Friday, March 31, 2006

Different Flag, Different Lyrics, But the Same Old Tune

George Reisman says:

The flag is Green now, instead of Red. And the lyrics are different. But the tune is still the same old tune.

When the Reds sang it, the lyrics were that the individual could not be left free because the result would be such things as "exploitation," "monopoly," and depressions. When the Greens sing it, the lyrics are that the individual cannot be left free because the result will be such things as destruction of the ozone layer, acid rain, and global warming. (Add an extra chorus now for global warming.)

The tune is still that the individual cannot be left free, that he cannot be left free because his peaceful pursuit of his own happiness and prosperity somehow inflicts harm on others, and that only the government's pointing a gun at his head will save the rest of mankind from some dreadful calamity.

The Red thugs wanted to control the economic system to set things right. The Green thugs want to control the environment, especially the climate, to set things right.

The Red thugs had no idea of what they were doing and neither do the Green thugs. Just consider this statement from a supporter of prohibitions on carbon dioxide emissions in order to stop global warming:

One of the ironies of the Arctic melting is that it runs the risk of flipping the switch on oceanic thermohaline circulation and shutting down the Atlantic current - this could lead to a sharp cooling in Europe (which lies further north than the US), and appears to have happened in the past. (Posted by "Tokyo Tom" on the Ludwig von Mises Institute's Blog on March 30, 2006 08:24PM)

Here is someone who doesn't even know if the global warming he wants to stop will turn out to be a continent-wide cooling instead. But that gives him no pause. He still thinks he knows enough to send the police out to stop people from acting on the knowledge they have about the good they can achieve for themselves by producing and buying goods that happen to emit some carbon dioxide into the air. Their knowledge is to count for nothing. The allegedly superior knowledge of "scientists" is to prevail—at the point of a gun.

That's the bottom line. Pointing guns at people in the name of some higher collective good, and prohibiting them from achieving their own good. That's socialism. That's environmentalism.


Blogger Tokyo Tom said...

George Reisman continued his public dialogue with me in his next post: "They Still Don’t Know What They’re Doing, But They Want to Do It at the Point of a Gun" (

Here is one of responses to him:

"Dear Professor Reisman:

Maybe we need to go back to basics to make sure we don`t continue this fruitless exercise where I discuss science and economics, and you counter with ideology and hyperventilate about "collectivists" and "environmentalist witch-doctors". Into what category do you put your professional colleagues who study property rights and market failures, included but not limited to natural resource and environmental economists? The libertarian and conservative environmental economists at AEI, CEI and PERC?

I`ll agree with you that free markets and capitalism are what have driven the wealth of the nations, and together constitute a dynamic and exremely flexible and self-adpating engine. But what do free markets require? Effective and enforceable property rights. It is precisely the absence of those property rights in certain situations, particularly in the case of cerain natural resources/common goods, that markets don`t work correctly - they don`t reflect the true costs of goods, either because a unit of production or pollution resulting from it is "free".

If you can`t agree with me on this, then you should really be arguing with the rest of your profession, not me. In any case, given the free rider aspects of solving environmental problems where there is no single government involved, we cannot expect meaningful action on climate change anytime soon - unless George Bush decides he needs revenues to fill his huge budget deficit hole (which I would say would be a good thing, in shifting from income taxes to consumption taxes).

Given the state of the debate in the US, why waste your breath on climate change, but turn your crystal-clear vision to those very costly environmental laws that were foisted on us in the `70s by collectivists like Nixon? They impose real, actual, costs on industry (and have totally shattered our finely tuned econmy?). Or is there some reason why those laws are acceptable, but any laws or treaties that relate to international problems are not? And on that topic, what internation treaties should we abolish? The WTO, GATT, Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty - all creating international bureacracies? I appreciate your further thoughts.



12:02 AM  

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