Book Review: “George P. Mitchell and the Idea of Sustainability” by Jurgen Schmandt

John Hill Wertz, Guest Book Reviewer to The Golden Hammer

George P. Mitchell and The Idea of Sustainability by Jurgen Schmandt

Just the title “Sustainability” alone conjures up the concept of “limitations”.

In the introduction and utilizing the “history repeats itself” cliché, the author refers to the medieval concept by Garret Hardin of the “Tragedy of the Commons,” whereby common areas shared by farmers, on the honor system, were depleted when the population grew beyond the capability to sustain the community. Seems we have that problem today in the form of welfare.

Schmandt subscribes to Hardin’s belief that threats to sustainability are a result of human (bad) behavior – in general, man-made Global Warming, which as we all know is probably the common denominator attempt of population control through Agenda 21 He also notes that this threat can be altered by “changing human behavior (read, ‘re-education’)”.

The author also uses Rachel Carson’s now debunked “Silent Spring” as a benchmark to overpopulation, whereby continued progress in our society and culture will eventually produce undesirable side-effects…particularly to the atmosphere, ozone layers and the ocean.

The more the book progresses, the more scare tactics are used (the usual suspects) regarding scarcity of food, shelter, jobs and security. And that the only way to “correct” this imbalance in nature, is for these growth problems to be brought under “control.” Supposedly, survival of the human species depends on making radical changes through the political arena.

As for George Mitchell’s philosophy, he could be considered the father of th “Sustainability Movement”, as he funded millions of dollars into some of the first meetings in the ‘70’s called “The Woodlands Conferences” and through HARC (Houston Advanced Research Center), which the author oversaw for a number of years. Only thing Mitchell ever had a problem with is a concept that came out of his membership of the Club of Rome – a group formed in 1968 as a result of concerns about overpopulation and environmental sustainability. The concern was with the concept of a paper called “Limits to Growth.” He thought the term “’Alternatives’ to Growth” would be more acceptable to the public (emphasis is mine).

In summary, “Tragedy of the Commons” wasn’t the result of people’s inability to play nice in the sandbox that everyone had access to (i.e. commune or kibbutz), or to man-made global warming/climate change. Instead, it was about the lack of private property and the ability of people to produce whatever they were or are good at in “satisfying other peoples’ needs” that they could afford, based on their own production. It’s an example of why socialism/communism doesn’t work, and why free enterprise does. It’s not perfect, but it’s the best system the world has ever known.

To many (especially progressives), The Woodlands is heaven on earth. To me and my wife, it is a clean, nice place to live with some great people who live here and in the surrounding areas whom we’ve met over the years. And since I’m an outdoorsmen, it’s given me a large touch of nature and greenery that I longed for. But make no mistake; it’s NOT heaven on earth!

John Hill Wertz is a retired petroleum industry executive who lives in The Woodlands. He is the elected Treasurer of the Montgomery County Republican Party, a Republican Precinct Chairman, member of the Republican Party Steering Committee, and the Vetting Committee Chairman of the Montgomery County Tea Party.

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