Thursday, February 25, 2010

Environmentalism vs. Capitalism?

This semester, I am taking both an environmental policy studies course, as well as one on international business practice. In my e.p.s. class, economics are actually brought up quite frequently. Many people feel that environmentalism and capitalism are conflicting ideals, and therefore stand in the way of the other's progress...

...Or do they?

The trouble is that capitalism is often automatically subconsciously linked with "dirty" industrialism. This is no longer the case, as air & land quality standards have increased dramatically over the last century. While the industrial sector is still not a "clean" field, it is no longer spewing deadly toxins over our children. However, the subconscious link is still there because many people see capitalists as apathetic about environmental issues. True, the primary goal of a capitalist entity is to earn profit and many environmental ventures are not profitable...But perhaps that is where to start.

The "Green" movement has been the icon of the unspoken partnership between capitalists and environmentalists. From household cleaning supplies to environmentally-friendly hybrid cars, there has been a mass of technological advances which have proven profitable AND represent a step towards a healthier Earth. The trouble is that many environmental-tech proposals for various industries simply aren't profitable, and so they won't bother with development. Many folks are quick to demonize the corporate heads for this, but those folks should (and must) accept that a company has to earn profit in order to survive in the global economy. Instead of proposing large-scale environmental overhauls, environmentalists should focus on ventures that will not only secure the local environment, but will also create jobs/profit. The PurGen One Project is a perfect example of this (Visit for more information. Also, see for some oppositional views). The overall goal of the plant is to create jobs, earn a profit for SCS Energy, and help reduce the air pollution that still haunts the Greater NY area. Despite having some legitimate flaws which can be studied and improved, it's a step in the right direction for all of us. Until we can learn to make solar/wind energy systems more efficient, we must work with the resources we have. We cannot rely on empty standards set by the U.N. for emissions in respective countries. This is completely unfeasible in countries like India and China, who are in a sort of mini-industrial age and are economically developing at an incredibly fast rate. Instead, we should focus on aiding ALL sectors of national infrastructure, not just one or the other.

In studying this, we can see that environmentalism and capitalism do not have to remain "fields of opposition". There are numerous proposals which might not be perfect, but nonetheless stand to improve not just the quality of our wallet space, but also the very air we breathe.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The State of Things

Hey, everyone. Sorry for the long hiatus; final exams and winter break yanked me away from writing for a while there. I thought I'd take a moment and reflect on what's been happening around us recently.

California is considering legalizing marijuana not just for medical use, but also recreational. Well, it's about damn time. There are many issues in the political realm which create completely understandable debate. I have never and will never be able to comprehend why marijuana is still illegal. It has not killed one person in the history of its usage. It's national decriminalization could bring billions of dollars in tax revenue. It's not terribly different than alcohol prohibition. It's okay to smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol (which, combined, claimed over 400,000 lives in 2000; Source:, but marijuana remains illegal. California is taking the first step towards what could (finally) be an end to one of the most hypocritical policies of our government. It makes me very happy that California is remembering the wonders of capitalism, and that common sense just might rule the day.

Gay marriage is up for consideration in NJ and NY. After all these years, gay folks might finally have the freedom to do what they should have been free to do all along. Too long has the government stuck it's nose into peoples' bedrooms. Too long has Congress suppressed individual freedom because of their religious and "moral" scruples. What they had truly forgotten (or perhaps ignored) is that our country was founded on the principles of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness". Throughout history, our society has, sadly, been selective on who that applies to. But hopefully, that era will end soon.

Obama is proposing a tax to "recover" the bailout money. Those of you who have read some of my previous articles probably can guess how I feel about this one. OK...So the administration spends over $800 billion on an absurd bailout scheme for companies that completely ignored the warning signs from Wall Street analysts (and, in my eyes, don't deserve to continue operating. I know they won't be disbanded, but this proposal has no punishments of any kind for their irresponsibility). The money still isn't even close to being fully utilized. And now they want to levy a tax on those companies for accepting government help? Other than massive layoffs, we've seen almost no change in the business practices of these companies. That tells me that they're still financially in the toilet, because if they had the money to pay back the government, the government wouldn't need to impose a tax. Something stinks on this one. I'm not quite sure what to make of it, but I'll keep reading. Warren Buffett had some good thoughts on this one:

The war stumbles forward. *Sigh*.

So there's some good and bad, like always. Such is life, I suppose.

Now that my winter break is over, I'll be posting a bit more regularly. Thanks for reading, folks.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Continuing Antifederalist Thought

"Anti-federalism" is an interesting word. What's interesting about it is that the word "anti-federalism" has all but been replaced by the word "libertarianism". In its essence, the word signifies a desire to stop the expansion of government. Modern libertarians in our country are pursuing the exact same ideal. If you do a search on the term "anti-federalism", you'll find that nearly every resulting site contains information about the 18th century scholars who opposed the Constitution in favor of the Articles of Confederation (which gave more power to the states instead of the Fed). However, I don't believe that anti-federalist thought stopped with the ratification of the Constitution.

Strangely, the term "anti-federalism" isn't quite correct. The dictionary defines "federalism" as "the distribution of power in an organization (as a government) between a central authority and the constituent units". This was precisely the goal of the Anti-Federalist Movement in the 18th century. So, in fact, they should have been called the "Anti-Government-Expansionists", because while federalism was indeed aligned with their goal, the expansion of the Fed was not.

Anyway, back to the point...

It can be said that libertarians are the contemporary equivalent of the anti-federalists. Why? Because we too believe in the minimization of government role in our daily lives. The threat as the anti-federalists saw it was the Constitution without a bill of rights (which was indeed later written). When a Constitution including a Bill of Rights was passed, their organized movement was essentially finished. However, their stances on the expansion of government were not. The only thing that has changed is the threat. It is no longer the Constitution itself which threatens our liberty, but the government which has evolved from that era. Tax after tax, foreign military action after foreign military action...If our founding fathers saw what the Fed looked like today, they would likely vomit. Instead of maintaining the intended distance between their intentions from our own personal ones, they now have their hands dipped in health care, the automobile industry, international defense policy, and our wallets, to name a few. The only duty that the central government was supposed to have (as far as tax dollars go) was to ensure that our civil liberty and security are upheld. That's it. These days, they seem to want to find any excuse to spend more of our taxes on pork.

Let's compare gov't localization and centralization.

The original duties of centralized government, as previously stated, were to guard our borders, ensure justice, and secure our personal liberties. In this, they have been very successful. Our military is one of the most powerful on the planet, public roads and schools are in good shape, and we are certainly a free-minded people. However, there is heated debate (that has been rekindled this year) about whether or not Keynesian economics is the answer to financial crises. Supporters of KE will say that the free-market is slow to recover from such crises, and that it promotes financial instability at home. However, we have seen how KE has historically been a drain on nations' private sectors, and how concentrated government control on a nation's economic structure can lead to decreased civil liberties. There is also the issue of forcing every citizen to pay into certain expenditures and activities with which some of us might not agree. This is unfair and unnecessary.

Now in most localized governments, things run a lot smoother. Most politically-conscious folks have seen, met, or know personally their locally elected representatives (mayors, county freeholders, etc). Local officials live in the area which they govern, and as a result, they are much more knowledgeable of the financial needs and social culture of that area. There is also a great deal less red tape when we try to get something done locally, as opposed to going through the state or federal government (every American has experience on that point!). Local taxes generally go toward what they're supposed to, like the town's schools, road maintenance, etc. Our federal taxes, on the other hand, go towards lining Congressional pockets, damaging private businesses, sticking our nose in other nation's affairs, fighting prodigious wars, and the like. Which would you rather pay into?

The reason we liberty-loving people so vehemently resist the Fed is because we see what they have become. We see how they try, year after year, to influence more aspects of the country's infrastructure. While it may have been given a new name, the anti-federalist tradition will not subside as long as the government continues its own tradition of monetary waste and international interference.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Awww, She Gave It Away.....

The same woman who said that Cuba has a great health care system. Thank you, Comrade Waters!

I thought it was funny that she was more cautious about using the word "socializing" than she was about saying "the gov't taking over your companies". As if the latter were less threatening.

Friday, October 9, 2009

This Is What I Come Back To...?!

Hey, everyone. Sorry for the massive gap in posting; school had me held up pretty tight for a while there. The beginning of the semester is always rough.

So I come back to the arena and I find this in my news byte: Obama has just been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

I actually got a little nauseous when I read this. It says he won it for "his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples." Strange, because one of the biggest themes of his Presidency has been antagonizing the Middle East.

What the Nobel Prize Committee just proved to the world is that if everyone (the media) likes you, you can win the Nobel Prize.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Cult of Personality

When a ruler tries to enamor well-versed adults through the media, it's one thing. But when public schools start doing this to children, it fills me with an indescribable rage.

Every schoolteacher who participated in this activity and the superintendent that condoned it should be fired.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Spirit of Debate

I had a great exchange this week with some of my pro-universalized-health buddies. I posted a terrific article by my friend-in-bloggage, Stephen Smith, and got quite a response from folks regarding whether health care is a privilege or a right. I stated my belief that it is a privilege, not a right. Here's the conversation that ensued. You decide who won:

Friend 1 - Using that logic, many rights you have as an American citizen would also be considered a mere privilege. The article states that "people have the right to desire whatever they want, but this does not grant them a right to the thing itself, no matter how much they may want or even need it." If that's the case, then you can throw your right to free speech out the window. You can also forget about your right to vote.

Me - The author is talking about goods and services, like computers, health care, gun permits, drivers' licenses, higher education, etc. You're referring to inherent traits of democracy. Voting and free speech are not goods and services, as they cannot be traded or bought. They are something that is fought and died for.

Health care is something that people buy. Therefore, it is a good/service. Analogically, if my car breaks down and my mother is sick in upstate NY and I have no other way of getting to her, I cannot up and demand a competitively-priced car from the government, declaring it as my right just because my own car broke down. You see where I'm coming from?

Friend 2 - why do firefighters put out fires?

Me - I know where you're going with that question, and no, we do not have a RIGHT to having them put out a fire in our houses. We do, however, pay taxes which in turn pay their salary. Therefore, firefighting is indeed a community service in which we are all entitled because we already pay into it. The same applies to the police.

If health care should be our right, then why aren't electricity, faucet water, and natural gas our rights as citizens?

Friend 2 - all of those things you named should be rights!

Me - Then you know what, I want the government to give me a new Ford Focus. 'Cuz it's my right. Cars are necessary to our survival, right? They're not goods, no sir. How about a Blackberry while we're at it? Or a PC? You can't just demand a convenience as your right.

Friend 3 - this author is a jack ass!. Healthcare is something that we want because we think it is "REALLY NIFTY?" Everyone has a right to good health, whether it be better educated on nutrition etc or the very desperate who need help in paying the ridiculous amounts of $$$ to save their lives or their loved ones. You guys are losing me on this "debate"

Me - Read all of the arguments in this thread carefully, and you'll understand exactly why it's a debate.

Do I think it's f-ed up that insurance companies drop cancer patients? Absolutely. But socializing it is NOT the answer. Making me pay for health care for people who destroy their own bodies (hard drugs, smoking, etc) is absurd, and I won't stand for it. That's why I say what I say. We need to address the existing problems, not destroy the private insurance industry.

It's like I said before...If health care, which is a good/service, becomes a right of the people, then what's to stop us from demanding a tax-funded cellphone service? It's certainly a great tool in case of emergencies, just like health care. So what's stopping us from demanding it as a RIGHT, regardless of how it might perform compared to say, Verizon (

Friend 2 - so, you agree that everyone should have healthcare except for addicts? how many people are destroying their bodies from drugs/smoking as a percentage of the population? certainly not close to a majority. shouldn't we enable the addicts get help instead of letting them get sick? the NY quit-smoking hotline is doing very well i hear. isn't it better for everyone that everyone is able bodied and can work, allowing more people to actually contribute to the pool of taxes?

and seriously, no one believes the straw men you keep throwing up with 'tax-funded cell phones', 'govt cars', etc. anyone with some common sense can see why healthcare is different and separate.

did you know, illness causes 50% of all personal bankruptcies?

Me - 1) Why? Why different and separate? Isn't health care an investment, like a car or a computer? Don't people buy policies to fit their circumstances? You're bringing sentimentality into this issue, and that's the problem with so many people involved in this debate. People will immediately say "Well I was injured and had to pay $___ thousands of dollars! I shouldn't have to go broke paying my med bills!" And they're right. But they're ignoring glaring abuse by folks which creates that fear in doctors, making them recommend excessive treatment and driving up prices. It's a vicious circle; let's work on THAT instead of destroying half of the insurance industry. Eliminating frivolous lawsuits are the first step.
2) Why should I have to pay the medical expenses of people who abuse their own bodies? Maybe you're that kind and have that money to spend, but I'm not and I don't.

Friend 2 - you already do pay for the medical expenses of people who abuse their bodies, in the form of horribly overpriced health insurance to offset the other people in the system.

oh, and here is my point all wrapped up for you:

Me - And you could have picked a much better article to make your point!
-The Federal Reserve is one of the biggest antagonists of the economic crisis (, I want that f-ing moron managing my money. Also read "Meltdown" by Thomas Woods).
-The police don't stand guard outside our houses, so they're not protecting anything.
-The weather service is horribly inaccurate.
-The FDA does nothing to protect us (
-Almost every corporation uses UPS/Fed-Ex, because they're faster and more reliable. Personal warehouse work experience on that point.
-There's a new story at least once a week about how inefficient our national defense network is.

There was more to the convo, but these comments comprised the actual debate portion. I'm glad to see that there are still many people out there who might disagree with me, but who still think about their positions and do some research before engaging in debate. I wish there were more people like that in Congress!