Diktat vs liberty
By Thomas E. Brewton
New greenhouse-gas regulations will impinge upon personal freedom and distort the economy.
Rising hysteria about the alleged greenhouse-gas role in global warming will predictably bring about a new miasma of self-contradictory and harmful regulations.
Socialism, the secular religion of liberals and Progressives, preaches that only intellectual councils, led by Al Gore, are smart enough to see clearly how everyone else must behave and to impose the necessary regulations. Universal, bitter experience demonstrates, however, that regulatory agencies cannot possibly foresee all the effects of their actions.
The free-market adjustment of millions of people can and does uncover a wealth of alternatives beyond the ken of any state-planning group and makes gradual adjustments without the unsettling abruptness of one-size-fits-all Federal regulation.
Steve Forbes, in the current edition of Forbes Magazine (DeCAFE is Healthier), notes a few of the destructive effects of mid-70s Congressional mandates for automobile fuel efficiency (CAFE). Among them: automobile accident death rates increased (smaller, lighter cars are more easily crushed); counter-productively, higher fuel efficiency induced more driving miles and higher gasoline consumption; and handing the automobile market to smaller, lighter cars undercut the American automobile manufacturers, leaving the industrial Mid-West a rust bowl with massive unemployment in the 1970s and early 80s.
In contrast, Mr. Forbes observes, the only really effective regulator is the free market via higher gasoline prices. In real life people ought to be able to make their own decisions about how to spend their money. The sharp decline recently in SUV sales makes clear that people can adjust rationally to economic market forces without the help of the Federal government.
Liberals are calling for gasoline price caps and extra taxes on petroleum companies, together with tighter fuel efficiency standards that will destroy what remains of the American automobile industry.
Liberal-Progressive-socialists, both among Democrats and liberal Republicans, believe that no session of Congress is complete without bundles of new agencies and laws mandating specific "solutions" to problems. That paradigm implicitly assumes that individuals are incapable of arriving at satisfactory solutions themselves, that the actions of millions of individuals (known as the free marketplace) will bring about the wrong solution to problems.
The liberal paradigm inherently trends toward autocratic government that is the opposite of the political and economic liberties for which the colonist fought in our War of Independence. Arbitrary government regulation is the essence of Hitler's National Socialism and Lenin's Soviet Communism.
Civilization is not the same thing as arbitrary government regulation. Civilization is the commonly accepted understandings of how people must conduct themselves in dealing with each other within organized political units (the word itself - civilization - derives from civitas, the Latin word meaning city).
The one point of convergence among all political units – from tribes, to city states, to ancient empires and modern national states – was commerce. Every people ever studied by archaeologists and historians of necessity engaged in trade with other political groups to obtain raw materials and finished products to supply what their geography and customs lacked.
No committee of intellectuals ever sat down at any one time and decided upon the rules of civilized conduct. Those rules evolved over thousands of years of trial-and-error experience, with gradual modifications to meet specific conditions. That is what economists call the free marketplace.
Thomas E. Brewton is a staff writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets. His weblog is The View from 1776 http://www.thomasbrewton.com/. Email comments to email@example.com.
Get weekly updates about new issues of ESR!