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Editor’s note: Listen to this column online.

The essential difference between capitalism and Marxism is the ownership of property. In a capitalist system, individuals own and control the use of property. In a Marxist system, property belongs to the community, and its use is controlled by government. Agenda 21 and the “sustainable development” policies it contains are constructed on the idea that property should belong to the community and its use must be controlled by the government.

Advocates of sustainable development have been convinced that the earth’s resources are not only finite, but in great jeopardy of extinction because of society’s greedy overuse and abuse. Consequently, they say, the only way to insure that future generations have the resources to meet their needs is for government to control the current generation’s use of resources. In one way or another, this is the excuse used in communities across the nation to impose a system of government control called sustainable development, delivered through comprehensive land-use plans.

“Sustainability,” as it is called, is facilitated by the federal government and by the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI). ICLEI, created by the United Nations, boasts that more than 600 U.S. communities have entered into contracts through which ICLEI helps make the communities “sustainable.”

Las Cruces, N.M., is one of those cities. On March 7, 2011, without a vote of the city council, the city entered into an agreement with ICLEI to help facilitate the “Sustainability Plan” adopted the same day by the city council. As the news spread throughout the community, city councilmen were asked why they were supporting the U.N.’s Agenda 21. Several of the councilmen denied supporting Agenda 21, and told their constituents that such claims were “nonsense.”

Jim Harbison knew better. He appeared before the city council on April 4, and reading from the mission statement of ICLEI, showed how the city’s contract with ICLEI was directly supporting Agenda 21. He went on to say that the councilmen who told their constituents otherwise were either “… disingenuous or dishonest, because the city’s membership in ICLEI does, by default or intent, support Agenda 21.”

Mayor Pro Tem Sharon Thomas, first reported that the council had never adopted a resolution in support of Agenda 21, then proceeded with a five-minute dissertation on why she supports the U.N. and Agenda 21, claiming that the city is in “good company” because 178 other nations signed Agenda 21 at the 1992 U.N. Conference on Environment and Development.

Democratic Party activist and Progressive Voter Alliance member Charlotte Lipson learned that Harbison intended to speak at the April 4 council meeting and immediately issued this email:

Please come tomorrow (Monday, April 4) to the Las Cruces City Council meeting. Mr. Harbison intends to expound on the nonsense that Sustainability standards are a U.N. plot to take away our property rights and create a “one world government.” You may have already seen press reports that a few Midwestern municipalities have defeated or eliminated sustainability programs because of these bizarre beliefs.

I urge YOU and all my well-educated, literate, critically thinking friends, to turn up in force because it is anticipated that the Tea Party Crackpots will be there to support Harbison.

The meeting starts at 1 p.m., this Monday, April 4 at City Hall. Remember: this will be televised on city ch. 20 and covered by local media, which have been complicit in spreading this claptrap, so let us demonstrate that there is indeed a sane Majority – us!

Thank you.

Charlotte Lipson

The Las Cruces experience is quite typical. In community after community, local elected officials deny that their sustainability plans have anything to do with Agenda 21 or the U.N. They also tend to ridicule and denigrate opposition, as does Ms. Lipson. Fortunately, more and more communities are learning the truth and are terminating their association with ICLEI and shutting down their sustainability office.

It may be too late in Las Cruces. The government already controls virtually every square inch of land in the entire county. In the first place, 86.7 percent of the total land area in the county is owned by state or federal government. That leaves only 13.3 percent of the land in private ownership. And even that land is controlled by government. According to Chapter 2 of the Las Cruces Vision 2040 – Regional Planning Project, “Performance districts regulate all privately owned areas. … All uses are permitted in these areas. …”

The Sustainability Plan recently adopted by Las Cruces goes way beyond the control of land use and seeks to regulate the behavior of previously free people. The plan contains eight objectives and 99 actions to be taken over the next three years. Each of these actions will impose some limitation on the freedom of individuals and/or cost additional tax dollars taken from individuals and companies to achieve goals that are, at best, questionable.

Some progress has been made, however. City Manager Robert Garza announced after the April 4 presentation by Jim Harbison, that the city of Las Cruces would not be renewing its agreement with ICLEI.

Regardless of the spin advocates put on sustainable development, the concept and the process replaces individual decision-making about, and control of, the use of privately owned property, with government regulations enforced by fines and other penalties. A much more detailed analysis of sustainable development, complete with several examples of its negative impact, is available here.

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