The Idea that You Know Better

New Year; new opportunity to be bemused by the absurdity of it all.

Recently, I’ve been in something of a Twitter skirmish with a number of Canadian conservatives regarding the Keystone XL Pipeline Phase 4, the part which President Obama stated he plans to veto the building of. What’s been of interest is that the only ones who have argued for the pipeline against me have been Canadian conservatives. That is not in itself of any real significance, though somewhat interesting.

They have put forth the usual arguments: that the pipeline will create jobs ( it will not: http://www.ilr.cornell.edu/globallaborinstitute/research/upload/Pipe-Dreams-1-Pager.pdf); the the US needs oil and that all the oil will go to the US (that is questionable: http://money.cnn.com/2013/09/16/news/economy/keystone-oil/); the US needs oil because we shouldn’t get it from the Saudis (even though Saudi crude is cleaner) and it will lower our need to import from there (Not True); and that the price of oil would drop because of it (Also Not True:http://www.nbcnews.com/id/46689167/ns/us_news-christian_science_monitor/t/how-much-would-keystone-pipeline-help-us-consumers/#.VLA14NLF-So).

In fact, study after study shows that there are no real longer-term benefits for the US in finishing the last 800 miles of the Keystone XL pipeline, and that there is already miles of under-utilized pipeline. To put it bluntly, there is no actual need for this pipeline.

Not once did they bring up the possible environmental impacts of the pipeline except to say that there was so much pipeline already that it wouldn’t matter, ignoring that this, considering the under-utilization of already existing pipeline, isn’t really a reason for building more pipeline, and that this last bit of KXL will run across the largest Aquifer in the US which provides clean water to the entire region. But, of course, as we all know, pipelines don’t spill, at least according to the supporters of said pipelines.

My interlocutors have also argued that because the Nebraska Legislature rewrote the laws on Eminent Domain so that they could take people’s land, that we should simply accept this as being perfectly legal and above-board (unfortunately, the Nebraska Supreme Court while finding standing for the defendants did not have a 5 -3 majority, so the law stands). This one was particularly interesting from my Canadian conservative opponents since they were arguing for Eminent Domain to be used for private enterprise in a foreign country as TransCanada is not a US company, and Eminent Domain being used to advance the interests of a foreign private enterprise would I think displease most people.

Imagine if you will that a US company demanded that the Canadian Government use Eminent Domain to take the property of Canadians for whatever purpose they deemed fit. And that is the crux of the matter. What was fascinating about the whole polemic by my Canadian friends was the sheer condescending tone they took. Amongst other comments were “Ungrateful Americans,” “prove that you abide by the law,” etc. because, really, Canada is just giving us their extremely dirty tar sands oil. Oh, wait, they’re not. And their position that they were somehow doing us a favor by possibly despoiling our land certainly annoys.

Their argument, what there is of it. is we know better, and you should just accept that because we say so.

These same Canadians would be up in arms if one were to basically argue that they should turn over their sovereignty to a foreign multinational simply because the foreign multinational demanded it; but because they agree with this particular foreign multinational and we’re the foreigners, they obviously know better about what’s best for the US.

This is not to argue that the US hasn’t behaved much the same way, demanding that others do what we say because we know better. The mentality that subscribes to that belief system isn’t endemic to just one nation. It was just surprising to find that Canadians, who by and large strike me as being polite, nice people would contain so many individuals in their midst who would fit right in with the crazy US Fox News crowd.

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