Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Repeat after me, kids: "It's the tree-huggers' fault"

Sadie and Pyper, only 9 and 7 years old, are protesting high gas prices that made their parents cut out cable TV. Welcome to the real world, girls. Welcome to the lower quality of life that's inevitable when people let themselves be ruled by environmentalists. Those are the people you should be blaming, girls, not oil companies! Oil companies would love nothing better than to supply us with more oil and gas, and at lower prices: when you do the math, lower prices mean higher sales, so they earn more profit while we consumers still benefit from cheap, plentiful carbon fuels.

Instead of blaming the oil companies, Sadie and Pyper need to learn who's really at fault. Their parents are paying more for gasoline because the federal and state and local governments for 32 years have prevented new gasoline refineries from being built, because EPA regulations have forced the number of refineries to drop from 254 in 1985 to a mere 142 in 2007, because the EPA requires an area to use one of 42 different gasoline blends depending on local "air quality," because the federal government would rather keep Colorado shale as useless wilderness most Americans would never bother visiting (instead of letting oil companies turn it into useful energy), because California and Florida elitists want to preserve "pristine" shorelines that they don't like to share, because both Democrats and Republicans always block efforts to drill in ANWR (a place as barren as the moon), and because of the insanity to "protect" plentiful polar bears the girls will likely never see in their lives (and probably wouldn't want to anyway, since their "cuteness" disappears suddenly once you see the violent predators munching a seal).

Polar bears are cute, aren't they? Let's take a look at one in action. (image borrowed from Supanet)

My best friend doesn't send me polar bear stuff as often as she used to, but she's sent a lot over the years, from coasters to stuffed animals. Those are cute. Real polar bears are not cute. Knut was a cute little cub until you saw him eat his natural diet of meat, at which point a rational person realizes, "This is a predator."

I suppose the girls could be considered "spoiled," when countless millions of other children around the world would be grateful for just a few bits of food. God knows I've personally seen many Filipino children who may never know a full stomach. However, on further reflection, I'm more sympathetic than some of the comments in reply to the article. The Vance family isn't necessarily among the many idiotic people who think they should live like kings on one 40-hour per week income; there's nothing in the article to indicate either way. Also, the girls are misguided in their protests, but they're young and have yet to learn economics. Economics is the science of human choices and its consequences, or more specifically, the study of how we deal with scarcity. "You can't have everything."

If the girls like cable TV so much, their family can cut back on going to restaurants (including fast food) and the movies. Each month, two fewer trips for fast food, or one fewer outing to the movies, would probably cover their cable bill. Cutting back on cell phone plans, and settling for "freebie" phones when renewing contracts, is also a way to reduce expenses that many people overlook. Alternatively, the family can try to increase its income. One of the parents could get a part-time job, just two Saturdays a month to pay for cable. The girls could also try a paper route or babysitting. I don't expect them at their age to understand more advanced economic concepts, but they're not too young to understand that in the real world, you should work honestly and trade voluntarily for what you want.

But we shouldn't blame the family, because they shouldn't have to cut back or try to earn more money to compensate for what government hath wrought. If it weren't for government, oil and gasoline would be cheaper. The family still couldn't have everything, but they wouldn't have to cut this or that out of the family budget to afford to drive around. Putting aside any questions of whether the parents derive income from others without consent (i.e. "the redistribution of wealth" and "subsidies"), the parents have the income and possessions they have, and who has the right to tell them not to use it, or use less? That's what government is doing: it wants us to use less oil, so it's forcing changes in our behavior. I don't use "force" lightly, because in the end, it comes down to government doling out fines and prison time, enforced at the point of a gun.

The Orange County Register had an editorial last week with a great title: "You can't ride a polar bear to work." Contrary to Agent Smith's derision in the first "Matrix" movie, it's one of mankind's greatest strengths that we can adapt the environment to ourselves, whereas most other lifeforms adapt to their environment. We're not living in some state of nature, like buzzards or decomposer bacteria waiting for something to die, or lions waiting for an antelope to pass by, or squirrels that try to scavenge enough to survive the winter. We get out there and fight Mother Nature for what we have. My friend Billy Beck recently said something similar, I think, but for the life of me I can't find it right now. (The closest I can find are this and this but neither are it.)

Our fight for the last two centuries has involved a remarkable increase in how we use our surroundings, at a rate never seen before in human civilization. It's come at the price of altering our environment, and I for one see it as worthwhile. I, for one, am willing to make trades and use our available technology so that I do not have to live like an animal. And once humans don't have to live like animals, which means no less than "to struggle against nature," we don't have to worry about following a herd of prey, or living adjacent to water sources. We don't have to accept that it's "natural" for someone to die because we ran out of resources. We can actually worry about how to improve our already comfortable lives! If Drew Barrymore thinks it's "cool" to "poo in the woods," that's her choice. Same goes for that idiot Frenchman who wants to live alone on an island. If we all lived in such "natural conditions," we'd require far more land per person to feed ourselves. It's modern technology that allows us to plant and harvest more and more in the same land area. But I suspect he doesn't mind that, that he shares the same mindset as that bastard Jacques Cousteau, who envisioned an Earth with a controlled human population of only 100,000.

Many on the planet still struggle, but even they have supplanted "other species" like the more fortunate of us. And is that so wrong? What parent can rationally wake up without worrying about starting work at dawn, in dwellings at a comfortable temperature with non-dirt floors, with sanitary ways to excrete and bathe and cook, then worry that their children will never see dodo birds wandering up to them on the beach, or flocks of passenger pigeons? Besides the fact that Mother Nature killed far more species than man ever did, I see pigeons of all kinds every day. One extinct kind frankly doesn't make any difference to me. Huge flocks that darkened the sky, and entire trees filled? That only means that much more bird droppings.

Or as Billy said about the comparative worth of polar bears:
Take a good long look at your kids.

Tell me they're not worth more than a polar bear.

That's the fight that will now take place in all kinds of courts for years on end every time someone wants to deliver unto your dainty hands a single new gallon of fuel.
And elsewhere about the caribou-protectors,
I hope they freeze in the dark, listening to the cries of their children. The real sin in all this is how they take sensible people along with them on the ride.
Unfortunately it's Sadie and Pyper who are paying the price. It isn't oil companies' "gouging" that's preventing them from watching Hannah Montana. It's entirely the fault of government and the damn tree huggers, who are making oil and gas artificially more expensive. I can only wish that Sadie and Pyper's parents can pull them aside, show them pictures of polar bears at dinner, and say, "These cute things are why you can't watch Hannah Montana."

Then you have morons like this who actually say that $8 per gallon gasoline will be good for us. Why? Because it promotes behavior that he likes, never mind what you or I like. He talks about the "antiquated technology" that's driving automobile engines. Did he ever consider the "antiquated technology" called electricity that continues to power most of our modern comforts? And if higher prices are an economic "stimulus," why not hike all prices? Let's set tomatoes' price at $1 million per pound -- by his logic, that would spread prosperity throughout the economy as people have more money to spend! But in reality, it would wreck everything. The simple lesson is to let prices fluctuate on their own, similar to what Bastiat warned us in his Sophisms: "Has not M. Bugeaud uttered these words: 'Let bread be dear, and the farmer will be rich'? Now, bread can be dear only because it is scarce. Thus, M. Bugeaud was extolling scarcity." It follows, then, that it's a fallacy to think that because government makes something artificially more expensive, and an industry thereby becomes artificially more prosperous, that the prosperity will spread throughout. It simply won't happen: all prices will go up accordingly, and because of government's interference in setting prices, buyers and sellers will not be able to determine the correct prices for anything else.

Then the fool goes on about how oil producing nations have so much power over us, when in fact we should be worrying more about the federal government having power over us. It's the federal government who has greater control over our supply of oil, not Saudi Arabia or Hugo Chavez. And for all his talk about how wonderful public transportation is, how we'll eliminate urban sprawl, it comes down to him and other collectivists telling the rest of us how to live our lives. They like paying more for gasoline, they think it's a good thing, they value unused natural resources more than modern comforts, and therefore we all must follow them on the road to hell.

Sadie and Pyper, welcome to the 1970s.

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Blogger Paul Wilson said...

A little closer to home, maybe they could afford cable if it cost less. Cable bills are padded with all sorts of garbage fees, many designed to offset taxes. Towns and counties treat cable franchises like cash cows and tax them accordingly. It's a truism that you get less of something when you tax it. That goes for cable, broadband and, of course, refined petroleum products. One of the reasons the US is still in the horse and buggy era in terms of residential broadband service is heavy taxation.

Thursday, June 26, 2008 1:53:00 PM  
Blogger Perry Eidelbus said...

Indeed, a very good point. Also, as I've blogged about before, cable companies are also often given monopoly status by municipalities, which is a disincentive to provide good service at the lowest possible price.

Friday, June 27, 2008 1:12:00 AM  
Blogger Robert Hendo said...

So it's ok to destroy the polar bear's environment because they aren't cute but predators?

Thursday, March 12, 2009 11:44:00 PM  
Blogger Perry Eidelbus said...

Destroy their, exactly? There's plenty of Arctic, the last time I looked.

It's tree-hugging liberals like you that keep energy unnecessarily expense. It's tree-hugging liberals like you that lie by showing one polar bear on floating ice, implying that's the situation for all of them, when the fact is that they're natural swimmers who go from ice to ice.

I don't know which is more tragic: your deliberate lies or that you really believe your own bullshit.

Friday, March 13, 2009 9:26:00 PM  
Blogger Madison said...

You have no right to look at a polar bear and say they're vicious when they hunt for food. How else would they LIVE?! We eat meat too, so does that mean we're horrible too? But, we're not the total cause of global warming either.

Thursday, March 19, 2009 8:09:00 PM  
Blogger Perry Eidelbus said...

Actually, Madison, I have every right.

First, I never said that meat-eating humans aren't violent. So in fact I exhibited none of the hypocrisy that you imply.

Second, some might argue in my defense that I don't hunt down and tear apart my food while it's still alive. Any animal whose flesh I eat was bred specifically for that purpose, and killed quite neatly.

It's the first, because the animal flesh I eat still came at the cost of killing, which is violence.

Thursday, March 19, 2009 8:23:00 PM  

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