My letter to the NY Times re: Another True Believer

Dear Sirs:
After World War Two blue-collar philosopher Eric Hoffer tried to make sense of the mass movements that had led to the deaths of hundreds of millions of people. In The True Believer he identified the “misfit”, (Hoffer’s own word), who seeks to submerse himself in some movement that he considers greater than himself and to which he can pledge complete allegiance and cease all critical thinking. We have a new true believer in James Traub, who seeks to pledge his allegiance to the cause of radical environmentalism. Pardon me if I continue to express my skeptism that giving government the power to tell me how many times I may fly and how many real hamburgers I may consume will fix or delay anything that may or may not be happening. But I am certain that such a policy will open the floodgates to true totalitarian government. Furthermore, it seems to me that Mr. Traub has set the bar rather low in picking an all-knowing leader in teenager Greta Thunberg. Ms. Thunberg may not be anyone’s idea of a threat to our liberties, but the jackbooted boys surely are waiting in the wings to carry out her juvenile flights of fancy.
One more thing…Mr. Traub dismisses John Stuart Mill’s “no harm” principle, because the great philosopher/economist lived in an era without socialized medicine. I have no doubt that Mill would never have supported socialized medicine or any other form of socialism. Unlike Mr. Traub, Mill understood the dangerous power of Moral Hazard and The Tragedy of the Commons.
Patrick Barron
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