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« Free Reads -- Crunchy Cons | Main | Crunchy Cons, Reredux »

September 20, 2002

Crunchy Cons, redux


My problem as a right-wing Neanderthal is not with “tree huggers” or environmentalism per se. My difficulty is with the left’s method of distributing the costs of environmental protection. This is to stick private landowners with 100% of the costs, while the general public all shares in the benefit. (In the case of Superfund cleanups, the private party getting stuck with the cost may not—and in most cases, doesn’t—have any connection with the actual business practices that caused the pollution.) I’ve always wondered why the Sierra Club, with the extremely high average per capita income of its members, doesn’t just pass the hat and buy up endangered “old growth” forests, etc.?

The same process is at work in affirmative action in college admissions. The benefits of a more diverse workforce and society are, presumably, general. But the cost is laid entirely on the marginal white and Asian applicants to universities, the people who get bumped to make room for the affirmative action candidates. I’m not aware of any data showing that such marginal white or Asian students bear any particular responsibility for previous racial discrimination, yet the prevailing solution is to say, “Tough luck guys, hope you applied to another school.”

If the public benefits, then—ahem—the public oughtta pay. The left’s favorite criticism of markets involves externalities (that is, benefits or damages that are not included in the costs of the goods being sold through the market.) The price of electricity from a coal-fired power plant, for example, should (but doesn’t) include the cost of the damage it will do to the environment through its pollution. Fair enough. But the left doesn’t scream when it uses the government to create externalities. Forcing private landowners to undertake expensive endangered species protection without compensation—sounds like a governmental ‘externality.’ Kicking marginal white and Asian students out of a more prestigious university so they'll make less money the rest of their life—sounds like a governmental ‘externality.’ Make the wealthiest 10% of the citizens pay for half or more of the cost of government—sounds like a governmental ‘externality.’

Have you ever noticed that ‘social justice’ always seems to involve ‘us-them’ dichotomies in which the ‘them’ are ripped off to provide bennies for the ‘us’ group? (And these bennies are then presented as "free"?) Have you ever wondered at the constant use of dehumanizing language in leftist rhetoric—the evil Rich, the self-centered Yuppie bastards, etc., etc. (The funniest one is to describe lower middle class people as “Working Families”—like the wealthy don’t work longer hours.) Well, you can reliably follow the language—the people being trashed are being softened up for plucking.

posted by Friedrich at September 20, 2002


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