Friday, March 31, 2006

Different Flag, Different Lyrics, But the Same Old Tune

The flag is Green now, instead of Red. And the lyrics are different. But the tune is still the same old tune.

When the Reds sang it, the lyrics were that the individual could not be left free because the result would be such things as “exploitation,” “monopoly,” and depressions. When the Greens sing it, the lyrics are that the individual cannot be left free because the result will be such things as destruction of the ozone layer, acid rain, and global warming. (Add an extra chorus now for global warming.)

The tune is still that the individual cannot be left free, that he cannot be left free because his peaceful pursuit of his own happiness and prosperity somehow inflicts harm on others, and that only the government’s pointing a gun at his head will save the rest of mankind from some dreadful calamity.

The Red thugs wanted to control the economic system to set things right. The Green thugs want to control the environment, especially the climate, to set things right.

The Red thugs had no idea of what they were doing and neither do the Green thugs. Just consider this statement from a supporter of prohibitions on carbon dioxide emissions in order to stop global warming:

One of the ironies of the Arctic melting is that it runs the risk of flipping the switch on oceanic thermohaline circulation and shutting down the Atlantic current - this could lead to a sharp cooling in Europe (which lies further north than the US), and appears to have happened in the past. (Posted by “Tokyo Tom” on the Ludwig von Mises Institute’s Blog on March 30, 2006 08:24PM)
Here is someone who doesn’t even know if the global warming he wants to stop will turn out to be a continent-wide cooling instead. But that gives him no pause. He still thinks he knows enough to send the police out to stop people from acting on the knowledge they have about the good they can achieve for themselves by producing and buying goods that happen to emit some carbon dioxide into the air. Their knowledge is to count for nothing. The allegedly superior knowledge of “scientists” is to prevail—at the point of a gun.

That’s the bottom line. Pointing guns at people in the name of some higher collective good, and prohibiting them from achieving their own good. That’s socialism. That’s environmentalism.

This article is copyright © 2006, by George Reisman. Permission is hereby granted to reproduce and distribute it electronically and in print, other than as part of a book and provided that mention of the author’s web site is included. (Email notification is requested.) All other rights reserved. This article was adapted in part from p. 102 of the author’s Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics (Ottawa, Illinois: Jameson Books, 1996). The author is Pepperdine University Professor Emeritus of Economics

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