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The Libertarian Dilemma

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posted on Jun, 26 2012 @ 11:26 PM
I share some libertarian values, but where I strongly oppose is regarding consumption and waste management.

The whole idea of liberty is that it is your right to do what you want for yourself, as long as you are not infringing on the lives, liberty and pursuit of happiness of others.

Well, ecosystem degradation from constant and unhealthy consumption, whether intentional or unintentional, does just that. It destroys ecosystems that the current and future generations depend on for their own HEALTHY consumption and happiness. And we're all guilty of it. Some more than others.

The current industrial, constant consumption based economy not only infringes on the lives of others, but is unsustainable. The answer is NOT less regulation. The invisible hand couldn't care less about what happens to stuff after it's consumed.

We've been doing things basically the same way since the Industrial Revolution when there was very limited knowledge of particular consumption effects. Planetary limits, ecosystem degradation and pollution were never considered. Now the economy and population are bigger than anyone ever imagined, mainly because of oil, and our consumption habits are so ingrained, it's hard for people to think of another way of life.

Thing is, changing our consumption habits doesn't have to mean less material wealth and a lower quality of life.

Something like Bill McDonough's cradle to cradle design is brilliant. Growth and consumption in his system are actually healthy because there is a plan for the waste. Waste is what he calls biological and technical nutrients in his system. It could be a beautiful thing.

Either way, the laws of nature will force us to change whether we like it or not. The question is do we do it consciously before it gets really bad or do we go through a very painful process because we're in denial?

We really need our private and public leaders to step up and address it, but unfortunately no one is really even talking about it. I'm sure it has nothing to do with special interest groups that want anything but the system they are making unprecedented profits from to change.

Honestly, the more I hear politicians and corporations talk about where their priorities are, the more pessimistic I become.

posted on Jun, 27 2012 @ 02:06 AM
It's not a libertarian dilemma. Libertarians have no interest in environmental regulation. Ron Paul even wanted to sell off some of the national parks for the private sector to develop.

Check out Rand Paul's comments on the BP oil spill.

Libertarian economic policy is really unfettered neoliberalism. Opening the market up as much as they want will cause massive destruction of the environment. The counter arguments based on property rights are very weak. Individuals are supposed to sue powerful deregulated corporations to combat air pollution, the extinction of species, the dumping of waste and many hundreds of other issues. I can see that working really well. BP have still not been made accountable for what they've done. It was precisely the deregulation of certain safety provisions under the Bush admin which led to the leak in the first place.

posted on Jun, 27 2012 @ 09:43 AM
Many Libertarians do have an issue with being destructive to the ecosystem. There's more than one kind of Libertarian. Many of us believe that destruction of the environment does infringe and cause harm to others in some cases it is akin to murder because if a factory dumps toxic waste onto land or into water that will either make people sick or render the land/water useless. Unusable land/water threatens local peoples around that land in that they cannot use it for sustenance and self sufficiency.

posted on Jun, 27 2012 @ 06:08 PM
reply to post by Reflection

i'm not a libertarian but your post was well said and i agree with you. we really need regulations otherwise human greed will destroy everything for profit. money is like a drug.

posted on Jun, 27 2012 @ 10:42 PM

Originally posted by Kali74
Unusable land/water threatens local peoples around that land in that they cannot use it for sustenance and self sufficiency.

It doesn't happen that fast. Environmental destruction is slow and creeping. When it crosses a certain threshold, the damage becomes irreversible. If libertarians have to wait until the environment becomes "unusable" for them to have a case it will pretty much be gone by the time they take action. The deregulation and litigation the Pauls both favor will unarguably lead to a too little too late scenario. Prevention is better than cure.

Originally posted by Kali74
There's more than one kind of Libertarian.

Yeah, one that doesn't understand libertarianism and one that does.

Economic policy is key to libertarianism. If you support Paul's social, constitutional and foreign policy views you are simply sucking on the sugar coating. There's far more to it than that. A true libertarian would do as both Paul's said, sell off the national parks to private industry and get off BP's back. Any intelligent person would reject such rabid neoliberalism.

Of course there's far more to their economic ideology. Abolish minimum wage, food regulations (read The Jungle), open border policy, mass outsourcing and globalization. Ron Paul is fervently opposed to keeping capital and wealth within the country which is the reason he opposes the border fence. He is crazy enough to think mass deregulation and laissez faire capitalism will create a utopia. It will create wealth - but for who? And what will the pay, working conditions, industrial standards and environment be like?

"There’s nothing to fear from globalism, free trade and a single worldwide currency" - Ron Paul

posted on Jun, 27 2012 @ 10:58 PM
No Amount of Global Regulations is going to stop 7 Billion+ People from planet wide consumption. The very idea is laughable. Especially since the 2010 UN conference fell apart because they couldn't decide what to do!

But I agree with you, that that issue is just another reason why I am not a libertarian and another issue that they don't see eye to eye on with anybody. They don't understand that we DO need SOME smart environmental laws. But again, you aren't going to prevent consumption without inventing matter replication devices if that's even possible...
edit on 27-6-2012 by jjf3rd77 because: (no reason given)

posted on Jun, 28 2012 @ 11:05 PM
reply to post by SteveR

I don't support Ron Paul and many Libertarians denounce him totally. There's Right and Left Libertarians, I'm on the Left... those of us who are Left Libertarians tend to be pretty strong in defense of the environment. We don't view it as an economic issue but an issue of Liberty, land must be healthy, water must be healthy so that anyone can utilize or traverse it as they see fit.

He is crazy enough to think mass deregulation and laissez faire capitalism will create a utopia.

That is not a true free market. In my mind you don't regulate the amount of damage a Corporation or business can do to the environment. Tough environmental laws are needed. It's common sense to me/us (left libertarians) that sustaining a healthy planet is paramount to freedom. Companies unable to profit for lack of being able to be clean don't belong in the free market. Cut them loose and make room for someone who can.
edit on 28-6-2012 by Kali74 because: (no reason given)

posted on Jun, 29 2012 @ 12:22 PM
There is a small minority of "left" libertarians that understand how pollution and irresponsible ecosystem destruction infringes on liberties.

The problem is that most libertarians think the invisible hand will correct any imbalances, but if that was the case, then why does the planet continue to degrade?

There are usually two answers.

It's a myth that the planet is degrading. As always it's an unfounded claim. They just say it to make themselves feel better. Kind of like an alcoholic in denial.

The other is that the invisible hand IS currently correcting ecological degradation. Again unfounded and almost laughable if it wasn't so sad.

posted on Jun, 29 2012 @ 07:52 PM
Ron Paul is the quintessential libertarian. It is a very exaggerated and frankly wild claim to say that "many libertarians denounce him totally". Where are they? Paul leads the movement because he perfectly embodies it. He doesn't contradict himself. Left libertarian is a contradiction of terms. Free market economics is the heart and soul of the libertarian ideology, freedom from government and the sovereignty of the individual is the paramount factor. When you support "tough" regulation and let the government effectively pick winners and losers in the market you are advocating a government that exceeds its constitutional authorities and controls the market. This is wholly contrary to the libertarian freedom ideology that says government doesn't know best and the forces of the market are sufficiently self regulating. Many millions of people believe in peaceful foreign policy, constitutional government, socially liberal laws and protecting the environment, but they don't call themselves libertarians. That is why there are so few of you.

posted on Jun, 30 2012 @ 10:46 PM
reply to post by SteveR

I try to refrain from buying into one particular ideology because it clouds my ability to reason and think for myself. Ideologies really only exist so they can eventually be transcended. Too often political ideologies become like a religion. Divine and above being questioned.

If the invisible hand is all powerful and divine, then why does the Earth continue to degrade? Is it because of too much regulation??

To me it looks like the invisible hand rewards CONSUMPTION with complete disregard for long term environmental and natural capital health and regeneration.

Liberty is great, except there is no such thing as absolute liberty. We are at the mercy of the caring capacity of the Earth. There are limits to consumption and growth and the invisible hand has no clue about that.

There is a dictatorship and that's Nature whether you vote for it or not. Our best and only sustainable option would be to understand and align with it.

If you can explain to me how the invisible hand alone is gonna do that without regulation, I'm all ears!

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