Re-Thinking Green: Alternatives to Environmental Bureaucracy Kindle Edition
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Top customer reviews
The INDEPENDENT INSTITUTE has done us a very big service with this great book. Thank you.
Chapter 6 on global warming is very good. I would add to it, The Ozone warning scare.
Chapter 15 Creeping socialism, is well put together and researched.
It is not difficult to take pot shots at regulatory failures and bureaucratic stupidity -- its child's play really. But the authors of Re-thinking Green seem to have worked themselves into such an anti-government frenzy that they cannot see straight. Having concluded that regulation equals damnation and markets equal salvation, the authors were generally not inconvenienced by half the facts. Every scenario became an argument for more market and less market interference. The Independent Institute should be known as the INDEPENDENT FROM ANY KIND OF MARKET INTERFERENCE INSTITUTE. Read this book and you will get one side (and therefore a lopsided view) of the regulation vs. market debate.
If you are looking for a book with balance and depth start with Everything For Sale by Robert Kuttner. Kuttner's book discusses both the virtues and limits of markets. Unlike Re-Thinking Green, Everything For Sale truly is an "independent inquiry pursued regardless of political or social biases and conventions."
At any rate, perhaps the primary theme in this collection of essays dealing with the trend toward hugely bloated and costly environmental bureaucracies at the federal level is that not only is this trend excessively costly, but ineffective, wasteful, counter-productive to its purposes, based on junk science, and ill-conceived. The case is made that the free-rider problem extends into the government bureaucracy (and in the political sphere) due to there being no risk to politicians or bureaucrats for bad decisions and only benefits to them for passing costs and restrictions on to others. In essence, the federal bureaucrats and politicians are the free-riders that render their own actions ineffective. (The free-rider problem is normally stated as a reason for government action in that if private actions were taken then many people would receive benefits from those actions although they had incurred no costs or risks associated with those actions.)
This work also impinges on the supposed correlation between the industrial revolution and global warming and the idea that humans are bringing about global warming. That the facts are actually otherwise (see Solomon; "The Deniers", Murray; "The Really Inconvenient Truths", and Spencer; "Climate Confusion") clearly makes the human causation of global warming an act of faith (in response to extensive and often hysterical propaganda.)
The essays are organized into eight groups as follows:
The Seeds of Environmental Bureaucracy.
Entrepreneurship, Property Rights & Land Use.
The By-products of Environmental Bureaucracy.
Debating Market-Based Environmentalism.
Most of the essays in these sections recount specific policies by government or environmentists and the impacts of those policies. Overwhelmingly the effects of those polices have turned out to be negative or having very detrimental unintended consequences (one is tempted to say "unexpected consequences" due to a lack of thorough understanding of the problems, reliance on junk science, or simple incompetent or inane actions.)
My favorite essay was the one by Nelson on "Does 'Existence Value' Exist? Environmental Economics Encroaches on Religion." Nelson concludes that the concept of existence value is not scientific but rather a quasi-religious concept that creates more problems than it solves. It answers a religious question with economics that leads to absurdities and was a typical attempt to find justification for an idea that was wrong-headed from the beginning and to help maintain an unneeded bureaucracy.
In short, this is a highly important book that should be required reading in all political science and economics curriculae in American universities. Unfortunately, I note that I am only the third reviewer and the obvious conclusion is that this work has received little notice or wide dissemination. That is truly a shame. And once again, read the 1 star review to see the usual ad hominem attack, this time against the publisher, The Independent Institute, when anyone challenges political correctness or conventional wisdom. One is tempted to reference Hayek, "The Road To Serfdom", to some readers. Political correctness and the creeping socialism it contains clearly fits Hayek's concepts of the dangers of organizations like the environmental bureaucracy leading us like lemmings into totalitarism.
I highly recommend this book. The reader is advised to read it carefully and make up his own mind rather than simply buying into the propaganda that has been spewed forth on these subjects by special interests and religious zealots since 1970. One hopes it is not too late for rationality to enter the fray.
The reader would be also advised to read Niskinen's work on "bureaupathic" behavior and the tendency of bureaucrats to maximize their budgets and increase their bureaucracies at all times at others' expense. Many times government bureaucracies are not the solution -- they are the problem.
The essay on population growth is perhaps one of the most important ones. Population growth under a free-market economy is a blessing. How sad that due to economic ignorance countries like China have such draconian one-child policies.
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