Inglis challenges Grover Norquist tax pledge statement at Christian Reformed Church town hall co-hosted by Young Evangelicals for Climate Action

September 24, 2018 - Western Michigan University - Kalamazoo, MI


Searching for Truth

Three members of the Young Americans for Liberty chapter came up to me after my presentation. They wanted to talk more. One of them was struggling with what I had said. "I get the thing about internalizing negative externalities," he told me, "that makes sense. But how do we know that we've got a problem. How can we trust the scientists, the media, the establishment politicians to tell us straight?" A second student was more neutral, adding a few comments here and there. The third student was with us, helping me make the case to the first.

The third student had gone into an environmental policy class inclined to dismiss the science of climate change. Having learned about the science, he had reversed himself. I told him that his story sounded very much like our teammate Alex Bozmoski, who had a similar experience in an environmental policy class at Georgetown University.

The first student was having none of it. In the presence of our wonderful faculty host, Dr. Denise Keele, he asked, "How do you know you didn't just get brainwashed by a liberal professor?" Dr. Keele, stepping in to defend her profession, invited the first student to take a class or two, to add his voice to the conversation, to come to class with all of his questions because it's those questions that cause all of us to learn more.

I was thankful for Dr. Keele, thankful for the third student and hopeful that the first and the second would consider the science. Mostly, I was hopeful that they and many like them would allow themselves to trust a search for truth and not to give in to cynical isolation.

The need for trust was a point that I repeated the next night at a town hall meeting at a Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids. In front of a supportive crowd drawn together by our touring partner, Kyle Meyaard-Schaap of Young Evangelicals for Climate Action, I recounted the way that Grover Norquist had once said that a revenue-neutral, border-adjustable carbon tax would not violate his no-tax-increase pledge at Americans for Tax Reform. Having drawn a headline with that obviously correct admission, Grover walked it back the next day, saying that inasmuch as taxes always go up, the carbon tax would eventually violate his no-tax-increase pledge. I told the crowd that if the experiment in self-government is to continue in America, we have to be able to trust ourselves, for example, to set tax policy. If we can't, I said, we need to call up Queen Elizabeth, apologize for our rebellion, and ask her to come back, the experiment in self-government having failed.

Surely, President Reagan was right when he said "trust but verify," and we welcome healthy skepticism and hard testing of policy. But at the end of the day, we've got to trust the search for truth on climate change. Determination in that search was evident at the church that night, and it was evident earlier that afternoon in a panel discussion with students at Calvin College.

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