Jason Hartman interviews returning guest, Devin Foley on the subject of environment versus ecology and the ideology versus reality behind the environmental movement. Listen at: www.HolisticSurvival.com. The term “environmentalism” is a popular word today with a broad meaning. There are many components to environmentalism, such as conservation, ecology, human impact on nature, and maybe lesser known, a philosophical/spiritual component. Devin and Jason talk about the impact large corporations have on the environment, how competition from the little guys cleaning up their waste have pushed corporations to take care of their own pollutants, lack of enforcement of regulations by the government, and the top-down, often selective, bureaucratic management of the EPA. Devin points out that our air is much cleaner today than it would have been in the 1800s and earlier, when nearly every household was burning wood, and later coal, to heat and cook. Advanced technology today has changed things for the better, even though there is still a high level of concern. Jason and Devin also talk about the philosophy of deep ecology and extreme environmentalists that consider humans to be the problem and what these groups are really implying.
Devin is co-founder and president of Intellectual Takeout. In his role, he oversees content development and marketing, works with academics and experts to assure quality, and publicly promotes the site. Prior to co-founding Intellectual Takeout, Devin served as the Director of Development at the Center of the American Experiment, a state-based think tank in Minnesota, where he was responsible for meeting a $1 million annual budget. He has roughly eight years of fundraising and policy experience working for candidates and non-profit organizations. Additionally, he has been on 100.3 KTLK as well as Talk of the Nation on NPR and was named a 2011 Young Leader by the American Swiss Foundation. Devin studied history and political science at Hillsdale College in Michigan. There he met his lovely wife; together they have three kids and live in Stillwater, Minnesota. Devin enjoys fast cars, long drives, great books, old planes, and nearly everything life throws his way.
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Start of Interview with Devin Foley
Jason Hartman: It’s my pleasure to welcome Devin Foley to the show. He’s been a frequent guest on a few of my different shows, and today we’d like to talk about environmental economics, green issues, thinking behind the environmental movement, climate, natural resources and environment versus ecology and the ideology of that versus the reality of it. And of course, Devin is the co-founder and president of intellectual take out. Great website. Devin welcome, how are you?
Devin Foley: I am well. Thanks for having me on again Jason, I appreciate it.
Jason Hartman: My pleasure. So first of all, you know maybe Devin, let’s start with…you know everybody I think knows what environmentalism is, however what is the difference between environmentalism and ecology? Or environment and ecology?
Devin Foley: Good question. I think probably used to hearing the terms environmentalism, or we need to take care of the environment, things of this nature, bandied around quite a bit but if you actually get into environmentalism, it has a lot of different components. You could say there’s conservation, would be a component of environmentalism, ecology would be another one where you’re studying the impact of different components of nature impacting with the others so you could study how does man building factory impact a local stream or something like that.
You can also look at how does an invasive species interact with you know, the other fish if it happens to be one of those or something along those lines. But there’s another component to environmentalism that I think is largely being unspoken these days, which is more of a sort of philosophical, spiritual look at the world that sees things as sort of interconnected, a very sort of Gaia centric look at it.
You can see a lot of that coming out of the thinking and philosophy of deep ecology, Arne Naess, even going back to Spinoza in the 17th century. So I mean, it has deep roots, it’s a very interconnectedness that we are all sort of one energy, if you will and we are all connected by that. And individual people are just sort of a higher consciousness of this sort of Gaia spirit that would be going through everything.
Jason Hartman: Devin, there’s this issue of commonality and common ownership of things and I remember years ago reading an article and looking at some amazing photographs in the Green Peace magazine. And it was a story about the environmental destruction that they had discovered once the Soviet Union fell apart. And they did this amazing story, a bunch of incredible photos that were really shocking, a place that was always hiding it’s failings for so many years; you know I remember hearing stories of friends when I was a kid going to Russia, how they weren’t allowed to take a picture of a trash can and things like this. And everything was very controlled under the old Soviet Union.
And the point of it was, which was maybe a little bit surprising for Green Peace to be exposing of all things given that organization’s leanings, is you have this issue of when it’s everybody’s land, it’s nobody’s land. And maybe the best way to get people to respect the environment is to have them privately own the environment, right?
Devin Foley: That’s a wonderful point Jason. You know, you’ve got two sorts of threads in there. You hear a lot of the environmentalists who would call themselves environmentalists now, say the earth is one, we all are part of the earth, we’re all one with the earth, we need to pass it on in this sort of communal sense of nature and life and all of that. But as you pointed out, the reality is (and this is nothing new) but that which is owned “in common” is usually the most abused property out there. And that goes back to a term from Aristotle that is “The tragedy of the commons” and it’s just this tragedy that if the land that is not owned by anyone but as you say, is owned by everyone, is the most abused land. It has no real defender out there. And when you look, nobody wants to see air pollution or dirty water or things like that, but it’s just look at those things. Water most often as well as particularly the air is common to us all; it’s not really owned by anyone. And you can bet any factory or things like that, is the equipment in the factory, are they taking good care of it? Are they doing this or that? Sure, I mean it’s like a property owner, I mean not every property owner out there takes the best care of stuff, but overwhelmingly people take really good care of it. You’re not going to abuse your car like you will abuse the rental car, does that make sense?
Jason Hartman: It does philosophically, but here’s the problem. When you get into the world of big business and these mega corporations we have nowadays, and I don’t support the corporatocracy as much of a capitalist and free market guy as I am, I don’t think that the big corporations and big businesses are really in the free market. I think they have a sort of a rigged game and through their lobbyists get in bed with government and use that to increase regulation, as odd as that may sound, and reduce new entrance, make the regulations are a big barrier to new entrance that might be their competitors. So big business to me isn’t free market really at all. I think it’s a little freer than government, sure but I think small business operates in a free market.
But the problem is when you get into the scale of big mega corporations, they can just do that good old Ben Franklin, write the line down the middle of the paper, cost benefit analysis and say hey we’ll buy all this land that’s over here that’s nowhere near where any of them live and we’ll just destroy it and just rape and pillage the environment because we can make profits from it. So yes philosophically I most definitely agree with you, but I don’t know if it totally holds up in practice, especially in the world of big business. A small farmer or a small business person, sure, they’re probably going to take care of the land because they can’t do that. They don’t have the kind of scale where you can do that sort of cost benefit disposable land type analysis.
Devin Foley: You actually raise a really great point. You point about big business often working hand in hand with big government is very true. If you look at what kicked off the clean water act, was the river fire. So here’s a river in Ohio, catches on fire, and America’s just, Whoa this is incredible, what just happened? We clearly have dirty water. What’s forgotten is that river caught on fire I believe nine or ten, maybe even more times going all the way back into the 1800s. Because factories and these bigger businesses were polluting into it.
The thing is though, what’s also forgotten is, the clean water act wasn’t the first law into the books that says no you can’t pollute into the water. They were both state and local laws, as well as even federal laws on the books going back into the 1800s that said, no you can’t dump this into the water because again, it’s tragedy of the commons. You’re actually polluting and doing damage to the people that are downstream and things along those lines. The problem was that government didn’t actually enforce those laws. It turned a blind eye to it because it was in favor of the bigger businesses and you could argue, and I think a lot of people have, that it was in bed with them.
Same thing you can look at for Chicago. You know you see a lot of that with the Chicago river. You hear stories at the turn of the last century where you’ve got different manufacturing or actually beef processing and pork processing, different processing plants that were just dumping just disgusting amounts of lard and things like that into the river to the point where it was always a common joke and things to laugh at that tourists actually didn’t realize it was a river and you’d see one actually trying to walk across what was actually a river but covered in lard and hardened factory waste and things like that.
Jason Hartman: That is beyond disgusting.
Devin Foley: Oh totally. Btu they would fall through eventually almost like thin ice, so then they’d get too far enough out and it was too thin, they’d fall through and this was humorous. What was funny is some entrepreneurial small business guy was like wait a minute they’re dumping all this lard in there; I’m going to go start collecting it all, setting aside all the people that had sued and been ignored for violations of their property downstream from all of this. You’ve got this little entrepreneur going up there, starts picking all this lard up because you can make soap and you can do other things with all this waste product. It was the moment that the factory noticed that this little guy was making a profit off of their waste, that all of the sudden they cared about what was in the water and they said oh no, no, no you can’t do that. That’s ours.
Jason Hartman: Interesting story.
Devin Foley: Yeah, go figure. So, to the point I think it’s important; this gets really to a fundamental issue of the common law and the rule of law.
Jason Hartman: What’s the difference there? What do you mean when you say that?
Devin Foley: Well the common law would be just more of the tradition of law that goes back through western civilization so the common law is very much based out of the English system of law, of property rights, of protection that would be provided by government through the courts, that there’s sort of a fairness and there’s certain rules about how everything works. And that would be that America is very much founded on, Canada, Australia, a lot of the Anglo world. And so at any rate, then you get the common law but then the rule of law.
The rule of law would actually be that things are enforced evenly and across the board. So that you, whether you’re an individual property owner, let’s just say you’re house is on the river downstream or maybe you’re a small business owner who’s on the river downstream, or you’re another really big business downstream, no matter how big or small you are, and impacted by something taking place upstream and just staying within this water pollution example, that you would have equal access to the law and that the law through government would treat you the same way. Unfortunately, that just wasn’t the case…
Jason Hartman: And it’s still not the case.
Devin Foley: Yeah, it’s not the case, but unfortunately had we enacted that, you might see a very different structure of environmental protection here in the US rather than the very heavy handed top down approach that we have from the EPA today. It was because government didn’t do its job that we have a very different sort of law. And that the EPA does not represent the common law tradition. It’s much more of a top down bureaucratic system.
Jason Hartman: Well, the scary thing about government and all of its overabundance of laws, is that they basically have made almost everything illegal in some way and we all walk around throughout our lives, and especially if we own businesses, breaking more laws than we probably can imagine unintentionally. And the scary thing about that, the really scary thing, is that it allows the government to do something that is very wrong, unethical, and unconstitutional, and that is the game of selective enforcement. Because like you said in that example, is it turns a blind eye when it gets some benefit. You know the government, again, starts to think like any other self-interested business. Which is fine for businesses and people in a market place to think out of self-interest, but it’s not okay for the government to do that because the government has to be the arbiter of fairness, right?
And that’s, frankly, what we’re paying the government to do, is to enforce laws. So when they turn a blind eye to something but they pick out the one person or the one business that maybe they don’t like, or has a contrary political position, think Gibson Guitars a couple of years ago with the Obama administration and the hard woods and that kind of fiasco. And think during the time of the too big to fail, Hank Paulson, you know in the beginning of that administration bail outs, how they didn’t save Lehman Brothers, but they saved the others. That wasn’t a legal issue really, but it was still an issue of I think selective benefit being dulled out. And that’s the scary part about it. And this might be a little tangential to the issue, but I think it’s worth mentioning.
Devin Foley: Actually I think it’s dead on to the issue. I mean, to go back to the idea of common law, a lot of it hinges on property rights. So if your property is violated by somebody else, so let’s say somebody’s polluting the water, it gets in the ground water, it does this or that, you can sue. You can say you know, this is wrong, what you’re doing has to stop and you need to pay restitution or do whatever needs to be done to repair the damage that you’ve done to me. And again, you take that sort of common law tradition with the rule of law that me as a tiny little individual would have the access to the courts, and to justice and the expectations that the law would be netted out equally so that I can expect fairness and justice within the system. That’s a very big check actually on big businesses as well as, and it eliminates a lot of this need for big government.
And to your point, when you take it into a very bureaucratic system, very top down management where you know you have any number of examples within the EPA and how it operates. Whether it’s saying you know it’s treating certain coal burning plants the same way despite the fact that their coal might actually have a different composition, and might actually release different pollutants so you deal with it differently. It’s across the board very much this very top down and at times very selective enforcement. And unfortunately the disturbing part is that opens us up to very much what can be considered corruption in some sense. Where it is the politically connected that are the best able to navigate the new sort of bureaucratic regime and laws, so that again, this favors big business because what little business has enough lawyers, has enough resources, has the lobbyists and politically connected friends to be able to navigate the various red tape challenges provided by the EPA or some other, and you know this applies to the FDA and to others.
And again, you’ll hear plenty of stories about how people are meeting low success, well they’re lobbying, they’re working within politics. And that really shouldn’t be what it’s about. It should be, you really want to defend property rights and defending property rights can be one of the best ways to defend the environment. And you will need to have some rules and regulations to deal with things like air pollution and water, especially since they do cross over state lines, they cross over international lines, they do all kinds of stuff. But none the less, it’s a very different perspective. I think the more involved you get the federal government, the bigger it becomes and the more there’s danger of this sort of political cronyism, and corruption that can take place as well as of course empty handedness.
Jason Hartman: Couldn’t agree more, couldn’t agree more. It’s amazing Devin, that everyone pretty much will agree with the following, no matter what their political beliefs. That government is inefficient, it’s corrupt, and the private sector can pretty much always do things more efficiently and more cost effectively. And I say that no matter what in any human organization, you’re going to have people trying to get a larger slice of the pie and use the system and use the laws to do that. So the only real cure to my thinking is you know we need government, we have to have it but just keep it as small as possible. Because then you keep the corruption and the inefficiency and the bureaucracy to a minimum. You’ve got to have it, it needs to be there because anarchy is no fun either. But the more of it you have, the worst those problems become. And we see this all around us; you look at the kind of fraud that goes on within the environmental movement and how people initiate ridiculous regulations and frivolous lawsuits over it.
And the ADA, the American’s with Disabilities Act has become just a money train for lawyers with just frivolous, ridiculous litigation that they’re bringing based on these laws. So one side of the argument says well, the government’s not big enough to go out and enforce all the laws, then well maybe the first problem is there’s too many darn laws, okay? But you know, maybe the government doesn’t have enough inspectors, enough police, enough enforcers, enough ATF agents, enough border patrol, whatever, to enforce all the laws. So in a way then, the private sector does it. And they do it through lawyers and they do it through bringing litigation and by clogging up the court system so the government has to enforce the laws another way. But the problem with that way is it brings Payola to certain groups of people. So it just seems it’s all an issue of size, of it being too large. What are your thoughts?
Devin Foley: Yeah, I think there are issues of size and then orientation and sort of a goal. If government is, as our country was founded to have, rule of law, to have equality under the law, these sorts of things, it’s a very different and grounded sort of in that common law tradition I brought up. It’s a very different goal and perspective and duty of government than it would be to go out and fix all of the problems of the world. Or at least America, it seems intent on all of the problems of the world these days. And if that’s your orientation of government, to fix everything, what isn’t there to fix? And then the things that you fix might cause other problems so you get to fix those too.
So you’re describing a system of basically do you have a limited government or an unlimited government? And now again with the environmental stuff, people argued, well clearly the limited government failed us, because look at all the damage to the environment, except again government didn’t even enforce the laws and it didn’t uphold the common law traditions and you know, the rule of law. So did the government fail us? Yes. But it failed us by not doing what it actually was initially instituted to do.
And then you can look at it today, too, where it’s the mentality even of the bureaucracy. Let us say our founders didn’t foresee the need for an environmental protection agency, well you can make some arguments that yeah, well it’s reasonable to have some sort of federal laws, I’m not going to say necessarily EPA or something like that but you can say that there’s federal laws and perhaps federal agency that needs to be there to defend the environment. Now, you know in this loose context as we know it, but more so, prevent pollution, things like that. Well, how should it run? Should it make rules for every process along the line? Or should it simply come in and say you know you can’t, we know that there’s certain levels of pollution that are naturally going to happen, but you can’t have a zero omission policy?
But we’re willing to tolerate so many particles in the air per cubic feet or things along those lines. And come down and say, you can only pollute X amount. Figure out how to do it, any way you want to do it, but this is the cap. And that’s a very different game too and a different mentality of actually trying to manage every step versus just saying look, here’s the rule, you can’t do this or you can only do it this X amount, figure out how to do it. And I you know ask you and the listeners here too, which do you think is going to be more efficient, more cost effective? I mean if you put the goals [0:22:30.8] for a business, they’re going to be able to figure out how to meet that goal with the least amount of expenditures. And you could see some improvements. Perhaps we stop exporting a lot of our businesses and manufacturing overseas where they don’t have the environmental rules and it’s not so expensive for them to be able to meet these challenges. I don’t know. It’s just a different way of looking at things.
Jason Hartman: Right, it’s like this law of unintended consequences. You know, the environmental movement gains a lot of power in the US and all that happens is the dirtier businesses, the dirtier manufacturing businesses, just go off shore and pollute over there. And I remind everybody that it was John F Kennedy that said “We all breathe the same air”. And he’s right. You don’t think that at some point what goes on in China affects what happens over in America in terms of the environment? I mean, the same air is floating around the whole Earth. It’s ultimately, it’s just really hypocritical. It’s really the NIMBY syndrome is what it is. It’s the not in my back yard syndrome. We want all the products, we want all the goodies, but you know, we don’t want to have the damage over here. So we say let’s drill for oil off the coast of Brazil, but not off the coast of the US. California’s got to be pristine. Because god forbid we might have an oil well in front of Barbra Streisand’s house. You like my snarkiness?
Devin Foley: Yes, it’s pretty funny.
Jason Hartman: I think we should put the first one there. When we get in enough pressure again where we have to drill off the California coast. There’s a moratorium on it, I mean they do have oil platforms there, but no new ones at least, right?
Devin Foley: Right, right. And it think actually the point you raise is a good one. If you look at the satellite imagery you can see plumes of smoke pollution coming off of China. If you go even farther back to JFK’s point, you know they’ve done ice core samples out of Greenland that show lead deposits. And carbon dating shows that these lead deposits were around from when the Romans were doing all of their lead smelting and pushing that out into the air. So it is true that all this stuff gets carried around so it’s pretty reasonable. The flip side too is we can’t forget how much technology has changed things, you know if you poll a lot of people today they’ll say oh our air is so dirty here in America.
Jason Hartman: Oh, it’s much cleaner than it was before.
Devin Foley: Exactly. It’s like, what are you talking about? Granted in the 1960s, and even back then it was pretty dirty. But let’s really go with the 1800s. Just imagine that all of your heating and all of your cooking is being done, or well actually go before the 1800s, you know your heating and your cooking is being done almost all the time by burning wood. And every house in your neighborhood is burning wood almost all the time. And then it turns into coal. Imagine how dirty that would be. I mean, this gets even into the natural gas, fracking arguments, things like that. I mean technology has changed things, made our world a whole lot better and it has improved it in some ways more measurably than a lot of the EPA rules and things like that. It’s just been a change as far as what we’re doing and how we’re doing it, so I think there’s something to be said for that.
Jason Hartman: Let me take a brief pause, we’ll be back in just a minute.
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Jason Hartman: Go back to what you were saying at the beginning of our talk today about how we might have a very different environmental structure and I think you meant a regulatory structure whereas now we sort of have this top down EPA type of structure. What might we have had instead if the government hadn’t enforced the laws that turn a blind eye to in the past that caused so much pollution?
Devin Foley: Right, well you would have had, I mean it’s not to say that you still wouldn’t have different government entities at the local level and perhaps even at the national level or federal level, setting some rules out there. These things are going to take place. But you’re primarily looking at much more of a common law system which is saying, no, no you can’t do this because what you’re doing is actually violating my property.
And if you actually go back in American history, actually Benjamin Franklin interestingly enough, there were a lot of issues, these issues of pollution, particularly of water and even of air, these aren’t new issues at all. Water pollution has been something that’s been a problem throughout time and as soon as men have grouped together in cities and become more dense in a population, simply because we have waste sewage issues. And you saw that in the colonial era, where Benjamin Franklin worked actually with local government to figure out how do we manage the water pollution that we have now? Because we have diseases like cholera, hemoptysis and other stuff because all of the sewage is being dumped into the water.
Interestingly enough, if you look at even earlier then, or well actually after that period, but early in the 1800s, you actually saw supreme court issues and other court challenges coming up from cities like St. Louis suing cities up the stream. Because all of the sudden their water was becoming dirty and they saw a rise in diseases like cholera or tysis and things like that, and so they would sue and say you can’t do this. Say you have to deal with your waste problem because you’re causing us problems down here. You’re doing us harm because you are violating the commons.
Again, this is tragedy due to the commons, but unfortunately sometimes when somebody violates the commons or pollutes it, it impacts negatively others. And so then you have the system of common law to say no you can’t do that and you actually have to shut it down. Which is some ways is a more severe way of doing things. I mean imagine if you had to completely shut down your pollution. Whereas today, you’re allowed to scale it or so different things. The government says well we can’t turn it all away, so you can pollute a little but just do it this way. Whereas actually in some ways, the common law tradition can actually be much more harsh as far as dealing with pollution.
Jason Hartman: What do you think of the whole system which on the surface of it, it sounds capitalistic and it actually sounds kind of rational and good, but I know it’s turned into another big new crime syndicate basically. And that is, you know and I’ll say his name you know, but Al Gore’s carbon credits concept. That’s a way for people to offset pollution here and there and kind of move it around and philosophically it’s kind of interesting to me. But you know, I know there have been a million scandals inside of it.
Devin Foley: Yeah, well you’re touching into an area that now is very politically charged. Because the cap and trade is primarily looking at carbon. So the big question is, is carbon a pollutant? Now the supreme court ruled in I think it was 2006, Massachusetts versus EPA I think it was, that carbon is a pollution. And so because of the impact, because everyone’s pumping out carbon or CO2 that this is a pollutant and this can do damage to wild life up in the artic or things along those lines. Big question is so, of course logically that brings you to the conclusion of when I exhale, I’m polluting. So you’re kind of like, how is this all going to work?
Jason Hartman: Well the ultimate goal of the environmental movement has to be to have genocide because people are the problem. That’s just logical.
Devin Foley: Well that actually, I mean, it sounds shocking to say that, it sounds crazy.
Jason Hartman: That’s why I’m saying it, because it’s shocking.
Devin Foley: Yeah and it sounds shocking but again that actually goes back very early in our conversation to the deep ecology. If you actually get into this deep ecology and some of these more philosophical/religious or spiritual roots of a lot of the modern environmentalism, that is actually sadly one of the positions that they take. And you’ll see that throughout a lot of the writing of some of the environmentalists that are out there. The more prominent people…
Jason Hartman: Well they’re the Malthusian…
Devin Foley: And more aggressive. I mean they see man as…
Jason Hartman: I interviewed one on my show. He was a professor from Berkley, and forgive me, I can’t remember his name, but it’s a prior episode. And I think I had the most balanced environmental conversation I’ve ever heard with him. Because he just kept saying, you know there are too many people, there’s too much pollution, and I just asked him the simple question, how do you know what the number is? Is it 7 billion people, is it, I mean people were saying this when we have 3 billion people that it was too many. And now we’re at 7 billion. I mean is the number 3 billion, 7 billion, 1 billion, or you know, 35 billion on the planet? You don’t know what the planet can sustain; nobody knows that. It’s just an unknown.
The ultimate thing has to be, as heinous as this sounds, and it does sound heinous what I’m about to say, but is that every genocidal maniac, do we have to revere them as some kind of environmental hero, do we have to revere someone who, when we hear one of these disgusting stories on the eleven o’clock news about some guy who murdered himself and his whole family in some murder suicide thing? Is this someone who really helped the environment? I mean, rationally speaking, the answer would have to be yes. Because the extreme environmental movement thinks people are the problem and people have to go.
Devin Foley: Right and again, it does, it sounds crazy but when you actually do read through the primary documents associated with deep ecology and other of the more philosophical side of environmentalism, that actually is a position that in some ways they take. It’s very much because of the spiritual idea that we are all connected and that we are all one, it seems sort of that man is, individual people are kind of, higher consciousness of Gaia and in that frame of mind, you only want a few people around and we’re sort of the tenders of the garden. We make sure everything’s okay but we try not to leave any imprint or impact on the earth.
And to best do that, there’s some within the environmental movement and deep ecology that would argue that you want to just have small towns that are basically isolated from all other towns and can communicate back and forth and do a limited amount of trading, but it’s very limited so as to not have a big impact and that would basically be, for some of these folks and I’m not saying everyone, for some it would be sort of the ideal world would be to have these small isolated communities that barely interact with each other and have very little impact. They’re very much sort of this myth of the noble savage that we all sort of go back to.
Jason Hartman: I am all for the idea of eating local produce and certainly the corporatocracy doesn’t like this. Obama’s head of agriculture, the former Monsanto CEO, isn’t for this idea. The corporatized farming that we have isn’t for this idea. But you know, I’m for it and I think that it’s generally a good idea. The scary part though, of the environmental movement is this question, if we have too many people then the question I asked the other gentleman I interviewed on my show, I said well who gets to decide who goes and who stays? You know, you? I mean, it begs the question, who gets to make this decision? Is it a decision where like in the past we decide who’s worthy to live? Do we decide on physical ability, age, handicap? I mean, that is one scary, scary road to travel.
Devin Foley: It is, but it’s not that uncommon. You know, even outside of the environmental movement, if you want to read an enjoyable, well it’s not enjoyable-it’s kind of sarcastic, but if you want to read an interesting document, read The End of Laissez Faire, which was written by John Maynard Keynes in 1926 and the important part is 1926. And in that document he actually says that there will come a time, I mean if you’re going to manage and plan an economy, that there will come a time where you actually will need to manage both the size of the population as well as the inherent nature of the people in it. And so you’re going to actually have to manage the population but then also manage the types of people that are in the economy if you’re going to be able to fully manage the economy.
Now, of course, after the Holocaust, all of those sorts of ideas, and those were popular ideas not just with Keynes but with a lot of other intellectuals during the early 20th century. Of course Holocaust comes in and the Germans actually take that idea to its logical conclusion and then to horrific results to just pure sheer evil on Earth. But those ideas are, well now it’s [0:37:51.9] a little bit but you still see that even in the environmental movement, and as you say it sounds crazy, but there are a lot of documents out there, primary documents by big name intellectuals, as well as others that do go down that road. It’s a scary thing to push back. You know, we have to push back when it comes to individual freedom, natural rights, things like that, and that’s the side that you’re pushing back against these people who want to manage society or think that they know what’s best for you know, whether it be the environment or society or whatever, so…
Jason Hartman: That’s a very scary, very elitist mentality that they have, that they know better. As soon as you go down that path you’ve got lots of trouble. You know, history’s replete with just very, very ugly examples of that type of thinking. Let’s wrap up Devin with what are some proposed solutions as to how things should work and could work better?
Devin Foley: Yeah I think one of the first things to do would be sort of to change the conversation that we’re having right now. You know a lot of things are said; you know we need to do this for the environment. Okay well what is the environment? I mean what are we even talking about when you say that? So let’s change that, let’s start maybe perhaps even cleaving environmentalism from ecology. And taking much more of a pragmatic look at things and saying, here’s the actual impact of this or that and getting into being honest about, what is the air quality now? What is working? What is the history of pollution, things along those lines? What’s the history of the laws on pollution? Is it really the narrative that’s being told now? Or were things actually really different? And I think that’s what you have to do initially as far as changing the way the public perceives the issue. I mean, nobody wants dirty air and dirty water. It’s just more of a changing the narrative.
And then number two would be, of course in a pragmatic sense, this history evaluating how the EPA goes about its business. Are there ways the EPA, rather than taking this very heavy handed top down approach and micro managing how these pollution issues would be tackled, maybe perhaps stepping back and saying we’re not going to tolerate this level of pollution into the air, anything above it, but you have the freedom as a business to figure out how you are going to meet the goal that is set. And I think that that is a pretty reasonable compromise, something that we shouldn’t be scared of. It is to say okay, there is something, some entity out there “protecting the environment”, you know and the air and fighting pollution and all of these things that I think Americans do want. But at the same time I think that we can all understand that okay, having a goal and having to meet that goal or limit and being free to hit it any way you want, is very different from being micro managed.
And one can be far more cost effective and perhaps bring some of our companies either back or keep them here in the US and not see this sort of exportation of pollution that’s taking place and sort of a deception that somehow everything’s clean and great now when in reality it’s the Chinese and Vietnamese and other places around the world that are being polluted…to be able to supply American’s with cheap products and often plastic products and everything else. I think that that’s just an awareness that needs to take place and then finally of course would be part of that conversation is just digging back into these ideas of common law, of property rights and the interplay with the rule of law and the environment and how that actually would work and looking at tragedy of commons and these ideas. I mean this is not a new debate. This sort of debate has been going on for well over two thousand years. You know, three thousand years. Again, these things are not new; it’s just how we deal with them in the way that’s best.
Jason Hartman: Devin Foley, give out your website.
Devin Foley: It is intellectualtakeout.org and you can also find us on Facebook. Just search for Intellectual Takeout and you should be able to pull us up.
Jason Hartman: Thanks for joining us today.
Devin Foley: Hey, not a problem. Thanks for having me, Jason!
Narrator: Thank you for joining us today for the Holistic Survival Show. Protecting the people, places and profits you care about in uncertain times. Be sure to listen to our Creating Wealth Show, which focuses on exploiting the financial and wealth creation opportunities in today’s economy. Learn more at www.JasonHartman.com or search “Jason Hartman” on iTunes.
This show is produced by the Hartman Media Company, offering very general guidelines and information. Opinions of guests are their own, and none of the content should be considered individual advice. If you require personalized advice, please consult an appropriate professional. Information deemed reliable, but not guaranteed. (Image: Flickr | jonathanw100)
Transcribed by Ralph
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