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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/4160/the-toxicity-of-environmentalism/

The Toxicity of Environmentalism

October 2, 2005 by

The environmentalist fear mongers are gearing up for a new propaganda blitz. They base their claims on an alleged connection between the two recent major hurricanes and alleged global warming. They apparently believe that modern education and cultural reconditioning have been at work long enough for most Americans by now to have adopted the mentality of primitive tribal villagers, who can be frightened into sacrificing their sheep and goats (substitute SUVs and air conditioners) to avoid the wrath of nature. Thus do we present George Reisman’s 1990 essay “The Toxicity of Environmentalism,” as topical now as when it was first written. FULL ARTICLE

{ 55 comments }

Paul Edwards October 14, 2005 at 9:09 am

Hi Bob: If “Transferring economic power through controlled privatization by the neocons is not reducing state power”, then don’t advocate it. I don’t. Advocate something else. Rothbard has put forward some ideas and he has denounced selling to the highest bidder, but other libertarian thinkers may come up with yet better ideas. The point is, don’t try to fix one problem brought on by state power by introducing yet further measures that enhance state power.

Bob A. October 14, 2005 at 2:23 pm

Paul,

“The point is, don’t try to fix one problem brought on by state power by introducing yet further measures that enhance state power.”

I don’t propose introducing “further measures that enhance state power” and never will. I propose getting State government involved in creating GENUINE free markets. Without their involvement or without a revolution, only the phonied-up, strictly-controlled faux markets of the neocons will exist. Sometime very soon Libertarian ideas have to become reality before it’s too late.

Someone recently wrote to me about privatization of highways suggesting that automobile companies and the oil industry would be great caretakers of such enterprise. I thought at first it was a joke. The oil companies owning the roads? Unbelievable! And their companion industry the auto makers?! The oil companies are doing everything they can to lead consumers into believing there is enough oil to last a couple of generations, or more—so use, use, USE! The auto makers make it easier to use more all the time. And if any progress in the market place is made in using alternative fuels from renewable resources, the lost profits to the oil industry will of course NOT be made up in toll charges on roads! And of course Big Oil’s buddy system with auto makers will surely encourage auto makers to accelerate technology in making affordable vehicles that use alternative energy—right? And let’s not forget about the Conservation Hoax. Should people begin to conserve, the reduction in demand provides the opportunity for lower oil and gas prices, right? And of course the oil industry, co-king of the roads, will not make up for lost revenue from dastardly citizens’ efforts to conserve with increased toll fees—right?

Why not sell the parks with the biggest lakes and largest rivers running through them to the chemical industry? The environmentalists deceive the public all the time, of course, and it’s really not dangerous to dump X, Y, and Z chemicals into these bodies of water.

Why not sell the parks with the biggest timber acreages to the insurance industry? “Liberals” and “environmentalists” killed the timber industry anyway, so it’s payback time. They can clear cut them and sell the timber to generate revenue to keep from raising our premiums to make up for the losses they’ll suffer from payouts resulting from Katrina and other disasters. Uh-huh.

Why not sell the parks with mountainous terrain and forests to a coalition of mega-developers? They can scab off high points and hillsides to install $multi-million homes for the nobles. They can develop mega-complexes with all sorts of facilities to hose the consumer. And as consolation for losing too much money in the gambling casinos, they’ll give away coupons for reduced-rate tickets to visit the areas of the parks not set aside and guarded for use only by the super-rich “special” people.

Libertarianism has some really great ideas and it makes more sense than anything I’ve encountered thus far. But there seems to be a major precept missing in many of the discussions. The Libertarian world, if I envision it correctly, is one of unlimited choices. If a business or industry is offensive and destructive in its practices, people can choose to take their business elsewhere. Got any bio-diesel in your area? Are coolants and lubricants made from renewable sources readily available in your area?

If an insurance consortium buys a national forest and clear-cuts it “to reduce our insurance premiums,” what is the recourse for the people when they find out that the insurance consortium was playing games; it gave slight reductions to people in premiums, but they could have reduced them significantly with the revenue generated by butchering the forest? If the insurance consortium does not replant the enormous filtration system that cleans the air of carbon dioxide and produces fresh oxygen, what power do the people have to withhold reward to the consortium?

Parks should be privatized alright, but not in the way that the neocons are drooling over. These are my opinions:

Parks within State boundaries must belong to that State. The parks should be owned by the people in that State who want to buy them. The owners get reduced rates for using them, non-owners pay higher rates. Shares of ownership are not for sale to non-residents of the State. All revenue is exempt from tax nor or costs deductible from anyone’s taxes. It is a free market completely devoid of tax basis and government policy. It is exempt from paying State and Federal taxes on purchases, it receives no State or Federal funds, etc, etc—whatever removes the business operation totally from governmental interference.

Market forces will work. Owners will want their own fees to be affordable, so proper business practices will be used to conserve capital, while at the same time usage of the parks must be encouraged to generate revenue, so the park will be well maintained to attract paying visitors. Proper business practices will lead to affordable rates for visitors and practices to manage ingress and egress to make it as pleasant as possible will develop. Owners will receive income, tax exempt, in some form from the usage of the park. In forested parks, owners will receive income, tax exempt, from sustainable practices such as commercial thinning, such practices if performed properly invigorating growth and beauty of the forest. I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture.

Everything should be privatized, but some things should be privatized at the EXCLUSION of business interests who will NOT employ morals to economic decisions and who are able to eliminate or manipulate choices thus creating a NOT-FREE market. A GENUINE free market is a fair market, the “level playing field” that people seek, one in which everyone has the opportunity to make choices and gain reward from creativity and hard work. Any market not devoid of all taxes, governmental interference, and influence by special interests (resulting in large part due to the previous 2 elements), is not a free market and if it is not a free market it is not a fair market. Somehow Libertarians have to emphasize the differences between neocon free markets and the reality. Neocons promote FAUX markets and Libertarians promote FREE markets. Or maybe I misunderstand the whole concept and I’m wasting my time.

Gary Kemmer October 14, 2005 at 10:20 pm

Paul – Hmmm…interesting points and I agree that to preserve philosophical purity, Rothbard is right. Backsliding can create a slippery slope. But my concern is, will the philosophical purity lead to a fatal flaw as I explained, will the pure version lead to a better life for all or will it lead to an opinion among the great majority of “hey we’re just slaves, so why fight for this system?”

I’ve seen examples of tax “reforms” which led to new types of taxes, more bureaucracy and higher rates, so you don’t need to convince me! However, I’m in favor of getting rid of our abominable income tax system and replacing it with a consumption (sales) tax. ONLY IF the income tax is abolished. That would for sure be the lesser of the evils as the income tax increases gov’t power through it’s myrids of byzantine deductions for special interests. Besides, us enviro interested people want to see consumption taxed instead of incomes.

Now, the other side of the coin – you may like this one better: It’s 2015 and China with its 1.6 billion people is attempting to invade the USA.

The call goes out to raise a 10 million man army to defend America.

By now, the government ownes every bit of environmentally desirable land. Whatever beaches, springs, parks, forests and mountains that were privately owned have been seized by eminent domain. The Gaia worshippers in charge of the Dept. of Natural resources have assurred us it is for our own good.

Houses on beaches have been demolished and people are only allowed to see the ocean from observation decks. Feet might step on turtles and sandcastle building has been outlawed since sandcastles interfere with natural tidal action. Surfing prohibited for the same reason. Certainly no boats can be allowed in our rivers or lakes and swimming by humans would upset the purity of nature. Human exhaling in Smokey Mountains Nat’l Park was the cause of a new regulation prohibiting the disgusting 2 legged animals from this region. This keeps them from wading into the pure mountain streams too, thus pleasing Gaia.

If anybody thinks I’m being silly, some of these things have already occurred. At one spring, as people are being removed from the water because manatees might come there, a statue of a manatee has been placed alongside the water. It is strikingly similar to a statue placed in veneration to a saint.

Anyway, the members of the Dept. of Natural Resources have noticed that there isn’t nearly enough of them to fill the 10 million needed to fight the Chineese. Won’t the people Puuleeze volunteer for the army?

The great unwashed masses, who have very little money left after paying the huge taxes, fold their arms and say “Screw it! I don’t feel much like fighting for this system. Maybe the Chineese will treat us better, like letting us go to the beach or go swimming or something. After all, they promised they would on the Radio Bejing broadcasts.”

So folks, is this extreme just the other side of the same coin? Will Libertarianism lead to a better life for all, or will it lead to a privatization takeover by Neocon Nobles as Bob envisions (and seems to be the case presently)?

Incidentally, I’ve read that there is historical precidence for my scenario #2 above. At the end of the Roman empire, the taxes, bureaucracy and inflation got so oppresive that some Romans welcomed the arrival of the Barbarians. “At least their money is good.” they said.

Paul Edwards October 15, 2005 at 12:04 pm

Hi Gary:

“will the pure version lead to a better life for all or will it lead to an opinion among the great majority of “hey we’re just slaves, so why fight for this system?”

I’m part way through DiLorenzo’s book “How Capitalism Saved America” and i recommend it highly. It shows how despite having an abundance of natural resources, the vast proportion of the first settlers of America starved due to socialism. Once private property was allowed to these people, and the free market was allowed to run unhampered by government, wealth and prosperity grew for everyone. Today, despite the regression back to socialism to some extent, Americans are still one of the wealthiest people in the world and few would prefer living elsewhere where the systems are even more socialistic.

That members of a free society will consider themselves as slaves is not theoretically likely nor is it empirically born out by history. It is the coercive state that makes slaves of us.

Gary Kemmer October 17, 2005 at 9:07 pm

Hi Paul – I agree with your analysis and I hope that we will continue to be a (relatively) free society because that will be necessary if we face a crisis in which the bulk of society will be called on for our survival.

I just wanted to warn what might happen with the 2 extremes. Too much government which results in the public being shut out of environmental use actually IS happening now. Reisman is warning us about it. The idea that rich elites might wall off the public while plundering property is a theoretical thing that COULD happen, if we forget that “no man is an island”. We’ve got to be sure that the public is satisfied enough with the system to be willing to defend it.

In addition to the 2 examples I used above (Romans unenthusiastic about their big bureaucracy and welfare system and inflation, and Southern slaves not interested in defending their system) here’s a third – the people of the USSR and Warsaw Pact who demonstrated AGAINST their system instead of for it when the chips were down.

People of Libertarian persuasion actually have a good opportunity to take advantage of the growing public disgust at the Gaia worshippers in control of government today…if they are smart enough not to replace them with an equally onerous system.

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