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Capitalism and Conservation
November 4, 2010 Resources

I’ve blogged this idea before, but it is worth revisiting.

When you have a chance to get into a discussion of economics or the environment with a progressive minded friend some day ask them if they think that under market capitalism workers get the short-end of the deal. I am sure they would say yes, to some degree. In other words, greedy employers will do whatever they can to squeeze out the last bit of value from their labor force. They will use them as ruthlessly “efficiently” as possible. They certainly wouldn’t employ “extra” workers and pay them “too much.”

Then ask your friend, “Do you think capitalism is consistent with the preservation of natural resources?” I am certain you will get a resounding, “No!”

I won’t elaborate much more now beyond the hilarious contradiction here. So capitalists are only greedy profit-seeking, cost-minimizing misers when it comes to one type of input (labor) but they have no regard for saving money when it comes to other types of inputs (natural resources). It must be because the natural resources have not formed an effective “resource union” to fight for their rights. And if not that, it must be because the capitalists have managed to snuff out the voices of tin and lead and steel and fire, etc. And, if not that, it must be because of all of those government regulations ensuring fair treatment of those resources.

Never mind.

"2" Comments
  1. I liked your series about lead and steel and fire, wintercow. The enviros elide everything. Not far from my Bastiat books is a book with Hesiod on its spine. I have not cracked that book since I went to college, but I do know Hesiod discussed the same stuff as did Thales and Heraclitus. These pre-Socratic philosophers were trying to make sense of the world, and they spoke in elemental terms of air, fire, earth.

    Secular humanists, if they scarcely have heard of Heraclitus, dismiss their primitive ideas as old, unworthy of consideration.

    Today in the local paper I read a story about the state inspectors finding a sample of water that was tested as containing 3 to 4 parts PER Billion of lead, and the story included comments of a concerned mother who feared for her daughter who loved to splash about in the water.

    The article did quote our local water official, whom I know. He pointed out that the suspect samples taken by the state water police included samples from faucets that had not been used for a while, including a faucet in someone’s basement, and another from the outside of a house that had been unoccupied for a year.

    The federal standard is 2 parts per billion.

    What sort of dumb crackheads can engineer such absurdity? Is there any bleeding heart out there who has an answer to 2 parts per billion?

  2. As a person who used to answer such questions in the tone you describe who is trying to educate myself more thoroughly on economics before making statements, can you elaborate on why these answers are nonsense? Or, perhaps, recommend another source that I can visit for a more in-depth look?

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