Eric Cantor, the House Majority Leader, blasted Obama last Saturday for his vow to address “the threat of climate change” during his second presidential term.
“America has rejected environmental extremism before, and will do so again,” said Cantor in a statement made shortly after Obama’s inauguration speech. “Increased regulation of America’s coal and oil industries will not only harm our economy and put countless Americans out of work, but to claim that we have a moral duty to keep America clean for future generations flies in the face of contemporary philosophical wisdom.”
Thumbing through his copy of Derek Parfit’s Reasons and Persons, widely considered a classic treatment of problems in metaphysics and ethics, Cantor continued, “I believe that an action is wrong if it causes American people harm. But surely our president realizes that the supposed harm to future generations affected by pollution is vastly preferable to implementing a job-killing carbon tax, because if the tax were implemented, these people would never have existed.”
“I’m not saying there wouldn’t have been a future generation, but the causal effects of, say, banning fracking on the grounds that it poisons the water and pollutes the air would entail that the future generation wouldn’t consist of the same people,” Cantor said. “The government coming into our homes and forcibly installing low-flow shower heads will drastically affect which people are actually born, since it will affect if and when potential parents meet as well as when their children are conceived, which determines children’s genetic make-up and, by extension, their personal identity.”
Cantor spent the next two minutes searching his highlighted copy of the All Souls philosopher’s magnus opus for a particular passage concerning a naive woman who speculated about who she would have been if her parents had married other people, or had conceived her at some different time. Upon finding the relevant text, the representative from Virginia’s seventh congressional district put on his poshest English accent and read, “In wondering who she would have been, this woman ignores the answer: ‘No one’.”
“And isn’t it better to exist rather than not exist?” asked Cantor, his accent starting to waver. “Judging by our commander-in-chief’s shameless pandering to the environmental lobby, Obama doesn’t seem to think so.”
“Also, as Bertrand Russell said, you can’t spell ‘environmental extremism’ without ‘evil’.”