So, it’s been a mad long time since I’ve posted, and that’s lame. My consistency game is pretty weak. But I had a conversation last night with a friend at work and I thought you guys would want to be part of the discussion!
I’ve established myself as a libertarian: limit government to protecting life, liberty, and property. Anything more than that is the falls on charities or the free market. I believe in the timeless sovereignty principles the Constitutional philosophers passed down to us. I believe in the right of the individual and that cooperation must be voluntary. This isn’t new to you, you know I bang this drum. Yet, I have decided for myself that the government has a fourth responsibility: to protect the environment.
Now before anyone trips and calls me a bandwagoner, I’ll state that I used to believe that the private sector could do this better. There are lots of examples of the public sector fairing poorer than private sector comprisons. Amtrak is a great one. It’s supposed to be a for-profit government company but it’s consistently losing money. If I remember right, the former CEO was subpoenaed from Congress to account for his business, and he defended that it was only $30M in the red! (I’m typing this up in a low-signal area, otherwise I’d give you a solid reference.) And personally, I’ve wanted to use it, but even with government subsidy it’s just as expensive as air travel and takes days to get cross country instead of hours! Another example is healthcare. People from all over the world fly to the US to pay for our easily available, fast, and quality medical treatment. I’ve had socialized healthcare in the military, and it’s not all that great 😆 You wait forever to get okay care and you only get what they say you deserve, not what you want—which may not be enough. Private businesses are typically better at getting things done than the government, and I used to think that companies would be better at running out national and state parks, because—ya know—they’ve got incentive to make them nice: profit. Just like anyone that needs to feed the fam and pay the bills, you sell something or provide a service and you try to do it better than the other guy.
So, yeah—someone like Google or Microsoft could have the resources to really make the visitor’s centers and trails at parks great! However, I worry that they would compromise too much for the sake of making money. And I think the same about companies that aren’t in the business of the environment: they have to care more about making enough money than protecting the environment. And rightfully so. It’s the right of the individual to provide for his own needs before anyone else. Now, I’m not sure how non-profits work, but maybe it’s possible to work specifically to conserve the planet and still be able to cover the rent. I’m pretty positive lots of organizations make it happen. But I know that the government naturally negates that need. They don’t have to try to build a bigger and better widget or hoozawazzle to muscle out the other guy who does the same thing. They don’t have competitors. Like, who would they be? Lawyers? Lawyers wouldn’t exist without the government. So the public sector is better suited to protect the planet.
Another reason is that the planet isn’t a natural source of profit. I mean besides some commodities like lumber, petroleum, and ores, what is nature in terms of money? What is a pretty beach or a peaceful forest? How’re you going to monetize that? I’m sure you could, but are you going to put a fence around all of nature and only let people get on the ride if they’ve got the cash? Seems pretty unfeasible. Thus, who better to protect this neutral entity besides another neutral entity? And you can consider the planet a passive constituent, since it’s also subject to the policies of the legislature. (I tried posing the idea that it deserves the same three protections we do…but I’m not sure what it would mean to protect nature’s liberty or property 🤔)
Now, I’ll be real. I grew up camping with the Boy Scouts and watching “Captain Planet.” I’ve felt it a religious duty to protect this planet that’s on loan to me while I’m alive. I love the outdoors. The Pacific Northwest had charmed my pants off. I’ve even seen Alaska take noticeable environmental changes in the sixteen years I was there (the summers have gone from 90% shiney sunny to 90% gloomy cloudy, and the state park glaciers have melted to like a tenth of what they were!) And lastly, in 2017, it’s very hip to be a hippie. But I’ve got serious doubts about the integrity of the modern environmentalist movement. Maybe it’s just that Al Gore nailed a pretty watershed moment with his slideshow and the kids raised like me finally coming of age. But I think it’s too convenient that the majority of people all the sudden bleed green, especially big business. I think it’s more about money. I think keen-eyed investors see that there’s big potential in the hippie market, and they trying to push out the competition by outlawing it (just how crooked companies have done for a long time). It’s about greased-palm politicians. And it also about getting even with the long-standing king-of-the-hill conservatives. Plus, the idea that 95% of scientists agree in global warming is incredibly suspect! Everyone knows that statistics are easily fudged, and that if you ask one scientist if he believes in glaciers are melting, and another if he believes in climate change, and then another if he believes that humans cause climate change, and then blanket all of them as “believers in global warming” then you’re being dishonest. There’s too much deliberate fact fudging. I can’t get behind it all the way. Especially with the mismanagement and lawlessness of the EPA. That for sure needs to be gutted and restored.
A different important point has to be made. We have to understand that real people are affected by shifting the economy towards more planet-friendly products and energy. Flesh and blood Americans depend on the coal industry to feed their kids. Adapting isn’t going to be easy for families that have worked in the oil industry for generations. They need to pay the power bill tonight. It’s not easy for them to go to college in their forties and learn about solar cells. We still have a responsibility to do the right thing for the future, just like eating vegetables for health instead of candy for instant gratification, but we’ve got to do it measuredly to mitigate growing pains. We can’t tell them to just get over themselves. Do yourself a favor and look up the Green Tea Party. It sounds like a joke, but it’s a little more than just a play on words 🍵 It’s about limited government with a shift towards jobs in renewable and clean energy.
We need government to take a part in protecting and preserving the earth. We need to be real about our motives. We need to adapt together. Stuff is changing, whether it’s our fault or not.