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Think of President Trump and his administration as a den of thieves. There is, of course, the obvious thievery: what they will in the end, as with the recently passed tax “reform” bill, steal from ordinary citizens and offer as never-ending presents to the already staggeringly wealthy, among them the president himself (possible savings up to $15 million annually) and son-in-law Jared Kushner (possible savings: up to $12 million annually). According to the Congressional Budget Office, government cash reserves are already starting to fall faster than expected as a result of lost revenue from that bill. And the modest gains offered to ordinary taxpayers to give cover to a vast increase in the wealth of the top 1% will all sunset in the 2020s, while that bill’s corporate tax cuts are meant for eternity.
Think of such moves not as acts of petty theft, but as robbery of the most basic sort, since they involve stealing from the future to fund an increasingly plutocratic present. The Donald, in other words, isn’t just stealing from us but from our children and grandchildren. And if that’s true of his tax bill, it’s so much truer of his energy policies, as Michael Klare makes clear in a newsworthy manner. That the president’s addiction to fossil fuels, his belief that freeing Big Energy from every form of restriction and regulation, is crucial to future American global domination has, Klare informs us, been embedded in the administration’s recently released National Security Strategy. In other words, the exploitation of fossil fuels in North America is now officially the heart and soul of the global policy-making of President Trump and his generals.
This isn’t just a matter of stealing future money from our children and grandchildren, or even of polluting the American environment in which they’ll grow up in a fashion familiar to anyone — like Donald Trump (or me) — who was raised in the 1950s. It’s a matter of stealing everything from them, including potentially the very environment that’s nurtured generation after generation of children on this planet for all the thousands of years of human history. If the president and his crew of climate deniers have their way and a fossil-fuelized version of energy “dominance” comes to rule our American world, while the path to alternative energy growth is crippled, then they will have stolen from the future in the most basic way imaginable for the comfort of just a few human beings now. As part of what can only be thought of as a semi-conscious plan to further warm the planet, President Trump’s energy policy will, without any doubt, represent not just thievery, not just the crime of this century, but terracide, the destruction of the planet itself, which will be the crime of any century.
Copyright 2018 Tom Engelhardt. First published in TomDispatch.com and included in Vox Populi with permission.