A Very Good Deal for Society

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

California Energy Commissioner Arthur Rosenfeld would have impressed me much more had he simply allowed a long string of drool to leave his mouth instead of the above quote about his state's brilliant move to outlaw 75% of the television sets currently on the market. I don't live there, but California's role as a trendsetter for foolish ideas in government, along with the impact the size of its market share has on manufacturing practices means that this lunacy will probably eventually affect me in some way.

Not too long ago, I noted of cost-benefit analyses of state economic controls that they had this disturbing tendency to ignore a really big cost to the individual citizen: freedom.

[A]ny time the government does anything but protect individual rights, someone's freedom has been infringed upon. Indeed, such analyses fail to object to the fact that the government has no right to force citizens take the risks of such involuntary "investments" [or avoid risks of their own choosing --ed]... [T]he real failure of such analyses is that a longstanding, and very bad precedent is being allowed to become more firmly entrenched in our cultural milieu when we desperately need to destroy it root and branch.
The silver lining to this idiocy is, I suppose, that just in case the idea of freedom is a little too abstract for some people, the implications of these regulations on our daily life won't be lost on anyone. As Max Schulz of City Journal explains in his title, "Say Goodbye to Big-Screen TVs."

I don't watch that much television myself, but I am outraged. Let me explore this a little bit by looking at Rosenfeld's rationale:
"It looks like a very good deal for society," says commissioner Arthur Rosenfeld. By the commission's estimates, consumers will save anywhere from $18 to $30 per year in electricity costs as a result of the new rules. If every one of the state's 35 million TVs were replaced with a more efficient set, say proponents, the measure would save more than $8 billion over ten years. Says a commission spokesman: "I don't know anyone who doesn't like to save money."
This is the height of presumption. Society, as Ayn Rand once pointed out, is simply, "a large number of men who live together in the same country, and who deal with one another." Arthur Rosenfeld has thus presumed to speak on my behalf, whether he chooses to admit it or not. Let me correct this pencil necked piece of officialdom right now.

What difference does saving money make -- even if it were far more than the pitiful two fifty a month I'm supposed to be so excited about -- if some jackass like Rosenfeld gets to tell me how to spend it? Saving money is not an end in itself: The whole reason that saving money can be a good thing to me is because doing so would leave me more money to spend on something else I would want.

What this means is that if I consider my priorities and decide that the financial outlay is less important than being able to enjoy the large, crisp picture of a big screen television set, then forgoing the television set is actually not a good thing, and therefore not something that I'd want in that context.

Arthur Rosenfeld, to put it in the most polite terms I can muster, has no fucking idea what my priorities are. He does not know my financial situation. He does not understand my hopes and dreams. He does not know what I like to do in my free time. He does not know what I consider important or why.

The only thing Rosenfeld does know is that he has the illegitimate power to affect my decisions at the point of a government gun while he hides behind a stack of paper and pats himself on the back for forcing me to save not even enough money to buy a beer at happy hour at a pub each month -- as if some soul-mate of his somewhere else isn't already plotting to make that illegal for "society's" health or productivity while another devises new ways to extract far more money from "society's" wallet than he has "saved" on "society's" behalf.

Any time you hear someone talking about what is best for "society" aside from protection of individual rights, you should ask yourself how the hell that person knows what is good for you, individually, and you should urge anyone else to do the same. That person is forgetting that human beings exist as individuals and even if he really thinks he's helping you out, he isn't because he can't.

To live, one must apply his individual reasoning mind to the question of his individual survival and the enjoyment of his individual life. Nobody can do that for anyone else, and the idea that some people want to use government power to do it should offend and alarm the bejeezus out of many more people than it apparently does.

-- CAV

Updates

Today
: Corrected a typo.

14 comments:

Andrew Dalton said...

"I don't live there, but California's role as a trendsetter for foolish ideas in government, along with the impact the size of its market share has on manufacturing practices means that this lunacy will probably eventually affect me in some way."

This is why I get a modicum of perverse satisfaction from seeing that state turn into a basket case through its own machinations. So long as the American culture doesn't descend into abject sacrifice-worship, a diminished California will mean a diminished toxic influence on the rest of us.

Gus Van Horn said...

Good point. If only it could speed up just a bit more!

Brad Harper said...

Fantastic (and long awaited) usage of the f-bomb.

Gus Van Horn said...

I don't like to use the f-bomb much, as it loses zing with over-use and can often interfere with developing better verbal skills (e.g., pencil-necked piece of officialdom).

But some things are obscene.

Vigilis said...

AD,

"This is why I get a modicum of perverse satisfaction from seeing that state turn into a basket case through its own machinations."

Agree; that is also why maintenance of state sovereignty, which promotes competition, is vitally important to Americans.

Those of us who believe in freedom try to keep environmental (et al) zealots out of public office, or we relocate to states with more rationale voters.

There has been an ongoing exodus of cerebral Californians to other states.

mtnrunner2 said...

I agree it's very upsetting. It's the sheer arrogance of someone who can advocate totally irrational ideas because he has the power, and his helpless victims do not.

I could save money by moving to a cave and living like someone in the Stone Age. Should we all do that?

Better yet, California could save money by firing jackasses like Rosenfeld.

Gus Van Horn said...

Vigilis,

You're right about the brain drain, but I have to say that since there is no firm intellectual basis for so-called states' rights, their existence, such as it is, is only a fortunate accident that is only barely keeping statism at bay.

The only long-term salvation for freedom will be the kind of cultural change that has most people as indignant as I am about petty tyrants like Rosenfeld.

Only individuals have rights, and only individuals can ultimately make sure those rights are protected.

Jeff,

"I could save money by moving to a cave and living like someone in the Stone Age. Should we all do that?"

Well put, and better than something I though of adding later myself, which was that Rosenfeld could have saved "society" even more money by banning televisions outright.

Gus

Steve D said...

the implications of these regulations on our daily life won't be lost on anyone.
So this would seem to be a very good test of America’s (or California's) sense of life! There is no way the brain can miss this one so the heart should figure it out!

If we fail that test the implication are dire. If we pass the test there may be a little hope yet. If this test was on the national scale the answer might accurately predict the fate of the country

Steve D said...

Actually, if he just outlawed spending any money he would save ALL the money! We could pile it up and just look at it.

I am not even going to try to imagine the consequences of that!

similarity between global warming "research" and Lysenkoism

A very important point for a scientist and this will lead very real consequences albeit not as immediately obvious as the political consequences.

Gus Van Horn said...

The Californian sense of life? Now that's interesting to ponder.

Mo said...

and now a message from Howard Dean:

http://www.breitbart.tv/howard-dean-declares-debate-between-capitalism-and-socialism-to-be-over/

Gus Van Horn said...

Eiiiiiiiiiiiiiiagh!

I saw that myself the other day and tried to watch it then, but his comment about Obama being "this generation's John F. Kennedy" caused me to roll my eyes and close the window!

Park said...

I'd just like to point out that, at a cost of $500 per TV*(see below), replacing those 35 million TV's would cost $17.5 billion and would save, as he says, $8 billion. Gee, spend $17.5b now to save $8b over the next ten years?!? Sign me up for THAT investment deal! No wonder CA's finances are so far down the tubes, what with financial geniuses like this moron in charge.

*: While there are cheaper TV's, I think that price estimate is generous, considering most of the gains they're contemplating would come from replacing large screen plasmas. The owners of such would not be satisfied with going from a 60" HD plasma to a 24" anything.

Gus Van Horn said...

And no wonder CA is so "free" ...