- Capitalism and Alternatives -

... A rather substantial 'mirage', to be so heavily taxed ...

Posted by: Dr. Cruel on August 09, 1999 at 20:19:35:

In Reply to: They never will; it's a tantalizing mirage created by the West. posted by Farinata on August 06, 1999 at 15:47:09:

: Things change; that is in the nature of things.
: (or de rerum natura, if you want to quote Lucretius Carus.)

…And the more things change, the more they stay the same. Swings of a pendulum, as it were.

: : : : All in all, a bright future. Which is of course what one would expect, given the global triumph of the free-market paradigm. Sorry.

: : : A bright future, given that the U.N. is predicting wars due to the lack of fresh water within the next 30 years (DC: Again, I seem to remember Erlich predicting a collapse of world oil reserves by the mid 80’s. And so on.)

: You can have fresh, flouridated water; in the meanwhile, the water supply for the majority of the world is now more contaminated with man-made pollutants like PCBs, steroid hormones (like BGH and oestrogen), dioxins, benzyl chlorides, organophosphates and such. Just because you are more privileged than ever before doesn't mean that the majority has never had it so good.

DC: The majority still live in primitive conditions. For example: U.S. AID workers in Vietnam set up a mechanized irrigation system in the South, complete with pumping machinery. Then came the Communists. The trained personnel who maintained the equipment were ‘reeducated’, the equipment left to rot. Rice production plummeted. Getting this system back on-line was one of the points of negotiation in recent trade talks (within the last few years).

People in the world need clean, sanitary water. Communists don’t bring that about. Capitalist ‘exploitation’ does. This is why Singapore has better water than, say, Mexico.

: Oh, quite apart from all else, fluoridation is of dubious medical benefit; fluorine is highly poisonous; the only reason for putting it into water is to fight tooth decay (yet it causes fluorosis if ingested in amounts even slightly over the norm); something that could be achieved equally well (and better) by a properly balanced diet.
: (Furthermore, the extraction of soluble fluorides is expensive and uses fossil fuels...)

DC: Fluoridation beats cholera. Sewage processing beats the ‘natural way’. Industry is good, barbarism is bad.

: Try reading the up-to-date scientific conclusions, then. Or try checking the real world for some empirical evidence.

DC: Again, I repeat. The same folks that bring us the ‘Greenhouse Effect’ now brought us the ‘Ice Age’ 20-30 years ago. They used the same evidence that their using now. A more blatant ‘cooking of the books’ would be hard to find.

: Despite the fact that nuclear energy actually costs more to produce than fossil-fuel-based energy; up to three times as much, in fact.

: And fossil fuels aren't the only non-renewable resource by a long chalk.

: :: and the rate of consumption is still increasing

DC: The market will out. If nuclear power is so expensive, the Russians wouldn’t use it so much - again, this looks like special ‘incidental costs’ are being tacked on to make it look more expensive than it is. With proper safeguards (again, the Swedes and the French are miles ahead of the old Soviets on this one) it’s comparable. If fossil fuels became rare enough, they’d be economical substitutes in regards to electricity for industry. Furthermore, there are other alternatives (the Brazilians recently took a ‘bath’, when they believed the hype about rapidly disappearing reserves of oil and invested heavily in an ethanol-based car industry. Listening to the Left is usually a bad idea …)

: : (DC: …but of course. Your point being?).

: My point being that resources are finite. The faster we use them, the sooner they run out. This is such an elementary truth that even an economist could understand it.

DC: And even a Leftist can understand that the Third World cannot be "kept in its place" forever. People in Africa and South America want the same lifestyle that Americans enjoy, the ‘cultural mafia’ notwithstanding. Given world growth rates in production, they seem bent on getting there, and I for one don’t intend to get in their way. Do you?

: : ‘Ecological concern’ is vague enough to do the job this generation, as it stands … until the capitalists finally privatize and mechanize the ‘Green’ movement, of course.

: I'll believe it when I see it. When you prove that capitalism can transcend the laws of physics, I'll believe. Until then, I have to laugh at your attempts to insist that humanity is master of the planet.

DC: When the ‘laws of physics’ are established by an arm of the state (Lysenko biology, L’Marckian science), capitalism easily transcends them. And, although we have not ‘mastered the planet’, I am not ideologically against the attempt.

: What was I referring to in my statement? I was referring to the planetary geology and ecosystem of the Earth; something I know far more about than you do. (DC: Apparently not. I am being charitable, of course.) Call me a planet mechanic if it makes you feel happier; the balance of the scientific evidence suggests that we are destroying our environment at an unprecedented rate. Surprise, surprise, if we make our environment hostile to life, we die. This isn't rocket science (although I can give you lessons in that too, if you'd like...).

DC: And if we make it more hospitable, by, oh, say, adding man-made structures to it like cities and factories, we live, and live well. This isn’t rocket science, either (although ‘rocket science’ is certainly a part of it). This is why clearing a rainforest, to make way for farming and ranching, is not ‘destroying the environment’ (unless, of course, you are a ‘Green’ … or a ‘planet mechanic’, I suppose …)

: As a species, we need to reduce our pollution and resource usage fast, or we are shafted. I don't give a toss about political ideology here; this is the verdict that the experimental data coming from satellites like ERS and NOAA points to; this is what climate change institutes and meteorological centres like the Hadley Centre are saying.

: I don't see a capitalist system reducing either of these damage rates any time soon; as capitalism has to keep turning a continual fiscal profit; which engenders environmental destruction. That is why I am opposed to capitalism; I was a scientist long before I was a Green; I became Green because of the scientific data I saw.

DC: Ecology is a ‘market’ too. If what you say is true (and I, for one, am very skeptical) then there will be new markets for ‘atmosphere control’, ‘planet management’ and whatnot. For example: in places that are dry, there are capitalists that bring in fresh water for farming; where there are impassable mountains, there are capitalist road builders and capitalist airlines. And so on.

: :: that maintenance is in fact entirely unnecessary

: : (DC: …only by mechanics of my choosing, and at my behest - not via edicts from an all-knowing band of incompetents and opportunists. Let the market, or the ballot, decide)

: The market doesn't serve anything but itself; it certainly doesn't care about the environment (except insofar as it affects profits). DC: Exactly. Read the above.

: (This has always struck me as puzzling; a bit of long-term planning would tell even the most die-hard capitalist that screwing up the planet in the long term is bad for business and will reduce profits. I guess that most figure that they'll be dead by the time it happens (it could be in the next 50 years) and that a quick buck now is preferable.

: Maybe that's why boom-and-bust seems to be such a regular occurrence; too much focus on the immediate growth at the expense of the long-term).

DC: I refuse to ‘screw up’ the planet. That is why I am ‘Anti-Green’. I am, if you will, a ‘Grey Party’ member, i.e. one in favor of industrial development, in the name of improving the environment. Which is, after all, what it normally does.

: I don't trust the judgement of the oil industry when it comes to climate change; as they have a heavy commercial interest in saying that it doesn't happen. That's not to say I won't examine their claims, but their claims are usually incorrect. The consensus of opinion in the field of climate change is that global warming is happening.

DC: I don’t trust the judgment of the Greens when it comes to climate change; as they have a heavy commercial and political interest in saying that it does happen (and in the most apocalyptic terms, as well). That’s not to say that I won’t examine their claims, but their claims are usually incorrect. The consensus of opinion in the field of climate change is that global warming, or cooling, is caused by changes in sun-spot activity. Thus, the Ice Age/Greenhouse Effect flip-flop.

: If we're looking for a bunch of incompetents and opportunists, try looking in the World Trade Organisation, not the world of science; to survive in the world of science you have to fight hard for your funding; whereas anyone who can bullshit enough in the business world can become either a consultant or a manager; and work their way up from there...if the business world was anything like as tough to make money in as the scientific world, there would be a lot fewer businessmen.

DC: (???) When did science and business become separate entities? What was Thomas Edison? If Bill Gates hasn’t furthered computer science, I don’t know who has …

: (speaking as one of the many who went into computers; as it was much easier to make a living in than slaving years for a Ph.D. and them more in postdoc, at the end of which you would probably not have any funding.)

: :: and that the black smoke pouring out of the back is in fact imaginary and Communist-inspired

: : (DC: When that ‘black smoke’ is a transparent ideology, you betcha).

: It isn't; it's hard science. (DC: It isn’t. It’s speculation, and speculation isn’t fact. Science means proof.)

: : : A pox on you, you pompous buffoon

: : (DC: If that ‘pox’ be the free market, I’m all for it. Please keep your snake-oil to yourself, dearie).

: Heh. You espouse free-market capitalism, as elusive an idea as "true" Marxism or Anarchism (except that it actually exists); and you accuse me, a science graduate, of being a snake-oil merchant? (on the nose)

: Might I remind you that the phenomenon of snake oil was an early example of free-market entrepreneurs exploiting the use of bad science to an uninformed public in the name of profit. Snake-oil salesmen would have been no more fond of market regulation than you are...

DC: Modern snake-oil merchants are called ‘herbalists’. They aren’t particularly in favor of the FDA, either. I’d hardly call them ‘industrialists’, however. Such ‘entrepreneurs’, selling a product based on bad science, were forced to cater to the gullible, sharply curtailing their market share. I’m afraid I have to say the same for ‘modern shamanism’ as well. Sadly, no rain-dance for me. No sale.

And I’m not against market regulation. I’m against market regulation profiteering. There’s a difference, you know.

"Doc" Cruel

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