- Capitalism and Alternatives -

'Custon will reconcile people to any atrocity.'

Posted by: MDG on March 03, 19100 at 16:18:55:

In Reply to: I've had time to get used to it. posted by David on March 03, 19100 at 11:32:26:

That's a quote from George Bernard Shaw which I use in my animal rights debates, but which I think is appropos in this discussion.

: : : That may be so, however, but the point is that the companies own the land or the forests or the lakes that they are extracting resources from.

: : You know, ever since I was a kid I've wondered how anyone could "own" a forest or a mountain or a lake; these things were there long before people arrived, so how could they be owned?

: I agree, it is an odd concept. Something that you think about on those warm summer nights when there is a clear sky and the stars are shining. Damn, sorry for straying from my capitalist caricature of a cold-hearted ruthless evil doer, it is the Antonio Carlos Jobim music. (Quiet nights...ohhh yeah)

That's right, you're the music guy. I've never heard of Jobim. Who's he comparable to (i.e. can you name a famous musician he might remind me of), and can you recommend a good album of his?

: That may be the simplistic thinking of a child, granted, but still, there's a kernel of truth in it which has been disregarded by the whole Western imperialistic/capitalist mindset.

: Well, Einstein attributes all his revolutionary theories to the simple fact that he thought like a child and always asked what adults considered to be "stupid questions." He always asked why.

: From what I know, the Native Americans had a very hard time understanding what the white man meant when he marched onto the land and said, "This is my property."

: This is where I disagree. Native Americans did have a sense of property rights. In fact, just about every recorded intertribal war was due in part to squables over territory.

Again, I'm not an expert on Indian tribes, but while they undoubtedly had territories which they defended vigorously, I doubt that they also considered their territory to be their "property." A distinction can be made here: "territory" is that portion of the land which they control, but it is owned by heaven, and so must be treated with respect. Git it?

: : Be all that as it may, while companies may acquire natural resources, e.g., forests, legally, these are still the natural resources of the country as a whole, and they do not lose their ecological or social importance simply because they've been purchased on paper. We can and do regulate even private property when necessary, as when endangered species are present.

: MDG, we both want the same things in the end. We both want to see an end to the destruction of endangered species and needless killing of animals. However, we both have different ideas as to how that is to be achieved. I believe the only way to save something is to own it. When I was eight I went on a field trip to the dog pound, there was a black dog there named Debbie, she was to be put down in three days. I went home and scrounged around enough money to buy her. My parents were angry but I didn't really care. It was small, but it worked. To own something is the best way to protect it.

Good for you about that dog. That's a great story. Now, to continue arguing with you: I'd say the best way to protect something is to love it.

: : Frankly, I'd like the see the U.S. government buy back the bulk of our natural resources and declare them public property, property which may still be utilized by private companies which have a license to, for example, extract timber or minerals, but property which is owned and managed by the citizens of the country primarily for the nation's benefit.

: That just opens up a whole new can of worms. Who decides which companies get liscenses? Politicians? Politicians can be bought off. Anybody can be bought off. What happens if that company screws up royally? Would certain companies be given monopolies on timber or coal?

A good point, but politicians are accountable to the public (at least in theory, which private companies are not), and so an environmentally-thoughtful public would punish the politicians for favoring unscrupulous companies.

Also (and I do this kind of work for a living), the government frequently punishes companies which harm the environment, such punishment including a cessation of business rights with the government and a yanking of any rights to exploit public land.

: : :Mr. Loudon Head was arguing that when companies own the land and the resources they take better care of it. Yes, there will be some exceptions, such as companies that are fly by night operations hoping to capitalize quickly. However, those companies that are in it for the long run will make sure that they always plant more trees than they cut down so that there will be more next year. Similarly, fisheries will not dredge their fishing areas, completely wiping out the fish populations.

: : Back to the subject: it's a mixed record on whether private companies exercise responsible stewardship of their resources. Some do, some don't, depending on the ethics of their executives, demands of the shareholders, etc. Many people fail to see the big picture and do what they can for short-term gain (and I'm talking in general, not just business types). Why risk irreplaceable resources like old-growth forests over the whims of who happens to own it at the time?

: Similarly, why risk irreplaceable resources to a company that was chosen by the whims of politicians?
: It is a very fine line, this subject, and I guess that both methods have their faults. The best course of action is that which causes the least amount of harm.

We can continue to disagree until the sun burns out, but I think we can agree that regarding the environment, things are always better under any system when people respect and care for the plants, animals, and natural resources that make this a habitable planet, and not a cold moon.

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