Latest Tea Party Action Targets Planning, Sustainability and the Greater Good

Well, it seems like those tea party folks are at it again, proudly displaying their unique, mind-bending brand of self-centered absurdity, which, when mixed with a healthy dose of righteous indignation might just rouse their somnambulistic followers to take action at the polls. This is why, in an era when narcissistic dimwits like Sarah (ah the sweet smell of exhaust fumes) Palin are being seriously considered as US presidential candidates, it behooves us to take heed and to speak out to those in this country who can still reason.

The latest outing of theirs to make headlines was not somewhere in the Midwest or the Deep South, but rather in San Francisco, where they were a loud and highly vocal presence at a meeting for the Bay Area’s Sustainable Community Strategy, something they are highly opposed to.

In a nutshell, the Sustainable Community Strategy, is a statewide initiative that came about as the result of SB375 with the objective of “accommodate projected regional growth while decreasing congestion, curbing air pollution, and preserving rural land.”

This, of course, requires not only planning, but a willingness to consider the impact of individual actions on the broader community as well as the environment. These are apparently not the kind of things that tea party activists feel any obligation to do. In fact, they seem to see them as a direct threat to their interpretation of the American Dream.

In a video produced by the East Bay Tea Party, complete with 2001 The Space Odyssey theme music, they called the Sustainable Community Strategy, along with Agenda 21, Sustainable Development, Smart Growth, Social Justice, Green Energy, Carbon Free Livable Communities, and One Global Vision as little more than attempts by the megalomaniacal folks at the United Nations (last time I checked the US was still on the Security Council) to “strip you of your freedom, your prosperity, your privacy, your property rights, your choice of transportation, your peace of mind, and your American Dream.”

The video highlights words and phrases like “planning” and “for the greater good” as evils to be vigrously rooted out.

Who knew?

But this is not really new. Back in the fall, I wrote a piece about the Tea Party’s opposition to sustainable development. Most of the examples I cited then came from the South and in rural areas. But the fact that not only is this still going on, but it’s popping up in places like San Francisco is pretty remarkable.

It does boggle the mind. How can someone actually be against sustainability, which is all about preserving our planet and our society for those who come after us so that they can enjoy a quality of life comparable to or hopefully better than ours? These are, after all our children and their children that we are talking about.

Basically, they are saying they don’t want dense development in San Francisco. They’d like things to stay as they are. But the fact is, more people are coming, lots more people. And if we don’t have dense development, then we’re going to have more sprawl. And as much as we might like our suburbs and our lawns, we know that sprawl is a very energy-intensive lifestyle. So how much are we willing to give up for it? Our wild areas? Our clean air? Our climate?

Hard choices need to be made, grown-up choices. The folks behind the Sustainable Community Strategy are to be commended for tackling these issues pro-actively, and keeping the interests of the greater good, not the biggest whiners or the most wealthy, in mind while doing so. This is how real democracy works, the kind that sticks around for a while, the sustainable kind.

As it turned out, the tea party efforts were in vain. According to the Bay Citizen, “Even with the group of vocal critics, when the audience voted on priorities for the Bay Area, the top five were: daily needs close to home, clean air, convenient access to jobs, water conservation and lower carbon emissions. ‘Large homes with big yards’ was near the bottom.”

I have written elsewhere about these Tea Partiers and compared them to Americans in other historical periods. If they insist on referring back to the pre-revolutionary period, I would suggest that they are far more like the Tories of that period, than the Boston patriots.  It was the Tories, after all, who, much like this group, supported, worked in concert with and were funded by the ultra-rich elite, who, in the eighteenth century were represented by the Crown. Those were the people that the real tea party patriots were rebelling against and today are more likely found in corporate boardrooms or on Wall St. than in Buckingham Palace. They are also the ones who have connived their way out of paying taxes causing the rest of us to pay more or suffer the consequences. And these are the people the Tea Partiers are supporting whether they realize it or not.

Mostly though, these folks and the candidates they have elected remind me of high school kids who run for student council on a “no more homework” platform. Sure that’s a popular idea, just like no taxes is, but now that they are in office, they need to deal with the reality of plummeting test scores.

Let’s not bring back the “Me Generation” just now. I’m pretty sure that’s not what we need.


RP Siegel is the co-author of the eco-thriller Vapor Trails, the first in a series covering the human side of various sustainability issues including energy, food, and water.  Like airplanes, we all leave behind a vapor trail. And though we can easily see others’, we rarely see our own.

Follow RP Siegel on Twitter.

RP Siegel

RP Siegel, author and inventor, shines a powerful light on numerous environmental and technological topics. His work has appeared in Triple Pundit, GreenBiz, Justmeans, CSRWire, Sustainable Brands, PolicyInnovations, Social Earth, 3BL Media, ThomasNet, Huffington Post, Strategy+Business, Mechanical Engineering, and among others . He is the co-author, with Roger Saillant, of Vapor Trails, an adventure novel that shows climate change from a human perspective. RP is a professional engineer - a prolific inventor with 52 patents and President of Rain Mountain LLC a an independent product development group. RP recently returned from Abu Dhabi where he traveled as the winner of the 2015 Sustainability Week blogging competition.Contact:

12 responses

  1. Good article, though this is most definitely not San Francisco. Contra Costa county may as well be Kansas in terms of both geographic and cultural differences from SF. Hence the issue is very different there


  2. Hi RP,

    I agree with the jist of your story, but you’ve got your facts a bit confused. As Nick Aster noted, the meeting in the video took place in Concord (Contra Costa County), which is generally very NIMBY and anti-growth.

    The meeting that Zusha Elinson wrote about in The Bay Citizen took place in Oakland (the rablerousers there were the same people as those in Contra Costa County), and it was Oakland residents who overwhelmingly voted for “daily needs close to home, clean air, convenient access to jobs, water conservation and lower carbon emissions.”

    I actually attended both meetings, which were part of an event series hosted by Silicon Valley Community Foundation, Greenbelt Alliance, and TransForm.


  3. RP Siegel is a Left Socialist, and ICLEI is alive and well in America. Anyone who takes up for it out to move elsewhere or get with the program and do a little research on Sustainable Living. It did not just come about because someone cared about our space, oceans or air; it’s all about control. Look up LOST. Agenda 21, ICLEI, Spacial Planning and the UN protocol involving the World Bank in a sweeping plan to control The USA by the year 2050. After you have done your homework and still disbelieve, then you my friend deserve to get what you ask for but only after I am dead trying to stop this madness. Exploratory Candidate US Senate FL 2012

    1. You are utterly delusional if you think “smart growth” has ANYTHING to do with the united nations. It barely has anything to do with government at all. Just because the united nations uses the term does not mean they invented it or had anything to so with it.

  4. Sustainability, just another code word for controlling people from cradle to grave! Environmentalism is just a code word for communism! Enjoy your kool aid people!

    1. Leonid and Gary,
      So I guess the point then is to be OUT of control, is that what you understand to be Freedom? I’m on my way to pay a traffic ticket this morning. I certainly don’t like it, but I understand that the system needs to be there to avoid total chaos on the road.

      1. Ah but what if you’re not speeding? Take the ecobulb, they are not proven to be more efficient yet they have been proven to be a hazard. As an adult I would consider the right to choose to use them or not freedom, your movement takes this freedom away. Invading my life and home is the control you speak of.

        1. I wasn’t speeding and the charges against me were unfair, but I am working my way through the system, imperfect as it is and I may or may not see justice served, but still I don’t advocate for anarchy or chaos. As for the ecobulb, they have indeed been shown to be more efficient (by 75%) and the minor hazard (of mercury) is far less than the equivalent emissions from power plants generating those extra kW hours. (And if they are disposed of properly, then there is no hazard).They are clearly better than incandescent bulbs in most ways, though still not perfect. The point I think we can agree on is that if we don’t have rules and regulations protecting the poor and the environment and the greater good, then everything will go the way of those with the most money (which is pretty much the way it is going now)and that’s not working for a whole lot of people.

  5. So many things wrong with thisa article and the comments that follow it. Don’t think the UN is behind this… do your research before you make stupid statements that with a few clicks of your mouse you can locate.
    You people need to open your minds to the possibility that you and your kids are been indoctrinated big time.
    If you live in a county, city or town that has signed on to ICLEI then part of every dollar you pay in local & State taxes is going to the UN. Like that huh?
    There is nothing wrong with people wanting to live, work & play in one area if that is how they want to live…but what about those who would rather not live like that… they will have no choice .do you not understand that if you take away property rights then liberty & freedom are gone. Un Agenda 21 is in every nook & cranny of our lives, in our schools and in the warped heads of you environmental terrorists. You want to live with sustainable growth and all the problems that entails give it a try in Russia for a year…. you’ll be back!!
    btw… how many people do you REALLY THINK are going to dispose of these crappy lightbulbs from China in the correct way…. I’ll give you one guess!! and a ton of mercury in 50 years!

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