Is Conservation Good for Us?

For years now we've been hearing an ever growing chorus about the need for conservation. Lately the cry for recycling, using less plastic, less water, less fuel, etc. is deafening. As the volume has increased, I have grown more and more uncomfortable with this whole idea of conservation. Something just didn't seem right about it.

Whenever "everyone" is saying something I start looking for the angle. I've come firmly to the conclusion over the years that the politically correct position always has a fallacy at its core. Political correctness is a technique used to pressure people into doing something they wouldn't do on their own or isn't in their best interest. So I've been searching for that fallacy in politically correct conservationism. Here is what I've realized.

At the core of the conservation argument is the idea that mankind harms the earth by the consumption necessary in everyday living. I have long been aware of the left's belief that humanity is a parasite on the earth. In their opinion, if it wasn't for mankind, the earth would be a beautiful, pristine place. You can see this premise on display in the History Channel's recent production "Life After People" or the National Geographic Channel's "Human Footprint."

There are two aspects this position. One, that we are raping the earth by harvesting natural resources and that two, we pollute the earth when we consume them. I contend that both premises are flawed.

Resources are product of humanity, not the earth. Sure, resources come from the earth, but they are useless to us until someone converts them to a useful form. Oil was an annoyance to land owners until a human being discovered it could be used for fuel and learned how to convert it into that useful form.

This is why the "population alarmists" have it all backwards. We need more people, not less. Humanity is the world's greatest resource. The greatest threat future western nation’s face is declining populations. None of them are reproducing and are no longer having children at replacement rates.

So why conserve oil? Oil has completely changed the quality of life for millions! It has done so in every way conceivable. Every aspect of our lives is better because of what the energy in oil is able to do for us. Here is the only reason I know of to conserve oil: you want to reduce the amount of money you spend on it. For me it is a purely financial decision. As far as I'm concerned, if you have decided that consuming energy is more valuable than the money in your pocket - then you must have determined that it will improve your life or the world around you to some degree more than the money was worth. Because consuming energy has a cost - it's use must have a tangible benefit to people or else they would save the money and use it for other purposes.

The critic of my position will no doubt say that people should use less because of the resulting pollution. (The other half of the "humans are destroying the earth" premise). I believe this premise is flawed as well. Pollution is not a product of consumption; it is a product of poverty. Prosperous, free people want to live in clean environments and they will pressure polluters using any means available (product boycotts, government action, picketing, etc) to clean up their act. Compare the environment in any free, prosperous country to any socialistic, non-free country. Athletes don't even want to compete in china due to the dirty air. Poor people care about eating - prosperous people care about everything else. PC Conservationism, if it had its way, would ultimately do more damage to the environment by spreading poverty.

When we decide to conserve, we're actually saying that we will deprive another human being the opportunity to provide us with that service or product. I don't think anyone wants the public to be pressured into not to buying their product. I don't want people to conserve when it comes to the services I provide. The price and your budget will force you to conserve appropriately. If you can afford something and have determined that your life would be better off if you had it/used it, then buy it - don't let the PC police deprive you and the seller of the benefit of the exchange.

PC conservationism shames people into avoiding consuming, which really just means, stop putting your fellow man to work. Furthermore, it demonizes the people and companies that transform the world from a wild and savage place into a comfortable and enjoyable place to be.

The beauty of the free market and freedom in general is that even the laziest man is required to serve his fellowman in order to provide for his basic needs. Our hunger drives us to serve our fellowman, and the needs of our fellowman that we are able to meet with our skills, energy, and resources provide the income that satisfies our hunger.

But if you have served your fellow man, made your money, then you should feel free to use that money in whatever way you see fit. I personally give a set percentage away, save a set percentage for the future, then use the rest to provide for my family's needs and bring pleasure to our lives. The consumption I engage in at that level is healthy and right. It puts people to work providing the services that I consume.

I am not going to be guilted by the PC Conservation Police to use some resource less than my finances allow based on their belief that I'm destroying the world.

Why Democrats Will Never Support Drilling

Why do the democrats fight every single approach to lowering the price of energy? The cover of USA Today gives the answer in large bold print - "Drivers cut back by 30B miles." That in a nutshell is why you'll never find a democrat doing anything to lower the cost of driving. They don't care about what the poor pay for gas, they don't care how much high gas prices affect the price of everything else you need.

The democrats don't want you driving! They don't want you traveling! They don't want you to have a car! They don't want you buying airline tickets. Stay home. Plant some tomatoes or something.

Democrats want high energy prices. They think Americans use too much energy. They will do anything they can to drive the price up so that we get out of our cars. Their religion of global warming has convinced them that any normal human activity is destroying the environment. Since they haven't been able to convince the voters to let them ban travel entirely (like was done in the Soviet Union), they do an end-run on travel by making it so expensive that people voluntarily give up all but the most necessary travel. Democrats are celebrating because the high cost of fuel is finally causing Americans to get rid of their SUVs, causing them to take the train, causing them to get jobs closer to home, etc. They love the high price - and they love the result.

That is why every democrat solution to the high energy costs only raises energy costs. Gas prices are high - "we must pass a windfall profits tax on the oil companies!" Natural gas prices are skyrocketing - "keep our huge natural gas reserves off limits to drilling!" Electricity is more expensive than ever -"Just say No to Nuclear!" Food prices are out of this world - "We need more ethanol!" They actually use the anger over energy costs to gain the political support necessary to do more damage! And many Americans gullibly urge them on.

We actually don't have an energy crisis, we have a regulatory crisis. We've got enough energy for 150 years of abundant, cheap energy, right here in America - but our politicians have made it impossible to take advantage of it. The latest mantra is "We can't drill our way out of this energy crisis." As if saying the exactly wrong thing with conviction will make believers out of skeptics. Drilling is EXACTLY what we need to do. Energy is expensive because we don't have enough of it. This isn't complicated. In a free market, prices always move to bring into equilibrium supply and demand. Supply is low, demand is high - prices go up. We need more energy. We need to drill now. We need to build nuclear power plants.

Actually "We" don't need to do anything. These things will happen automatically if our politicians would just get out of the way! What "We" need to do is come down on the politicians until they cave in.

The thing that gets missed in all of this, by both the left and the right, is the benefit to humanity of mobility. People are willing to spend hundreds of dollars a month on their automobiles and fuel because there is GREAT, GREAT benefit in being mobile. You can drive to a job that is better than what you might be able to find within walking distance of your home. You can shop at a greater variety of stores - thereby increasing competition among those stores which increses quality and reduces price (if you are bound to the store within walking distance, they don't have to fight all that hard for your business). You can increase your business prospects, doing business with a greater circle of people. You have a wider range of dating options for the single person. A wider range of educational options. Automobile means self-movement -> Auto = self, mobile = movement. Self-movement changed America. It is good for us and our standard of living.

Aviation does the same thing nationally and globally. Shipping does the same thing with heavy materials. The ability to move ourselves and our things has done more to increase the standard of living in the western world than almost any other thing (telecommunications and effective currency are way up there too).

Mobility is ultimately about relationships. People need people. As we increase our circle of personal and business relationships - we gain access to the people who can solve the problems in our lives - whether by trading with them or talking to them. Mobility gives us access to these people.

Republicans should be standing up for freedom in the form of mobility. This is a defining issue and needs to be clearly articulated - but it is being missed unfortunately. The conservation debate is a false argument and we shouldn't be having it on their terms. Conservation is the new political correctness to end freedom of association.

Ultimately, that is what the energy debate is all about. Democrats have bought into the notion that normal human activity - people doing the things that make their lives better - destroys the earth. America was founded by people who wanted the freedom to do that which made life better. Democrats do not want us to have that freedom. And if they can't take it from you by fiat -they'll price freedom out of your reach.