Acton Institute Powerblog

Trump to Davos: Reject the ‘prophets of doom’

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President Donald Trump told the world’s foremost government and business leaders to reject the “prophets of doom” and follow “the great American comeback” during his speech to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, today.

President Trump gave a forthright call to unleash human creativity by embracing technological progress, energy exploration, lower taxes, deregulation, and the free market.

“This is a time for tremendous hope, and joy, and optimism, and action,” the president told skeptical Davos attendees, who mostly sat in silence.

“To embrace the possibilities of tomorrow, we must reject the perennial prophets of doom and their predictions of the apocalypse,” said President Trump.

His remarks came shortly after 17-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg asserted that the world has “less than eight years” to avoid an irreversible catastrophe.

“They are the heirs of yesterday’s foolish fortune tellers,” he continued, reciting a litany of failed environmental forecasts. “They predicted an overpopulation crisis in the 1960s, mass starvation in the Seventies, and an end of oil in the 1990s.”

President Trump noted that “radical socialists” mix unthinkable consequences with high-pressure sales tactics to promote the global regimentation of the world economy:

These alarmists always demand the same thing: absolute power to dominate, transform, and control every aspect of our lives. We will never let radical socialists destroy our economy, wreck our country, or eradicate our liberty. America will always be the proud, strong, and unyielding bastion of freedom. In America, we understand what the pessimists refuse to see: that a growing and vibrant market economy, focused on the future, lifts the human spirit and excites creativity strong enough to overcome any challenge, any challenge by far.

Coincidentally, the environmental apocalypse is the topic of our most recent issue of Religion & Liberty.

President Trump is in good company rebuffing notions that “the world is on fire.” The head of the UN’s special agency on weather and climate, Petteri Taalasi, told a Finnish newspaper last year that Extinction Rebellion activists should be regarded as “doomsters and extremists.” Man-made climate change, he said, “is not going to be the end of the world.” Green ideologues harbor a Manichean worldview that “resembles religious extremism.”

Instead, President Trump confidently embraced innovation and the entrepreneurial spirit as the solution to potential environmental issues.

“We continue to embrace technology, not to shun it,” he said. “When people are free to innovate, millions will live longer, happier, healthier lives.”

“For three years now, America has shown the world that the path to a prosperous future begins with putting workers first, choosing growth, and freeing entrepreneurs to bring their dreams to life,” he said.

The president took pride in noting the number of jobs created, fortunes generated, and families elevated from government dependence to self-reliance during his first term. “Years of economic stagnation have given way to a roaring geyser of economic opportunity,” he said.

He proceeded to show how the boom on Wall Street benefits all Americans. “U.S. stock markets have soared by more than 50% since my election, adding more than $19 trillion to household wealth, and boosting 401(k)s, pensions, and college savings accounts for millions of hardworking families.”

After describing how he set Americans free of smothering bureaucratic regulations, he in effect paraphrased Moses in telling world leaders: Set your people free.

“Today, I urge other nations to follow our example and liberate your citizens from the crushing weight of bureaucracy,” he said. But he demurred, “you have to run your own countries the way you want.”

Based on the audience’s response, he will have few takers. The only line of his address that garnered applause came when he announced that the United States would be joining the World Economic Forum’s “One Trillion Trees” initiative.

For anyone who believes in the free market, delivering an address at Davos is a thankless job. His unreceptive audience echoes the scene painted by Albert Jay Nock’s immortal essay, “Isaiah’s Job.” But the essay contained seeds of optimism:

[I]f the enterprise were to be a failure from the start — was there any sense in starting it? “Ah,” the Lord said, “you do not get the point. There is a Remnant there that you know nothing about. They are obscure, unorganized, inarticulate, each one rubbing along as best he can. They need to be encouraged and braced up because when everything has gone completely to the dogs, they are the ones who will come back and build up a new society; and meanwhile, your preaching will reassure them and keep them hanging on. Your job is to take care of the Remnant, so be off now and set about it.”

There is a Remnant of leaders, even within the room, who believe in freedom, despite the doomsayers. There are a handful of presidents and prime ministers – certainly in London, and likely in Eastern Europe – who agree that unleashing human creativity will lead to human flourishing. Their words of mutual comfort and common sense will keep them resolute until the latest, failed prophecies of doom fall into the ash heap.

You can watch the president’s speech below:

(Photo credit: Screenshot.)

Rev. Ben Johnson

Rev. Ben Johnson is Executive Editor of the Acton Institute's flagship journal Religion & Liberty and edits its transatlantic website.