Wednesday, September 18, 2013
I do not care for its authors' obeisance to precautionary thinking or for their concession to
the idea that protecting "the
environment" is a legitimate consideration in discussions about government.
Nevertheless, I did find several interesting facts in a recent Forbes
piece on how environmental regulations are dragging down the
economy. Among them, we have the following Iron Curtain-esque contrast:
State-level energy regulations are also undermining economic growth. New York and Pennsylvania sit atop the Marcellus Shale, a bedrock that holds an estimated 500 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.I am no fan of deliberately conducting such experiments with the rights of individuals, but this situation does demonstrate how debilitating government meddling can be to an economy and to individual lives.
Pennsylvania moved quickly to unlock this resource and saw per-capita incomes in drilling-intensive counties increase by as much as 19 percent between 2007 and 2011.
New York took the opposite tact [sic] and installed a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing. Lifting this ban could let local workers enjoy income gains of 15 percent over the next four years, adding upwards of $30,000 to the annual income of a family of four.
These data are good to have, but how Americans interpret them and act on them will depend on their basic philosophical premises. For example, we must note how common precautionary malevolence has become in the culture, and remind Americans that individuals have rights that the government is supposed to protect. Failing to at least question such premises as the precautionary principle and environmentalism makes the data more likely to be ignored or treated as irrelevant. Thus it is that the authors feel the need to damn environmental regulations as "not precautionary", and "defend" free markets on the basis of their environmental friendliness -- if you can call, "economic growth and environmental quality often advance in tandem", a defense.
I happen to think that capitalism would be better for such things as air quality, but that would be a fringe benefit and is a side issue. The fact is that individuals across the country are wrongly being prevented from acting on their best judgement regarding how they obtain the energy they need to live and prosper. What's wrong with these regulations has nothing to do with their not being "precautionary" enough.