Friday, March 2, 2012
In Hollywoodland, evil corporations and bourgeois consumerist middle class leads to the destruction of the environment, but in the real world it is due to central planning, lack of property rights, and a conspicuous absence of the middle class that leads to the destruction of the environment (rich people don't use public parks, Hollywood has those posh riviera resorts, and government party leaders have their mountain retreats). Fact: there are no trees in North Korea. Fact: America has more forestland than it did in the 1940s or the 1920s. Fact: you are more likely to die from environmental hazards in communist countries which totally lack private property and corporations than anywhere in the capitalist West. Fact: only carpet bombing a city would be a more efficient way to destroy the environment than rent controls and public housing. In my mind, having reasonable commons protection and externalities regulation in addition to a flourishing middle class is the best way to protect the environment. That's not to say that we shouldn't be mindful of excessive consumerism, but we shouldn't make up narratives that contradict reality.