‘WHY MY DAUGHTER DOESN’T RECYCLE’: AN ECONOMICS PROFESSOR’S LETTER TO HIS CHILD’S TEACHER

Economist Steven Landsburg

Steve Landsburg



Recycling, as you know, is one of the principle tenants of the Religion of Environmentalism.

Criticize recycling, even on scientific grounds, and you’re a candidate for crucifixion, as I’ve learned firsthand.

But of course all the dogma in the world and of course all the adherents to that dogma do not, in the end, alter facts.

Steven Landsburg, an economics professor at the University of Rochester, in Rochester, New York, included the following as part of a longer essay (that longer essay is entitled “Why I’m not an Environmentalist,” and it’s well worth reading), in which he calls environmentalism a “coercive ideology” targeting children, the better to inculcate their young brains with apocalyptic propaganda.

Here is part of what he wrote his daughter’s teacher:

We do not recycle. We teach our daughter not to recycle. We teach her that people who try to convince her to recycle, or who try to force her to recycle, are intruding on her rights.

After my daughter progressed from preschool to kindergarten her teachers taught her to conserve resources by rinsing out her paper cup instead of discarding it. I explained to her that time is also a valuable resource and it might be worth sacrificing some cups to save time…

Here’s the full letter:

Dear Rebecca:

When we lived in Colorado, Cayley was the only Jewish child in her class. There were also a few Moslems. Occasionally, and especially around Christmas time, the teachers forgot about this diversity and made remarks that were appropriate only for the Christian children. These remarks came rarely, and were easily counteracted at home with explanations that different people believe different things, so we chose not to say anything at first. We changed our minds when we overheard a teacher telling a group of children that if Santa didn’t come to your house, it meant you were a very bad child; this was within earshot of an Islamic child who certainly was not going to get a visit from Santa. At that point, we decided to share our concerns with the teachers. They were genuinely apologetic and there were no more incidents. I have no doubt that the teachers were good and honest people who had no intent to indoctrinate, only a certain naïveté derived from a provincial upbringing.

Perhaps that same sort of honest naïveté is what underlies the problems we’ve had at the JCC this year. Just as Cayley’s teachers in Colorado were honestly oblivious to the fact that there is diversity in religion, it may be that her teachers at the JCC have been honestly oblivious that there is diversity in politics.

Let me then make that diversity clear. We are not environmentalists. We ardently oppose environmentalists. We consider environmentalism a form of mass hysteria akin to Islamic fundamentalism or the War on Drugs. We do not recycle. We teach our daughter not to recycle. We teach her that people who try to convince her to recycle, or who try to force her to recycle, are intruding on her rights.

The preceding paragraph is intended to serve the same purpose as announcing to Cayley’s Colorado teachers that we are not Christians. Some of them had never been aware of knowing anybody who was not a Christian, but they adjusted pretty quickly.

Once the Colorado teachers understood that we and a few other families did not subscribe to the beliefs that they were propagating, they instantly apologized and stopped. Nobody asked me what exactly it was about Christianity that I disagreed with; they simply recognized that they were unlikely to change our views on the subject, and certainly had no business inculcating our child with opposite views.

I contrast this with your reaction when I confronted you at the preschool graduation. You wanted to know my specific disagreements with what you had taught my child to say. I reject your right to ask that question. The entire program of environmentalism is as foreign to us as the doctrine of Christianity. I was not about to engage in detailed theological debate with Cayley’s Colorado teachers and they would not have had the audacity to ask me to. I simply asked them to lay off the subject completely, they recognized the legitimacy of the request, and the subject was closed.

I view the current situation as far more serious than what we encountered in Colorado for several reasons. First, in Colorado we were dealing with a few isolated remarks here and there, whereas at the JCC we have been dealing with a systematic attempt to inculcate a doctrine and to quite literally put words in children’s mouths. Second, I do not sense on your part any acknowledgment that there may be people in the world who do not share your views. Third, I am frankly a lot more worried about my daughter’s becoming an environmentalist than about her becoming a Christian. Fourth, we face no current threat of having Christianity imposed on us by petty tyrants; the same can not be said of environmentalism. My county government never tried to send me a New Testament, but it did send me a recycling bin.

Although I have vowed not to get into a discussion on the issues, let me respond to the one question you seemed to think was very important in our discussion: Do I agree that with privilege comes responsibility? The answer is no. I believe that responsibilities arise when one undertakes them voluntarily. I also believe that in the absence of explicit contracts, people who lecture other people on their “responsibilities” are almost always up to no good. I tell my daughter to be wary of such people — even when they are preschool teachers who have otherwise earned a lot of love.

Sincerely,

Steven Landsburg

To my knowledge, the teacher did not reply.






Make Every Day Earth Day — But Do It The Right Way

Earth Day is upon us again. It all began on April 22, 1970, when a United States Senator named Gaylord Nelson founded “an environmental teach-in” which he called, somewhat inauspiciously, Earth Day.

The first Earth Day was confined to the United States, but the first Earth Day national coordinator, one Denis Hayes, soon made it international, organizing events in approximately 140 nations.

This year rather than celebrating Earth Day by advocating still more government bureaus, which will then determine for the rest of us what we can do with our property, I suggest we instead celebrate the only real way to clean up and beautify the planet: private property rights and private stewardship.

The right to property is, as James Madison said, “the guardian” of every other right. Freedom and private property are inseparable. Property is freedom: you cannot be free if you are not free to produce, use, and dispose of those things necessary to your life.

“Control the property, control the person,” said Lenin, whose birthday, not quite coincidentally, is April 22nd.

Property, like every other right, is first and foremost the right to act: specifically, it is the right to produce, exchange, and use.

“Property is not only money and other tangible things of value, but also includes any intangible right considered as a source or element of income or wealth…. It is the right to enjoy and to dispose of certain things in the most absolute manner” (Electric Law Library).

Money is property.

The only alternative to private property is government or communal ownership of property, both of which amount to the same thing in the end: a bureau of centralized planners controlling the property.

“That alone is a just government which impartially secures to every man whatever is his own,” said James Madison.

If you desire to know precisely what someone’s political viewpoint is, all you need do is find out his or her stance on property; for it is through the stance on property that the entire political philosophy is disclosed. You needn’t listen to anything anyone says about “freedom” or “liberty” or any of these other easy platitudes: no one in her or his right mind will go against those things. Instead, simply check the stance on property. If someone doesn’t believe in full private property rights, that person is, to the exact extent he or she denies private property rights, a statist.

Property is the sine-qua-non of human freedom.

To defend freedom, therefore, you must start by defending the unalienable right to property.

The diversity in the faculties of men, from which the rights of property originate, is not less an insuperable obstacle to a uniformity of interests. The protection of these faculties is the first object of government (James Madison, Federal Papers 10).

Government is instituted no less for protection of the PROPERTY, than of the persons (James Madison, Federalist Paper #54, emphasis in the original).

The true foundation of republican government is the equal right of every citizen in his person and property and in their management (Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Kercheval).

A right to property is founded in our natural wants, in the means with which we are endowed to satisfy these wants, and the right to what we acquire by those means without violating the similar rights of other sensible beings (Thomas Jefferson to Pierre Samuel Dupont de Nemours).

The political institutions of America, its various soils and climates, opened a certain resource to the unfortunate and to the enterprising of every country and insured to them the acquisition and free possession of property (Thomas Jefferson: Declaration on Taking Up Arms).

The moment the idea is admitted into society, that property is not as sacred as the laws of God and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence (John Adams).

Environmentalism has so thoroughly permeated world culture that the saving-the-planet rhetoric is accepted even by those who don’t really regard themselves as dyed-in-the-skein environmentalists. It is taught as holy writ in public schools, and it’s espoused by poets, priests, and politicians alike.

This monstrous ideology would, given the first opportunity, destroy humankind, a fact of which the leaders of this movement make no secret.

It is therefore of great importance to expose this ideology for what it actually is: a neo-Marxist philosophy that masquerades as something benevolent and life-affirming, but which in reality explicitly calls for humans to be subordinated to nature, via an elite bureau of centralized planners who, as you would suspect, are the ones that get to decide for the rest of us how we must live.

It was Jean-Jacques Rousseau who first began propounding the immanent-goodness-of-nature-untouched-by-man ideology. Rousseau also deplored “the corrupting influence of reason, culture, and civilization.” In fact, Rousseau, like many of our current politicians, also preached economic egalitarianism and tribal democracy, the “collective will,” and the primacy of the group over the individual. In a great many ways, Rousseau is the founder of present-day environmentalism.

His so-called Eden Premise was picked up by all the pantheists and transcendentalists, such as Henry David Thoreau, John Muir (founder of Sierra Club), Aldo Leopold (who helped found the Wilderness Society), and of course the propagandist Rachel Carson.

When, in 1860, Thoreau wrote that forests untouched by humans grow toward “the greatest regularity and harmony,” he inadvertently changed the life of a biologist named George Perkins Marsh, who in 1864 wrote a book called Man and Nature. In this extraordinarily influential book, George Marsh also tried to convince us that, absent humans, mother nature and her processes work in perfect harmony:

“Man” (said Marsh) “is everywhere a disturbing agent. Wherever he plants his foot, the harmonies of nature are turned to discord…. [Humans] are brute destroyers … [Humans] destroy the balance which nature had established.”

“But” (he continued) “nature avenges herself upon the intruder, [bringing humans] deprivation, barbarism, and perhaps even extinction.”

Just as Thoreau influenced George Marsh, so George Marsh influenced a man named Gifford Pinchot, and also a man named John Muir.

Gifford Pinchot was a utilitarian who loathed private ownership of natural resources. He was also the first chief of the United States Forest Service under Republican President Theodore Roosevelt.

Gifford Pinchot was a collectivist who believed in sacrificing individuals and their property for the sake of “the greatest number.”

It was in large part because of Pinchot that the United States’ federal government increased its land holdings dramatically, so that today over one third of America is owned by the federal government — which holdings comprise over half of America’s known resources, including “a third of our oil, over 40 percent of salable timber and natural gas, and most of the nation’s coal, copper, silver, asbestos, lead, and other minerals.”

In his excellent account of American environmentalism, Philip Shabecoff says this:

“Pinchot wanted the forests managed for their usefulness, not for their beauty… He was not interested in preserving the natural landscape for its own sake.”

At the very least, Pinchot, a conservationist, was, however, still semi pro-human.

John Muir, on the other hand, Pinchot’s nemesis, was not pro-human. In fact, he was the diametric opposite.

It was John Muir, a Scottish immigrant, who introduced misanthropy into the environmental pseudo-philosophy, which misanthropy reigns supreme to this very day.

“How narrow we selfish, conceited creatures are in our sympathies!” said John Muir, also an unapologetic racist. “How blind to the rights of all the rest of creation! Well, I have precious little sympathy for the selfish propriety of civilized man, and if a war of races should occur between the wild beasts and Lord Man, I would be tempted to sympathize with the bears.”

From John Muir, it was only a short step to one Ernst Haeckel (1834 – 1919), a German zoologist, who told us that individuals don’t actually exist. Human individuals do not possess an individual consciousness, he said, because humans are only a part of a greater whole, and 1866 Haeckel coined that fated term “ecology,” which he defined as “the whole science of the relations of the organism to the environment.”

It was an Oxford botanist named A. G. Tansley who, in 1935, introduced the word “ecosystem.”

According to this same Tansley, individual entities don’t exist but are merely part of “the basic units of nature on the face of the earth.”

Aldo Leopold’s wildly popular Sand County Almanac was published in 1948. It preached “the pyramid of life,” and in order to preserve this pyramid, Leopold told us that federal governments must “enlarge the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals [which] changes the role of Homo Sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it.”

A Norwegian named Arne Naess (1913 – 2009) also believed that human individuals don’t actually exist. Only ecosystems do. It was Naess who first argued that the “shallow ecology,” as he called it, “of mainstream conservation groups” benefits humans too much. Thus, Naess began calling for “deep ecology” — i.e. “biospheric egalitarianism with the equal right [of all things] to live and blossom.”

These are just a small handful of the phrases and catchphrases that have now frozen into secular dogma, and which Rachel Carson, with her puerile pen, brought to the mewling masses. Her book Silent Spring opens like this:

There once was a town in the heart of America where all life seemed to live in harmony with its surroundings. The town lay in the midst of a checkerboard of prosperous farms, with fields of grain and hillsides of orchard where, in spring, white clouds of bloom drifted above the fields. In autumn, oak and maple and birch set up a blaze of color that flamed and flickered across a backdrop of pines. Then foxes barked in the hills and deer silently crossed the fields, half hidden in the mists of the fall morning… The town is almost devoid of robins and starlings; chickadees have not been present for two years, and this year the cardinals are gone too… ‘Will they ever come back?’ the children ask, and I do not have the answer.

Most sane people see through this pablum like a fishnet. It’s the insane people who have swallowed it hook, line, and sinker.

The rest, of course, is history.







A Complete List Of Things Caused By Global Warming

The following site is called the Warmlist, and it has rather painstakingly tracked all the effects actually attributed to global warming climate change “climate chaos.” It will either make you laugh or cry, one or the other:

Click-Click

For all you folks still on the climate chaos bandwagon, please tell us what you’re thinking, and why you’re thinking it.



Environmental Propaganda And The 10:10 No Pressure Campaign

As I’ve often said, environmentalism as a political philosophy is a cult of death, the highroad to hell, truly neo-Marxism at its blackest. For all those who have so stridently claimed that my criticisms are unjust, that they are divorced from reality and wildly exaggerated, I offer you this latest inanity from the 10:10 propaganda machine:



And here’s another one from the World Wildlife Fund.

More on the matter from Ed Driscoll’s James Delingpole and also this thorough article.



The Truth About Sierra Club

Sierra Club is the oldest environmental group in America. It was founded in 1892 by a Scottish immigrant named John Muir, whose stated goal was “to make the mountains glad.” In many ways, that puerile policy compendiates perfectly the essence of Sierra Club.

Among other things, John Muir was an unapologetic racist, writing in 1894 that the Indians of Yosemite Valley were “mostly ugly, and some of them altogether hideous. [They] seemed to have no right place in the landscape,” and they disturbed his “solemn calm.” Sierra Club has never successfully shed its elitist roots — not, let it be noted, that it really cares to. Accordingly, their website has this resolution:

“State and federal laws should be changed to encourage small families and discourage large families.”

Government bureaucrats, in other words, should tell us how many children we are allowed to have — as they do in Communist China, for instance.

Sierra Club cofounder David Brower advocates eugenics, of a milder sort:

“Childbearing [should be] a punishable crime against society, unless the parents hold a government license… All potential parents [should be] required to use contraceptive chemicals, the government issuing antidotes to citizens chosen for childbearing.”

Sierra Club also calls for “a moratorium on the planting of all genetically engineered crops and the release of all genetically engineered organisms (GEOs) into the environment, including those now approved.”

Why?

“All technology should be assumed guilty until proven innocent,” says Brower.

This is also known as the precautionary principle.

In addition to many other things, the precautionary principle assumes that an elite group of centralized planners are qualified to determine for the rest of us whether something is technologically guilty or innocent. As you would perhaps guess, Sierra is only too happy to assume that elitist role:

“We call for acting in accordance with the precautionary principle … we call for a moratorium on the planting of all genetically engineered crops,” reads Sierra’s official policy on agricultural biotechnology.

Dr. Robert Paarlberg, however, notes that Sierra Club and other environmental groups “argue that powerful new technologies should be kept under wraps until tested for unexpected or unknown risks as well. Never mind that testing for something unknown is logically impossible (the only way to avoid a completely unknown risk is never to do anything for the first time).”

Technophobe and Sierra sympathizer Martin Teitel, former head of Responsible Genetics, puts it this way: “Politically, it’s difficult for me to go around saying that I want to shut this science down, so it’s safer for me to say something like, ‘It needs to be done safely before releasing it.’” He adds, correctly: [”The precautionary principle] means they don’t get to do it. Period.”

The precautionary principle was summed up nicely by Dr. Henry Miller, formerly of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA): “For fear that something harmful may possibly arise, do nothing.”

Technophobia, however, is not Sierra’s only motivation:

In 2002, the Broward Sierra Newsletter spoke of “a vegetarian lifestyle as the way to counter the abuse animals endure to feed a hungry and growing global population.” The newsletter plugged PETA and their message that meat-eating in general, and livestock operations in particular, are a cause of world hunger and animal abuse. Sierra Club chapters in New York and Michigan promote the “Vegetarian Starter Kit” distributed by the misnamed Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (a PETA front group), as a way to fight “corporate greed.”
And quoting Sierra Club’s board-of-director executive Lisa Renstrom: “The Club could begin to include animal rights positions in decades to come as members and the American public acknowledge the impact of our high animal protein diet on sustainability. [Sierra Club’s] sustainable consumption committee [issued a report in 2000 that listed] eating less meat as a Priority Action for American Consumers.”

Sierra’s ultimate goal here?

“Stronger ties with vegetarian organizations,” says Sierra Club committee leader Joan Zacharias.

Robert W. Tracinski had Sierra partly in mind when he wrote the following:

Past regulations have been imposed in the same manner that the new, less-restrictive process is being adopted: by executive-branch decree. The result of those decrees over the past three decades has been a vast environmentalist land grab, with millions of acres of land sealed off from logging, mining, grazing and even recreation. This is a basic technique used by the Left to achieve through the regulatory agencies what they could not achieve in an open vote. The technique is to introduce legislation to achieve some vague, positive-sounding generality, such as “worker safety” or “environmental protection” – things no politician will want to go on record voting against…

Consider that federal regulatory agencies make thousands of rulings each year, adding about 80,000 pages annually to the Federal Register. Do you think Congress can exercise “oversight” by debating all 80,000 pages of these regulations? Do you think the president, his advisors and his cabinet officers can consider and personally approve all of these decrees?
Most environmentalists embrace this goal, but few dare to admit it openly – so they peddle a variety of ruses to hide their meaning, ranging from “sustainable development” to “shrinkth,” a term suggested by the editor of Earth Island Journal as a less negative-sounding “antonym for growth.”

Of course, no discussion of Sierra Club would be complete without at least a cursory mention of the spotted owl. Author Bonner Cohen, in The Green Wave, says this: “[The spotted owl campaign] was brilliantly orchestrated and thoroughly dishonest.” He goes on to cite the now-infamous words of an attorney with the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund named Andy Stahl:

“The spotted owl is the species of choice to act as a surrogate for old growth protection. And I’ve often thought that thank goodness the spotted owl evolved in the Northwest, for if it hadn’t, we’d have to genetically engineer it.”

The results of this campaign: from 1988 to 1993 timber harvest in the Northwest fell by 80 percent. The Mexican spotted owl in New Mexico and Colorado came next, and President Bill Clinton quickly deemed 4.6 million acres of forest “critical habitat.” Thus, over “three thousand timber-related jobs were lost” (Wall Street Journal, October 2005). In addition to that, the fauna and flora of these wilderness areas were devastated by forest fires that raged because of the lack of logging. There was also, of course, the millions and millions of dollars in human property loss because of these forest fires, but that’s quibbling.

Finally, the leftwing lovefest with Castro’s communist Cuba has for decades continued more or less unabated among elitist in this country, and socialist Sierra Club does nothing to break with this venerable tradition. Says Club president Jennifer Ferenstein:

Faced with challenges, Cubans have proven to be survivors. With a meat shortage in the city, they’ve turned to raising guinea pigs in cramped urban backyards. When rural farms couldn’t provide enough food to Havana due to the lack of refrigerated transport as much as production problems, the government encouraged the cultivation of fruit and vegetable gardens in Havana’s abandoned lots. When pesticides became unavailable following the collapse of the USSR, worm bins and organic gardening were celebrated. I will never forget my trip to Cuba, the beauty of the landscape, the passion of the people for baseball, and above all, the fragility of an island country struggling to improve its quality of life in a sustainable manner.

As if these poor people have any choice concerning which autocratic dictator they live under. As if there have not been untold thousands who have died on innertubes trying make it ninety miles across shark-infested oceans just to get out of that country she finds so romantic, and into the brutal U.S. of A, where she herself lives in complete comfort. As if the millions of innocents murdered and imprisoned under Castro’s bloody hand are no real big deal.

We are not surprised, therefore, to hear this same Sierra Club woman telling, in 2003, Range magazine:

“I’m a big proponent of bio-regionalism. The closer you can live off the land and the products you can use, the better off we all are … Fact is, I think people in Montana can get along without strawberries in December.”

But what of those people who want to actually grow strawberries in December and then sell them to people in Montana?

According to this woman, they shouldn’t be allowed to.

That is just a glimpse of the socialist agenda of Sierra Club.

There’s also, of course, the billions of dollars that Sierra Club has raked in with its bandwagon babble, a partial listing of which runs thus:

In 2002, the Sierra Club reported $23,619,830 in revenues, and disclosed $107,733,974 worth of assets to the IRS. Among its financial supporters are the Bauman Family Foundation; the Beldon Fund; the Compton Foundation; the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation; the Ford Foundation; the Scherman Foundation; the Bullitt Foundation, the Energy Foundation, the Foundation for Deep Ecology, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, the Blue Moon Fund; the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation; the J.M. Kaplan Fund, Pew Charitable Trusts, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Turner Foundation, and many more (Discoverthnetworks.org).

Sierra Club, ladies and gentleman, friends of the earth.

But with friends like that, we must obviously ask ourselves: who needs friends?



Environmentalists Prevent Cleaner Power Plant Construction

More on the inherently statist nature of that pseudo-philosophy known as “environmentalism.”

From journalist Patrick Richardson:

In 2007, Sunflower Electric Power Corporation proposed a state-of-the-art coal-fired power plant in Holcomb, Kansas. This plant represented a $3.5 billion investment in one of the most rural areas of the country, $78 million in annual payroll during the construction phase, and more than 300 permanent jobs and $15 million in payroll once it was completed.

The plant, with two 700-megawatt generators, would have used technology to limit emissions. It would have been a huge economic boon to an area which largely relies on the meatpacking industry, tourism, and agriculture for jobs.

Then a bureaucrat on the other end of the state killed it. “A lot of people would be at work right now if they hadn’t shot it down,” Sunflower spokeswoman Cindy Hertl said.

The first nail in the coffin of the plant was the denial of an air quality permit by Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) Secretary Roderick L. Bremby. KDHE is sort of the EPA and U.S. Health Department all rolled into one. In denying the permit, Bremby said:

“After careful consideration of my responsibility to protect the public health and environment from actual, threatened or potential harm from air pollution, I have decided to deny the Sunflower Electric Power Corporation application for an air quality permit.”

This was, keep in mind, before the U.S. Supreme Court issued that insane ruling that carbon dioxide could be regulated as a pollutant.

So, on the basis there might be a problem, Bremby axed the plant. Four bills and four vetoes later, then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius left office to become secretary of health and human services.

It was so bad the Finney County Democratic Party Chair Lon Wartman left the party and issued a scathing rebuke to Sebelius.

Enter current Gov. Mark Parkinson.

Read the full travesty here.

The Green Jobs Racket Exposed (Again)

Here’s an economic axiom which we’ve discussed here before, but which in this day and age is always worth repeating:

If something is economically tenable, it never ever needs to be subsidized.

The latest concretization of this fact comes from none other than the state-run Associated Press:

After a year of crippling delays, President Barack Obama’s $5 billion program to install weather-tight windows and doors has retrofitted a fraction of homes and created far fewer construction jobs than expected.

In Indiana, state-trained workers flubbed insulation jobs. In Alaska, Wyoming and the District of Columbia, the program has yet to produce a single job or retrofit one home. And in California, a state with nearly 37 million residents, the program at last count had created 84 jobs…

…”This is the beginning of the next industrial revolution with the explosion of clean energy investments,” said assistant U.S. Energy Secretary Cathy Zoi. “These are good jobs that are here to stay.”

But after a year, the stimulus program has retrofitted 30,250 homes — about 5 percent of the overall goal — and fallen well short of the 87,000 jobs that the department planned, according to the latest available figures.

As the Obama administration promotes a second home energy-savings program — a $6 billion rebate plan — some experts are asking whether that will pay off for homeowners or for the planet.

(Link)

For more on the inherently toxic nature of environmentalism, please read this.



I, Pencil — By Leonard Read

In December of 1958, an American thinker named Leonard Read wrote a remarkable essay entitled “I, Pencil: My Family Tree as told to Leonard E. Read.”

In this essay, Mr. Read walks us step-by-step through the entire process of how a single pencil is produced; I recapitulate it here because it is the only argument you’ll ever need in support of the absolute economic superiority of laissez-faire capitalism.

In the beginning of the essay, we are shown the many materials needed to make a single pencil, among them: wood, rubber, paint, lacquer, graphite, metal, zinc, and many other things.

We are then shown how these materials are really only the beginning of the process; for a whole industry is in turn required to produce each of those materials.

There is, for example, the lumber industry needed to produce the wood; the mining industry to mine and mill and smelt the zinc and lead and metal; the rubber industry, of course, and the paint and graphite, and so on.

Then, within each of these industries, there are numerous sub-divisions, such as chemical industries, which make up the groundwork for paint and lacquer, and the engineering companies to supply all the tools, and even the lighthouse workers to guide the ships safely into port.

Of course there is also the singular fact that our solitary pencil could neither be manufactured nor produced without all the various other forms of transportation required to get the products from place to place, and of course this transportation requires its own set of industries (not just oil), and on and on, all of which industries, in turn, are no less involved than the manufacturing of the wood or graphite or rubber.

So that when everything is said and done, the making of one pencil requires thousands of people, most of whom have specialized knowledge and specialized jobs, in hundreds of different industries.

Furthermore, these people come from all over the world. No centralized government imaginable, even with an army of super-genius planners, could organize the countless factors that go into the making of that one small pencil.

And yet in this country, as in all developed countries, pencils are so cheap and abundant that nobody thinks twice about them. How is this so?

The answer is deceptively simple: private property and free markets.

The free market, and its corollary, the profit motive, are what bring these thousands of people from these hundreds of different industries the wide-world over, into peaceful and mutually beneficial cooperation with one another.

The free market instantly and smoothly organizes this entire process of complexity, and the free market does so without any bureaucratic coercion or political force.

Indeed, this singular fact is what the word “free” refers to in the term “free markets.” That is the beauty of capitalism at work: the free and voluntary exchange of goods and services, which presupposes the inalienable right to your own life and your own property.

This process, outlined eloquently in Leonard Read’s pencil example, is precisely what our peace-loving greens wish to subvert.

It is also what our peace-loving greens, like all proponents of mercantilism, think that they themselves can achieve – and do so by means of a massive centralized planning bureau.

They cannot.

It is a literal impossibility, as history has demonstrated time and again.

It is also an exercise in governmental compulsion.

It is, finally, anti-freedom and anti-private property, which is exactly what environmentalism as a political philosophy is and always will be.

The green party can indeed try to organize all this industry, as they have tried many times before, but the result will be the same result as always: chaos and poverty. The free market will then be called upon to bail them out, and the free market will bail them out, just as it always has, and then the free market and all its big bad corporations will be maligned, just as the free market and corporations always are.

And so it goes.

But the next time an environmentalist tells you to “bicycle more and save the planet” think of I, Pencil, by Leonard Read.

Because I promise you that all the filthy, hardcore industry that goes into the manufacturing of one simple pencil is multiplied a thousandfold just to make and transport a single bicycle to you there in Boulder, Colorado, or wherever.

Are Organic Foods Worth The Price?

In February of 2007, the Los Angeles Times ran an article that said, among other things, the following:

Since 1989, when organic-food activists raised a [bunked] nationwide scare over the pesticide alar in apples, many scientists have seethed quietly at what they perceive as a campaign of scare tactics, innuendo and shoddy science perpetrated by organic food producers and their allies.

Indeed, organic food activists are increasingly open about their fraudulent agenda. Organic Valley Marketing Director Theresa Marquez, for instance, laid out, in no uncertain terms, her strategy of falsifying data to dupe the masses into thinking organics are worth their premium price:

“We think it’s important that people pay more for food,” she said. “The question is: ‘Will consumers pay more for that?’ and ‘How can we convince them to do that?’”

And yet: “Organic food has no higher nutritional value compared to conventional food,” says Nutrition and Diet Professor Tom Sanders, of Kings College London.

Which is hardly news, however.

In fact, Professor Sanders is merely echoing what science has been saying for years.

The only people who really disagree are environmental groups and animal rights activists, with all their agendas and quackery — in response to which quackery, food science professor Joseph Rosen, of Rutgers University, says this: “Most [of their studies] are not designed, conducted or published according to accepted scientific standards, and many were done by groups that openly promote organic foods.”

Where, then, is all the proof that organic food is better and better for you?

“The short answer, food safety and nutrition scientists say, is that such proof does not exist” (Los Angeles Times, February, 2007).

Indeed, the very word “organic” has been commandeered by phonies, so that the term, which was once legitimate, has now become a conceptual void. Quoting, at length, the erudite R.I. Throckmorton, Dean of Kansas State College:

This cult has sought to appropriate a good word “organic,” and has twisted its meaning to cover a whole crazy doctrine. The facts are that organic matter in its true sense is an important component of the soil — but soil fertility and the kind of crops you grow on a soil are not determined by humus alone.

Soil fertility is determined by the amount of active organic matter, the amount of available mineral nutrients, the activities of soil organisms, chemical activities in the soil solution and the physical condition of the soil. Ever since we have had soil scientists, they have recognized the values of organic matter. The loss of soil humus through cultivation has long been a matter of concern. So the faddists have nothing new to offer on that score.

Organic matter is often called “the life of the soil” because it supplies most of the food needs of the soil organisms which aid in changing nonavailable plant food materials into forms-that are available to the plants, and contains small quantities of practically all plant nutrients….

The antichemical-fertilizer doctrine makes a great point of the fact that plant food in organic matter is in a “natural” form, while in chemical form fertilizer it is “unnatural” and thus supposedly is harmful, if not downright poisonous. The logic of this escapes me. Science completely disproved the conclusion. The facts are that any plant foods, whether from organic matter, or from a bag of commercial fertilizer, necessarily came from Nature in the first place. Why is one more “natural” than another?

A Plant takes in a given nutrient in the same chemical form whether it came from organic matter, or from a bag of commercial fertilizer. The facts are that practically all plant-food elements carried by organic matter are not used in their organic form; they are changed by microorganisms to the simple chemical forms which the plants can use — the same form in which these elements become available to plants when applied as chemical fertilizers. For example, it is foolish to say that nitrogen in commercial fertilizer is “poisonous” while nitrogen from organic matter is beneficial. The basic nitrogen is the same in either case (“The Organic Farming Myths,” R.I. Throckmorton).

Muck soil, as it’s called, holds as much as 50 percent organic matter — “organic” in the real sense of the word — and yet, according to organic pseudoscience, “You could do little to improve such soils.”

But in fact all that these soils need is fertilizer, as Doctor J.F. Davis, of Michigan State University, discovered:

The yield of wheat on unfertilized muck soils was 5.7 bushels an acre, while the yield on plots receiving the chemical phosphorus and potash was 29.2 bushels per acre. The yield of potatoes was increased from 97 bushels an acre with no treatment, to 697 with commercial fertilizer carrying phosphorus and potash. Cabbage yields were boosted by the same means from 1/2 ton to 27 tons.

And if you believe, as many people do, that “inorganic” food contains more cancer-causing pesticides, think again:

It’s a well-known fact that so-called organic farmers routinely spray pesticides on crops — albeit naturally occurring pesticides — one of which, pyrethrum, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has classified as a “likely human carcinogen.”

This, along with a number of other findings, calls into question the very philosophy behind “organic farming.” Beware the scare-mongering, I beg. Read this exceptionally well-written article, from an exceptionally well-informed lady.

For a long time now, environmentalists have alleged that organic food is healthier. In addition to this, environmentalists have told us over and over that organic farming is better for the environment because our laid-back green farmers use no “synthetic” pesticides.

What they don’t tell you, however, is that these same laid-back organic farmers are permitted to use (”permitted” in the sense that they can spray with it and still qualify as “organic”) a number of so-called natural chemicals to kill pests, which natural chemicals are neither as expedient nor as purely benign as you might think. For instance, it was discovered almost a decade ago, in the year 1999, that rotenone, a natural insecticide squeezed from roots of tropical plants, causes symptoms of Parkinson’s disease in rats. That discovery came in addition to the previously mentioned pyrethrum data. It is true that in tests, these pesticides are administered in extraordinarily high doses, but so too is the dosage for synthetic pesticides. The fact is, neither are what you could legitimately call dangerous.

From the New York Post:

The EPA’s Cancer Assessment Review Committee based its 1999 decision on the same high-dose rat tests long used by eco-activists to condemn synthetic pesticides. Because no one knows just how pyrethrum causes tumors, the committee also recommended assuming that even the tiniest dose can be deadly. (The same logic is used to brand hundreds of other chemicals as carcinogens.) Charles Benbrook, a long-time organic activist, notes that pyrethrum is applied to crops at low rates and that pyrethrum degrades relatively rapidly, minimizing consumer exposure. He’s right, but all this is true of today’s non-persistent synthetic pesticides as well. Pyrethrum and modern synthetic pesticides break down so rapidly that consumers are rarely exposed to any at all. Two-thirds of all fruits and vegetables tested as they leave the farm in the U.S. have no detectable pesticide residues — despite our being able to detect chemicals at parts per trillion levels.

Pyrethrum is extracted from a type of chrysanthemum grown mainly in Africa. It is literally a nerve poison that these plants evolved to fight off munching insects. The dried, ground-up flowers were used in the early 19th century to control body lice.In fact, many of the widely used synthetic pesticides are based on natural plant-defense chemicals. Synthetic versions of pyrethrum (known as pyrethroids) make it possible to protect a crop with one or two sprays instead of spraying natural pyrethrum five to seven times at higher volumes. Organic activists hold to the twisted logic that if a toxic chemical can be squeezed from a plant or mined from the earth, it’s OK — but a safer chemical synthesized in a lab is unacceptable. It is possible to farm without pesticides, as demonstrated by a farm family recently highlighted in Organic Gardening magazine. They use a Shop-Vac and a portable generator in a wheelbarrow to daily suck insects off crops. And even that won’t fight fungal or bacterial diseases, or insects that eat crops from the inside out. Organic coffee growers in Guatemala spray coffee trees with fermented urine as a primitive fungicide. Bruce Ames, noted cancer expert and recent winner of the National Medal of Science, notes that more than half of the natural food chemicals he tests come up carcinogenic — the same proportion as synthetic chemicals. These natural chemicals are collectively present in large amounts in the very fruits and vegetables that are our biggest defense against cancer (June, 2001).

The main thing for you to remember is this:

It’s not that which goes into a human that defiles her, but only that which comes out — for out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.

Our lives consist of more than the vegetables and meat.

The food snobbery of the vegetarian, the vegan, or the organic-only nut is every bit as beastly as the food snobbery of the gourmand — and ultimately every bit as dangerous.

It’s all a form of gourmandizing.



“And gourmandizing,” as Karl Shapiro once sagely said, “is a sure sign of stupidity.”

Environmentalism: Cult Of Death


The following is excerpted from Chapter 10 of my book.

Environmentalism, with its attendant army of politicos all armed to the teeth with environmental laws, is, let us make no mistake, the highroad to hell.

Before going all the way green, I urge you to take a longer look into exactly what horse you’re backing here: it may well turn out to be a horse of an entirely different color than you think.

Environmentalism is a philosophy that upholds a profound hatred of humankind:

“Human beings, as a species, have no more value than slugs” (John Davis, editor of Earth First! Journal).

“Mankind is a cancer; we’re the biggest blight on the face of the earth” (president of PETA and environmental activist Ingrid Newkirk).

“If you haven’t given voluntary human extinction much thought before, the idea of a world with no people in it may seem strange. But, if you give it a chance, I think you might agree that the extinction of Homo Sapiens would mean survival for millions, if not billions, of Earth-dwelling species…. Phasing out the human race will solve every problem on earth, social and environmental” (Ibid).

Quoting Richard Conniff, in the pages of Audubon magazine (September, 1990): “Among environmentalists sharing two or three beers, the notion is quite common that if only some calamity could wipe out the entire human race, other species might once again have a chance.”

Environmental theorist Christopher Manes (writing under the nom-de-guerre Miss Ann Thropy): “If radical environmentalists were to invent a disease to bring human population back to ecological sanity, it would probably be something like AIDS.”

Environmental guru “Reverend” Thomas Berry, proclaims that “humans are an affliction of the world, its demonic presence. We are the violators of Earth’s most sacred aspects.”

A speaker at one of Earth First!’s little cult gatherings: “Optimal human population: zero.”

“Ours is an ecological perspective that views Earth as a community and recognizes such apparent enemies as ‘disease’ (e.g., malaria) and ‘pests’ (e.g., mosquitoes) not as manifestations of evil to be overcome but rather as vital and necessary components of a complex and vibrant biosphere … [We have] an antipathy to ‘progress’ and ‘technology.’ We can accept the pejoratives of ‘Luddite’ and ‘Neanderthal’ with pride…. There is no hope for reform of industrial empire…. We humans have become a disease: the Humanpox” (Dave Foreman, past head of Earth First!)

“Human happiness [is] not as important as a wild and healthy planet. I know social scientists who remind me that people are part of nature, but it isn’t true. Somewhere along the line we … became a cancer. We have become a plague upon ourselves and upon the Earth…. Until such time as Homo Sapiens should decide to rejoin nature, some of us can only hope for the right virus to come along.” (Biologist David Graber, “Mother Nature as a Hothouse Flower” Los Angles Times Book Review).

“The ending of the human epoch on Earth would most likely be greeted with a hearty ‘Good riddance!’”(Paul Taylor, “Respect for Nature: A Theory of Environmental Ethics”).

“If we don’t overthrow capitalism, we don’t have a chance of saving the world ecologically. I think it is possible to have an ecologically sound society under socialism. I don’t think it is possible under capitalism” (Judi Bari, of Earth First!).

“Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn’t it our responsibility to bring that about?” (Maurice Strong, Earth Summit 91).

David Brower, former head of the Sierra Club and founder of Friends of the Earth, calls for developers to be “shot with tranquilizer guns.”

Why?

“Human suffering is much less important than the suffering of the planet,” he explains.

Also from the socialist Sierra Club: “The goal now is a socialist, redistributionist society, which is nature’s proper steward and society’s only hope.”

Quoting the Green Party’s first Presidential candidate Barry Commoner:

“Nothing less than a change in the political and social system, including revision of the Constitution, is necessary to save the country from destroying the natural environment…. Capitalism is the earth’s number one enemy.”

From Barry Commoner again:

“Environmental pollution is a sign of major incompatibility between our system of production and the environmental system that supports it. [The socialist way is better because] the theory of socialist economics does not appear to require that growth should continue indefinitely.”

So much for your unalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Indeed:

“Individual rights will have to take a back seat to the collective” (Harvey Ruvin, International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, Dade County Florida).

Sierra Club cofounder David Brower, pushing for his own brand of eugenics:

“Childbearing [should be] a punishable crime against society, unless the parents hold a government license. All potential parents [should be] required to use contraceptive chemicals, the government issuing antidotes to citizens chosen for childbearing.”

That, if you don’t know, is limited government environmentalist style.

“There’s nothing wrong with being a terrorist, as long as you win. Then you write history” (Sierra Club board member Paul Watson).

Again from Paul Watson, writing in that propaganda rag Earth First! Journal: “Right now we’re in the early stages of World War III…. It’s the war to save the planet. The environmental movement doesn’t have many deserters and has a high level of recruitment. Eventually there will be open war.”

And:

“By every means necessary we will bring this and every other empire down! Mutiny and sabotage in defense of Mother Earth!”

Lisa Force, another Sierra Club board member and quondam coordinator of the Center for Biological Diversity, advocates “prying ranchers and their livestock from federal lands. In 2000 and 2003, [Sierra] sued the U.S. Department of the Interior to force ranching families out of the Mojave National Preserve. These ranchers actually owned grazing rights to the preserve; some families had been raising cattle there for over a century. No matter. Using the Endangered Species Act and citing the supposed loss of ‘endangered tortoise habitat,’ the Club was able to force the ranchers out” (quoted from Navigator magazine).

It is a sad fact for environmentalists that in free societies, humans are allowed to trade freely.

Among other things, the right to private property means: that which you produce is yours by right.

Private property is the crux of freedom: you cannot, in any meaningful sense, be said to be free if you are not allowed to use the things that you own, including those things necessary to sustain your life. Everything you need to know about a political ideology is contained in its attitude toward property.

It comes as no surprise therefore to learn that “private property,” in the words of one environmental group, “is just a sacred cow” (Greater Yellowstone Report, Greater Yellowstone Coalition.)

That is also known as socialism.

In 1990, a man named Benjamin Cone Jr. inherited 7,200 acres of land in Pender County, North Carolina. He proceeded to plant chuffa and rye for wild turkeys; he conducted controlled burns on his property to improve the habitat for deer and quail. And he succeeded: in no time, that habitat flourished. Inadvertently, however, he attracted a number of red-cockaded woodpeckers, a species listed as endangered. He was warned by a certain governmental agency that, on threat of imprisonment or stiff fines, he was not allowed to disturb any of these trees, which were all on his property. This put 1,560 acres of his own land off-limits to him, the owner. In response, Benjamin Cone Jr. began clear-cutting the rest of his land, saying: “I cannot afford to let those woodpeckers take over the rest of my property. I’m going to start massive clear-cutting.” (Richard L. Stroup, Eco-nomics p. 56-57.)

Socialist Eric Schlosser, author of the embarrassing Fast Food Nation, makes no secret of his statist agenda. As Doctor Thomas DiLorenzo points out, Schlosser lauds the “scientific socialists” (a generic term coined by comrade V.I. Lenin) and everything they stand for: government intervention and bureaucracy, public works, job-destroying minimum wage laws, OSHA regulations, food regulations, regulatory agencies to control ranching, farming, and supermarkets, bans on advertising and much more. Only then, he says, will that great day come when restaurants exclusively sell “free-range, organic, grass-fed hamburgers” (Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal).

All of which is simply by way of saying that individual consumers should not be allowed to choose what we want to eat, and that the supply of free-range hamburgers should not be determined by demand. Rather, by law, government bureaucrats must do this for us, regardless of whether we personally want to eat organic, grass-fed beef.

Colorado congressman Scott McInnis confessed that four firefighters burned to death in Washington state because bureaucrats took 10 hours to approve a water drop. The reason: using local river water is prohibited by the Endangered Species Act, on the grounds that it may threaten a certain kind of trout.

Further proof of the Sierra’s hatred of humanity can be found in their 1995 attempt to block an Animas River water diversion project, which project was designed to bring water to Durango and the nearby Ute Indian Reservation.

Dams and irrigation are often life-and-death matters in the arid west, a fact of which Sierra is well aware. Thus, after successfully getting the project slashed by more than 70 percent, thereby depriving the Ute Reservation of much-needed water, the Sierra Club lawyers went for the jugular: they demanded the project be cut still more.

Fortunately for the rest of us, they overplayed their hand.

Their shady methods and motives prompted the following quote from Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell:

“The enviros have never been interested in a compromise. They just simply want to stop development and growth. And the way you do that in the West is to stop water.”

From a chairwoman of the Ute Indian tribe: “The environmentalists don’t seem to care how we live.”

Greenpeace is worldwide the largest and wealthiest environmental group. Of their co-founder Dave McTaggart, fellow co-founder Paul Watson said this:

“The secret to David McTaggart’s success is the secret to Greenpeace’s success: It doesn’t matter what is true, it only matters what people believe is true. You are what the media define you to be. Greenpeace became a myth, and a myth-generating machine.”

And since rather than addressing the actual data, environmentalists believe that citing the source of funding is the only argument one ever needs to refute a counterargument, environmentalists should be extraordinarily persuaded by this very partial list of Greenpeace’s funding.

Most people have no inkling that throughout Greenpeace’s tireless campaign against “Frakenfood” (i.e. biotech food – “Frakenfood” is a word coined by Greenpeace campaign director Charles Margulisto, who hates technology), the Third World has steadily perished from malnutrition and famine, as a direct result thereof.

Quoting Tanzania’s Doctor Michael Mbwille (of the non-profit Food Security Network):

“Greenpeace prints and circulates lies faster than the Code Red virus infected the world’s computers. If we were to apply Greenpeace’s scientifically illiterate standards [for soybeans] universally, there would be nothing left on our tables.”

(For an example of how to successfully expose Greenpeace’s lies, please read this relevant article.)

Candidly, I haven’t even begun.

And yet from this small sampling, you can probably get an idea of what an exceptionally gracious and non-politically motivated folk these environmentalists and environmental leaders are. Indeed, environmentalism is a benevolent and life-affirming philosophy, and the people who populate it are a kind, non-violent people, whose reasoning is sound and scrupulous, and who believe unreservedly in the individual’s inalienable right to life and property.

There is of course only one real problem with all that: these people are hypocrites, and environmentalism worships at the shrine of death.

The entire movement, replete, as it is, with its politicos and environmental politics, is not simply “wrong.” That would be too easy.

The environmental movement is criminal.

Reader, if you have even a vestigial love of freedom within you, you must denounce environmentalism with all your heart. You must see it for what it actually is: a statist philosophy of human-hatred and enslavement.

Environmentalism is neo-Marxism at its blackest.



More here on the toxicity of environmentalism.

Natural Resource and Goods Theory

Carl Menger, Founder of the Austrian School of Economics

The two essential claims of the environmentalists, which I take for granted are already well known to everyone, are (1) that continued economic progress is impossible, because of the impending exhaustion of natural resources (it is from this notion that the slogan “reduce, reuse, recycle” comes), and (2) that continued economic progress, indeed, much of the economic progress that we have had up to now, is destructive of the environment and is therefore dangerous.

The essential policy prescription of the environmentalists is the prohibition of self-interested individual action insofar as the byproduct of such action when performed on a mass basis is alleged damage to the environment. The leading concrete example of this policy prescription is the attempt now underway to force individuals to give up such things as their automobiles and air conditioners on the grounds that the byproduct of hundreds of millions or billions of people operating such devices is to cause global warming. And this same example, of course, is presently the leading example of the alleged dangers of economic progress (source).

In his groundbreaking Principles of Economics, Carl Menger (1840-1921), the founder of the Austrian School of Economics, developed what he came to call the Theory of Goods.

This theory has direct and immediate relevance regarding, for example, global warming, ozone depletion, resource scarcity, and so on. Indeed, its relevance cannot be overstated.

Menger’s Goods Theory begins by pointing out that there is a crucial distinction between objects in and of themselves and “goods” proper.

The object alone — for example, any resource before it actually becomes a resource — does not possess value intrinsically. Rather, it is in relation to human use that the thing becomes valuable. It is precisely this, then, that makes it a good.

Or put another way: a thing becomes a good when it is able to satisfy some human need or want.

Menger lists the following four criteria that need to be simultaneously met to reach what he calls the “goods-character.”

* A human need.

* Such properties as render the thing capable of being brought into a causal connection with the satisfaction of this need.

* Human knowledge of this causal connection.

* Command of the thing sufficient to direct it to the satisfaction of the need (Principles of Economics, page 52).

It is important to note that these last two things are man-made.

It is equally important to realize that the last one is for the most part achieved by means of labor and the capital that that labor produces.

This implies – to quote Dr. Reisman – that the resources provided by nature, such as iron, aluminum, coal, petroleum and so on, are by no means automatically goods. Their goods-character must be created by man, by discovering knowledge of their respective properties that enable them to satisfy human needs and then by establishing command over them sufficient to direct them to the satisfaction of human needs.

For example, iron, which has been present in the earth since the formation of the planet and throughout the entire presence of man on earth, did not become a good until well after the Stone Age had ended. Petroleum, which has been present in the ground for millions of years, did not become a good until the middle of the nineteenth century, when uses for it were discovered. Aluminum, radium, and uranium also became goods only within the last century or century and a half.

The upshot of all this is that nature — or, if you prefer, the environment — is not some relatively limited pool of resources that man merely plucks, exploits, depletes, and then moves on from. On the contrary, as Menger makes incontrovertibly clear, mother nature gives us only the barest material — “the physical properties of the deposits in mines and wells” — but she does not provide the goods-character. We provide that.

“Indeed, there was a time when none of them were goods” (Ibid).

Nature, contrary to what the environmental philosophy would have you believe, does not possess intrinsic value.

That — and nothing else — is the fundamental argument against all of environmentalism.

The earth is a plenum: it’s a solid sphere packed full of chemicals. Those chemical elements are indestructible. They can change properties and forms, but they cannot cease to exist.

That mass of teeming chemicals are all potential resources.

As humans evolve — as we make new discoveries and develop newer and ever newer technologies — we find new resources; we find things we cannot conceive of even months before. We find new uses for things that were once useless, like oil, which is barely 100 years old as a resource (a “goods character”); and we find new ways of using old. We move on from whale oil and wood, to kerosene, to coal, to hydro, to nuclear….

Most of what people think they know about energy is so very wrong that their convictions, heartfelt though they may be, lie beyond logical contradiction or refutation….What most of us think about energy supply is wrong. Energy supplies are unlimited; it is energetic order that’s scarce, and the order in energy that’s expensive….Supplies do not ultimately depend on the addition of reserves, the development of new fuels, or the husbanding of known resources. Energy begets more energy; tomorrow’s supply is determined by today’s consumption. The more energy we seize and use, the more adept we become at finding and seizing still more. What most of us think about energy demand is even more wrong. Our main use of energy isn’t lighting, locomotion, or cooling; what we use energy for, mainly, is to extract, refine, process, and purify energy itself. And the more efficient we become at refining energy in this way, the more we want to use the final product. Thus, more efficient engines, motors, lights, and cars lead to more energy consumption, not less (Peter Huber and Mark Mills, The Bottomless Well).

The earth, far from being “raped and nearly depleted,” has barely been touched.

This mass hysteria regarding CO2 and chlorofluorocarbons and so on is a waste of time and energy.

Human freedom breeds human progress. And progress by definition is not static. The economist Joseph Schumpeter called it creative destruction.

Today’s consumption determines tomorrow’s technology. The more we use, the more we innovate — provided, that is, we are left free to innovate.

Politically and economically free.

The profit motive, as its very name implies, motivates and incentives; for humans have a limitless desire to better their lives.

Wealth not only builds progress; wealth is progress.

If there is a demand for something to replace, for instance, freon, the untrammeled freedom to innovate will meet that demand by far the fastest.

Thus, if it is the environment you’re concerned about, then it is pure, unadulterated laissez-faire capitalism you should be fighting for tooth and nail. It is this, and not centralized power, or the establishment of worldwide central-planning committees to regulate CFCs and CO2 — this is what brings cleaner environments.

To think anything less is to commit a grave logical fallacy.

Real, positive knowledge of the profit motive and the price system, of saving and capital accumulation, of money, economic competition, and economic inequality, and of the harmony of interests among men that results from the joint operation of these leading features of capitalism — all this knowledge is almost entirely lacking on the part of the great majority of today’s intellectuals. To obtain such knowledge, it would be necessary for them to read and study von Mises, who is far and away the most important source of such knowledge. But they have not done this.

Ignorance of the ideas of von Mises — the willful evasion of his ideas — has enabled the last three generations of intellectuals to go on with the delusion that capitalism is an “anarchy of production,” a system of rampant evil, utter madness, and continuous strife and conflict, while socialism is a system of rational planning and order, of morality and justice, and the ultimate universal harmony of all mankind. For perhaps a century and a half, the intellectuals have seen socialism as the system of reason and science and as the ultimate goal of all social progress. On the basis of all that they believe, and think that they know, the great majority of intellectuals even now cannot help but believe that socialism should succeed and capitalism fail (George Reisman, “Environmentalism Refuted”).



Peak Oil?

From the moment oil first made it into the mainstream, peak oil and the imminent depletion of fossil fuels have been vehemently predicted.

A by-no-means exhaustive list of those predictions might run something like this:

“I take this opportunity to express my opinion in the strongest terms, that the amazing exhibition of oil which has characterized the last twenty, and will probably characterize the next ten or twenty years, is nevertheless, not only geologically but historically, a temporary and vanishing phenomenon – one which young men will live to see come to its natural end” (1886, J.P. Lesley, state geologist of Pennsylvania).

“There is little or no chance for more oil in California” (1886, U.S. Geological Survey).

“There is little or no chance for more oil in Kansas and Texas” (1891, U.S. Geological Survey).

“Total future production limit of 5.7 billion barrels of oil, perhaps a ten-year supply” (1914, U.S. Bureau of Mines).

“Reserves to last only thirteen years” (1939, Department of the Interior).

“Reserves to last thirteen years” (1951, Department of the Interior, Oil and Gas Division).

“We could use up all of the proven reserves of oil in the entire world by the end of the next decade” (President Jimmy Carter speaking in 1978 to the entire world).

“At the present rate of use, it is estimated that coal reserves will last 200 more years. Petroleum may run out in 20 to 30 years, and natural gas may last only another 70 years” (Ralph M. Feather, Merrill textbook Science Connections Annotated Teacher’s Version, 1990, p. 493).

“At the current rate of consumption, some scientists estimate that the world’s known supplies of oil … will be used up within your lifetime” (1993, The United States and its People).

“The supply of fossil fuels is being used up at an alarming rate. Governments must help save our fossil fuel supply by passing laws limiting their use” (Merrill/Glenco textbook, Biology, An Everyday Experience, 1992).

(Give particular heed to that last sentence.)

Quotes like these could fill hundreds of pages easily.

There comes a point, however — and we reached it long ago — when one needs to stop swallowing these scare-mongering scenarios.

There comes a point when one needs to look at the entire history of doomsday predictions and learn something from their long and undistinguished history of incontrovertible failure.

There comes a point, finally, when one needs to question what motivates these people.

To the millions of you who believe the latest round of dire forecasts, I ask you this in all seriousness:

What do you really think — that all the other apocalyptic predictions and predictors, over all the centuries and millennium, were wrong, but people like James Howard Kunstler and Richard Heinberg have at last got it right?

The fact is that anyone can say whatever he wants about anything. But that doesn’t necessarily make it true.

The 1970s book Limits to Growth, for instance, is chock full of reams of “hard data” proving mass famine and the end of the world as we know it — all to occur in a just couple of short decades from when it was written — but none of it came to pass. Not one word of it.

Thomas Malthus’s economic predictions of population-caused famines also failed stupendously, and Malthus himself — a guru of present-day environmentalists — eventually came to reject his early writings. No matter: This doesn’t stop neo-Malthusians like environmental high priest Lester Brown from forecasting a “2004 or 2005 worldwide famine.”

Or Dr. Paul Ehrlich of Stanford University laying “even odds that by the year 2000 Great Britain will no longer exist.”

Neither does it stop any of the endless predictions concerning global warming, species extinction, or forest depletion — for instance, the famous statement made by biologist Norman Myers, which sent environmentalists everywhere scurrying to their soapboxes, that “2 percent of all tropical forest was being destroyed per year,” and that by “2000 we will have lost a third of the world’s tropical forest” (Myers cited in Goudie 1993:46), which flew so far afield it would be laughable were it not so sickening.

(The Food and Agriculture Organization [FAO] puts tropical deforestation in the 1980s at 0.8 percent. In 2001, satellite imagery, which is precise, shows that tropical deforestation had declined to 0.46 percent.)

The history of humankind is replete with false prognostications. It’s time to ask why these predictions are not only always wrong but why they are always so spectacularly wrong.

Here is a crux:

In calculating the amount of natural resources, whether the resource is fossil fuel, crude oil, bauxite, bitumen, gold, or anything else, there is a vital principle at work; it is a principle that doomers of all persuasions have failed to discover and no longer, I think, have the capacity to grasp:

“No matter how closely it is defined, the physical quantity of a resource in the earth is not fully known at any time, because resources are sought and found only as they are needed. Even if the quantities of a particular resource were exactly known, such measurements would not be meaningful, because humans have a near-limitless capacity for developing additional ways to meet our needs: developing fiber optics, for instance, instead of copper wire …” (Julian Simon, The Ultimate Resource 2. Emphasis mine.)

The following is another secret about natural resources, which any legitimate graph or study will confirm:

The more a resource is used, the more that the supply of that resource increases.

It will sound counterintuitive, but only at first. Here’s why:

We begin to know about a resource only when we begin to use the resource. Knowing about that resource includes a cursory calculation of its quantity. The more we use of it, the more adept we become at finding it and calculating its quantity, extracting it and refining it. Thus, the more of it we use, the more of it we’re able to find.

The whole history of resource supply-and-demand has followed this exact principle.

Fossil fuel is no exception:

Observe any non-biased chart on the subject, and it will show that over the last century, oil supply has risen significantly, not diminished, as has virtually every other resource, so long as we’ve continued using it.

Quoting Peter Huber and Mark Mills:

Most of what people think they know about energy is so very wrong that their convictions, heartfelt though they may be, lie beyond logical contradiction or refutation….What most of us think about energy supply is wrong. Energy supplies are unlimited; it is energetic order that’s scarce, and the order in energy that’s expensive….Supplies do not ultimately depend on the addition of reserves, the development of new fuels, or the husbanding of known resources. Energy begets more energy; tomorrow’s supply is determined by today’s consumption. The more energy we seize and use, the more adept we become at finding and seizing still more.

What most of us think about energy demand is even more wrong. Our main use of energy isn’t lighting, locomotion, or cooling; what we use energy for, mainly, is to extract, refine, process, and purify energy itself. And the more efficient we become at refining energy in this way, the more we want to use the final product. Thus, more efficient engines, motors, lights, and cars lead to more energy consumption, not less (Peter Huber and Mark Mills, The Bottomless Well).

Some of the real data about fossil fuel is this:

Humanity consumes about 345 Quads of fossil fuel each year. A quad is a quadrillion British Thermal Units.

Of those 345 Quads, the United States consumes approximately 100.

The United States consumes by far the most, but — and here is a fact too often neglected in discussions of U.S. fossil fuel consumption — the United States also produces by far the most.

The inevitable exhaustion of fossil fuels, so strenuously predicted since the 1880’s, is a notion that’s invariably built upon a fraudulent premise: it’s built off the data of what today’s technology makes accessible.

This reasoning, as we’ve touched upon already, is demonstrably flawed.

No one seriously disputes that with better technology, and better power, we could retrieve far more [fossil fuel]. We already know where to find centuries’ worth of coal – global deposits hold 200,000 Quads. Oil shale deposits hold 10 Million Quads; heavy oils are already being extracted by brute force from the Canadian Athabasca deposits, and bioengineered bacteria could make the earth’s vast deposits of these oils economically accessible everywhere within a decade or less. Even more abundant is the energy locked up within uranium and other radioactive elements. The world’s oceans contain over 10 trillion Quads’ worth of deuterium, a fuel that we will in due course learn to unlock with nuclear fusion. And nothing very fundamentally new will be required to unlock it (Ibid).

Energy begets energy.

The more energy we use, the better we become at developing, extracting, and refining ever more.

Stopping or even slowing the use of fossil fuel would not, contrary to what you’ve been told, solve this (non-existent) fossil fuel problem: on the contrary, it would bring progress to a grinding halt; but even more than that, it would do so by shutting down the rational mind, which is the uniquely human method of survival.

It would blast us back to the stone age.

Which is precisely what many environmentalists, especially those of the better informed variety, want.

There exists no technology that can survey and measure the total quantity of oil and potential oil beneath all the land and sea, including tar sand and shale oil and the conversion of coal to oil.

So where exactly the doomers get their dire predictions is unclear.

What motivates these doomers is even more obscure.

And more frightening.

A quote from The Wall Street Journal, January 2005:

The cost of oil comes down to the cost of finding, and then lifting or extracting. First, you have to decide where to dig. Exploration costs currently run under $3 per barrel in much of the Mideast, and below $7 for oil hidden deep under the ocean. But these costs have been falling, not rising, because imaging technology that lets geologists peer through miles of water and rock improves faster than supplies recede. Many lower-grade deposits require no new looking at all.

To pick just one example among many, finding costs are essentially zero for the 3.5 trillion barrels of oil that soak the clay in the Orinoco basin in Venezuela, and the Athabasca tar sands in Alberta, Canada. Yes, that’s trillion – over a century’s worth of global supply, at the current 30-billion-barrel-a-year rate of consumption.

Please note particularly that last paragraph.

And, while you’re at it, do yourself another big favor:

Ignore all the dire predictions about peak oil and the end of fossil fuels that you’ve been hearing for the last one hundred years.

Ignore the catastrophic scare-mongering that books like The Party’s Over and The Long Emergency propound.

At every point in human history, the individual has been attacked by some government somewhere, on one side of the globe or another, always for the sake of some group.

In this century alone, to cite only a few of the more conspicuous examples, the individual was subordinated in Communist Russia to the proletariat; so too in Communist China, let us forget the millions upon millions of proletarians murdered or imprisoned under these romanticized regimes.

In Nazi Germany, the individual was subordinated to the “superior race.”

In Socialist Europe, in present day Germany and France, “labor” or the masses or The Environment all trump the individual.

In the United States as well claims concerning the environment threaten, as we speak, the individual’s right to her own life and property.

And the scare-mongering only increases: misinformation about fossil fuels has spawned, among a traditionally secular left, such a glut of doomsday predictions that they rival or eclipse any heard from the Religious Right — the only real difference being, instead of telling us to “repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” we’re told “learn to conserve and farm, for the end of the industrial society is at hand.”

But whether secular or non-secular, dogma is dogma, oppression is oppression, and the misguided doomsday predictions we hear from environmentalists are ultimately every bit as misbegotten as any doomsday predictions we hear from the Religious Right – and, one might well add, ultimately just as banal.

In one form or another, this propaganda is as old as mankind herself — the only real difference being the agenda.

Which agenda is this: let your big benevolent government regulate and control fossil fuels and all other energy besides, and let this same big benevolent government control your property as well, and thereby your life.

It’s called Environmentalism. But it’s really Neo-Marxism.

And Marxism by any other name is, and always will be, the same plain old discredited Marxism.



A Brief History Of Environmentalism

Environmentalism has so thoroughly permeated world culture that the saving-the-planet rhetoric is accepted even by those who don’t really regard themselves as dyed-in-the-skein environmentalists. It is taught as holy writ in public schools, and it’s espoused by poets, priests, and politicians alike.

This monstrous ideology would, given the first opportunity, destroy humankind, a fact of which the leaders of this movement make no secret.

It is therefore of great importance to expose this ideology for what it actually is: a neo-Marxist philosophy that masquerades as something benevolent and life-affirming, but which in reality explicitly calls for humans to be subordinated to nature, via an elite bureau of centralized planners who, as you would suspect, are the ones that get to decide for the rest of us how we must live.

It was Jean-Jacques Rousseau who first began propounding the immanent-goodness-of-nature-untouched-by-man ideology. Rousseau also deplored “the corrupting influence of reason, culture, and civilization.” In fact, Rousseau, like many of our current politicians, also preached economic egalitarianism and tribal democracy, the “collective will,” and the primacy of the group over the individual. In a great many ways, Rousseau is the founder of present-day environmentalism.

His so-called Eden Premise was picked up by all the pantheists and transcendentalists, such as Henry David Thoreau, John Muir (founder of Sierra Club), Aldo Leopold (who helped found the Wilderness Society), and of course the propagandist Rachel Carson.

When, in 1860, Thoreau wrote that forests untouched by humans grow toward “the greatest regularity and harmony,” he inadvertently changed the life of a biologist named George Perkins Marsh, who in 1864 wrote a book called Man and Nature. In this extraordinarily influential book, George Marsh also tried to convince us that, absent humans, mother nature and her processes work in perfect harmony:

“Man” (said Marsh) “is everywhere a disturbing agent. Wherever he plants his foot, the harmonies of nature are turned to discord…. [Humans] are brute destroyers … [Humans] destroy the balance which nature had established.”

“But” (he continued) “nature avenges herself upon the intruder, [bringing humans] deprivation, barbarism, and perhaps even extinction.”

Just as Thoreau influenced George Marsh, so George Marsh influenced a man named Gifford Pinchot, and also a man named John Muir.

Gifford Pinchot was a utilitarian who loathed private ownership of natural resources. He was also the first chief of the United States Forest Service under Republican President Theodore Roosevelt.

Gifford Pinchot was a collectivist who believed in sacrificing individuals and their property for the sake of “the greatest number.”

It was in large part because of Pinchot that the United States’ federal government increased its land holdings dramatically, so that today over one third of America is owned by the federal government — which holdings comprise over half of America’s known resources, including “a third of our oil, over 40 percent of salable timber and natural gas, and most of the nation’s coal, copper, silver, asbestos, lead, and other minerals.”

In his excellent account of American environmentalism, Philip Shabecoff says this:

“Pinchot wanted the forests managed for their usefulness, not for their beauty… He was not interested in preserving the natural landscape for its own sake.”

At the very least, Pinchot, a conservationist, was, however, still semi pro-human.

John Muir, on the other hand, Pinchot’s nemesis, was not pro-human. In fact, he was the diametric opposite.

It was John Muir, a Scottish immigrant, who introduced misanthropy into the environmental pseudo-philosophy, which misanthropy reigns supreme to this very day.

“How narrow we selfish, conceited creatures are in our sympathies!” said John Muir, also an unapologetic racist. “How blind to the rights of all the rest of creation! Well, I have precious little sympathy for the selfish propriety of civilized man, and if a war of races should occur between the wild beasts and Lord Man, I would be tempted to sympathize with the bears.”

From John Muir, it was only a short step to one Ernst Haeckel (1834 – 1919), a German zoologist, who told us that individuals don’t actually exist. Human individuals do not possess an individual consciousness, he said, because humans are only a part of a greater whole, and 1866 Haeckel coined that fated term “ecology,” which he defined as “the whole science of the relations of the organism to the environment.”

It was an Oxford botanist named A. G. Tansley who, in 1935, introduced the word “ecosystem.”

According to this same Tansley, individual entities don’t exist but are merely part of “the basic units of nature on the face of the earth.”

Aldo Leopold’s wildly popular Sand County Almanac was published in 1948. It preached “the pyramid of life,” and in order to preserve this pyramid, Leopold told us that federal governments must “enlarge the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals [which] changes the role of Homo Sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it.”

A Norwegian named Arne Naess (1913 – 2009) also believed that human individuals don’t actually exist. Only ecosystems do. It was Naess who first argued that the “shallow ecology,” as he called it, “of mainstream conservation groups” benefits humans too much. Thus, Naess began calling for “deep ecology” — i.e. “biospheric egalitarianism with the equal right [of all things] to live and blossom.”

These are just a small handful of the phrases and catchphrases that have now frozen into secular dogma, and which Rachel Carson, with her puerile pen, brought to the mewling masses. Her book Silent Spring opens like this:

There once was a town in the heart of America where all life seemed to live in harmony with its surroundings. The town lay in the midst of a checkerboard of prosperous farms, with fields of grain and hillsides of orchard where, in spring, white clouds of bloom drifted above the fields. In autumn, oak and maple and birch set up a blaze of color that flamed and flickered across a backdrop of pines. Then foxes barked in the hills and deer silently crossed the fields, half hidden in the mists of the fall morning… The town is almost devoid of robins and starlings; chickadees have not been present for two years, and this year the cardinals are gone too… ‘Will they ever come back?’ the children ask, and I do not have the answer.

Most sane people see through this pablum like a fishnet. It’s the insane people who have swallowed it hook, line, and sinker.

The rest, of course, is history.



Socialism, Nazism, and Environmentalism

The National Socialist German Workers’ Party was founded in 1919 and abolished in 1945. It came into full power under Adolph Hitler in 1933, and proceeded at that time to slaughter a spectacular number of people in a relatively short span of years.

Socialists today are of course universally agreed that Nazism was many things, but socialistic was not one of them.

Indeed, socialists are most emphatic that you understand this point — and for a very good reason: Nazism exposes socialism for what it actually is: a horrific philosophy in which humans are slaves to a ruling elite.

In fact Nazism was pure socialism.

As we’ve pointed out many times before — and can never point out enough — socialism is fundamentally defined by the abolition of private property.

Private property, or private ownership, is, in the language of the law, Not only money and other tangible things of value, but also includes any intangible right considered as a source or element of income or wealth. The right and interest which a man has in lands and chattels to the exclusion of others. It is the right to enjoy and to dispose of certain things in the most absolute manner as he pleases, provided he makes no use of them prohibited by law. [Property] is a claim by a person or persons to exclusive utilization, consumption, or transfer of some category of goods. The right of property is the right to use and discard (Lectric Law Library).

It was by means of the Food Estate guild, the Estate of Trade and Industry guild, and the Labor Front guild that the Nazis were able to take control of every group of producer and consumer in Germany.

German socialism, so-called, assumed complete control of the means of production, while maintaining the facade of a market economy. The crucial point here, however, which one must never overlook, is the fact that prices and wages were all ‘fixed by the central authority.’ Thus, they were only ostensibly prices and wages — meaning: in actual fact, prices and wages were determined by order of the socialist German government, not the free-market. In this way, Nazism masqueraded as a system of free-enterprise, but in reality it was socialist up to its gills.

The difference between National Socialism (Nazism) and communistic socialism is purely a question of form: the Nazis, unlike the Marxists, did not advocate public or governmental ownership of the means of production. Nazism, rather, openly demanded that government oversee and regulate the nation’s economy. The issue of ‘legal’ ownership, explained Adolph Hitler, is secondary; what counts is the issue of control.

“Under Nazism, citizens retain the responsibilities of owning property, without freedom to act and without any of the advantages of ownership. Under Marxist socialism, government officials acquire all the advantages of ownership, without any of the responsibilities, since they do not hold title to the property, but merely the right to use it — at least until the next purge” (George ReismanCapitalism).

Both are variations on the same theme, and that theme is collectivism.

Collectivism is the political theory which believes that “the collective” has primacy over the individual.

“The collective” refers to “the society” “the group” “the gang” “the tribe” “the proletariat” “the superior race” “the environment” “the common good” “labor” and many other things as well. The specifics do not matter because the principles are the same.

What really matters is that the individual is subordinate to the named collective.

This system of de facto socialism, carried out under the outward guise and appearance of capitalism, in which the legal forms of private ownership are maintained, has been aptly characterized by Ludwig von Mises as socialism on the German pattern. The Germans under Ludendorf and Hindenburg in World War I, and later under Hitler, were the foremost practitioners of this type of socialism. (The more familiar variant of socialism, in which government openly nationalizes the means of production and establishes socialism de jure as well as de facto, von Mises calls socialism on the Russian or Bolshevik pattern.)

It cannot be emphasized too strongly that Nazi Germany was a socialist country and that the Nazis were right to call themselves National Socialists. This is something everyone should know; yet it appears to have been overlooked or ignored by practically all writers but von Mises and Hayek.

In Nazi Germany, the government controlled all prices and wages and determined what each firm was to produce, in what quantity, by what methods, and to whom it was to turn over its products. There was no fundamental difference between the Nazis and other socialists (ibid).

“Basically, National Socialism and Marxism are the same,” said Adolph Hitler.

“Profit is the source of all evils,” said Goebbles, whose hatred of capitalism was stupendous.

“We believe that the scourge of pollution, depletion of resources and degradation of our natural environment is primarily the result of the reckless policies of profit-driven capitalism,” says a present-day environmental group called Socialist Action, who also add:

“We believe that under socialism – through a rational, democratically controlled planned economy – we will be able to make decisions that can stop and reverse the destruction of the environment.”

The following is from a present-day environmentalist named Roger Field:

“In fact, there are a number of environmentalisms in this country: wilderness preservation, animal rights and the like. But it is in the rich, class-based struggle to control the excesses of unrestrained industrialism where environmentalism and socialism can most easily be seen to meet.”

From Canada dot com:

“Saving the planet, like fighting wealth and privilege, is a moral proposition. It supersedes factual argument…. Environmentalism is neither religion nor science. It is a political mission, every bit as unquestioning as socialism in its heyday, and offering the same giddy promise to followers: The delicious prospect of being in the right, and better still, running things.”

“Each activity and each need of the individual will thereby be regulated by the party as the representative of the general good. There will be no license, no free space, in which the individual belongs to himself. This is socialism — not such trifles as the private possession of the means of production. Of what importance is that if I range men firmly within a discipline they cannot escape? Let them then own land or factories as much as they please. The decisive factor is that the State, through the party, is supreme over them, regardless whether they are owners or workers. All that, you see, is unessential. Our socialism goes far deeper,” said Adolph Hitler.

“Individual rights will have to take a back seat to the collective,” says Harvey Ruvin, of the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, in Dade County Florida.

From a book by the Sierra Club, entitled Call to Action, Handbook for Ecology, Peace and Justice: “The political and economic system that destroys the Earth is the same system that exploits workers” – i.e. capitalism.

The head of the 1992 Earth Summit asks in all seriousness: “Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn’t it our responsibility to bring that about?”

“The state of mind, which subordinates the interests of the ego to the conservation of the community, is really the first premise for every truly human culture. This basic attitude from which such activity arises, we call — to distinguish it from egoism and selflessness — idealism. By this we understand only the individual’s capacity to make sacrifices for the community, for his fellow men.”

Said Adolph Hitler.

     

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