Thursday, July 3, 2014

Stewardship and Global Warming

I linked one of the posts below on Facebook and attracted many comments. This post is a "comment on the comments."

Please read the entire passage below, whatever your position with regard to global warming, climate change, or politics. The passage is from page 5 of “The Vision of the Anointed,” By Thomas Sowell (1995).
The great ideological crusades of twentieth-century intellectuals have ranged across the most disparate fields--from the eugenics movement of the early decades of the century to the environmentalism of the later decades, not to mention the welfare state, socialism, communism, Keynesian economics, and medical, nuclear, and automotive safety. What all these highly disparate crusades have in common is their exaltation of the anointed above others, who are to have their very different views nullified and superseded by the views of the anointed, imposed via the power of government. Despite the great variety of issues in a series of crusading movements among the intelligentsia during the twentieth century, several key elements have been common to most of them: 
1. Assertions of a great danger to the whole society, a danger to which the masses of people are oblivious.
2. An urgent need for action to avert impending catastrophe.
3. A need for government [emphasis added] to drastically curtail the dangerous behavior of the many, in response to the prescient conclusions of the few.
4. A disdainful dismissal of arguments to the contrary as either uniformed, irresponsible, or motivated by unworthy purposes. 
I am not going to comment on any specific comments in the global warming thread.

However, I want to grab one word, stewardship, and talk about it.

Christians (should) see stewardship first in terms of the actions of the individual before God, secondarily in terms of the actions of others, including government.

The "anointed" (and the people that can be called that could be on the left or right hand side of the political spectrum) see stewardship in terms of government action.

Almost all of the ways that have been proposed for dealing with the global warming/climate change are government regulations, laws, and policies. As Mao observed: "Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun." Ultimately, all government policies are backed by force. [Did you know that the EPA has its own SWAT team? And has deployed it?]

Both governments and individuals can be good and bad stewards. A significant difference is that the individual is actually more flexible and able to change than the government. Government policies that don't work or have disastrous, unintended consequences will go on for years, as long as there is a constituency for it. And once money is involved, there is a constituency and they will go on.

Farm subsidies were established to help poor farmers. However, at one point, one of the largest recipients of farm subsidies was a billionaire, Ted Turner, founder of CNN.

Warren Buffett, one of the wealthiest people in the US, advocates high "death taxes." Of course he does. His company, BerkshireHathaway, sells investment instruments to wealthy people that allow them to avoid or reduce death taxes. He personally profits from high death taxes.

The first action of the newly established EPA was to reject scientific findings and do the politically correct and politically expedient thing. The unintended consequence of the total ban on DDT was the deaths of millions of people, worldwide, mostly children, due to malaria. This policy is still in effect 45 years later.

In our country, stewardship works best when the government engages in mostly an educational role, with some regulation. Excellent examples of this include tobacco smoking and soil conservation. This pathway takes time and forces the "anointed" to trust ordinary human beings (AKA, "voters" and "American citizens"), but also means that the government will never reach 100% compliance. But total compliance can only be expected under a dictatorship, and not achieved, even then.

Note: While working on this, I ran across this posted on National Review Online:
For decades, progressives [the left's version of the "anointed"] have used the battle over climate change as a proxy for a broader war about culture and ideology. Whether they’re demanding cap-and-trade schemes, plotting ways to plan the entire energy economy, or trying to order entire classes of power plants out of existence by government fiat, progressives consistently forward schemes designed to enlarge the size of government and squelch the freedoms of private enterprise. It’s time to respond.
Conservatives should address climate change. And they can do it without giving up a single conservative principle.

No comments:

Post a Comment