Saturday, March 25, 2017

Who to Trust More: The GOP Deregulationists or the Statists

Statists have a God-like faith in government regulation. Let anyone propose deregulation of any kind, and they go on a rant like the New Jersey Star-Ledger recently did in These N.J. congressmen voted to cheat workers, loosen gun laws. The Star-Ledger was talking about Republican congressmen, of course. No Democrat would dare relax the government’s increasing stranglehold on Americans.

The GOP, you see, want “schizophrenics [to] purchase a gun,” “dumping [of] coal waste into our waterways,” and “tear down workplace protections, clean air regulations, and corporate transparency,” along with other “safeguards” over the next four years.

My rebuttal comments focussed on one particular sentence:

The credibility of this rant against deregulation collapses with a single statement; “Odd, we thought . . . people were learning that burning fossil fuels threatens everything we value.”

If this is the mindset of the people making environmental regulations—and there is every indication that it is—then every environmental regulation is suspect.

The fossil fuel industry is a heroic, morally virtuous industry that provides, and will be needed for the foreseeable future to provide, the vast bulk of the energy that drives our industrial economy, and thus the well-being of human beings. The benefits far outweigh the negatives, yet the environmentalist mindset is blinding hostility toward the fossil fuel industry, despite its huge value.

Just who is the fossil fuel industry? Its investors, employees, and customers—in other words, all of us. If we value our lives—and the Star-Ledger apparently believes nobody values their lives—then it is the enemies of fossil fuels who threaten everything we value.

The Left has a gimmick: It uses legitimate ends as cover to destroy that which they oppose. Just like racists who use the valid concept of voter identification to impose regulations designed to stop the black vote, so environmentalists use the valid concept of sensible environmental laws as a cover to crush fossil fuels. Why? Because environmentalism operates on the moral premise that human impact on raw nature is bad, and should be minimized at any cost, including the cost of reliable, economical energy.

However, humans survive and thrive precisely by impacting raw nature. Human progress depends on altering the environment through technology and development, so as to replace the danger-filled environment that nature gives us into a safe environment conducive to prosperity. That requires massive impact. The environmentalists are against impact on principle, and are therefore anti-human flourishing. The statement quoted above is proof if this anti-humanist premise. We need lawmakers who understand the value of human life and flourishing in charge of making environmental laws—rational laws that are based on objective cost-benefit analysis so we can minimize the pollution side effects of fossil fuels while recognizing fossil fuels’ immensely greater value as life-promoters. People who believe that “burning fossil fuels threatens everything we value” cannot be trusted to do that, because their goal is to minimize human impact rather than maximize human well-being.

It’s not a matter of “deregulate, cross their fingers and hope for the best." The government’s job is to prosecute force and fraud, not regulate the innocent many because of the wrong-doing of the few. The government should do its job of protecting individual rights by prosecuting actual wrongdoing, not merely stand back with its fingers crossed. The regulatory state has gone way beyond this role, dictating how people run their lives and businesses without any evidence of wrongdoing.

The current wave of Congressional regulation-killing, including the overturning of the regulations blindly rushed through at the end of the Obama Administration, is refreshing. I won’t blindly vouch for every act of this Congress. But I trust the GOP Congress far more on environmental regulation—and by extension gun, labor, and regulation generally—than I’ll trust anyone who believes the outrageous and factually untrue assertion that fossil fuels are a grave threat rather than a monumental benefactor.

Related Reading:

Where Does Valid Law End and Regulation Begin?—My Article for The Objective Standard

The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels—Alex Epstein

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