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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 }

Jon October 3, 2005 at 4:37 am

Thank you for reposting this. I accidently found this article on a BBS 12 years ago and have been looking for it ever since. This was and still is the most influential thing I have ever read.

It totally changed the way I look at things. It blew apart the socialist thinking I was surrounded by at University and the media at large. It brought me to the writings of Ayn Rand and Ludwig von Mises. It was the first dissent against enviromentalism I remember. Maybe that is an exaggeration, but to an 18 year old who had grown up in a small mining town, it was a breath of intellectual fresh air.

Thank you George Reisman for changing my life.

Aaron Singleton October 3, 2005 at 9:36 am

Best piece on Enviornmentalism I have ever read. It’s also a good overall introduction to the evils of collectivism in general and the benefits of individualism and capitalism. I’m going to send this to everyone I know.

Roger McKinney October 3, 2005 at 11:35 am

Great essay! In addition to the writings or Rand and Mises for scrubbing the intellects of our youth, I recommend “Escape from Reason,” and “How Should We Then Live,” by the late Dr. Francis Schaeffer. Schaeffer examines most of the “isms” mentioned in Reisman’s essay and dismantles them. Thanks to Schaeffer, I didn’t fall prey to those toxins when I was young. In the 1960′s Schaeffer predicted that, as a result of Western man’s abandonment of reason and absolutes, he would enslave himself to arbitrary values. He has done so with the environment.

Peter H. Proctor October 3, 2005 at 12:14 pm

Reiseman’s article on the occasional excesses of enviornmentalism reminds me of what Paracelsus, the father of toxicology, tells us:

“Alle Ding sind Gift und nichts ohn Gift; alein die Dosis macht das ein Ding kein Gift ist”

” all things are poison and there is nothing without poison; only the dose makes a thing not a poison”

Peter H. Proctor, PhD, MD
Diplomate: American Board of Toxicology,
American Board of Medical Toxicology,
Member, American Academy of Medical Toxicology

Horatio October 3, 2005 at 12:22 pm

“Somewhere along the line — at about a billion years ago, maybe half that — we quit the contract and became a cancer. We have become a plague upon ourselves and upon the Earth.”

Apes weren’t even around 500 millions years ago. Humans and our cousins are very recent newcomers. A BIOLOGIST should know this.

LR October 3, 2005 at 2:40 pm

Absolutely Brilliant!

David White October 3, 2005 at 5:23 pm

Dr. Reisman writes:

“In my judgment, the ‘green’ movement of the environmentalists is merely the old “red” movement of the communists and socialists shorn of its veneer of science.”

I have long called them “watermelons” for this very reason.

“The 21st Century should be the century when man begins the colonization of the solar system, not a return to the Dark Ages.”

And this is where things REALLY get interesting. For as the name Ray Kurzweil has already come up on this site (relative to today’s greatest minds), his just-released book (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0670033847/qid=1128377427/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/102-1001154-9676915?v=glance&s=books) delves deeply into a subject that an earlier book, by Gregory S. Paul and Earl D. Cox, also explored, the authors having this to say about science & technology and the natural environment:

“The best thing humans could do for the natural world is to stop farming. Instead, use efficient technology to produce food. To do so will require an advanced level of solar powered nanotechnology. … To nanoculture, add nanoindustry and mass recycling, and humanity will become a low pollution system largely decoupled from terrestrial nature,” such that “bison will roam the wide open plains once again,” and the natural environment will essentially be returned to itself.

Humanity, in other words, will soon walk so lightly on the planet that for all practical purposes we will have left it before we leave it.

Mark Plus October 3, 2005 at 8:20 pm

Reisman can’t really make the case that the environmental movement has interfered with the search for new oil supplies. According to most estimates, including ones published by Chevron in a recent ad campaign, we have already used up about half of the world’s total accessible oil (1 trillion barrels) in 125 years, and because of all the petroleum-dependent legacy technologies we’ve stuck ourselves with, we have no choice but to burn the other half, the other billion barrels, in the next 30 years. (Interestingly Chevron doesn’t say whether we even have a third trillion barrels to dip into after 2035. The exponential growth implied by this extrapolation suggests that the third trillion would last us only another 18 years any way, taking us up to 2053.) Clearly the environmentalists have failed to stop this process.

Walt D. October 3, 2005 at 8:30 pm

Dr. Peter
The Environmentalists were largely responsible for the ban on the pesticide DDT. As a direct result of this policy, over 2800 children per day, every day, die from malaria in Africa alone. DDT may be toxic, but Environmentalism is lethal.

Warning: Environmentalism is Harmful to the Environment
While countries such as France and Japan generate a substantial amount of power using nuclear power-plant technology that was developed in the US, the US coal-based power-plants continue to belch out millions of tons of radioactive and heavy metal pollutants into the atmosphere. The Environmental lobby is staunchly opposed to building any new nuclear power-plants, even if we were to use the same licensing and certification procedures as France. So on the one hand, while the Environmental Lobby is complaining that global warming is being caused by man-made pollutants, they are opposed to the only proven technology that can eliminate it.
David White
I like your watermelon analogy. However, I think green beach ball would be closer to the truth. While it is true, in Europe anyway, that after the fall of the Soviet Union and the demise of communism in Eastern Europe, the European Communists infiltrated the environmental movements, they did so only because they believed that the environmental lobby presented the best hope to overthrow capitalism in the US. The environmentalists were seen as an easy target because they were well funded, and tended to be naïve and gullible. Also, considering the industrialized USSR, for the European Communists, I don’t think the environment was ever high on their priority list.

Vardaman Bundren October 3, 2005 at 9:52 pm

While I agree with Prof. Reisman that the principle that nature has innate value is, as he terms it, toxic, the rest of the mixture does not come off as nearly so bad as he makes it sound.

Perhaps the ‘environmentalists’ (if it even be they who are especially concerned with such things as follow) are wrong in their concern for asbestos, alar, CFCs, but why should this bother Prof. Reisman? It seems it is only bothersome because he views these issues as public policy issues, when, of course, they need not be such, nor need we consider all ‘environmentalists’ (or: people with high safety-preference, etc) to view them as such.

As a libertarian, Reisman should be attuned to the fact that these issues can be settled according to torts and on the basis of actual, individual harms done. But why should he blind himself to the compatibility of such a view with the preferences of those he castigates?

As for Reisman’s claim that it is “only from the perspective of the alleged intrinsic value of nature and the nonvalue of man, can man’s improvement of his environment be termed destruction of the environment”–and aside from the fact that the phrasing of that makes it necessarily so, in having defined man’s interactions with nature to be “improvement”–this appears to be untrue on two grounds. First, and easiest for a libertarian to accept, is that not all of man’s interactions with his environment arise from the actions of free and responsible humans. Plenty arise instead from statist forces, such as when the government implicitly or explicitly grants a license to pollute to this or that firm, or a license to transform this or that piece of land forcibly withdrawn from the market.

Second, it does not contradict any libertarian principle that I”m aware of to suggest that not all of man’s non-coercively undertaken actions are done with utmost freedom and in complete reflection of his or her true self and toward the achievement of actual human flourishing. Some such acts may involve interactions with nature that are, from a man-centered view of morality, incorrect. While probably not the best of examples, consider a person who beats his dog, and whether this should be termed an ‘imrpovement’ of his environment.

As for Reisman’s contention that one “must not make common cause with teh environmental movement in any way”, I will yield to Lew Rockwell writing in reference to cooperation with others who hold “evil” positions: “The opportunity to make a difference in favor of freedom should not be passed up, even if one’s associates have a mixed-up ideology. After all, most ideologies these days are mixed up, and have been for the better part of a century.” If the potential cohorts were Stalin and Hitler, as Reisman likens his enemies to, the relevant question would be whether these persons were or were not willing to use evil means in the pursuit of the noble ends imputed to them, not whether the rest of their positions were ignoble or even whether their means in the pursuit of such other ends were evil. Hate the sin, love the sinner, seems pertinent here, if perhaps tangentially.

But perhaps my biggest source of unease here is the similarity betwee Reisman’s rhetoric and that of the neoconservatives, such as the Wall Street Journal. Not that a libertarian might not share with a neocon a sound position, of course, but that I suspect there’s some statist presumptions at work, such as a bias toward ‘growth’ and for a pro-industrial (as distinct from simply pro-free-enterprise) policy. As for the false ideal of ‘growth’, Antony Mueller writes (“What’s Wrong With Economic Growth?”, Mises Daily): “The economy is not like one gigantic pumpkin that grows to maturity and whose size can be determined at each stage and compared from one season to the next.”

In conclusion, while I too yearn for what the liberals used to conceive of as an “industrial society” (as distinct from the “militant society”), and, too, for human prosperity, I see these as not incompatible with environmentalism as it can and should be–and I find Reisman’s rhetoric therefore unnecessarily broad-stroked and caustic.

In peace,
V.

JC October 4, 2005 at 1:09 am

The WSJ is “neocon?” So it used to be a leftist rag?

Bill St James October 4, 2005 at 12:40 pm

An awful lot of words that seem to do little more than offer those with an anti-environmentalist bias further justification for their feelings of superiority. The evident rage directed at certain individuals for their immoral tactics and their supposed motivations does nothing to advance dialogue on this subject.

The hypothesis that environmentalists are motivated by their hatred of humanity serves to marginalize a lot of people who might benefit from a calm, rational review of facts. Further, it sounds to me almost exactly like the admonition we’ve recently been subjected to which holds that “they hate us for our freedoms and our way of life.” I’d have thought most libertarians were free of falling for such stupid generalizations.

The tendency to use “one in a hundred kazillion” as a reason to pass legislation is certainly not limited to the environmental sphere. I suggest the fact that it CAN be (mis)used is not evidence of the dastardliness of those in the environmental movement, but a further indictment of a government to which we’ve assigned sufficient power to right every wrong every single American can imagine.

The implication I get from this article is that nature holds no intrinsic value because, in essence, there’s no entity designated Nature on the NYSE. There’s a topic for discussion, but this article leaves no such room for that to take place.

Here are questions I’m left with:

1) Aside from the theoretical irrational hatred for humanity ascribed to environmentalists by Mr. Reisman, how exactly do they personally benefit from pursuing their agenda?

2) How does Mr. Reisman and those who applaud his views personally benefit from forcing the discussion to the outer edges?

I think Michael Crichton is correct in his assessment of environmentalism as having many of the characteristics of a fundamentalist religion…but I see evidence of the exact same phenomenon at work on the other side.

Roger McKinney October 4, 2005 at 1:03 pm

To respond to JC, libertarians oppose environmentalism because of its irrationality and distortion of the facts. These two, on their own, harm society. Green policies hurt everyone, libertarians included, by stealing our freedom and our wealth. If greens had evidence for their positions and followed logic, libertarians would join them. How do greens benefit? Self-actualization, the top of the pyramid of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

Bill St James October 4, 2005 at 1:09 pm

I submit that as with any quasi-religous movement, evidence and logic are unilaterally defined.

I’ve seen no libertarian treatise that attempts to be even-handed on the subject and, protestations to the contrary, no acknowledgment that “evidence” or “logic” will be considered, given the source.

Paul Edwards October 4, 2005 at 5:25 pm

Hi Bill:

The arguments seemed logical and the premises sound. The conclusions are severe, but if they’re correct, then they should be severe. Perhaps you would point out where specifically you think Reisman’s argument is weak. I’d be interested.

Daniel October 4, 2005 at 6:19 pm

Dear Bill,

Let me have a crack at your two questions.

1. In correlation with the environmentalism/religion comparison, the environmentalists see themselves akin to the new priesthood – their prestige and influence are magnified with the numbers of believers they have in the phenomenon. They, too, have insights which are based more on faith than on fact. I propose that this is the benefit that they are after.

2. Im not too sure if it is forcing the argument to the outer edges. Bluntness and simplicity (not exactly a tautology) are required to unseat the reader from an ingrained and widespread view. His forceful tone is equal to the evil that he sees perpetuated and I, for one, understand his vehemence.

Bill St James October 4, 2005 at 7:23 pm

Paul and Daniel

I appreciate the nature of your responses.

My position is not that Mr. Reisman offers faulty information which would weaken his argument, but that much of his energy is devoted to skewering environmentalists and their motives and in a tone not conducive to discussion. These characteristics strike me as evidence of a similar sort of hysteria as he assigns to his opponents. And since I don’t respond well to hysterical arguments offered by anyone about anything, it’s not particularly rewarding to someone like me who’s looking for information on the subject. In other words, in his desire to vent his spleen and/or preach to his choir, he completely undermines his credibility. That’s a shame because I suspect he could make a substantial contribution to discourse.

Lacking evidence of unbiased research (I don’t accept that if you hang a “science” tag on something that it becomes a de facto truth, far too much “science” is undertaken by people with a hypothesis they intend to prove, even if it means ignoring contrary evidence), I’m left to form my own conclusions…which are no more than supposition and intuition. In that light, it doesn’t seem reasonable that the multiplicity of intrusions that have been made on our environment have had zero impact on it and by extension, us, the planet’s inhabitants. But by not being able to trust people who insist on screaming their information at me, I have nothing else to consider. It appears that the knee-jerk anti-environmental position is “let’s see the evidence of the planet being destroyed before we accept a single shred of evidence that it might be happening.” That doesn’t seem like the position of a responsible human nor one who’s actually willing to have his point of view challenged.

As far as the responses to my questions:

1) If the benefit radical environmentalists seek is being revered by more and more people, I have to repeat: to what end? In asking the question, I consider it a given that they have insights based more on faith than fact, so I don’t accept that that is a benefit in of itself to which they aspire. Mr. Reisman’s argument seems to be that they are just evil incarnate (which is a pretty emotional, not logical assessment) which would seem to indicate that spreading that evil is their ultimate and true goal. Frankly, that sounds like the reasoning of a third grader and is pretty insulting to me.

2) We can disagree as to whether the opposing sides seek to marginalize each other and those in the middle (which I suspect is where most people find themselves). But, for me to be characterized as just “sugar coating” (because I’m not as rabid as the people Reisman is demonizing) doesn’t serve to “unseat” me from any “ingrained or widespread view.” It serves to alienate me and, if anything, pushes me in the direction opposite of the one intended. I’m not suggesting that anyone not have strong (even vehement) feelings about their position, I only say that letting the vehemence do the talking doesn’t promote meaningful dialogue.

Bob A. October 4, 2005 at 9:36 pm

I have a very lengthy response to this article/essay and have been trying to cut it down as much as possible. I could go on for several weeks about the inaccuracies in this article. But I have seen in this thread some commentary now that describes precisely how I feel, especially the posts by Vardaman Bundren and Bill St. James. They are far more concise and articulate than I would have been, so I abandon my excessive verbiage.

I will make a couple of comments and then I have a bunch of questions to which I hope Libertarians will either engage in discussion herein or privately or recommend available literature on the subjects.

For a long time I’ve been active in environmental causes and contribute to many groups, but not to the Sierra Club for a couple of years or more. Environmentalists, because of their activities, have brought attention to many government rip-offs and tax boondoggles that the public might not have known about or maybe not given much attention to. I could go on for weeks painting with verbiage a picture of the potential world we’d live in without many of the good things environmentalists have done; there would be many dismal scenarios.

The author of the article mentions a few questionable environmental promotions and then uses inflammatory rhetoric to fire up the anti-environmentalists to fever pitch. It might not have worked on many reasoned thinkers herein, but one would have to admit there is a large contingent of the populace that could add this to their arsenal to depict anyone who believes in environmentalism as frightening monsters out to destroy civilization.

With his rhetoric the author implies that environmentalists in general hate humankind and industrialization. This is simply not true. As active as I am, I’m sure I would have picked up on that attitude quite some time ago. Are there people who think that environmentalists don’t have jobs in the industrial sector?—seems highly unlikely. The author’s statements must be aimed at people who do not resist any obvious attacks on dissenting opinion and simply absorb and adopt the author’s attitudes and information he has disseminated in his messages. A perfect example of the wordmeister is this:

“Not surprisingly, in virtually every case, the claims made by the environmentalists have turned out to be false or simply absurd.”

“. . . in virtually every case . . .” Now that’s way out there for a doctor of any philosophy! It’s interesting to contemplate who his intended audience was.

The author refers to oleander is his attack on various environmental causes. Here’s my take on environmentalists using this reference by the author merely as an example in simplified form:

a) We want information on the poisonous qualities of oleander to be available to those who seek it.
b) We DO NOT want government to selectively permit companies making beverages to use oleander to affect color change because it’s much cheaper to use than other methods without telling the potential customers about it.

Environmentalists have a tough time accepting buyer beware attitudes.

The problem with environmentalism and anti-environmentalism is government—right? Antis want absolutely no constraints on industry whatsoever. Sounds good except for one really big problem; the tenet to DO NO HARM is missing. Pros push for far too much, though they know going in they won’t get all they ask for. I believe this is commonly referred to as negotiation. But government is the entity used to dole out remedies. Now, if business is going to use government to get carte blanche sans DO NO HARM, what are environmentalists to use? If government is the only tool either side can use, whose fault is that?

Having a great many choices in life is one of the main goals of Libertarianism—is this correct? So rather than “a philosophical and intellectual cleanup” as the author suggests, the meaning of which I infer as abolishing pro-environmental views and literature, we should be finding ways to permit choices that do not involve government. Libertarian philosophy should be discussed and learned in all schools, even Ayn Rand, but not by limiting access to other views as the author suggests with his rhetoric, whether intended for this audience or not.

There are some recent success stories of environmental groups working with industrial groups to achieve goals beneficial to both WITHOUT government direction. The “contract” had the elements of reward for all parties. This seems to be in line with Libertarian thought—correct?

I’ll stop for now and skip other issues such as the author’s hope that people don’t understand liver function and why mice are given substances in the manner described.

I’ve been very anxious to learn of Libertarian views on this subject. Although the article/essay got my blood boiling (and I’m on defense; think of the adrenalin flow of those who are already on offense!), I’m glad it was presented as I believe it has already produced beneficial responses to those who want to learn.

Daniel October 5, 2005 at 12:01 am

I agree that the firebrand approach as evidenced in the article at hand isnt the best way of making one’s point. Reminds me of Dragnet (I think): Give us “just the facts, maam”.

Id like to make two points in relation to this sort of argumentation

1. It is difficult (although desirable) to stay unemotional with regards to topics like these. Also, unconsicously or not, emotion is commonly used in argument when addressing a popular audience. Nevertheless, since her name came up, I must admit although I am a great fan of Ayn Rand (not a very popular thing on this site i believe), her method of argument did lose some impact upon sober reflection because she often resorted to polemics.

This is excusable when the colourful language is backed up by solid argument.

2. I am of the opinion that there is a danger when taking on the position that libertarians have to spread the word (fine) and proselytize (not fine). The problem I see with proselytizing (which would tend to favour the form of writing in Reisman’s article) is that the message gets either lost, or worse, distorted when there is an attempt to convert a wider section of the public. I made similar comment with regards to Lew Rockwell’s recent speech.

Cheers

Andy D October 5, 2005 at 1:43 am

The axiom that I follow the most with regard to libertarian environmentalism I learned from Rothbard in “Making Economic Sense.”

The environment is always changing. Animals have gone extinct before we were around (presumably), so how is it immoral that they do because we’re here now?

the great plains were a lush rainforest lots of years ago, is it somehow “wrong” they are grassland even before the Indians came over?

Another axiom. Nothing on this planet anyone cares about unless it is an economic good. Is it wrong for this thing to perish?

I also believe in the homestead theorom and private property for my environmental views.

Jonathan October 5, 2005 at 3:24 am

In a libertarian world, one cannot disagree with the conclusions of this article.
However, in a world where the ‘third way’ prevails negative externalities abound as individual property rights are not clearly defined and/or overidden by the state.
For example, when western energy companies build refineries in the developing world, the impact it will have on those most affected will not be born in the economic calculations. The company will usually get a grant/permit from the local government whose motives are far from those of those affected by such a gran/permit.

I fear such articles will confuse the libertarians cause by not delineating the consequences to the environment of true capitalist activities where property rights were respected, and the real world we live in, where what is perceived to be capitalism is really in many cases the collaboration between big business and government to the detriment of individual property rights.

Jim Morse October 5, 2005 at 8:56 am

Bill McKibben links Hurricane Katrina and climate change here.

Yves Grassioulet October 5, 2005 at 10:54 am

How can anyone discuss about the toxicity of environmentalism without pointing out the toxicity of human production activities first? Sure, environmentalists are difficult to follow, but not because they promote new restrictive pro-environment regulations (I would rather die from ageing than from urban pollution or bad work conditions). In fact, they’re fundamentalists because they often don’t really include the reality of human behavior’s complexity within their dogmatic models.

Jim Morse October 5, 2005 at 11:08 am

Sorry about the dead link, above.

Bill McKibben links Hurricane Katrina and climate change here.

Bob A. October 5, 2005 at 12:39 pm

Reasonable environmentalists avoid declaring absolutely that global warming is a result of industrial practices. There may be evidence that suggests it, but not enough evidence. Stretching too much to make that connection can have an adverse affect on credibility.

However, that global warming is occurring is absolute fact. That the ice caps are melting, sea levels are rising, and ocean temperatures are warming are absolute facts. Satellite imagery and instrumentation, state-of-the-art depth measuring devices, and, well, thermometers are not left-wing conspiracies.

That various atmospheric conditions reacting with warm ocean water creates hurricanes is absolute fact. That the warmer the water, the better the conditions for more powerful hurricanes to form is absolute fact. That there have been nearly double the annual average number of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes (18) worldwide since 1990 than the previous average of 10 is fact. However, in the same time period, the total number of hurricanes has decreased. Scientists are studying this phenomenon and some believe that the speed and volume of rotating atmosphere from the bigger storms help to cool areas in which they occur thus creating conditions less likely to form more hurricanes.

But the average temperature of ocean water is taking longer to cool to the temperature that usually signals the end of the hurricane season, so it’s logical to conclude that there is an ever increasing chance of more hurricanes forming the longer the season lasts, which of course is driven by the amount of average temperature increases from global warming. So, maybe there will be larger storms and they may help cool the waters and possibly assist in mitigating global warming. Maybe.

I believe that carbon dioxide emissions exacerbate global warming and that they should be reduced. But now that I’ve discovered Libertarianism, I think the problems can be solved without legislation and government/corporate malpractice. Maybe the vast majority of Libertarians believe carbon dioxide is not a problem; saying that virtually ALL neocons pooh-pooh CO2 is not really much of a stretch. By reducing CO2, the atmosphere will be cleaner even if global temperatures do NOT drop to previous average levels. The point is, environmental considerations are a necessity; how they’re dealt with is most critical.

Paul Edwards October 5, 2005 at 1:30 pm

As a sort of side to this discussion, i am curious how many people here have heard that the world is coming out of a “little ice-age”? Of those of you who have, how many, if any, learned of this in school? I had never heard of this before (and i’m now convinced it’s true) and i found the revelation after having lived on this earth 40 some-odd years quite astounding. I’m also curious if there are many who think this “little ice-age” thing is a load of baloney? I think it is a very wild and intriguing question.

Bob A. October 5, 2005 at 2:56 pm

Paul Edwards,

“. . . conventional terms of ‘Little Ice Age’ and ‘Medieval Warm Period’ appear to have limited utility in describing trends in hemispheric or global mean temperature changes in past centuries.”

The above is from one of my favorite sites, Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_ice_age

Wikipedia, as usual, has quite of lot to say on the subject. A search I did this morning using “little ice age” produced over a MILLION results!

The following site has lots of technical data that is hard for me to follow, but I think it basically concludes that “. . . evidence . . . remains equivocal”:

http://www.agu.org/revgeophys/mayews01/node5.html

I’ve seen data that indicate 83-year average cycles in global temperature change related to cycles of sun activity and that over the centuries conditions have combined to make certain time periods much warmer or much cooler (Little Ice Age) than others. This is one of many arguments I think have caused reasonable environmentalists to refuse to claim absolutely that global warming is caused by human industrial activity, but instead that human industrial activity may exacerbate the warming.

Paul Edwards October 5, 2005 at 5:12 pm

One of the things i didn’t realize was that before the 1300′s, it was warm and nice enough in southern England to have a substantial grape growing industry there. I just think that it’s amazing that if this is a fact, that it isn’t common knowledge. It also makes me kind or look forward to more warming of the earth.

Bob A. October 5, 2005 at 5:58 pm

Paul Edwards,

“It also makes me kind or look forward to more warming of the earth.”

It’s possible you’ll get your wish. I’ve read studies that estimate the next time we’ll get to the average temperatures of a decade ago will be late this century.

Let’s hope everyone can find a comfort level. I thoroughly enjoy cool, wet weather and I won’t enjoy so well the warmer, drier conditions if my part of the US changes that way.

Gary Kemmer October 6, 2005 at 11:02 pm

I’m a Real Conservative (Sobran, Buchanan, Reese) (not like Limbaugh, Hannity) and I’ve been mad at liberals, socialists, communists and wacky environmental extremists all my life. And I fully agree that there are some far out environmentalists that worship Gaia and hate humankind, want to see the rest of us dead so they can enjoy clean, open spaces, etc. Yet, I find myself taken aback by Reisman and view his article as extremism in the other direction.
Maybe it’s because my religion comes from Jesus who fasted in the desert, denied himself, spoke of what was important and essential. To me, our society seems to be engaged in an orgy of UNNECESSARY waste and conspicuous consumption and it seems that Reisman is elevating this to a paragon of virtue. I don’t recall seeing any mention of waste in our glutenous society, rather the implication that anyone opposed to it is a human hating radical one worlderer elitist socialist. I hate these wacky environmentalists who say that you can’t pick up a single leaf in a park or swim in a spring because your dirty human body will violate the purity of nature, as much as Reisman. But where is the discussion of the VAST amount of stupid waste and unnecessary environmental degradation generated by our materialist crazed society, or does Reisman think that this is necessary and virtuous?
I see a VAST amount of WASTE and UNNECESSARY environmental degradation ALL DAY LONG as I travel about. Nice green forests which serve as water filters and air cleaners are being bulldozed to become unneeded or socially counterproductive businesses (video stores, motorcycle race tracks, malls, parking lots). Housing is being built in a suburban sprawl manner, necessitating the use of millions of barrels of fuel to transport people in and out on long commutes over crowded roadways, which themselves require more forest bulldozing and diesel fuel being belched into the air to create and maintain. The houses themselves are too big, have unnecessary pools and suck up excess energy. My parents built a house leaving most of the trees on the lot and planted sprigs of grass but todays young people require a house which must have the lot bulldozed to a desert by diesel belching bulldozers and new grass installed by a semi-truck which belched diesel smoke from across the country to transport the grass. The lawns must have automatic sprinkler systems which suck up energy and clean water to pour onto the pesticide poisoned grass which is cut too often. The sprinklers run during pouring rain, wasting more of our finite energy resources. Give me an hour and lots of space and I’ll write reams about how stupidly people are wasting resources and totally unnecessarily degrading the environment. Is Reisman going to tell us, just as today’s spoiled young people will do, that all this is necessary? Does he believe that in order to show that we are opposed to the small number of atheist human hating environmental extremists, that we should blow ahead full speed on our orgy of consumption, turn the AC down colder in bigger houses with no trees and poisoned lawns, buy 50 Christmas presents for our kids this year so we can top the 40 we gave them last year, buy more disposables and throw away more stuff?Conservatives are people who are smart and MATURE. Rush Limbaugh is not mature. Does Reisman fall into this same category?
I share many views with Libertarians about property rights, the dangers of big government, and that humans have a right to live and enjoy our world. But it should be in a sustainable manner. I believe that our present excessive materialism is a perversion and a result of a rejection of true religion. I like cars and driving, but we don’t have to do it excessively or in these huge gas guzzeling SUV’s. Our president doesn’t need to make unnecessary trips in a 747. We could live closer together on narrower roads with trees shading us and we would suck up a few billion barrels less of oil with fans on our shaded porches instead of big AC units trying to cool our 4,000 sq ft. houses on hot, treeless lots surrounded by poisoned lawns. We could swim in the ocean and lakes instead of manufacturing and transporting chlorine to put in our pools and running the pumps 8 hours a day. If the stupid government would stop subsudizing giant interstate highways and inefficient air travel, most of our freight would move to railroads which are hugely more energy efficient. But then, we’d have to give up a bit of immediate gratification, wouldn’t we? Are Libertarians willing to join true Christians on this, or do you depart here and go off with the gluttenous materialists? Hmmm, Mr. Reisman, will you say ANYTHING about waste and excessive consumption, or is it really a virtue to you?

Bob A. October 7, 2005 at 12:38 am

Gary Kemmer,

Magnificent! A kindred spirit! Well said!

Every single thing you said conforms exactly with my views (except the “hate” references and the fact that I’m a liberal, just not the commonly used definition). Incredible.

I’m a novice to Libertarianism and am thrilled to have discovered it. But I would like to see how environmentalism and conservation will be handled in a Libertarian world. I just read another great piece of work posted in another thread, and in the piece is a minor discussion of the concept of something being “Pareto optimal,” a situation in which someone cannot be made better off without someone being made worse off. Now, if this concept along with the all-important tenet of do no harm are combined, then there must be a way to achieve proper balance. If I am convinced that certain actions by someone or group or corporation are endangering my life, then the situation violates both this Pareto optimal and the do-no-harm tenet.

I have high confidence that these issues can be resolved by capitalism in a Libertarian world, but I am very anxious to learn of the proposed methods.

Paul Edwards October 7, 2005 at 1:05 am

Hi Gary:

I’m going to insert my comments below:

“Maybe it’s because my religion comes from Jesus who fasted in the desert, denied himself, spoke of what was important and essential.”

Jesus did not fast in the desert because he was concerned about conserving the earth’s resources. Jesus also did a vast amount of walking. What if another Christian argued we, as Christians should (be forced to) give up our vehicles because Jesus walked to get around?

“To me, our society seems to be engaged in an orgy of UNNECESSARY waste and conspicuous consumption and it seems that Reisman is elevating this to a paragon of virtue.”

He’s saying that high standards of living and high productivity of labour are both dependent on high energy consumption. It’s a fact; it is not necessary to elevate it. People recognize they prefer wealth to poverty. Energy consumption is essential to the former.

“I don’t recall seeing any mention of waste in our glutenous society, rather the implication that anyone opposed to it is a human hating radical one worlderer elitist socialist.”

He is saying the main players behind the environmental movement are motivated by the desire to reduce man-kind to poverty, and reducing the earth back to wilderness, not to the cause of improving the well-being or circumstances of man-kind.

“But where is the discussion of the VAST amount of stupid waste and unnecessary environmental degradation generated by our materialist crazed society, or does Reisman think that this is necessary and virtuous?”

What do you propose to address this environmental degradation? Enforcement of property rights and eliminating the influence of government would go a long way to alleviating this, but this is an entire (and huge) topic on its own. I think the article is long enough and Reisman can be excused for focusing on his stated topic.

“I see a VAST amount of WASTE and UNNECESSARY environmental degradation ALL DAY LONG as I travel about. Nice green forests which serve as water filters and air cleaners are being bulldozed to become unneeded or socially counterproductive businesses (video stores, motorcycle race tracks, malls, parking lots).”

As you “travel about”? Presumably spending natural resources and polluting. But never mind that. You are not alone in your observations. Somewhere out there, there is an environmentalist making these very same observations about the business you work for, and the video stores, malls and parking lots you frequent. Would you dispute their assertions? Would you say, no, no, since I benefit from these, I consider these to be socially productive; it’s those other places that I don’t frequent that are socially counterproductive.

“Housing is being built in a suburban sprawl manner, necessitating the use of millions of barrels of fuel to transport people in and out on long commutes over crowded roadways, which themselves require more forest bulldozing and diesel fuel being belched into the air to create and maintain.”

What are you recommending? Should central planning dictate that people live in apartments within a mile of their work places? Should people be forced to ride bikes to work? I see what you do not like; I do not see (or do i) what you are proposing.

“The houses themselves are too big, have unnecessary pools and suck up excess energy.”

Are you serious? Please tell me what you think is the solution to houses that are too big, with back yard pools.

“My parents built a house leaving most of the trees on the lot and planted sprigs of grass but todays young people require a house which must have the lot bulldozed to a desert by diesel belching bulldozers and new grass installed by a semi-truck which belched diesel smoke from across the country to transport the grass.”

I’m detecting that you are against diesel smoke belching machinery used to improve people’s perceived environment. Solution? More government?

“The lawns must have automatic sprinkler systems which suck up energy and clean water to pour onto the pesticide poisoned grass which is cut too often.”

Automatic sprinklers are bad too? Do you not even water your lawn? And this is because of your Christian values, I assume.

“The sprinklers run during pouring rain, wasting more of our finite energy resources. Give me an hour and lots of space and I’ll write reams about how stupidly people are wasting resources and totally unnecessarily degrading the environment.”

Tell me once again are you really “mad at liberals, socialists, communists and wacky environmental extremists”? Or are you quite sympathetic toward their cause. Just how much really do you think running a sprinkler during the pouring rain wastes vast amounts of energy and degrades the environment?

“Is Reisman going to tell us, just as today’s spoiled young people will do, that all this is necessary?”

Just what is truly necessary? How did you decide that your moderate modest Christian lifestyle is moderate and modest and Christian enough? Are you really going to tell me that even though Jesus lived his entire life without a vehicle that you could not and should not also do the same? What if someone powerful disagrees with your assessment? On what principle will you argue that you should be able to own and drive your modest car? Will you invoke property rights? You will find yourself in a philosophical contradiction unless you reconsider your position for others.

“Does he believe that in order to show that we are opposed to the small number of atheist human hating environmental extremists, that we should blow ahead full speed on our orgy of consumption, turn the AC down colder in bigger houses with no trees and poisoned lawns, buy 50 Christmas presents for our kids this year so we can top the 40 we gave them last year, buy more disposables and throw away more stuff?”

You will be generous enough, of course, to provide us with the necessary guidelines to know when our AC is cool enough, when our houses are big enough, when our yards are treed enough and what the correct number of Christmas presents is to give our kids. Did you say you were a conservative of the Marxist sort?

“Conservatives are people who are smart and MATURE. Rush Limbaugh is not mature. Does Reisman fall into this same category?”

Are you saying Marxists are smart and mature?

“I share many views with Libertarians about property rights, the dangers of big government, and that humans have a right to live and enjoy our world.”

I am unconvinced.

“But it should be in a sustainable manner. I believe that our present excessive materialism is a perversion and a result of a rejection of true religion. I like cars and driving, but we don’t have to do it excessively or in these huge gas guzzeling SUV’s.”

And you will also provide the guideline on fuel consumption for our vehicles. Thank-you.

“Our president doesn’t need to make unnecessary trips in a 747.”

Finally WE AGREE! Not only does he not need to make unnecessary trips in a 747, he doesn’t need to make unnecessary trips period. Gosh. He doesn’t need to make any trips at all.

“We could live closer together on narrower roads with trees shading us and we would suck up a few billion barrels less of oil with fans on our shaded porches instead of big AC units trying to cool our 4,000 sq ft. houses on hot, treeless lots surrounded by poisoned lawns.”

We could, if we wanted to. And if we don’t want to? Should a central planner help us to see the light?

“We could swim in the ocean and lakes instead of manufacturing and transporting chlorine to put in our pools and running the pumps 8 hours a day.”

Are you sure? Someone might pee in the lake. But I suppose we can come up with a regulation to take care of that potential damaging of the environment.

“If the stupid government would stop subsudizing giant interstate highways and inefficient air travel, most of our freight would move to railroads which are hugely more energy efficient. But then, we’d have to give up a bit of immediate gratification, wouldn’t we? Are Libertarians willing to join true Christians on this, or do you depart here and go off with the gluttenous materialists? Hmmm, Mr. Reisman, will you say ANYTHING about waste and excessive consumption, or is it really a virtue to you?”

I’m worn out. Gary, you’ve been assimilated by the borg. Resistance is futile.

Bob A. October 7, 2005 at 1:55 am

Paul Edwards,

“I’m worn out. Gary, you’ve been assimilated by the borg. Resistance is futile.”

I, too, then am assimilated by the Borg.

I cannot speak for Gary, but it seems to me that we both believe that government is the cause of our ills, as you do, and that getting them out of our economic lives is all important.

I think you missed the general direction of the comments. Your opinion is not correct of either environmentalism or conservation, in my opinion. But in your opinion, my opinion is hogwash (as I happen to agree with Gary). Libertarianism has to be able to satisfy the concerns of people such as me as there are tens of millions of us in America and hundreds of millions around the world.

I enjoy your discussing Libertarianism and Misesian principles; you have been exceptionally enlightening with much of your commentary and I enjoy your writing. But it serves no purpose to continue to deny that this subject needs addressing, nor does poking fun at comments regarding environmentalism and conservation without addressing the future handling of them. If a Libertarian world is to become reality and be sustainable, freedom must be freedom for all, not just for anti-environmentalists or anti-conservationists.

Paul Edwards October 7, 2005 at 9:40 am

Hi Bob.

Thanks for the kind words about my writing (in general that is :) ).

Most of my post was really pretty serious. I thought a line-by-line was the way to go, but perhaps a general response would have been better. In my defense, i did allude to the solution to the problem: respect of property rights and elimination of government intervention in the market. I also suggested that this was a huge topic in itself, and that Reisman can’t be expected to discuss this solution when his article is already 18 pages just discussing the true motivation behind the basis of the environmentalist movement. Incidentally, Reisman’s article isn’t an indictment of everyone who considers themselves environmentally conscientious.

On mises.org, there are many articles that discus how government’s intervention in natural law leads to unethical legal decisions and gives way to destruction of the environment by way of encroachment and destruction of private property. Take a look here: “COASE AND DEMSETZ ON PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHTS” by WALTER BLOCK.

http://mises.org/journals/jls/1_2/1_2_4.pdf

Combine that with the fact that much or most of the most obvious destruction takes place on PUBLIC property in the stewardship of the irresponsible state and a picture emerges of where the problem and the solution lies.

The (very serious) problem i have with comments such as Gary’s is that they distract the reader from the root of the problem, unethical and coercive government intervention in the market (unethical government/industry alliances) and toward an unfavorable view of the nature of man. Such a presentation logically leads to the conclusion that superior men of higher moral standing, must be put in place to rule over us weaker mortals, who are clearly subject to greed and excess and wanton destruction of the earth. The opposite is the case; if men were left to pursue their aims without coercive state intervention, allowing natural law implemented by private courts to prevail, then man, and the environment would be best served.

Bob A. October 7, 2005 at 12:22 pm

Paul,

I know why you wrote what you wrote, and of course your points are, as usual, well stated and your opinions are in agreement with mine. Maybe Gary will respond to this, but in my estimation, his comments were about Dr. Reisman’s stand on the general attitudes of people who are concerned about their environment. Dr. Reisman’s position, in my opinion, is that only anti-environmentalists are interested in humanity. His tone is more strident than the author of the article on recycling who in essence said that only people of low intellect would recycle. Both of these authors threw in as afterthought comments regarding government interference in natural market forces so as to appeal, even marginally, to Libertarians. Apparently, these authors did not consider the wishes of environmentally-conscious or conservation-minded people to be worthy of inclusion in market forces.

You made good points to Gary about interference of government, but you did not acknowledge any validity of his concerns. Your basically threw in with Reisman.

Also, thanks for the address to get the article by Walter Block (and also the link to Rothbard’s How and How Not to Desocialize in another thread). There is a big problem with the scenario about the farmer and the manufacturer. The farmer has lost $100,000 because of the manufacturer’s actions. But the solution is for the farmer to BRIBE the manufacturer with $90,000 to install the device thus saving $10,000. The author must have forgotten that the whole scenario started with the manufacturer ruining $100,000 of crops. So if the farmer coughs up $90,000, then his lost revenue is $190,000 and the device didn’t cost the manufacturer any of his own working capital and he made a profit of $15,000 for zero capital employed. That’s a pretty good deal for the manufacturer and a farmer has been duped. Buyer beware?

Here’s what happened: The manufacturer knows he’s a polluter but he can’t bring himself to spend the money. He plans to get someone else to pay for it. He forces the farmer to pay for it by threatening to ruin his crops, or in this case ruins the farmer’s crops and then forces the farmer to pay for the device. I don’t think this is in agreement with Libertarian principles as I understand them.

Paul Edwards October 7, 2005 at 2:53 pm

Hi Bob:

If i recall it correctly, and i followed it correctly to start with (it’s been a while since i read the Block article), the point was that libertarian law (promoted by Block) asks: “who was there first?” to answer who is encroaching on whom. Since the farmer was there first, the decision SHOULD go to the farmer. But the coase attitude is to ask “who represents a more substantial economic interest?” to decide who to favour. This is the statist position as well, in my view. So the small farmer loses because he is small. And on it goes. Then one day, the statists turn around and say “look what disastrous pollution, damage and waste all this ‘free market’ activity has brought us; people are flawed and ruthless; we need (guess what) more state intervention to fix this up”.

It is easy to see pollution and attribute it to industry and the ‘free market’. It is not so easy to see that it is statist intervention in the first place that promotes and exasperates the problem so profoundly.

Bob A. October 7, 2005 at 5:18 pm

Hi Paul,

“It is easy to see pollution and attribute it to industry and the ‘free market’. It is not so easy to see that it is statist intervention in the first place that promotes and exasperates the problem so profoundly.”

I do not attribute pollution to the free market because it does not yet exist. And I agree with anyone who believes that statist intervention is preventing in some cases and distorting in others the workable solutions that a GENUINE free market would find (I saw the word “genuine” used in another fine article at this site; the word “true” that I have been using is getting tiresome).

After my blood pressure settles down I appreciate, sort of, seeing these anti-environmentalism and anti-conservationism articles because they permit addressing the issues publicly. The choir receiving the sermon that pleases them gives a warm and fuzzy feeling to both choir and preacher, but it doesn’t get much work done.

However, I’m about ready for some positive news about the environment and conservation in a Libertarian world. And, at the risk of dragging out too many cliches, if grass roots efforts are to get much past the front lawn, it needs more seeding.

Gary Kemmer October 8, 2005 at 10:54 am

Thanks for both the compliments and the civilized and thoughtful criticisms. I’d like to reassure Paul that I’m not a closet Marxist. Much, if not most of the environmental degradation I see emanates from government. At least individuals have a right to decide if they want to live in a far out suburbia treeless house with a poisoned lawn or to live in a smaller older house in town with trees. Rest assurred, I’m in favor of that choice and I don’t want a Leviathan government pushing people around. I think the treeless Hummer people will eventually burn up from heat and bankruptcy and that’s the great part about natural selection. What really frosts me is when government FORCES me to take part in the environmental degradation. Our city government pours pesticides all over public land when I won’t use them on my lawn. But I have to pay for it. I went to north rim Grand Canyon in 1968 and when I returned in 1995, there were exactly the same number of parking spaces, because the environmental elitists there hated people and their cars and were trying to discourage people by not providing enough parking. But on the multi mile park entrance road, hundreds of thousands of trees were being bulldozed to widen the road to get there, which incidentally, there wasn’t enough traffic to justify the widening. Does it make any sense to unnecessarily widen a road at a cost of millions, to get to a small parking lot on which they refuse to expand past 1968 level? That’s government. At another park, the wacko environmentalist ranger in charge threatened a kid with arrest for picking up a leaf for his school science project. He had to put the leaf back on the ground. This is the same government that spends a few million each year to burn off forest land to remove the dry dead underbrush.
At another beautiful spring, the spring run ran 200 yards into a river and a dock was built alongside it. People parked their boats beside the dock, children splashed their feet in the cool, clear water, fished and swam. We enjoyed this Eden during the 60′s and 70′s. In the 80′s when the Gaia worshipers took over the park system, diesel belching machines, at great expense, pulled out the dock. Cypress trees were cut down through the forest 10 yards away from the spring run, forests were cut to make more lumber (pressure treated with poison) which was transported by more diesel belching machines for a new “observation” dock, all constructed at taxpayer expense. Police personnel were hired to make sure that nobody enjoyed the spring run any more and boats, fishing and swimming were prohibited. The disgusting public was now allowed only to OBSERVE the spring run from a distance. The spring was just as clean and pure with the people as without them. In the interest of brevity, I’ll stop here and save a dozen other examples. Trying to argue with the arrogant elitists who come up with these rules by bureaucratic fiat will teach someone about the Gaia worshippers Reisman was writing about. A few other points: Paul, I agree that modern society uses a lot more energy than it did in the time of Jesus, and I’ve certainly been a beneficiary of a lot of that spent energy. But I believe in the bell shaped curve of benefits from spent energy. Remember that ad from the 60′s, “are you smoking more but enjoying it less?” I see a society that is using more and spending more and enjoying it less. Can we enjoy a trip to the mountains in a small econobox car, or is it “necessary” to travel in a 7 MPG Hummer? Just how you stop that is a complicated philosophical question. I say it emanates from religious values in society, but speaking to Libertarians, I say that government is a big polluter itself and less government would equal less environmental degradation. The great majority of individuals would be good land stewards, a small few would try to rape the environment. How to stop that without feeding a Leviathan government is a good question and gets back to the values adopted by society; good people will make a good society and bad people will make an awful society no matter what the form of government. Yes, I travel about doing some dumb things that, given society adopted more moderate religious principles, my job wouldn’t exist. I also live in a far out suburb in a huge treeless house (I made sure the lawn didn’t get poisoned and I cut it 1/3 as often as my neighbors) with a pool, which is rarely used but expensively maintained. Why is an issue I’d rather not get into, but suffice to say, I don’t need a lot of this stuff and I don’t think other people need it either. If the better social values existed, these suburbs wouldn’t exist. Government support had a lot to do with their appearance. MTV and Cosmo mag values had a lot to do with the demand for them. Without the gov’t printing trillions of unbacked fiat dollars and interfering in the marketplace to drive down interest rates and opening the floodgates of illegal immigration, they could never have been financed or built. Some people are downright angry at me because I drive a 1985 car (bought in 92) and I make sure it gets 30 MPG. A lady I spoke to a couple days ago bragged that she had bought 14 Cadilacs. Did I spell that right? It’s OK Paul, I’m convincable, continue resistance.

Paul Edwards October 8, 2005 at 9:21 pm

Hi Gary:

Thank-you for your further comments. It sounds like we are not very far apart after all. Sorry for the rude “Marxist” comments. I think i won’t write rebuttals at 1am anymore.

Further on Reisman’s article, it seems i only thought i had read the whole thing the first time, or else i missed a section. I had suggested in one of my posts that Reisman hadn’t had the space to make suggestions on solving environmental issues, and in fact he certainly did:

“This brings me back to the possibly truly good objectives that have been mixed in with environmentalism, such as the desire for greater cleanliness and health… If one wants to advocate such objectives … one must first of all accept unreservedly the values of human reason, science, technology, and industrial civilization, and never attack those values. They are the indispensable foundation for achieving greater cleanliness and better health and longer life.

“In the earlier years of the Industrial Revolution, the process of improvement was accompanied by the presence of coal dust in towns and cities, which people willingly accepted as the by-product of not having to freeze and of being able to have all the other advantages of an industrial society. Subsequent advances, in the form of electricity and natural gas, have radically reduced this problem. Those who seek further advances along these lines, should advocate the freedom of development of atomic power, which emits no particulate matter of any kind into the atmosphere. Atomic power, however, is the form of power most hated by the environmentalists.

“Also essential for further improvements in cleanliness and health, and for the long-term availability of natural resources, is the extension of private ownership of the means of production, especially of land and natural resources. The incentive of private owners is to use their property in ways that maximize its long-term value and, wherever possible, to improve their property. Consistent with this fact, one should seek ways of extending the principle of private ownership to lakes, rivers, beaches, and even to portions of the ocean. Privately owned lakes, rivers, and beaches, would almost certainly be clean lakes, rivers, and beaches. Privately owned, electronically fenced ocean ranches would guarantee abundant supplies of almost everything useful that is found in or beneath the sea. Certainly, the vast land holdings of the United States government in the western states and in Alaska should be privatized.”

I alluded to privatizing rivers and lakes with Bob, when i observed how much more devastation occurs on public land and waters than on private, but i didn’t give Reisman’s article credit for having provided an answer to the problem.

Bob A. October 8, 2005 at 10:42 pm

Paul Edwards,

Good points. You selected the only parts of Reiman’s article that didn’t attack me as an environmentally-conscious capitalist active in environmental issues. Try this exercise: select all the invective used to describe my low intellect, my hatred for humanity, my wish to abolish all industrialization, my wish to kill my fellow human companions, my constant struggle to bring us back to the dark ages, my willingness to lie at every opportunity to dupe my fellow citizens, my . . . Copy and paste all of it into a post.

I’m so bad, I’m surprised someone hasn’t put me out of their misery already.

Let’s not go into the claims of faulty science that have been proven true since 1990. And let’s wait until the appropriate time to discuss privatization of certain items. Privatization can solve most of America’s problems, I see more and more examples of that as I read the great Libertarian and Austrian economics literature available.

However, please imagine putting up the most beautiful places in America on the auction block tomorrow; which selected people, groups, and corporations do you think will end up with them? Why the rush for the neocons to funnel so much capital into the hands of its selectees in the last several years? Right now there is an outside chance that some citizen groups and corporations outside of the circle of “Nobles” can compete, and for that reason, the regime will wait. When the time is right and competition has been done away with, don’t you worry, they’ll be putting up the properties for privatization.

That’s a much deeper subject than can be discussed in this thread discussing the merits of Reisman’s outrage at me and those who think like me.

Gary Kemmer October 9, 2005 at 10:22 pm

Bob – Don’t feel too beat on! Aren’t you familiar with other boards/blogs where a dissenting opinion draws hurling verbal excrement and outrageous claims about the sexual preferences of the writer’s mother? Ha-ha! I find discussing with these Libertarians and libertarian sympathisers to be a breath of fresh air!
And I agree with you that there seems to be a plan on the part of today’s elites to privitize some blocks of beautiful places that are currently held by government. This is a real conundrum because I believe as Libertarians that most of the time privately held land is well cared for. But as I said above, any type of government works well with moral people and any type is a disaster with immoral people. The problem we are facing is that stupid, immoral and wasteful people are numerous in our governmental bureaucracies AND in our rich elites and corporations. It seems that the Gaia worshippers inhabit the gov’t bureaucracies and want to eliminate us lousy humans from THEIR pristine environment. And do I need to tell you about all the amoral CEO’s and corporate practices that exist today? In today’s society I wouldn’t be the least surprised to hear about a corp. that buys a mountain, strips it of every last tree, then sells it to a coal company which obliterates it for coal and sells the pile of debris again. Both exec’s take their profits and head offshore to their islands and yachts. I understand the morality levels of today’s 50ish people; I went to college with them in the 70′s. So who do we throw our support to – the socialists in a Leviathan government or Libertarians who might allow some Robber Barons to run amok? What a predicament. I’ll say this for the Libertarian side though – at least the evil people are decentralized. They can be negotiated with and they’re not all powerful. Caveat – unless the powerful private owners join with government. I believe the dictionary calls that fascism.
Now here’s a story that will please Paul and Reisman (by the way, you’re not rude at all). A story of 2 springs here in Florida. Both have beautiful, crystal clear water and are little Edens. One is Silver Glen springs. You might know it from the novel “The Yearling” by Marjorie Rawlins. Privately owned, it was a playground for half a century or so. It had cabins on a hill which viewed the aquamarine perfect water. A store and bath house next to a dock with a diving board under the huge oak trees hanging with moss. You could drive there and park nearby and launch a boat. It had a boat dock and fishing dock and a campground. The spring was lighted at night and one could stay there and walk out on the dock to see the incredibly beautiful water waft up amid the sounds of frogs and crickets. A fascinating side spring could be snorkeled into during the day. I can’t describe how beautiful this place was. Then the government bought it. The first thing they did was prohibit any humans (except the ranger elites) from entering for a year or two while they eliminated all traces of vile humans. The cabins were demolished, the campground eliminated, boat launch pulled out. The sturdy, wonderful dock with the diving board over the spring was pulled out as well as the boat and fishing dock. The store was torn down and parking lot moved far away and lighting eliminated. When they finally reluctantly allowed humans to enter again, the bipedal animals were told that snorkeling in the small spring was now prohibited. The smiling ranger said swimming in the spring might be prohibited because they found a rare snail there and besides, they were working toward only “interpretive” swimming, which I think means you can put your feet in the water only under the watchful eye of a ranger. And they wanted to cut down a swath of trees because the forest should be “managed”. Other freedoms were eliminated. No humans are now allowed to enjoy the beauty of this place at night, all must leave at the end of the day. The government hasn’t been able to ruin the water. You should see this breathtakingly beautiful place and just imagine how wonderful it would be to snorkel freely, step out of the store with a cool drink, bask on the dock, park nearby, walk to your cabin or camper, fish, use your boat and see the wonderous water at night, go to sleep with the night sounds. All freedoms and pleasures that have been taken away by the type of Gaia worshippers Reisman wrote about.
Spring 2 is Ginnie Springs northwest of Gainesville. It is privately owned. It’s clean and not environmentally degraded. The people at the check in desk don’t have a chip on their shoulder when they see you, they are friendly and helpful. They take care of their spring and they are happy to make a profit. You can camp there and their spring is just as (maybe more) incredibly beautiful as Silver Glen. There’s no police watching your every move and people still behave and don’t litter. They’ve got a few reasonable rules. No large boats in the swimming area, no scuba diving without their safety approval… They have a cool store, you can fish, tie a boat nearby. Walk down the path at night from your cabin or camper and see the spring at night, which is lighted, put your feet in the water or even jump in. Breathtakingly beautiful and refreshing! Dear God, please don’t let them sell it to the government.

Vince Daliessio October 10, 2005 at 3:40 pm

Dr. Peter quotes Paracelsus;

“Alle Ding sind Gift und nichts ohn Gift; alein die Dosis macht das ein Ding kein Gift ist”

” all things are poison and there is nothing without poison; only the dose makes a thing not a poison”

My favorite quote from Toxicology class. I use it when I teach about toxicology too.

I was reminded of this when I read a while back about a fraternity hazing where a pledge was killed by forced consumption of water. He died of water poisoning.

If “environmentalists” like malevolent philosophists McKibben and Graeber, wish to masquerade as scientists, they should be paid no more heed than the creationists or the intelligent design adherents when it comes to setting policy.

David White October 12, 2005 at 5:10 pm

Gary Kemmer,

Thank you for your glob (a long blog) that fortunately is not a blahglob (no explanation necessary), as you’ve nailed it on the public/private property issue. As Rothbard said, the public does not in fact own “public” property, the government does; just try getting title to your share and selling it.

P.S. Even good globs need paragraphs. You should try them sometime. :-)

Paul Edwards October 12, 2005 at 5:59 pm

Hi Bob:

First convince me that you subscribe to the following sorts of thinking and you will have also convinced me that Reisman is attacking people who think like you:

1.”They [animals, rivers, ecosystems] have intrinsic value, more value — to me — than another human body, or a billion of them.” i.e. a river is more valuable than a billion human lives. Cool.

2. “I know social scientists who remind me that people are part of nature, but it isn’t true. Somewhere along the line …we quit the contract and became a cancer. We have become a plague upon ourselves and upon the Earth.” i.e. if the human race were exterminated tomorrow, it would be good.

3. “Until such time as Homo sapiens should decide to rejoin nature, some of us can only hope for the right virus to come along.” i.e. since we are likely to remain as we are, the best solution is mankind’s destruction. Lovely.

4. “‘Honorable representatives of the great saurians of older creation, may you long enjoy your lilies and rushes, and be blessed now and then with a mouthful of terror-stricken man by way of a dainty!’” i.e. it would be better or at least as acceptable for alligators to feast on a man as the other way around. I get the picture.

Do you feel this way Bob? If you do, then Reisman’s article is an attack on you, and I’m not going to apologize for it. However, since I don’t think you feel this way, I think you should take this article less personally. Reisman is talking about the prominent people behind the movement. They are prominent, and yet you will not hear any other mainstream environmentalists disassociate themselves with their views on the value of human life. There is a reason they don’t. They are the true movement.

Bob A. October 12, 2005 at 7:49 pm

Paul Edwards,

“Do you feel this way Bob? . . . However, since I don’t think you feel this way, I think you should take this article less personally. Reisman is talking about the prominent people behind the movement.”

Paul, you know me well without even having met me!

None of these positions or statements represent my views regarding humans. But here’s the thing: none of the groups I am active with take these positions either. You say that those people who buy into the 4 listed positions are prominent, but they are not.

1.”They [animals, rivers, ecosystems] have intrinsic value, more value — to me — than another human body, or a billion of them.” i.e. a river is more valuable than a billion human lives. Cool.
2. “I know social scientists who remind me that people are part of nature, but it isn’t true. Somewhere along the line …we quit the contract and became a cancer. We have become a plague upon ourselves and upon the Earth.” i.e. if the human race were exterminated tomorrow, it would be good.
3. “Until such time as Homo sapiens should decide to rejoin nature, some of us can only hope for the right virus to come along.” i.e. since we are likely to remain as we are, the best solution is mankind’s destruction. Lovely.
4. “‘Honorable representatives of the great saurians of older creation, may you long enjoy your lilies and rushes, and be blessed now and then with a mouthful of terror-stricken man by way of a dainty!’” i.e. it would be better or at least as acceptable for alligators to feast on a man as the other way around. I get the picture.

Reisman, in my opinion, uses typical neocon style and is quite the wordmeister. He did make a few, veiled comments that were offhand attempts to placate those who might think he was a little over the top, but the following 2 paragraphs on page 2 (as I printed them out) clearly indicate his hatred of environmentalism and people involved in it (I’ve capitalized for emphasis):

“Such statements represent pure, unadulterated poison. They express ideas and wishes which, if acted upon, would mean terror and death for enormous numbers of human beings.

These statements, and others like them, are made by prominent members of the environmental movement. THE SIGNIFICANCE OF SUCH STATEMENTS CANNOT BE DIMINISHED BY ASCRIBING THEM ONLY TO A SMALL FRINGE OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL MOVEMENT. Indeed, even if such views were indicative of the thinking of only 5 or 10 percent of the members of the environmental movement — the “deep ecology,” Earth First! wing — THEY WOULD REPRESENT TOXICITY IN THE ENVIRONMENTAL MOVEMENT AS A WHOLE not at the level of parts per billion or even parts per million, but at the level of parts per hundred, which, of course, is an enormously higher level of toxicity than is deemed to constitute a danger to human life in virtually every other case in which deadly poison is present.

BUT THE TOXICITY LEVEL OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL MOVEMENT AS A WHOLE IS SUBSTANTIALLY GREATER EVEN THAN PARTS PER HUNDRED. It is certainly at least at the level of several parts per ten. This is obvious from the fact that the mainstream of the environmental movement makes no fundamental or significant criticisms of the likes of Messrs. Graber and McKibben. Indeed, John Muir, whose wish for alligators to “be blessed now and then with a mouthful of terror-stricken man by way of a dainty” McKibben approvingly quotes, was the founder of the Sierra Club, which is proud to acknowledge that fact. The Sierra Club, of course, is the leading environmental organization and is supposedly the most respectable of them.”

He carries this hatred throughout the balance of his essay.

Humans are not a cancer, but they have developed many actions that act like a cancer. The present government/corporate plutocratic oligarchy is spreading like a cancer that continues to kill freedoms and limit choices. The human body that contracts cancer receives treatments some of which are effective but all of which cause the cancer to go into survival mode to defend itself; it will spread as fast as it can.

a) The best way for the body to defeat cancer is for its antibodies to become strong enough to eat the cancer until the cancer is no longer present.

b) The best way to keep weeds from coming back is to keep mowing so the heads cannot transfer nutrients to the roots; the healthy grass will overcome if it is cared for.

Both methods a) and b) are analogous to what Americans must do to defeat the government that is growing like a cancer. And THESE are issues that Reisman should be addressing rather than attacking people who think as I do about my environment.

Remember that the only tool environmentalists have is government at the present time. Although groups’ funds come from contributions, the government is the only available method to affect change unless/until changes are made to permit GENUINE free market participants to work on the problems.

Industry in the present economic system has no reason to use morals in their decisions and they will use government to keep from having to use them to the greatest extent possible. And industry doesn’t get its funds to battle environmentalists from contributions; they come from taxpayers one way or another.

Gary Kemmer October 12, 2005 at 10:15 pm

Hi David – I KNOW it was too long. Thanks for letting me blow off steam – now will be shorter. Will somebody tell me how to make paragraphs? I make them, then the preview makes them vanish!

Paul – I agree that those 4 points are a great way to smoke out the anti-human Gaia worshippers Reisman was talking about.

Bob – You seem to be sensitive that some of the environmental leaders might have some of those 4 opinions. I think some of them do. But that doesn’t discredit the whole idea of environmental reasonableness. None of us thinks you are an anti-human enviro type, though I can’t speak for Reisman and his possible blanket condemnation of all things environmental. That was my concern in my first blog above.

David – Good point that the GOVERNMENT and not the people own gov’t property. Not necessarily any better than a greedy corporation..maybe akin to Mafia ownership. As long ago as 1972 I listened to a college professor tell us his socialist ideas that gov’t should own all property and people should pay a small rental fee for it. I replied to him, “Government ownes all property NOW. Oh, you think you own your property because you have a deed? That deed is really a rental agreement. The rent you pay says “Tax Bill” on it, but it is really a rental payment. If you don’t think so, try not paying your rental payment and YOU WILL FIND OUT WHO REALLY OWNES YOUR PROPERTY!” That was a pretty unpopular thing to say in ’72.

Now despite what I wrote about my great preference for the private property owners of spring 2 above and the crummy government ownership of spring 1, here’s another Caveat: Right now I wouldn’t support putting up the gov’t owned springs for sale to private owners. The reason is that because Mr. Greenspan has interfered with the natural economy by holding down interest rates and printing trillions of fiat dollars thus creating a real estate bubble. If these springs are put up for sale, I have no doubt that nobody will buy them to create private parks/campgrounds. They will be bought by the super rich who will build expensive condos around them. The public will be walled off and prohibited from ANY access to them. This would make even the government’s abysmal record look tolerable. Can we have a system with public support if a handful of super rich monopolize beautiful places and the lowly citizens are kept out? Does this sound socialist to you? Paul – what do you say?

Bob A. October 12, 2005 at 10:36 pm

Gary Kemmer,

Once again you nailed my thoughts exactly! As I learn more about privatization, the more I’m convinced that in a GENUINE free market it will eventually find the proper balance in virtually all circumstances. But it is the fact that we do not have anything resembling GENUINE free markets anywhere in the US, or the world that I’m aware of, that bothers me about going too far with privatization yet. Some things simply are too damaging for the future to permit privatization at this point, as you point out so emphatically in your post.

This is the discussion I was hoping would develop eventually, though I didn’t expect it in this thread! I hope we will see some ideas brought out now about how to achieve some of the goals, maybe plans to approach State Senators and State Representatives about choosing an industry to experiment with models for converting to GENUINE free markets absolutely devoid of taxes, monetary and fiscal policy developed at the governmental level, etc.

Or maybe start it in another thread if this one is not agreeable.

Gary Kemmer October 13, 2005 at 9:35 pm

Thanks Bob, and your further comments echo my feelings.

Now here’s a philosophical question for Libertarians in this enviro/private/government subject. Back in the Civil War, the South had a few million slaves. Most of us have heard about the blacks who fought against the South. (There were also some who fought FOR the South – they get no publicity). But granted, more blacks fought against the South than for it. The South’s white citizens enthusiastically joined the Cause and fought hard. It could have used a million more soldiers to fight the invading Northerners but we can all understand why they didn’t much want to. I mean, they were slaves, right? Not too enthusiastic about fighting for the system they were under. The South lost and it’s system was destroyed.

Fast forward to 2015. China with its now 1.6 billion population is attempting to invade the USA. It needs land and resources and plans to drive out the Americans and take over North America. This is really not too far fetched.

The call goes out to raise a 10 million man army from the Americans to defend America from a Chineese takeover.

The rich Elites have taken over America. Every spring and park is privately owned. The beaches, mountaintops, Yellowstone Park, every bit of scenic waterfront have private estates overlooking them and the great unwashed masses are walled out and prohibited. They’re mostly working long hours without breaks for minimum wages, too.

Now the gov’t suddenly needs these unwashed masses, 10 million of them, to fight to defend us from a foreign takeover. They’ve noticed that the rich Elites behind the walled off properties don’t come close to 10 million. Won’t they Puuleeeze volunteer to fight?

What happens if the unwashed masses say, “Screw it. I don’t feel much like fighting for this system. Maybe the Chineese will treat us better, like opening up the beach or the parks to us, or something. After all, they promised they would on the Radio Bejing broadcasts.”

Now – is this a fatal flaw of pure Capitalism and privatization? Comments please! Do we need some kind of socialist sounding rules in a limited government that say, “OK to privately own parks as long as public access is guarranteed” or something like that?

Caveat – I agree with Libertarians that pure capitalism and privatization works best – in theory. Given completely free markets, it would all work out – parks would seek highest profits which would come from public access. But in our Greenspan skewered economy, that’s not how it would work today.

Please let me know if this is too far off the thread – I’ll stop.

Paul Edwards October 13, 2005 at 11:32 pm

Hi Gary:

I think what you’re saying is given that purely free markets are an unlikely condition to arise in the foreseeable future, is it possible that because of this, certain forms of coercive government invoked property-rights-infringing regulation might enhance this imperfect situation. For instance, because parks might be sold to the connected politically favored albeit private parties, should they therefore be regulated by the state as well.

Rothbard addresses this in “For a New Liberty”

http://mises.org/rothbard/newliberty14.asp

“How, then, can we know whether any halfway measure or transitional demand should be hailed as a step forward or condemned as an opportunistic betrayal? There are two vitally important criteria for answering this crucial question: (1) that, whatever the transitional demands, the ultimate end of liberty be always held aloft as the desired goal; and (2) that no steps or means ever explicitly or implicitly contradict the ultimate goal. A short-run demand may not go as far as we would like, but it should always be consistent with the final end; if not, the short-run goal will work against the long-run purpose, and opportunistic liquidation of libertarian principle will have arrived.

“An example of such counterproductive and opportunistic strategy may be taken from the tax system. The libertarian looks forward to eventual abolition of taxes. It is perfectly legitimate for him, as a strategic measure in that desired direction, to push for a drastic reduction or repeal of the income tax. But the libertarian must never support any new tax or tax increase. For example, he must not, while advocating a large cut in income taxes, also call for its replacement by a sales or other form of tax. The reduction or, better, the abolition of a tax is always a noncontradictory reduction of State power and a significant step toward liberty; but its replacement by a new or increased tax elsewhere does just the opposite, for it signifies a new and additional imposition of the State on some other front. The imposition of a new or higher tax flatly contradicts and undercuts the libertarian goal itself.”

Therefore, I would argue that it would not be ok to introduce a new governmental power that would force this class of property owner to guarantee public access to his property. This would be a concession contradictory to the cause of liberty and to the goal of reducing state power.

Bob A. October 14, 2005 at 12:50 am

Paul Edwards,

“This would be a concession contradictory to the cause of liberty and to the goal of reducing state power.”

Transferring economic power through controlled privatization by the neocons is not reducing state power; it is merely a name change. The major difference now, then, is that we will have the “Jurrasic Park” attitude of, “This is great! We can charge anything we want–$10,000 per day, $20,000!”

Getting involved in the push to eliminate taxes by showing fellow citizens and State politicians how to begin GENUINE free markets makes much more sense to me.

The tricky part is the timing; if it takes too long to do it, then the chosen NOBLES of the regime will be in the best position to take claim of most of what is available–they already have ownership of over 70% of America’s assets.

However, if it’s done too early, like tomorrow, then there is still some chance for those outside of the circle of nobles, but the tax structure still exists and the outcomes of the various privatizations may end up corrupted.

It’s a dilemma, but I disagree with your conclusions. I’m sure neocons are hoping for support from Libertarians for the upcoming privatization frenzy. When mistakes are made and the nobles own the assets, how will you dislodge them? It will be worse than being wounded by a barbed arrow; push it on through and risk death, or drag it back through the wound channel causing much more damage but POSSIBLY surviving after a very long recovery.

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