Richard Epstein At Hoover: ‘Scott Pruitt And The Environment’

Full piece here.

‘The current law is equally defective in its choice of remedies in the event of pollution. Everyone agrees that polluters should ordinarily be required to pay for the damage they cause to both public and private property, as was long required under the common law. But one key element in the private law equation was to wait until the potential nuisance was imminent or actual before issuing an injunction. The EPA does not worry about these limitations in the exercise of its enormous permit power, but requires the proponents of any new project to run a huge regulatory gauntlet that consumes years and many millions of dollars before anything can be done.

As previously posted:

Ron Bailey at Reason on Obama’s trip to Alaska:

‘In other words, whatever benefits the administration’s convoluted energy and emissions regulations may provide, they are costing American consumers and industry three times more than would a comparable carbon tax. Talk about negative impacts!’

I think this comment gets to the heart of what some folks are likely thinking:

‘Look, if we can model the economy, we can model the climate.’

YOU should feel guilty about the poor, the downtrodden, and the global victims of industrial activity. WE should ‘re-wild’ nature and bring it to a state it achieved before man came and despoiled it. Humans have the power to shape their world, but only if they follow the right ideals and the right knowledge, as well as perhaps feeling the guilt and commitment and passion that come with those ideals. WE should aim for a simpler, collective life, and feel ’empathy’ with everyone (oft times the noble savage) around the globe.

—————–

To be fair, we don’t often see genuine socialists out in public in the United States pushing green causes, but there’s more than a little anti-corporate, anti-industrial activism that often finds expression within environmental movements. This activism can make its way into laws, and forms a major plank in the Democratic party platform nationally.

Whatever your thoughts on the natural world and conservation, I think it’s fair to say that from cartoons to schools to movies, there’s also been remarkable popular success in making environmental activism mainstream conventional wisdom; easy, cool and fun to join.

Rarely though, is there much discussion of the costs environmental laws can impose on private landowners and consumers (not just big real-estate developers and industrial interests) through compliance with the laws and higher prices. Supporters of environmental causes don’t often connect the dots between their interests and the potential for bureaucratic waste and mismanagement, nor the downright twisted incentives that can result for citizens, lawmakers and even budding scientists looking for grant money.

As we see in California, I think once you get enough public sentiment believing in the basic tenets of green thinking, then climate science, whatever its merits, often becomes a sideshow, while politics and money can become the main event.

***I think Monbiot was on much more stable ground when he appealed to J.S. Mill’s harm principle regarding people harmed by industrial activity. Sometimes people in industries just don’t care about some of the consequences of their actions, and legal recourse can be hard to come by for those without money or connections. There have been beneficial consequences to individuals’ health and to those parts of nature sought to be conserved…but again…at what cost?

It seems worth continually discussing.

From George Monbiot: ‘How Freedom Became Tyranny’…

——————-

Related On This Site: A Wolf In Wolf’s Clothing?-’Rewilding’ And Ecological Balance

Repost-From The American Spectator: ‘Environmentalism and the Leisure Class’

A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”From The Boston Review: ‘Libertarianism And Liberty: How Not To Argue For Limited Government And Lower Taxes’From Slate: ‘The Liberty Scam-Why Even Robert Nozick, The Philosophical Father Of Libertarianism, Gave Up On The Movement He Inspired.’

Is it actual Nature, or a deep debate about civilization and morality, man and nature that fuels this Western debate: ….Roger Sandall At The New Criterion Via The A & L Daily: ‘Aboriginal Sin’Roger Sandall At The American Interest: ‘Tribal Realism’Karl Popper’s metaphysical theory: Falsifiability

Did Jared Diamond get attacked for not being romantic enough…or just for potential hubris?: Was he acting as a journalist in Papua New-Guinea?: From The Chronicle Of Higher Education: Jared Diamond’s Lawsuit

Instead of global green governance, what about a World Leviathan…food for thought, and a little frightening: At Bloggingheads Steven Pinker Discusses War And Thomas Hobbes

Ronald Bailey At Reason: ‘Delusional in Durban’A Few Links On Environmentalism And Liberty

Two Friday Links: Outside Of Paris & Inside The Guardian

Charles Cooke visited some Parisian banlieues:

‘Having been brought in during the “30 glorious years” that followed the end of World War II to work the jobs that the natives didn’t want, a whole raft of people are now stuck in a country that does not quite know what to do with them — and, for that matter, in which many are actively hostile toward them. Indeed, for all their talk of equality, the French are astonishingly racist when compared both with Europe in general and with the unusually tolerant Anglosphere, and they have shown no signs of actually adopting the sort of idea-driven “melting pot” approach that has made the United States so successful.’

Maybe it’s better than somewhere in North Africa, but it’s not quite France, either (The British and The French have notorious ‘beef’).

***The Hudson Institute had a discussion with Walter Russell Mead, a French mayor, and others on the mood in France after the attack.

Yes, Edmund Burke opposed the French Revolution: Sunday Quotation: Edmund Burke On The French Revolution..

Medieval Times-Roaming The Gloom With Theory: Interview With Michel Hollebecq

Theodore Dalrymple At The City Journal: ‘Look Away From Europe’s Muslim Problem’

See Also:  Why Lars Hedegaard Still Matters…Michael Moynihan At The Daily Beast: ‘The Repentant Radical’

============

David Thompson keeps an eye on the Guardianistas, particularly, George Monbiot, so you don’t have to:

‘Yes, dear readers. The odds are stacked against us and the situation is grim. Happily, however, “we” – that’s thee and me – now “find the glimmerings of an answer” in, among other things, “the sharing… of cars and appliances.” While yearning, as we are, for an “empathy revolution.” What, you didn’t know?’

Red Impulses Gone Green-Tim Worstall At The Adam Smith Institute On George MonbiotFrom George Monbiot: ‘How Freedom Became Tyranny’

Red Impulses Gone Green-Tim Worstall At The Adam Smith Institute On George Monbiot

Full piece here. (hat tip to David Thompson)

Worstall on Monbiot’s piece:

‘Which brings us to the much more important basic point. The 20th century rather tells us that what people think about things, their guilt at the state of the world, is less important than their actions. Many communists and socialists really did believe that communism and socialism would be better for human beings than the terrors of capitalism and free markets. But their motives pale beside their actual works, slaughtering a hundred million and more in assuaging their guilt.

Actions George, not motives.’

In many instances, the loyalty that many people had for communist and socialist ideals has been transferred over to green causes. Many moral commitments that came with these ideologies, frustrated by the horrendous consequences and totalitarian regimes that resulted (Stalinist North Korea and Communist Cuba still sputter onwards), have been re-directed or can even appear re-branded within environmental movements.

YOU should feel guilty about the poor, the downtrodden, and the global victims of industrial activity. WE should ‘re-wild’ nature and bring it to a state it achieved before man came and despoiled it. Humans have the power to shape their world, but only if they follow the right ideals and the right knowledge, as well as perhaps feeling the guilt and commitment and passion that come with those ideals. WE should aim for a simpler, collective life, and feel ’empathy’ with everyone (oft times the noble savage) around the globe.

—————–

To be fair, we don’t often see genuine socialists out in public in the United States pushing green causes, but there’s more than a little anti-corporate, anti-industrial activism that often finds expression within environmental movements. This activism can make its way into laws, and forms a major plank in the Democratic party platform nationally.

Whatever your thoughts on the natural world and conservation, I think it’s fair to say that from cartoons to schools to movies, there’s also been remarkable popular success in making environmental activism mainstream conventional wisdom; easy, cool and fun to join.

Rarely though, is there much discussion of the costs environmental laws can impose on private landowners and consumers (not just big real-estate developers and industrial interests) through compliance with the laws and higher prices. Supporters of environmental causes don’t often connect the dots between their interests and the potential for bureaucratic waste and mismanagement, nor the downright twisted incentives that can result for citizens, lawmakers and even budding scientists looking for grant money.

As we see in California, I think once you get enough public sentiment believing in the basic tenets of green thinking, then climate science, whatever its merits, often becomes a sideshow, while politics and money can become the main event.

***I think Monbiot was on much more stable ground when he appealed to J.S. Mill’s harm principle regarding people harmed by industrial activity.  Sometimes people in industries just don’t care about some of the consequences of their actions, and legal recourse can be hard to come by for those without money or connections.  There have been beneficial consequences to individuals’ health and to those parts of nature sought to be conserved…but again…at what cost?

It seems worth continually discussing.

From George Monbiot: ‘How Freedom Became Tyranny’…

This isn’t just about science.

——————-

Related On This SiteA Wolf In Wolf’s Clothing?-’Rewilding’ And Ecological Balance

Repost-From The American Spectator: ‘Environmentalism and the Leisure Class’

A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”From The Boston Review: ‘Libertarianism And Liberty: How Not To Argue For Limited Government And Lower Taxes’From Slate: ‘The Liberty Scam-Why Even Robert Nozick, The Philosophical Father Of Libertarianism, Gave Up On The Movement He Inspired.’

Is it actual Nature, or a deep debate about civilization and morality, man and nature that fuels this Western debate: ….Roger Sandall At The New Criterion Via The A & L Daily: ‘Aboriginal Sin’Roger Sandall At The American Interest: ‘Tribal Realism’Karl Popper’s metaphysical theory: Falsifiability

Did Jared Diamond get attacked for not being romantic enough…or just for potential hubris?:  Was he acting as a journalist in Papua New-Guinea?:  From The Chronicle Of Higher Education: Jared Diamond’s Lawsuit

Instead of global green governance, what about a World Leviathan…food for thought, and a little frightening: At Bloggingheads Steven Pinker Discusses War And Thomas Hobbes

Ronald Bailey At Reason: ‘Delusional in Durban’A Few Links On Environmentalism And Liberty

A Wolf In Wolf’s Clothing?-‘Rewilding’ And Ecological Balance

This video’s been making the rounds (copyright) on the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone. In it, the claim is made that Yellowstone wolves have started a trophic cascade. In hunting and clearing-out deer herds from valley floors, the wolves, as top predators, have indirectly caused more vegetation and higher trees to grow near streams and rivers. This has created more habitat in which more species flourish, allowing for greater biodiversity, straightening out Yellowstone’s rivers and even altering the very landscape.

What a noble creature, the wolf, goes the thinking, starting such an improbable causal chain. Nature has been made more whole and pure by the mere presence of such a creature, and perhaps your place in Nature, dear reader.  Man is nowhere to be found, really, except perhaps as humble observer of what he’s helped put into motion (focus on the good parts).

Of course, not discussed are the costs of wolf management placed by some conservationists and activists upon ranchers and property owners as the wolves spread out beyond Yellowstone:

‘In sum, the people who support wolves need to take economic responsibility for them. But this program is about a lot more than money. It’s about respecting what the ranchers do. Eventually, I want wolves to be just another animal, not up on a pedestal as they are now. ‘

Laws cost time and money, and so does conservation. Activism isn’t free, as it comes with increased taxes, increased regulation and people to oversee both. The meter’s running in a world of economic and natural scarcity, and right now private-property owners and taxpayers are disproportionately picking up the tab when it comes to wolf reintroduction, however meager the populations.

Green Means Go, Red Means Stop?

It should be noted that the narrator of the original video is Briton George Monbiot, who seems awfully political for someone merely interested in Nature and Man’s place in it. Perhaps he’s nearing eco-socialist territory:

From his site:

‘Here are some of the things I try to fight: undemocratic power, corruption, deception of the public, environmental destruction, injustice, inequality and the misallocation of resources, waste, denial, the libertarianism which grants freedom to the powerful at the expense of the powerless, undisclosed interests, complacency.’

That sounds like an oddly specific and ideological mission-statement, going way beyond merely ordering nature and wolf-reintroduction. In fact, there’s a whole set of political assumptions and grievances under there.

On that note, some greens can become so humanist as to become anti-humanist, disgusted by man and his economic activity trampling through their visions and frustrated ideologies.

See Bob Zubrin discuss ‘Radical Environmentalists And Other Merchants Of Despair’:

——————-

Since we’re importing all this Britishness, here’s Briton Roger Scruton discussing why he thinks his brand of conservatism is better able to tackle environmental issues than either liberalism or socialism.

As an American, I have to confess that seeing Scruton is his fox-hunting attire moves me to imagine how these guys might have looked marching down the street:

——————

From George Monbiot: ‘How Freedom Became Tyranny’

Is it actual Nature, or a deep debate about civilization and morality, man and nature that fuels this Western debate: ….Roger Sandall At The New Criterion Via The A & L Daily: ‘Aboriginal Sin’Roger Sandall At The American Interest: ‘Tribal Realism’

Instead of global green governance, what about a World Leviathan…food for thought, and a little frightening: At Bloggingheads Steven Pinker Discusses War And Thomas Hobbes

Ronald Bailey At Reason: ‘Delusional in Durban’A Few Links On Environmentalism And Liberty

From George Monbiot: ‘How Freedom Became Tyranny’

Full piece here.

The old liberal vs libertarian battle rehashed…link sent in by a reader:

Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty” found here.

According to Monbiot, libertarian conservatives in Britain (and I presume America) have turned “freedom into tyranny.”  He uses Isaiah Berlin’s definition of “negative liberty” to accuse said libertarians of not living up to it, and thus apparently, becoming tyrannous:

‘As Berlin noted, “no man’s activity is so completely private as never to obstruct the lives of others in any way. ‘Freedom for the pike is death for the minnows’”. So, he argued, some people’s freedom must sometimes be curtailed “to secure the freedom of others.” In other words, your freedom to swing your fist ends where my nose begins. The negative freedom not to have our noses punched is the freedom that green and social justice campaigns, exemplified by the Occupy movement, exist to defend.’

Yes, some people’s freedoms must sometimes be curtailed to ‘secure the freedoms of others.’  This is why we have laws.  No man is an island.  Most libertarians, I think, would agree that one fundamental freedom is the freedom from violence, whatever his/her moral reasoning.

I would also admit that greed (and unreflected pursuit of self-interest in a twisted system of incentives), in part, led to the bundling of bad debt and its sale to hapless investors that’s occurred on Wall Street.  A good libertarian, however, would also argue that those incentives were helped to be skewed by people seeking social justice, increased home-ownership, an expanded middle-class, and also political self-interest and money.  In this case, the very people standing up for liberty (rights based liberty…justice…a piece of the pie), also have arguably posed threats to negative freedom and contributed to the mess we’re in.

Regardless, it’s not clear to me that the recession impinges upon an individual’s negative freedom.

————————————–

Instead of focusing on social justice nor the negative freedoms of the greens (for which Monbiot, as many greens do, uses a Romantic poet’s conception of Nature as central), there are the Occupy protestors.

The negative freedom of protesters, to my knowledge, was not impinged upon very much nor very often.  They exercised both freedom of speech and freedom of assembly within legal limits (and they can’t rebuild at Zuccotti Park again, lawfully).  Eventually, many protestors impinged upon other citizen’s negative freedom by taking over public and private spaces for themselves, making those spaces unclean and unsafe, and even criminally dangerous.  It turns out the State (through the police force) had to eventually intervene and protect many of the protestors from one another.

Monbiot continues:

‘Claire Fox is a feared interrogator on the BBC show The Moral Maze. Yet when I asked her a simple question – “do you accept that some people’s freedoms intrude upon other people’s freedoms?” – I saw an ideology shatter like a windscreen. I used the example of a Romanian lead smelting plant I had visited in 2000, whose freedom to pollute is shortening the lives of its neighbours(7). Surely the plant should be regulated in order to enhance the negative freedoms – freedom from pollution, freedom from poisoning – of its neighbours? ‘

I can’t speak for Ms. Fox, but yes, people’s health can be negatively impacted by industrial activity, and I don’t imagine it’s hard to find such injustice near a smelting plant, nor people who worked with asbestos, nor say Chernobyl, nor even in, say, rapidly industrializing, old Communist China.   But this particular plant is in Romania (and I will take Monbiot’s one cited study as valid).  Politics is best done locally and I should hope the people so affected have legal recourse in Romania.  It’s not clear how effective Monbiot’s definition of liberty, narrowed to fit a global green ideology, would be in practically helping Romanian villagers to be negatively free.

He continues:

‘Modern libertarianism is the disguise adopted by those who wish to exploit without restraint. It pretends that only the state intrudes on our liberties. It ignores the role of banks, corporations and the rich in making us less free. It denies the need for the state to curb them in order to protect the freedoms of weaker people. This bastardised, one-eyed philosophy is a con trick, whose promoters attempt to wrongfoot justice by pitching it against liberty. By this means they have turned “freedom” into an instrument of oppression.’

Now that Monbiot has his definition of freedom, he draws a small circle around it and proceeds to demonize the opposition (with a lot of heated rhetoric and political posturing).   Of course, this is actually quite an illiberal stance to take.

No, the State isn’t the only entity (made up of people) which intrudes upon our liberties.  We need to be protected from one another, and from public and private groups of people pursuing their own interests and from the tyranny of the mob.  The U.S., at least, is a nation of laws.

Yes, banks, incorporated entities and “the rich” can by Berlin’s definition, intrude upon the negative freedoms of individuals (eminent domain, abuse or manipulations of law, crony capitalism, lawful but ethically challenged business practices).  But consistent libertarians stand up for such causes every day (see Reason Magazine).  Non-libertarians and a plurality, if not a majority, of Americans recognize that such activites are the price of having a both free and open society, and of being equal under the law.

—————————————

Additionally, I take Berlin’s point about positive freedom to mean that for each of us it’s necessary to maintain our moral lights enough to also protect us from ourselves and our passions.  One way people choose to do this is through the moral doctrines of the Church (God is free and thus so is Man, cast as he is in God’s image…with free will to choose).  Religious zeal, righteous certainty, passionate conviction and blind belief are threats to liberty of course, but they are not merely the province of religion.

Related On This Site:  A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”From The Boston Review: ‘Libertarianism And Liberty: How Not To Argue For Limited Government And Lower Taxes’From Slate: ‘The Liberty Scam-Why Even Robert Nozick, The Philosophical Father Of Libertarianism, Gave Up On The Movement He Inspired.’

Is it actual Nature, or a deep debate about civilization and morality, man and nature that fuels this Western debate: ….Roger Sandall At The New Criterion Via The A & L Daily: ‘Aboriginal Sin’Roger Sandall At The American Interest: ‘Tribal Realism’Karl Popper’s metaphysical theory: Falsifiability

Did Jared Diamond get attacked for not being romantic enough…or just for potential hubris?:  Was he acting as a journalist in Papua New-Guinea?:  From The Chronicle Of Higher Education: Jared Diamond’s Lawsuit

Instead of global green governance, what about a World Leviathan…food for thought, and a little frightening: At Bloggingheads Steven Pinker Discusses War And Thomas Hobbes

Ronald Bailey At Reason: ‘Delusional in Durban’A Few Links On Environmentalism And Liberty

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