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.