The Biden White House is banning senior administration officials from traveling to international energy conferences promoting fuels such as oil, natural gas, and coal. Senior officials must also obtain permission from the White House National Security Council before attending any global energy event.
The ban implies that, on energy or anything else, the federal government always knows best. For all but the willfully blind, it doesn’t. The travel ban effectively proclaims the administration’s views on energy as beyond criticism. They aren’t.
There is a wide body of work on energy, global warming, and such. Science is never “settled,” and the debate is ongoing. If they are to serve the best interests of the people, senior officials need to be familiar with all views on the topic. Travel bans won’t get that done, and they’ve been tried before.
California’s Failed Travel Ban
California’s Assembly Bill 1887 prohibited state-funded travel to any state that has “enacted a law that discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identify, or gender expression” and so forth. This “discrimination” could be something as simple as restricting biological males from using women’s bathrooms.
AB-1887 banned travel to Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wyoming. That comes to 23 states, nearly half the country.
That creates a problem if the state-funded University of California football team should play Ohio State, but there’s more to it. As with climate and energy, LGBTQ issues are a matter of debate.
“Homosexuality and transgenderism are two utterly different phenomena,” explains Bruce Bawer, author of A Place at the Table: The Gay Individual in American Society. According to Bawer, “Gay rights was reformist,” but the transgender movement is “a revolution against reality itself.”
LGBTQ is essentially a construct that ramps up conflict between people based on their perception of reality. AB 1887 upheld and enforced the construct, but Gov. Newsom had a change of heart. In September, the governor signed Senate Bill 447, which effectively repeals AB-1887.
“In the face of a rising tide of anti-LGBTQ+ hate,” Gov. Newsom said, “this measure helps California’s message of acceptance, equality, and hope reach the places where it is most needed.” The reversal could also have something to do with Gov. Newsom’s presidential aspirations. Whatever the case, travel bans are impractical, counterproductive, and contrary to America’s basic freedoms.
Many Californians, weary of high taxes, rising crime, and homeless squalor, are using their freedom to move to other states. As the California Globe reports, between 2020 and 2023, the Golden State lost nearly 700,000 residents. The top inbound states, in order of preference, are Arizona, South Carolina, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Texas, all states previously on California’s travel ban.
Bay Area Assemblyman Rob Bonta, now Gov. Newsom’s attorney general, wanted to punish those who leave the state. In 2019, Bonta authored AB-2088, which aimed to tax former Californians 90 percent of their in-state levy in the first year after they left the state and 80 percent in the second year, phasing out over a decade.
Bonta, a Yale law alum, believed this money grab was legal. His “wealth tax” bill failed to advance, but Californians still have reason to leave California, a high-tax state with a highly volatile tax system.
The Biden White House now implements California-style travel restrictions, even after the Golden State has abandoned them. Maybe the Delaware Democrat will follow Gov. Newsom’s lead and change his mind as November 2024 approaches.
This article was also published in The American Spectator