You Can Love Nature and Still Hate the Tyranny of Environmental Regulations

Throughout the world, most reductions in pollution have been achieved because of capitalism, not government control.

Environmental activists and politicians would like you to think that we must love their regulations -- or hate trees and animals.

I love trees and animals.

But you can love nature and still hate the tyranny that environmental regulations bring.

The Environmental Protection Agency just announced it will boost gas prices ("only" a penny, although industry says 6 to 9 cents) to make another minuscule improvement to air quality.

In New York City, my mayor wants to ban Styrofoam cups, saying, "I think it's something we can do without."

Congress already dictates the design of our cars, toilets and light bulbs.

ReefDoctorReefDoctorOriginally, environmental rules were a good thing. I love the free market, but it doesn't offer a practical remedy to pollution. I could sue polluters for violating my property rights, but under our legal system, that's not even close to practical.

So in the '70s, government passed rules that demanded we stop polluting the air and water. Industry put scrubbers in smokestacks. Towns installed sewage treatment. Now the air is quite clean, and I can swim in the rivers around Manhattan.

But government didn't stop there. Government never stops. Now that the air is cleaner, government spends even more than it spent to clean the air to subsidize feeble methods of energy production, like windmills and solar panels. Activists want even more spending. A few years back, the Center for American Progress announced they were upset that "Germany, Spain and China Are Seizing the Energy Opportunity ... the United States Risks Getting Left Behind."

In this case, we're better off "left behind." After spending billions, those European governments made no breakthroughs, and now they're cutting back.

The Endangered Species Act was another noble idea. We all want to save polar bears. But now the bureaucrats make it almost impossible for some people to improve their own property.

Louisiana landowner Edward Poitevent wants to build homes and offices north of Lake Pontchartrain. He could provide safe high-ground housing to people eager to move away from areas that were flooded during Hurricane Katrina. But he is not allowed to build because the government decided 1,500 acres of his land should become a preservation area for a threatened species called the dusky gopher frog. None of these frogs currently live on his property. Poitevent told me, "The Fish and Wildlife Service has certified that the frog has not been seen in the state of Louisiana since 1967."

Fish and Wildlife Service officials said they were "not available" to talk with me about this. Instead, they posted a video on YouTube that says they work "with" landowners: "The Service has many voluntary partnership-based programs that can provide technical and financial assistance to manage species."

That sounds nice, but the government's handbook on how to work with them is an onerous 315 pages long.

The environmentalists so torment those who resist their schemes that some landowners tell each other, "If you find an endangered species, shoot, shovel and shut up!" That's mostly a joke. But it does happen, and it's one more way government regulations backfire.

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  • Sevo||

    "Germany, Spain and China Are Seizing the Energy Opportunity ... the United States Risks Getting Left Behind."

    This would be in the "Throw Money Down Rathole" competition.

  • ThatSkepticGuy||

    "But EUROPE jumped off the bridge!"

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Todd: "Daddy, what do taxes pay for?"
    Ned: "Oh, why, everything! Policemen, trees, sunshine! And let's not forget the folks who just don't feel like working, God bless 'em!"

  • Raven Nation||

    Isn't this the basic tactic for all statists: if you don't support welfare, you hate the poor; if you don't support school prayer, you're anti-religion/anti-god; if you don't support funding the NEA, you're anti-art, etc., etc.

  • ||

    Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all.

    We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.

    /Bastiat

  • Tony||

    Does it ever get boring having the same four or five clever little maxims informing your entire worldview?

  • dinkster||

    You tell us homeskillet.

  • itsnotmeitsyou||

    Does it ever get boring having the same four or five little brain cells informing your entire world view?

  • ||

    Does it ever get boring having a simplistic worldview that views people as nothing but interchangeable automatons?

  • Kendall Rigdon||

    That is a remarkable statement. God forbid you lead your life by essential principles. It's called values Tony. We are Libertarians, generally, because we have experienced the fact that those who govern do not protect our best interests. Rather government tends to be a haven for the non-productive and dishonest.

    Thinking that people, especially government, should mind their own business is a maxim based upon experience. It isn't an idea from a professor.

  • fish||

    Slightly OT...but not really.

    Florida Dj(s) face potential felonies because Florida is full of morons.....and publik skool gradeates

    http://market-ticker.org/akcs-www?post=219408

  • phandaal||

    http://www.theatlanticwire.com.....ong/63837/

    Somebody's sense of burning shame finally caught up with them.

  • itsnotmeitsyou||

    "They handled appropriately and expeditiously the discipline of the the DJs as well as the public notification. They immediately retracted indicated that the joke had been in poor taste and it was inaccurate, inappropriate and every break that day they aired that there were no problems with the water."

    Appropriately and inaccurate... I do not think those words mean what you think they mean.

  • phandaal||

    Keep in mind that the woman who issued that statement is the same drooling, cross-eyed, mouth breathing idiot who said it's a felony to tell people that dihydrogen monoxide is water.

  • itsnotmeitsyou||

    I, for a very short time, wondered how someone so unintelligent could ever find a job. Then I remembered that she works for a government bureaucracy and realized there's no other place for her to work.

    Awful nice of the gubmint to give meaning to an otherwise meaningless existence.

  • ||

    It is a felony to make false water quality claims....yet the claim was 100% accurate. That is the only reason they arent being charged.

    It only took the water department a day to figure out that dihydrogen monoxide is water. Fucking pathetic.

  • fish||

    It only took the water department a day to figure out that dihydrogen monoxide is water.

    Quick....more money to the consultants!

  • Loki||

    ...and just think: because FL is one of the largest swing states out there, presidential elections often come down to the votes of these same people. Think about that, and DESPAIR!

  • Rhywun||

    Anyone care to bet that this would have gone down any differently in any other town in America?

  • phandaal||

    There are plenty of places where this wouldn't have happened, but I don't believe for a minute that Florida is unique in having many 'tards within its borders.

  • ||

    I'll leave this here.

    As detailed in the first two installments of Power Shift, an NBC News/CNBC special report, the United States is reaping the benefits of an energy boom created by new drilling technologies that have unlocked vast domestic oil and natural gas reserves. Coupled with decreasing demand due to energy efficiency and continued cultivation of alternative energy sources, an increasing number of experts believe the U.S. could achieve energy independence by the end of the decade – realizing a dream born during the gas crisis of 1973.
    .
    .
    .
    The impact of the rebalancing of global energy production could be more severe in other nations.
    Trevor Houser, a former energy analyst in the Obama administration State Department, worries about the prospect of failed states.
    "If you look at the consequences of more U.S. production and reduced sales from OPEC, some would see that as a benefit," said Houser, now a partner with New York-based Rhodium Group, a global market analysis firm. "But starving those economies of oil revenue will surely have disruptive effects. It is not necessarily a good development for U.S. foreign policy and geopolitical stability in general."

    We need energy independence so we can get out of the middle east.

    We need to stay in the middle east because of our energy independence.

    I quit!

  • Best Of All Possible Tyrannies||

    We need energy independence so we can get out of the middle east.
    We need to stay in the middle east because of our energy independence.
    I quit!

    Pax Americana, Dude! Everybody neeeds us, foreign and domestic.

  • ||

    "The environmentalists so torment those who resist their schemes that some landowners tell each other, "If you find an endangered species, shoot, shovel and shut up!" That's mostly a joke. "

    No, it is not even slightly a joke. Not at all.

  • itsnotmeitsyou||

    Nope, not a joke. Solid advice, yes.

  • Best Of All Possible Tyrannies||

    Amen, Brother Ben!

    I have land near swampy areas. They are always looking to declare more of the area "wetlands." If I see a fern growing, it's gone.

  • Ron||

    more often we use the code of the "Three S's"

  • Ken Shultz||

    If the worst of the apocalyptic climate predictions ever come true, it'll only be because environmentalists turned so many people off by advocating the use of force.

  • itsnotmeitsyou||

    That's a huge IF.

    Even the "best case scenario" predictions they've made are wildly inflated.

    I think a more likely scenario is that someone will actually get to put a "climate engineering" idea into effect (like the giant orbiting solar shades) and fuck up the planet. Of course, they'll just claim that it was AGW all along and that they just didn't have enough time and resources to implement all the other solutions that WOULD have been effective.

  • ant1sthenes||

    Climate worriers are about as happy about terraforming to fight climate change as culture worriers are about using condoms and sex education to fight stds and teen pregnancy, or public health worriers are about using e-cigs to fight cancer. They hate sin because it is sin, not because it has negative consequence. They want repentance, not caution.

  • Ken Shultz||

    The best solutions remain economic growth.

    The wealthier people are, the more they willingly care about the environment. It ain't the poor people driving around in hybrids and electric cars. It ain't the poor people shopping at Whole Foods.

    It's the same thing in China and India, too. Nobody cares about the environment when they're struggling just to put food on the table. The wealthier those people get, the more they care about the environment, too.

    The solution to overpopulation is also economic growth. Population (willingly) drops closer to or below replacement level when the infant mortality rate drops and women are given more economic opportunities outside of the home. Both of those things are correlated with economic growth...

    So, there's two reasons why (even if the worst of the climate models are true), we'll succumb to environmental ruin: 1) Because environmentalists turned so many people off my advocating force, and 2) Because environmentalists advocated against economic growth--which is the ultimate solution to our more intractable environmental problems.

  • Tony||

    It ain't the poor people driving around in hybrids and electric cars. It ain't the poor people shopping at Whole Foods.

    It ain't poor people who are contributing more to emissions. Rich countries are doing almost all of the polluting. People in poor countries are just the ones who are going to suffer first.

    Economic growth is pointless without environmental sustainability. And environmentalists having a demeanor you don't shine to doesn't make you right about anything. And you're not right about the means of achieving broad wealth; your economic policies are specifically designed to make "economic growth" profit the fewest people. But thanks for your contribution to ideas about which mass social programs we should undertake. Economic growth is a good one.

  • Kreel Sarloo||

    ...your economic policies are specifically designed to make "economic growth" profit the fewest people.



    Thank you for that utterly unsupported and fact free statement of your faith.

  • ||

    Tony:

    It ain't poor people who are contributing more to emissions.

    You mean, is it rich people, like this?

  • grey||

    Ken,
    "Nobody cares about the environment when they're struggling just to put food on the table. The wealthier those people get, the more they care about the environment, too.

    I'm sure you've seen the indoor pollution issue among the world's poor. The burning of bio-mass, wood, dung, whatever they have available is a huge health risk. I'm not sure how libtards work so hard to deny prosperity (the solution as you say to many ills), while still, in utter opposition to the facts, purport a moral superiority on environmentalism. Anyhow, great summary of what liberty will do for people and an interesting link on one of the problems encompased in your post.

    http://www.who.int/heli/risks/.....oorair/en/

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Two points;

    1) "Leave people their freedom, and they come up with new, smarter, more efficient and thus cleaner ways of doing things. Stifling that process with regulation isn't "progressive.""? Oh, my, but that IS Progressive. That is the very essence of Progressivism, which is rooted in large part in the deep seated fear that the kind of "Right" people who now own nice homes and live comfortably will have to share their exalted status with the Unwashed.

    2) When discussing energy independence (which some people were elsewhere in the thread) I wonder why nobody looks at deliberately getting our oil from the Middle East on the grounds that the sooner that oil is gone, the sooner we can start ignoring the whole boiling lot of those squalid barbarians.

  • Enough About Palin||

    #2 has been mentioned here at HyR many, many times.

  • ||

    " I wonder why nobody looks at deliberately getting our oil from the Middle East on the grounds that the sooner that oil is gone, the sooner we can start ignoring the whole boiling lot of those squalid barbarians."

    I may have mentioned this strategy once or twice in the past, but I didnt use as good a description as you did.
    "..boiling lot of those squalid barbarians." I like that.

  • Tony||

    Should we be doing anything to prepare for the time when the oil is gone, or should we just let that particular market transformation happen all at once?

  • dinkster||

    Because the oil will all run out at once? Is this what an informal non sequitur looks like?

  • JWatts||

    Yes, we should be building more nuclear plants, wind turbines and converting long haul trucking to natural gas usage.

    Of course when the price of oil hits $300 a barrel that will happen pretty quickly, but you're right to support a nuclear build out early.

  • itsnotmeitsyou||

    Oh noes!!! You said the "N" word. no no, not that "N" word. The one that makes liberals pee their pants in fear... Nuclear.

    Seriously though, if you want energy independence, we should be building nuke plants everywhere. Let private companies actually build a liquid flouride thorium reactor and sell energy cheaply. But no, nuclear is so feared and vilified that they'd rather us pay 10x the rate for "green" energy than actually have some solutions.

    This is why we can't have nice things.

  • Tony||

    Just as long as you realize that nuclear power can't exist without large amounts of government subsidy and support.

    One can only deduce that libertarians have such a problem with even a free market in solar power (to the extent of favoring the heavily government subsidized nuclear industry) because their underwriters know it's the real future of energy.

  • Marty .||

    Following your logic, no one grew grain or improved farming techniques before the USDA was formed.

    Just because nuclear power is regulated so heavily by the NRC doesn't mean it could not exist without them.

    Nuclear power is very profitable DESPITE government intervention, and NOT because of it. And solar energy? Ready to house 900lbs of batteries in your house?

  • ||

    Actually, Toady, as usual your comment tells us more about your utter cluelessness about "the market" and how that ignorance influence your simpleminded worldview.

    Probably, what "we" should be doing now is let market forces determine the price of all energy sources instead of the systems of price controls and subsidies we have going now. But your guys aren't prepared to do that.

  • ||

    And by "your guys" I refer to the two wings of the single Demopublican party.

  • Tony||

    Much of the cost of energy such as pollution and climate change are not figured into free market transactions, which is why they're called externalities. The only known way to deal with that is through government policy.

    Or you can continue advocating theft and pillaging.

  • Marty .||

    Then why hasn't our President committed us to a new target, a la Kyoto?

    and how do you explain drops in US CO2 emissions(approx 12.2% from 2005 to 2009)? Feel free to blame Bush.

  • ||

    Toady, there are both positive and negative externalities. It is telling that you and your cronies only observe the negative.

  • Tony||

    It's the negative ones we have to worry about.

  • ||

    Tony:

    The only known way to deal with that is through government policy.

    Actually, that's not true.

    But, you can continue pretending your opinions are facts.

  • space junk||

    "...boiling lot of those squalid barbarians"

    I think I laughed for 2 minutes straight after reading that.

  • SugarFree||

    Tesla tax scam. "Why, these electric cars practically sell themselves!"

  • itsnotmeitsyou||

    One of my buddy's friends is one of those rich guys who buys cars just to have them. He bought a Tesla. Had it for 18 hours before it went back. They really are as terrible as you hear.

  • ||

    As I recall some guys tested the things for the purposes of writing reviews and upon discovering what completely worthless pieces of shit they are were threatened with lawsuits from Tesla if they told the truth in their reviews.

    I am too lazy right now, but I am betting if I found out who is behind this scam they would be closely connected to captain zero.

  • ||

    You're all just a bunch of science denying rethuglitards.

    /Tony (with or without spaces)

  • Matrix||

    needz moar "teabagger"

  • Tony||

    John Stossel loves trees and animals. John Stossel thinks the solution to greenhouse gas emissions is oil and coal, and really what's so bad about greenhouse gas emissions? (He loves trees.) It must be pleasant being John Stossel.

  • dinkster||

    "Fracking for natural gas reduced greenhouse gas emissions."

    Sorry, did you extrapolate that sentence to fit your narrative? It must be pleasant being Tony.

  • Jackand Ace||

    Yeah, the free market always solves everything to Stossel. How long would we have had to wait until the free market was going to stop slavery? Segregation? How about zoning...you think the free market was ever going to stop a carbon black plant from being built in your neighborhood? Same with the environment...the free market was never going to quickly keep the Cuyahoga River from burning again. This is pure fantasyland.

  • The Last American Hero||

    Slavery was instituted and and enshrined in the original constitution by government? You mean Jim-Crow LAWS mandating segregation and prohibiting private businesses from integrating? Maybe you are referring to Gov mandated Davis Bacon prevailing wages, which were aimed at shutting down minority owned businesses? As for the plants, you believe that zoning regulations protect the little guy, but what they really do is grease the palms of the politicians that hold the permits. Notice that even with zoning, they don't get built by the rich guy's house even if the location is ideal. As for the river, Stossel pointed out that he supports reasonable regulations and specifically references the laws enacted around the time of the Cleveland River Fire, so RTFA.

  • Jackand Ace||

    Well, welcome to fantasyland, TLAH. If private business in the south had any interest in integrating during the 50's they would have done so. But because it would have impacted their bottom line they did not. And because slavery impacted the bottom line in cost effective way, it was instituted. Hate to tell you this, but it was government that said we could not be immoral anymore so slavery had to stop. Business had nothing to do with it, because business reduced costs through it.

    Business will build a foundry right next to your home if allowed to, and if it helps their bottom line. Zoning laws did not come into creation in a vacuum. Citizenry demanded them. And since Stossel supports some regulations (good to see), then we agree on something...and that is the free market will never solve all these problems.

  • ||

    Jackand Ace:

    Hate to tell you this, but it was government that said we could not be immoral anymore so slavery had to stop.

    Hate to tell you this, but requiring states to return escaped slaves to their former masters was a part of our constitution. By the mid 1800's, slavery was unstable by northern states refusing to do this, they had to pass the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. Sorry to break it to you, but your government was providing the necessary power and violence necessary to allow slavery, as an institution, to exist, from day one of this county's history. In such a case, holding free markets responsible for slavery, or for not ending slavery, is like holding free markets responsible for social security, or not ending social security: it makes no sense. Giving the US government credit for ending slavery is like giving a wife beater credit for ending abuse when he stops beating his wife.

  • Jackand Ace||

    Please. Government never said "thou shalt have slaves." What happened was business said, "well, there is no law against slavery, and since it provides profits, I will hold slaves."
    That's it...that's the history of business in the free market. Its the same with pollution...government never said, you will dump your waste in the river. Business and the free market made that conscious decision because it meant profits, and whatever the costs, well, someone else can pay for it.

    And it was only government that made businesses stop each. But good try at revisionist history.

  • ||

    Jackand Ace,
    Trade for profit dates back to the second millenium BC, and modern capitalism started during the 16th century. On the other hand, slavery was fully institutionalized before recorded history. Writing was invented about 4000 BC. This implies that slavery precedes trade for profit by at least 2000 years, and modern capitalism by at least 5000 years. These early societies were not free markets: they were authoritarian, theocratic kingships.

    So, when you say

    What happened was business said, "well, there is no law against slavery, and since it provides profits, I will hold slaves."

    , that’s not revisionist history: that’s made up, pulled out of your ass history.

    Slavery as an institution could not exist without the state. The state assumes, for itself, a monopoly on law and order and enforcing property rights. Since slavery is the treatment of people as property, the state is complicit and responsible for its enforcement of slavery throughout history. Laws, courts, and public funding were used to enforce it, including the capture of runaway slaves. Government is not innocent.

  • ||

    Jackand Ace,
    Furthermore, abolitionism didn’t start with the government. Socrates was talking about the evils of slavery around 400 BC. It took the work of abolitionists about 2000 years to convince government to stop institutionalizing slavery. So, when you say

    it was government that said we could not be immoral anymore so slavery had to stop.

    , you’re ignoring about 2000 years of abolitionists begging them to do so.

    So, here’s your position: when the state institutionalized slavery, that’s free market tyranny. When the federal government orders state governments to stop institutionalizing slavery, that’s good, progressive government, stopping the bad free markets.

    Your view of history is just fact-free opinion, biased towards telling a good story, where government is the good guy, and markets are the bad guy. If you want to live in a made up fantasy land, go ahead. Just make sure you understand that we don’t live there with you.

  • Jackand Ace||

    Good, Brian, leave...outside of the improvement we'll never know the difference. But since ridicule is really all that's left for phony libertarians like you, last night I found someone who said it best. Perfect timing as it fits your philosophy.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9PezT3n4To

  • ||

    Wow.

    First, Bill Maher says libertarianism is founded on Ayn Rand. However, that's objectivism, not libertarianism.

    Secondly, it's funny to listen to a second-rate comedian talk shit about Ayn Rand. Ayn Rand wrote Atlas Shrugged about 60 years ago, and here he is, talking about it. In 60 years (the year 2073), people will still be talking about Ayn Rand, and if you try to have a conversation about Bill Maher in that year, they won't know who the hell you're talking about. What comedians from 1957 do people talk about? I can't think of any.

    But hey, why not let your philosophy be spoken for by comedians pandering for laughs and ratings among an audience of the morons you think desperately need government control?

  • angus||

    Greens love trees. Greens love trees so much they don't ever want a tree to be pruned or cut down. Greens make regulations so it is expensive to prune or cut down a tree.

    Greens hate trees. Greens hate trees so much they don't ever want anyone to plant a tree. Greens make regulations so it is expensive to own or maintain a tree. Greens make trees expensive.

  • Adam.||

    Are "wind mills and solar panels" really that uneconomical? I hate how ever article seems to portray that as a fact. I am at no cognitive dissonance to be a libertarian and support wind and solar power. There are no perfect energy sources and intermittent renewables certainly have their share, but they also have their place in the market. If I had a lot of coal or gas fired plants I know I'd hedge with wind and solar; makes good business sense.

  • Kreel Sarloo||

    The fact that no one is building "wind mills and solar panels" without subsidies is a pretty good sign that, yes, they really are that uneconomical.

    Especially when the subsidies they are getting are direct cash handouts while the "subsidies" fossil fuel get are the same accelerated depletion allowances and exploration write-offs that all resource extraction industries get.

  • grey||

    One of the interesting things I've come to notice since libertarian enlightment is the one sided reporting on every issue. Not the Red Team-Blue Team. But Coercion vs Liberty. Liberty will never get some much as a passing comment, but coercion will get the red carpet treatment.

    Same for the 'wind and solar", I recall all the reporting about chasing the market, getting left behind, the need for government to fund a "national energy plan". The coercive hand, the one that has to take in order to do this, the liberty lost, the boot heel on the neck of other industries, not even a some much as a fuck you very much mention.

  • chalmers65||

    til I saw the receipt four $6575, I be certain that...my... friends brother was like they say realey bringing home money in their spare time on their apple labtop.. there sisters roommate started doing this less than fifteen months and a short time ago paid for the morgage on there home and bought a top of the range Citroën DS. I went here, http://www.wow92.com

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