After the Tea Party took over the GOP in 2011, we began hearing talk of a strange and frightening thing…. Agenda 21. This agenda, we were told, was a devious secret plot by the United Nations to secure global domination by taking away our property, our cars, and our toilets, and making us ride the bus, or something like that. Planning? Planning is the work of Satan and his minions! The John Birch Society threw the gasoline on the fire, and the Tea Partiers, 912 groups, and the liberty crowd fanned the flames.
The outrage grew and grew to the point where small town planning board members were harassed by irate residents about something they’d never even heard of. Reliable media sources like WorldNetDaily, infowars, Glenn Beck, and of course Fox News were churning out the agitprop about this nefarious plot. Agenda 21 is a document that came out of the UN and the Rio Conference on the environment – in 1992. Yes, that’s over 20 years ago. And yes, if they planned to take over the world, it’s the slowest takeover of anything ever. It’s a non-binding set of resolutions, intended to encourage countries to conserve resources, protect open spaces, and promoting sustainable growth. You can see why that would become a tinfoil encrusted nightmare. How dare anyone tell us to conserve! That’s commie talk! Freedom means using up everything and never having to say we’re sorry!
The flames spread. Agenda 21 conspiracy films were shown at the Majestic Theater in Conway. Books were written. Videos were made. Propaganda was spewed. Even though the Tea/Birch crowd was mostly deposed from our state government in 2012, eventually the tinfoil trail led to the NH State House.
Last year a bill was proposed to phase out lead sinkers and jigs from fishing tackle. The lead kills our loons. This seemed pretty reasonable, and there was science behind it. This simple bill turned into hours of debate thanks to the Agenda 21 crowd. Apparently part of the UN’s slow motion plan for global domination includes invading the tackle boxes of NH fishermen. Perhaps most egregious was a bill to allow municipalities to work together to finance and build water and sewer projects. It turns out that the UN doesn’t just want your tackle box; it wants to take over your toilet. The wailing and gnashing of teeth went on for hours, and still the bill passed by a huge margin.
The Reynolds rappers are still with us. Last week I sat through part of the hearing on HB 1573, a bill that would eliminate all nine of the regional planning commissions in the state. This is because NH’s regional planners are engaged in a project to have a dialogue about planning for the future. It’s called Granite State Future. The dialogue includes business, towns, cities, regions, old timers, newcomers, and anyone that wants to be involved. The discussion involves nefarious stuff like how best to manage our shared natural resources going into the future – like forests and water. This has become linked to Agenda 21, by the tinfoil brigade, who believe that planning ahead is really all about the permanent loss of your privacy rights and of course, the UN’s plot for global domination.
The first speaker I heard was Rep. Glen Cordelli from Tuftonboro, who muttered dire warnings about regional planning commissions, and how “advice is not their game, power is their game.” A man from Jaffrey spoke about how the RPCs are an asset to his small town, because they have resources that the town does not. Planning board members from a variety of towns praised the RPCs and the help they provide. Rep. Bill Butynski from Hinsdale testified that property taxes would have gone up in his town if the RPCs hadn’t helped with their process of rebuilding the bridge to Vermont. Carol Miller, Director of Technologies at the Dept. of Resources and Economic Development, is focused on broadband needs, and has worked with the RPCs to develop a state broadband plan. She said she’s found the data they provided from the various regions to be invaluable. Bill McNally, a Bircher from Windham handed out information on Granite State Futures and Agenda 21.
That’s how it went. Speakers who were well versed on the planning needs of their towns were followed by speakers who were not at all interested in the needs of our state – just convinced that there is a conspiracy afoot to defraud them of their property and pave the way for the UN takeover. Or something like that. It was painful. The Free State Project is heavily involved with the destruction of the RPCs – and indeed all planning. In their Randian paradise, we’re all free market buccaneers with no rules or regulations – every pirate for himself. And if your water gets Freedomed, as W. Virginia’s recently did, well, that’s too bad. You’ll just have to buy your water on the freedom market.
Without planning and zoning that’s what we get. Pirates come in and take over. We saw it happen in Tamworth with the racetrack. When Tamworth voted on zoning, Club Motorsports came in and bought the election. A bill changing the definition of a racetrack (SB 458) was allowed to glide silently through the legislature, and most of those who kept the silence were rewarded with campaign donations from Club Motorsports.
Where there is no planning and zoning, the big money privateers come in and do what they want. If the town doesn’t like it, well, suck it up buttercup, because freedom.
A few of the tinfoil legislative brigade have tired of wreaking havoc in their own towns, and are moving on to mischief in other communities. They’ve been working successfully in Rindge, where all the talk of the evils of gummint money, led by Rep. John Burt of Goffstown, has created an ugly us v. them climate in the town. Rindge has petitioned article this year on their warrant that specifies that the town would not be able to accept any federal funds, except once a year at town meeting. In other words, natural disaster like the flood in Alstead or the devastation created up north by Hurricane Irene? Too bad. You’ll have to wait till March to vote on getting federal aid to rebuild your roads, bridges, or businesses. That’ll teach the feds!
As always, this serves to underscore how badly we are served by the NH media. Our only statewide media doesn’t report on these stories, so people around the state don’t connect what’s happening in their town to other areas of the state.
© sbruce 2014
published as a biweekly column in the Conway Daily Sun Newspaper