The War on Science: Who’s waging it, Why it matters, What we can do about it by Shawn Otto (2016). Some of the people who wrote blurbs for the book are listed below and links to books where appropriate are included. Fabulous book, and if I hadn’t got Tuesday and wednesday mixed up on my phone calendar, I could have heard in speak. I was so very disappointed in myself for that. Buy the book; 500 pages is a long library read.
Writers of blurbs for the book include:Bill Nye (The Science Guy)
Bill McKibben, Michael E. Mann, Walter Mondale
Ben Bova — award-winning author of the Grand Tour series and former editorial director of Omni
Shawn Otto gave a talk on Book TV and that’s where I learned about this book. Since they usually make programs available online, you could probably search and find it there. Plus, as noted above, he is currently doing a book tour I plan to attend. When he was speaking, I was sort of casually listening while reading and then I heard him say something, I don’t recall what, but I snapped my head up and started giving it my full attention — and put the book on reserve immediately.
As is my favorite thing to do when I get a book, I look for the index and check some of my go to topics that might be fun to see how they or it came to be included in the book. This one caught me by surprise because, while not looking specifically when I flipped pages, my eye saw Phyllis Schlafly so that is where I went first. The title of the paragraph gave me a chuckle.
AN ALTERNATIVE UNIVERSE
Actually, I need to start at the paragraph above so the alternative reality can be better understood.
The celebration of ANTI-INTELLECTUALISM offers social identity belonging that allows people to LET GO OF THEIR SHAME of their scientific ignorance, a sort of group bravado in the face of what would otherwise be STIGMATIZED. This sets up a political and social atmosphere in which people can be sold ideas WITHOUT ANY GROUNDING IN FACT or, for that matter, in MORALS or ETHICS.
AN ALTERNATIVE UNIVERSE
This effect is now moving online with the establishment of sites such as Conservapedia, a “conservative” version of Wikipedia that Andy Schlafly, the son of conservative Catholic activist Phyllis Schlafly (Rest in Hell you horrible hag), founded because he views the popular Internet encyclopedia as having a liberal bias. [Facts, you know.] Conservapedia seeks to create an alternate intellectual universe by reinterpreting and challenging facts that don’t fit its readers’ ideology. (p. 247)
This is the part that is crazy-making for NORMAL people. The authoritarian theocrats that want to run/ruin our lives DO NOT CARE ABOUT FACTS. One recently told me, after I told her that American was not a Christian nation, that “you can believe that if you want.” Shaking her head at how deluded I was when she was the deluded one. I replied that I didn’t have to believe we are a secular nation because it is a fact. Since it was a cordial lunch, we both just stopped talking about it. But she was not obviously stupid, religious, or closed minded. And yet, there it was, the implacable belief in our world as an alternative reality. If only they would stay in their bubble instead of going out as the evangelical Christian soldiers, it would be fine, but they want to force their alternative reality down on all of us, and their reality is going to destroy American democracy and then the planet.
Against the pieces of trash doled out to the ignorant, brainwashed, and other sheeple, the conservatives just make stuff up out of whole cloth and refuse to accept any deviation. Otto quotes Conservapedia describing the theory of relativity as “heavily promoted by liberals who like its encouragement of relativism and its tendency to MISLEAD people in how they view the world.” (p. 248)
The funny thing is, they fundamentally do not understand the scientific use of the word “theory” as used in the “theory of evolution.” This means that they can put forth their counterpart, as if it were equal, of the theory of intelligent design. Then of course, they make the argument “teach the controversy” as if evolution were equally valid as evolution. As if beliefs have equal or more authority than fact. As if the facts should be taught to children en par with religious myths that should have died off a long time ago with the hundreds of others than have been left in the dirt of centuries.
In the case of the “theory of relativity” the extent of their brain-twisting effort is to prove it is impossible (because it denies an absolute, and religion is all about absolutes). The misleading of the people comes from their effort to use something like relativity and apply it to “political identity and IDEOLOGICAL TESTS OVER REALITY in the ultimate right-wing postmodernist approach to subjectivity, it’s easy to see how journalists like Brian Williams and Bill O’Reilly become confused and allow narrative to triumph. After all, as both liberal postmodernists and neoliberal conservatives argue, the WINNER WRITES THE HISTORY BOOKS.” (p. 249)
So we must not let them win or all progress will be lost and books will be burned, and women will be confined once again to being sex slave chattel.
Because of this [difficulty to completely ignore science facts], convincing people to totally adopt anti-science positions requires constructing elaborate explanations to get around it, like postmodernist teachings, climate-science denial, or the alternative right-wing universe of definitions exemplified by Conservapedia — all of them finely constructed rhetorical arguments, but NONE OF THEM REAL. (p. 248)
NONE OF THEM ARE REAL. NONE OF THEM ARE REAL.
How can so many people be so deluded and self-righteous and evangelical about spreading their damaging mythology? How can ANY WOMAN ACCEPT complete submission and servitude to a man? How can any woman want to get pregnant every year until she dies like the good old days when women had 13-17 children routinely? How can people be so obviously insane to believe in special books, gods, miracles, and the endless, endless killing in the name of a god that is purportedly for peace? How can they expect a god to intervene in the mess people have made when he did not STOP the deaths and diseases and damage in the first place? If there were a god, why don’t religious people say: “God gave us the brains to solve this problem, let’s do it.” No, instead, they want prayers to god to save their cancer-stricken child, or allow a child to be beaten to death because the child is believed to be infected with demons.
We can explore space, and build bridges, and fly airplanes, but a perverse percentage do not believe in science. They do not, however disbelieve science that is useful to them. For several examples, they don’t decline to fly, or drive, or eat packaged food, or electricity or dishwashers or refrigerators nor would most of them refuse surgery or medicine to save their lives. So the hypocrisy causes me to vomit when I hear this shit.
Prominent social scientist Matthew Nisbet and others have built up evidence that supports this. He suggests that people think about science as a “way of knowing” or “worldview” or “frame” and that they think about religion as another “way of knowing” or “worldview” or “frame.” This would make sense if, as the neuroscience suggests, we use the same or similar brain centers to process knowledge and matters of opinion/religion. If that’s the case, we must choose which realm we will favor at any given time, and that is a framing question When people are forced to choose between the two frames, the conflict will skew their apparent level of science literacy lower because they tend to choose emotional, religious, or political frames over intellectual ones. Scientists will say this doesn’t make sense. THE FACTS ARE THE FACTS. But people do not consider only FACTS when making decisions, when investing in the stock market, when choosing a mate, when buying a house — or when VOTING. (p. 247)
He goes on to discuss scientific values, like honesty and integrity as one reason they apply the same to their worldview. However, I am no scientist but I review things with honesty and integrity and decency and common sense with a huge amount of empathy. So I don’t need a scientific study to tell me that women are constantly slut-shamed, or in fear of rape, or unwanted pregnancy. I don’t need a scientific study because I have lived my life, which happens to be that of a woman, so I understand on so many more levels what this means rather more than any study can describe.
So when I am confronted with willful ignorance of Xtians, especially evangelicals, who based their beliefs on NO FACT but merely dogma handed down by a bunch of men who simply like their position of privilege and aren’t going to give up an inch. It is soooo hysterical to see cases where women are given equal time to speak but men all feel they spoke more than their “fair” share. The continual shaming, ignoring, mansplaining, dismissing, and disregard for what women have to say is like being Cassandra — being right but no one will listen or believe you.
Just recently The Donald was all fussed that in his opinion the moderators had given Hillary much more time to speak. Turned out he had spoken more. But that is the feeling men get when instead of privilege, they experience equity. They feel like losers.
This all comes from the chapter titled THE IDEOLOGICAL WAR ON SCIENCE. He points out that further argument can cause entrenchment of polarized views and cause a feedback loop.
He mentions that since media like controversy, they love to keep stirring things up even in settled matters, like abortion — which is technically settled law, but efforts of the religious opposition that do not accept this REALITY. And so not a day goes buy without someone somewhere protesting, shooting, bombing, or threatening to murder doctors. Their actions are as anti-life as they can be and they don’t see any hypocrisy in that position.
He touches on how the false war of anti-vaxxers developed and persists, partly because the average person does not understand science or scientists, so they do not identify with them.
Naturally, given this wing-nut group of people that don’t live in our reality, they seek to make over reality, for example by teaching religious beliefs in school as if it were equal to science. Actual science, not mythology. But these dogged bible thumpers keep pressuring the teaching of the ridiculous bullshit that constitutes “creationism” as a “scientific theory.” How did a secular nation founded by men of the Enlightenment sink so low especially in an age of technological advances and scientific discoveries that blow the mind?
Another overdue book that has to go back to the library, so I will have to cut this short. Buy the book. It is a good read. It is a long read (about 500 pages). Amusing chapter titles. Good notes.
I recall recently that the smart Republicans (sarcastic) decided that no scientists will be permitted to participate in government areas like the Environmental Protection Agency because they are too “biased” and have an inherent conflict of interest in wanting to make sure we have clean water. Unlike energy industry management staff who will certainly be objective because they have no scientific reputation at stake, only BILLIONS OF DOLLARS.
That there are politicians who actually dare to stand up and deny climate change is terrifying. Almost as terrifying as the (often overlapping) authoritarian theocrats that not only deny science, climate change, and all reason, but look forward to the End Times they are helping to bring on when they will get to sit at the feet of God and sing his praises for eternity. Bet you $1 that 99.9 percent of the Xtians so eager for the next life that they are hastening us all there, do not even know what the Bible says for them to expect when they get there. If you ask them, they probably would respond, beer and a pizza. And probably free sex like another certain religion.
Back to the scientists and science deniers. On page 277, in the chapter on The Industrial War on Science, he tells the tale about some of the antics of the deniers, before Exxon admitted it knew about climate change for more than thirty years I think. The industry became alarmed that Congress would move to regulate them (ha ha ha) so decided to double down originally and instead of admitting the depth and urgency of the problem, decided to go the other way, and decided to change the narrative:
Let’s agree there’s a lot we really don’t know about how climate will change in the twenty-first century and beyond,” Exxon CEO Raymond told the World Petroleum Congress in Beijing in October 1997. (p. 275)
They did not want the U.S. to sign the Kyoto Protocol on climate change (1992). Further discussion, after quoting industry documents extensively, he describes a list of people, “akin to an oil-industry Last Supper, made up of twelve energy-industry apostles, many of whom would make lucrative and high-profile careers out of preaching the gospel of climate-change denial over the next several decades.”
Just to name the names without affiliation every time just to give you a heads up on some names to look for to recognize the industry shills when you hear or see them mentioned (p. 277):
- Candace Crandall, the wife of climate-change denier Fred Singer, and his partner in the Science and Environmental Policy Project [classic Orwellian Newspeak]
- David Rothbard, founder of denials group the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) [ditto Newspeak]
- Lee Garrigan of the Environmental Issues Council, an industry trade group working to battle “ill-conceived environmental regulation”
- Jeffery Salmon, the executive director of the denials George C. Marshall Institute and a speechwriter for Vice-President Dick Cheney
- Myron Ebell of Frontiers of Freedom [Newspeak], a denialist who went on to become director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and chair of the Cooler Heads Coalition, and was a player behind the electoral defeat of Republicans who supported climate-change legislation, including Bob Ingliss. [Just love the Newspeak titles, especially the Cooler Heads one].
- Peter Cleary …coalitions director for Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform
- Randy Randall, a lobbyist and senior environmental advisor for ExxonMobil
- Robert Gheri [too many connections to mention but framed global warming as “theory not fact”]
- Sharon Kneiss, the federal relations manager for Chevron
- Steve Milloy, the denials executive director of the tobacco-industry front group the Advancement of Sound Science Coalition….
Several other public relation guys, Joseph Walker and a John Adams also are in the group. The goal of the group was basically gas lighting the public and the politicians into believing there was reason to doubt that climate change was “real” and that there were “uncertainties” about the science. One part of their strategy was to at least make sure the Congress did nothing. Not hard with W then 2010 Republican slaughter — which I am sure one day will be exposed as corruption because I just can’t believe there are that many mean-spirited people dominating the national public policy and programs.
On a positive note, they acknowledge that the Natural Resources Defense Council has been ” ‘highly effective for years in utilizing the court system to enact policy, effect change, and generate significant exposure for their cause,’ said one conservative think tank.” (p. 282)
Then there was a huge money dump, including dark money to the fake “think tanks” that really just write legislation and tell politicians what industry wants them to do.
OMG, the founder of the Weather Channel is a climate change denier. He called it “the greatest scam in history.” The PR aka propaganda placed ads that were lies, such as claiming “the science behind global warming was a ‘hoax’ and ‘Cap and Trade” would cost American jobs costing $200 billion dollars.
Some more names of “climate-denial spin doctors” that lied, oops, testified before Congress included: “Christopher Monckton from the innocuous-sounding Science and Public Policy Institute, E. Calvin Beisner from Cornwall Alliance, and Patrick J. Michaels of the Cato Institute.”
The chapter titled Freedom and The Commons is absolutely fantastic. He cites the now famous paper by biologist Garrett Hardin (no relation) on the “core dilemma it identified, which came to be called ‘the tragedy of the commons‘ after the paper’s title.”
Hardin’s paper was remarkable because it offered such a sound rebuttal to the ideas of the Scottish economist Adam Smith, whose collaborator and mentor was David Hume. Their ideas heavily influenced the Founding Fathers from Benjamin Franklin to George Washington, and was central to the founding arguments for the United States, where both government and the economy would be ruled by the invisible hand. In 1776, Smith argued in the Wealth of Nations that in a shared economy, an individual, who ‘intends only his own gain’ was in effect ‘led by an invisible hand’ to promote the greater public interest, since willing buyers and willing sellers will always arrive at a natural price for things, and the highest value and efficiency will be obtained. ‘Nor is it always the worse for the society that [altruism] was no part of it,’ he wrote. ‘By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it.’ The argument of the invisible hand was so well made that it became an axiom of economics: just get out of the way and let the market work.
But, Hardin asked, did the same reasoning still hold true in the economics not of the 1779s, when the world seemed unlimited, but of the 1970s, when it didn’t? Imagine a situation where t village herdsmen share a common pasture, he offered. Over time, factors like disease, war, poaching, periodic famine — market inefficiencies, if you will — keep both the herds and their herdsmen at well below the carrying capacity of the pasture. In this situation, we could consider the pasture limitless, as the world appeared to be in Adam Smith’s time, and his argument would hold true.
But then , one day, improved farming practices permit social stability, and these losses or inefficiencies are minimized. At this point of highest social good, or perhaps of maximum market efficiency, the logic of the commons creates a tragedy. Each herdsman thinks, ‘What is the utility to me of adding one more animal to my herd?’ Since the herdsman receives all the proceeds from the sale of the animal, the positive benefit is +1. However, because the loss of grass, more weeds, increased erosion, etc., caused by the additional animal’s grazing is shared equally by all herdsmen, the detriment to the herdsman is only a fraction of -1.
In this way, each herdsman is motivated by the only ‘rational’ economic conclusion: add one animal, and another, and another. But what seems rational when the problem is looked at within the individual’s frame of market reference becomes GROTESQUELY irrational when the frame used is the COLLECTIVE MARKET of all herdsmen — and, indeed, of their economy and society at large, which now must cope with an overgrazed pasture that can sustain only a fraction of the number of cattle it did prior to the bubble. By failing to account for the CONTEXT IN THE TRANSACTION, the environment and the economy both collapse.
Hardin concluded that, in this circumstance, ‘each man is locked into a system that compels him to increase his herd without limit — in a world that is LIMITED. Ruin is the destination toward which all men rush, each pursuing his own best interest in a society that believes in the freedom of the commons. Freedom in a commons brings ruin to all.’ Technically, it wasn’t freedom in a commons, but freedom in a bounded commons, that brought ruin. Smith’s ideas were based on the assumption of geographically limitless freedom and resources. But did a free-market economy still work in the larger framework when that assumption was no longer true? Or were we in need of a new model? (pp. 345-347)
Leaving aside the fact that there is no fucking invisible hand, only greedy humans with no sense of community, morality, empathy, compassion, or limit, that this is still an economic belief that is held as true when it is so obviously a lie, there is no free market at all. All is regulated in some fashion. It is in the interests of the big companies for there to be some regulation because regulation can preemptively kill competition.
No regulation equals absolute power and we know absolute power equals abuse and exploitation, of people and the environment. Yet this litany is still repeated over and over as if that will make it true. And there are plenty of true believers who are generally ignorant fucks that don’t give a damn about anything or anybody, and couldn’t balance their checkbooks much less grasp the fact that income inequality hurts everyone and the planet.
FREEDOM VERSUS TYRANNY
The simple dilemma that drives the tragedy of the commons is writ large in the greatest political argument of our time: the clash between individualism and collectivism at the heart of every environmental issue. In the political realm, this first became a clash between capitalism and communism, and more recently between super capitalist libertarianism and democratic socialism. Politics is narrative, and every narrative argument has an underlying value at stake. In this case, the value is freedom versus tyranny. But which road leads to freedom, and which to tyranny?
Capitalism is a more moral system if it offers more freedom to individuals. What do we mean by freedom? Liberty means freedom to choose, as David Hume, Smith’s mentor first defined it — the definition the US Founding Fathers contemplated in writing the Declaration of Independence. But there are qualifications. In a capitalist and democratic system, my freedom to do as I wish is moral and just to the DEGREE THAT IT DOES NOT REDUCE YOUR FREEDOM TO DO THE SAME. Neither of us is the king, and both of us are. We are a society of equal kings.
To mediate a fair compromise, each of us must ACCEPT LIMITATIONS equally to receive the equal benefits of having freedom from the tyranny of might makes right. Thus society has created titles to land and other private property, on of the most basic functions of Western governments. My freedom is bounded by the sanction of government-issued property titles, as is yours, based on how much treasure we can each muster for the purchase of land and the payment of the taxes that protect us and provide common services. What we have each gained through this self-imposed limiting and taxation — to pay for roads, a sheriff, a judge — is freedom from CONSCIENCELESS, who would use BRUTALITY and AUTHORITARIANISM to take our lands by force. Freedom from tyranny proceeds from laws and regulations. The alternative is the assertion of the mighty. Thus we hear talk of the rule of law. This seems just and reasonable to most people as the price of enjoying the benefits of living together in a democratic society.
But what happens when the argument is extended beyond private property to the use of the commons, such as public parks and lands, lakes and rivers? To carrying concealed weapons in public? To smoking in public, or not using a seat belt in a car, or riding a motorcycle without a helmet? To the atmosphere, the oceans, the rain forests? To the planet? To paying or not paying taxes to maintain these common things? What is the proper equilibrium between my individual rights and the rights of the COLLECTIVE OF EVERYONE ELSE — now and intergenerational into the future? How do we balance freedom and our right to the commons? (pp. 346-348)
Because we have a limited planet, today’s herdsmen — the nation states, supranational corporations, leaderless non-state networks, and individuals — all have powerful economic incentives to pursue their rational self-interests until the tragedy of the commons occurs on a global scale. This is the nature of an economic bubble, but the assumption of LIMITLESS GROWTH is what our economic model is currently based on.
The purpose of democracy is to find a balance that protects the equal right of all individuals by using the antiauthoritarian rule of law — or regulation — and the vote to maximize the overall level of freedom and minimize tyranny.bThus each herdsman’s rational self-interest is moderated in a form with all others, resulting in common regulations to individual behavior. Through regulation, democracy affords the opportunity to govern the engine of individualism in the commons before it RACES TO RUIN. Democracy, in that sense, is self-regulation. That is its purpose.
Understanding this relationship, teasing out the logical fallacy that underlies the tragedy of the commons, ties into the fundamental relationship between economics, democracy, and knowledge gained from science. Finding ways to create more freedom and more wealth that allow for progress and economic growth while also sustaining or improving the ENVIRONMENT is the great task of the twenty-first century . . . . (pp. 347-348)
The industries and the Republicans would have you believe that all regulation is bad despite the fact that without it, we would have ruined the world decades ago through acid rain, water pollution, and air pollution. The use of pesticides nearly killed off all the birds, all the insects (good and bad), and wreaked entire ecological systems. Today we are dealing with water pollution despite laws and regulations that actually have allowed lead to leach into the water causing brain damage in an entire city (Flint, Michigan) for years with little to nothing being done based on an absence of science and Republican obsession with saving a few million dollars off the backs and bodies and brains of a mostly black community.
The corporations write the laws for their lackeys to pass in Congress that preemptively precludes them from liability for the damage they know they are doing. An example is Monsanto and a line in a bill recently passed that grants them litigation proof “no fault” protection from any damage their products may cause. This certainly implies that they KNOW their products are causing damage. Like Exxon that kept their climate change impact secret for decades, and fracking that claims “trade secrets” to refuse to release the nature of the chemicals they are releasing into our drinking water, or causing that water to light on fire, these are the bad herdsmen that are killing the commons.
The evidence shows that successful regulations that define a fair trade in the commons do not reduce freedom. Instead, they increase it by leveling the playing field and preventing unfair abuses, to the shared benefit of all. (p. 349)
Of course the exploiters see regulation as a curtailment of their freedom to exploit nature and workers to their exclusive advantage just because they can. They do not care about ethics, or morality, or common decency (like a living wage). People of the corporations that do this exploiting hide behind the shell of the impersonal and “just business” cloak of justification for their misdeeds.
Consider sewage disposal. In the Middle Ages, we soiled the commons by throwing genes out into the streets and into the water sources from which we also drew drinking water — until science showed us that this is how cholera spreads. There was a time, not many years ago, when a factory owner whose land abutted a river thought it was well within his rights to dump factory by-products into what seemed an endless flow, just as the world itself seemed practically endless. The factory owner would have called antipollution regulations infringements of his freedom. A flowing river cleans itself every twenty miles, the old saying went.
Today, with increased awareness from science, we would view those acts as equally stupid and unconscionable. So have the stricter regulations and laws reduced or increased our freedom? To the extent that the common waters are cleaner and we are less likely to contract cholera, are we each deprived or enriched? It’s pretty clear we are each as individuals healthier, wealthier, and freer because of fair and equal regulations based on the knowledge from science. (p. 349)
I just finished reading a book on the history of women of the world. I would like to know how this author views all this talk of freedom in the context of women’s life experiences.
As Hue pointed out, freedom is the liberty to choose. Its sources are objective knowledge, science, democracy, and fair and equitable regulation under the rule of law — all of which work to maximize the liberty TO CHOOSE. (p. 350)
How then do we consider women free if they may not choose to marry or not, to have sex or not, to have children or not, to experience female genital mutilation or not, to bow down to dogma of male religious authorities or not? How can women be free if they are denied an education, forced into child marriage, sold into marriage as servants and sex slaves? How can women be free when the opportunity to receive a fair wage, a living wage, job security, economic security, physical safety, and more? Women do not live in a democracy in the United States, and certainly not in the majority of the countries of the world. It is the women’s job to do the housework, walk 10 miles to fetch water, to grow crops, to cook meals, to make or mend clothes, to bear children and rear them. ALL THIS LABOR MUST BE DONE FOR FREE. It is simply assumed to be the “job” of women. They have always done it (perhaps not willingly, but patriarchy doesn’t give a damn) and must continue to do domestic labor AND NOW MUST PERFORM WAGE WORK AS WELL, and then pay half that wage to another woman to care for her children while she works because all this female activity is NOT CONSIDERED WORK BY THE MEN IN CONTROL. If it were considered work, and essential to the survival of the species, then the governments would pay a basic income (aka dole Roman men received, but not the women) for mothers to do the JOB of being mothers. Countless studies have calculated the cost of women were paid for all the work they do in the home and with children, and it is proven to be unaffordable by almost everyone. Yet none of this work is calculated in the GDP. None of this work generates an income or allows for promotions or security for old age.
Even “marriage” is no guarantee, and never was; men can easily leave, women not so much. And then there are the trophy wives for status after the first or second wives have put men through college and raised their families FOR NO INCOME of their own. Toss in domestic abuse, child abuse, intimate violence and murder, and next to nothing wages and so many more ways that women are not as FREE as men, and we clearly are not FREE to choose a life of our own.
Especially obviously, when the patriarchy and ancient male-dominated religious dogma and self-interest of the men in charge of the laws and enforcement, do not CHOOSE to share power with women. Indeed, it is 2016 and gynoticians and religious zealots are fighting tooth and claw to prevent women from having a basic RIGHT TO CHOOSE to control their own bodily autonomy. Women are less than fully human when a handful of cells that may or may not grow correctly or completely, are valued more than a living breathing woman. Women are little more than breeding animals without FREEDOM TO CHOOSE.
Regulation of abortion is not regulation, it is restriction and control out of misogyny and religiosity. It is a medical procedure that requires no more regulation than any other common medical procedures, such as washing of hands (which was decried for many years as unnecessary, then science showed us germs).
Once we are no longer ignorant (seat belts save lives, all cars must have seat belts) things that are bad for the environment are bad for everybody. Ignorance is tyranny.
Tyrants take private property; they take health, life, and clean water; they take clean lungs and fresh air; they take fish by depleting the oceans, money by raising the cost of insurance. The shifting — or, as economists say, the EXTERNALIZING — of private costs and risks onto the commons takes from everyone, and in fact reduces wealth throughout the economy. (p. 350)
The financial industry is now post 2008 crash, notorious for externalizing risk while privatizing profits. The next subsection is to painful for me to discuss, featuring as it does the killer of the American economy by neoliberalism theory (really lies, not even a fake theory like intelligent design) promoted by Milton Friedman. It also naturally leads to the embarrassing enduring dreadful legacy of Ayn Rand’s glorification of “rational self-interest” aka greed perpetuated by never growing up adolescents like Paul Ryan who gives out a copy of Atlas Shrugged to all his staffers. Most teenagers grow out of the two-year olds mentality of “me me me” and everyone else be damned. People like Ryan and Alan Greenspan (literally an acolyte who sat at Rand’s feet) see themselves as the hero of their own story as all good villains do, but they are deluded as to their heroism.
While it is a popular line of CEOs today, with their multimillion dollar salaries and stock options out of all proportion to any value they actually bring to their jobs, it is not true that corporations are in business to make money for shareholders. First of all, if that were true, the shareholders would be getting a hell of a lot more out of the CEO and management salary and bonuses! And oh, the bonuses! What other job than a financial gambler with other people’s money, win or lose, warrants million and multimillion dollar bonuses?
If one truly considers the role of business in society, it’s not simply to make money. It’s to make life better by providing a solution to a need . . . . A good business make life better for its customers. But it also makes life better for its employees by organizing the market so each employee doesn’t have to be their own entrepreneur. It makes life better for its shareholders by providing them with a return on their investment without crapping on their lawn in the process via externalized pollution. It make life better for society by being a good citizen in the community. And it pays its way for the public resources it benefits from by PAYING TAXES. But it can’t really do any of these things well if it is unsustainably mining resources out of the environment, dumping pollution back in, or externalizing costs [or out of the pay of the workers] that should be rightly borne in the price of the product. So it becomes combative and duplicitous, seeking to battle back all regulation so it is angered, when instead it should advocate for fair regulation to keep the playing field level so all parties can be protected when they act sustainably. (p. 374)
Really, this book is a keeper. It is chock full of excellent reasoning, it its well-written, extraordinarily detailed (in a good way), and just full of fascinating information. For example, I knew that Hubble was a big deal since they named the Hubble telescope in his honor, but I had never heard that he corrected EINSTEIN’S Theory of Relativity!!!
The one overwhelming flaw inis the book is the lack of women, women’s issues, women’s accomplishments in science, and mostly no awareness that there is even a being such as a woman. The one reference to Shlafly started with is no great credit to women, and another reference to the religious fraud Aimee Semple McPherson. There were a very few, two maybe other women mentioned in passing, but a double check of the index really showed the lack and questionable inclusions like Sarah Palin (though she has some involvement in Climategate) but really, Bristol Palin? Of course, they are used somewhat for humorous effect. Bristol for her million speeches on abstinence while “choosing life” and having two children without being married to either of the dads.
Good read, and be sure to look up the author, Shawn Otto on BookTV for his lecture.