Monday, August 20, 2007

More slice, dice and complain.

From Cato's Letter, which I usually don't read. Sorry, it's nothing personal, just it never jumps out to me.

Three Key Challenges to Freedom

Neostatism[...]My first topic is connected to communism. The Czech Republic — as did all the other former communist countries — had to undergo a difficult transition. We came to understand very early on that the transition had to be homemade as it was impossible to import a system devised abroad. We also came to understand that such a fundamental change was not an exercise in applied economics but a man-made evolutionary process and that we had to find our own path, our "Czech way," toward an efficiently functioning society and economy.
Good point. Perhaps this is why Iraq is such a mess? They never asked to be invaded/liberated, and so they're not going to step up.

To understand my criticism requires knowledge of developments in the EU — its gradual metamorphosis from a community of cooperating nations to the union of nonsovereign nations — and of prevailing supranationalistic tendencies. Those developments are not well-known in the United States.
Yeah, the United States wouldn't understand how a collection of cooperating states turning into a monolithic nation? But less sarcastically, what's wrong with that on it's face?

I see the third main threat to individual freedom in environmentalism. To be specific, I do understand the concerns about eventual environmental degradation, but I also see a problem in environmentalism as an ideology.
Hmm. The windup?

Environmentalism only pretends to deal with environmental protection. Behind their people- and nature-friendly terminology, the adherents of environmentalism make ambitious attempts to radically reorganize and change the world, human society, our behavior, and our values.

There is no doubt that it is our duty to rationally protect nature for future generations. The followers of the environmentalist ideology, however, keep presenting us with various catastrophic scenarios with the intention of persuading us to implement their ideas. That is not only unfair but also extremely dangerous. Even more dangerous, in my view, is the quasi-scientific guise that their oft-refuted forecasts have taken on.
Taking a lot of leaps here. He's not really talking about environmentalists, he's got it backwards. He means to criticize those who use environmentalism (or any other -ism they can misunderstand/subvert to their ends).

What are the beliefs and assumptions that form the basis of the environmentalist ideology?

* Disbelief in the power of the invisible hand of the free market and a belief in the omnipotence of state dirigisme.
* Disregard for the role of important and powerful economic mechanisms and institutions, primarily those of property rights and prices, in an effective protection of nature.
* Misunderstanding of the meaning of resources and of the difference between potential natural resources and real ones that can be used in the economy. Malthusian pessimism over technical progress.
* Belief in the dominance of externalities in human activities.
* Promotion of the so-called precautionary principle, which maximizes risk aversion without paying attention to the costs.
* Underestimation of long-term income growth and welfare improvements, which results in a fundamental shift of demand toward environmental protection and is demonstrated by the so-called environmental Kuznets Curve.
* Erroneous discounting of the future, demonstrated so clearly by the highly publicized Stern Report a few months ago.
Who's he talking about? Sounds like he's talking about the commies, not folks who are worried about not shitting up Lake Michigan? DON'T externalities dominate, whether we like it or not? Isn't Eastern Europe a filthy cesspool because the USSR externalized their pollution there? And we cannot count on the future. Just because we managed to solve some problems now, in yesterday's future, does not guarantee we'll be able to clean up your shit 50 years from now.

The hypothesis of global warming and the role of humanity in that process is the last and, to this day, the most powerful embodiment of the environmental ideology. It has brought many important "advantages" to the environmentalists:
He mixed in two huge different concepts there- that the world is heating (for the miniscule period of time we have records for), and that it's our fault. Who cares if it's our fault or not? CO2 seems to be rising, and it's getting hotter. We ought to investigate that without a bunch of clowns gumming up the works with manufactured doubt.

Environmentalists' argumentation is based not on simple empirical measurements or laboratory experiments but on sophisticated model experiments working with a range of ill-founded assumptions that are usually hidden and not sufficiently understood.
I think that's simply untrue. No, we don't have another Earth or another 6 billion people to experiment upon. But we do have thermometers.

The opponents of the global warming hypothesis have to accept the fact that in this case we are in a world pervaded by externalities.
Didn't he just say that environmentalists believe too much in externalities? And I think we checked, the sun isn't any closer. That's the only relevant externality in the realm of global warming.

2 Comments:

At Sunday, August 26, 2007 11:33:00 AM CDT, Blogger cljo said...

Ahhhh, Vaclav Klaus. First of all, someone needs to write a dual biography of The Two Vaclav's, Klaus and Havel. Despite their extreme polar differences and their antagonism, they together led the Czech Republic out of communism and into the most successful Eastern European transitions.

To your critiques now:

I think he's right to say the U.S. doesn't understand the EU for several reasons. First, the EU process has been gradual and deliberate. The US process was quick and almost accidental. Second, the socio-economic environment is totally different. The US was created in a agrarian/merchant situation, the EU in a post-communist post-industrial environment. There was no such thing in 18/19th century America as law harmonization and bureaucratic integration. That is the fundamental center of the EU.

Moving on. Vaclav Klaus may hates communism, but he sure writes like one. I get the feeling he just exchanged one overbearing dogma for another.

Fundamental question for everyone: has "Malthusian pessimism" ever won out over technical progress? Peak oil is the latest malthusian crisis, and the arguments are going back and forth.

Yes, externalities do dominate. Our problem lies in not properly assigning value to them and making the "trespassers" pay. Its a huge, dynamic problem and I'm not sure what Klaus is proposing.

I do like his calling out of too much "precaution".

And I agree with you that the world is getting hotter and that it may or may not be entirely all fault. (It might be, say, 10% our fault and the rest a natural process.) But it appears be a fact.

 
At Monday, August 27, 2007 8:43:00 PM CDT, Blogger gc said...

EU: Do we not understand the EU, or do we not care for it? For many, the American Way is fundamentally uncooperative. Laboratories of freedom and all that dreck.

Commie: I think it's the authoritarianism? Once you get used to pushing people around, you can't stop.

Pessimism: I doubt it ever wins out, but I think it informs the results.

Precaution: Is it too much precaution, or a crossing over into worried inaction? Or haters masking their obstructionism with false precaution?

Climate change: That's too much subtlety for he media. Who do we bomb?

 

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