of all stripes have learned that manufacturing crises, producing doubt and fear in the populace, opens the electorate to suggestion and manipulation. Although these influential members of society and advocacy groups assert the truth is on their side, they really care little about it. Their first rule is "the ends justify the means."

In the past few weeks, another issue has moved forward in the face of inconvenient facts. New York Congressman Charlie Rangel, a Democrat and soon-to-be powerful House Ways and Means Committee Chairman, has pledged to introduce a bill to reinstate involuntary conscription to the U.S. military—the draft. The crisis he has created, along with willing abettors in the mainstream media, is that of class warfare. He claims that the poor and disadvantaged comprise a disproportional percentage of the armed forces. In other words, the wealthy and elite in this country do not contribute their fair share to the nation's defense in terms of manpower.

What are the inconvenient truths that Rangel ignores? The Heritage Foundation's Dr. Tim Kane has engaged in an exhaustive study of the composition of U.S. military recruits since 1999. He and his associates have found that Representative Rangel has reached the exact opposite conclusion to the facts. For instance, Kane's "Who Are the Recruits? The Demographic Characteristics of U.S. Military Enlistment, 2003–2005" relates:

The current findings show that the demographic characteristics of volunteers have continued to show signs of higher, not lower, quality. . . . Those who have been so quick to suggest that today's wartime recruits represent lesser quality, lower standards, or lower class should be expected [to] make an airtight case. Instead, they have cited selective evidence, which is balanced by a much clearer set of evidence showing improving troop quality.

. . . For example, it is commonly claimed that the military relies on recruits from poorer neighborhoods because the wealthy will not risk death in war. This claim has been advanced without any rigorous evidence. Our review of Pentagon enlistee data shows that the only group that is lowering its participation in the military is the poor. The percentage of recruits from the poorest American neighborhoods (with one-fifth of the U.S. population) declined from 18 percent in 1999 to 14.6 percent in 2003, 14.1 percent in 2004, and 13.7 percent in 2005. . . .

In summary, the additional years of recruit data (2004–2005) support the previous finding that U.S. military recruits are more similar than dissimilar to the American youth population. The slight differences are that wartime U.S. military enlistees are better educated, wealthier, and more rural on average than their civilian peers. (Emphasis ours.)

What is Representative Rangel up to? How can he ignore such obvious facts? He is advancing a political agenda to punish the wealthy and privileged, as he imagines them, and to extort money and benefits for his poor and downtrodden constituents, as they are only in his own mind. Stripped of all its rhetoric, his proposal is sheer socialism, arbitrarily redistributing wealth and advantage to those who have shown no inclination to earn it for themselves. But then, socialists have never let the truth weigh them down.

As Christians, as keepers of the Ten Commandments, we are bound to the truth. Whatever kind of truth it is—religious, scientific, political, social, financial—we must give it its due regard. Yet, we live in a nation—in a world—in which the pursuit and respect for truth is waning and almost gone. God says through Jeremiah: "'And like their bow they have bent their tongues for lies. They are not valiant for the truth on the earth. For they proceed from evil to evil, and they do not know Me,' says the LORD" (Jeremiah 9:3).

But we do know Him, and we have a responsibility to "buy the truth, and sell it not" (Proverbs 23:23, KJV). As liars and deceivers increase (II Timothy 3:13), we must be on the lookout for those who press on with their agendas despite the inconvenient truths of reality. No good end will come on those whose lives are built on lies.