Free markets is an unambiguous term, which implies a lack of inappropriate government intervention as consumers and firms pursue their own interest in a competitive environment. (my emphasis)
—Clifford Winston, “This Economist Really Loves Free Markets”
Inappropriate government intervention is a line government finds easy to cross, much like the Constitution’s “general welfare” clause. The latter was never intended to be a provision of infinite latitude, as James Madison argued during a debate on the cod fishery bill of 1792: “If Congress can employ money indefinitely to the general welfare, and are the sole and supreme judges of the general welfare” . . . then pretty much anything goes. But Constitution-massager Alexander Hamilton said that’s right and that’s the way it should be, and Congress has embraced Hamilton ever since.
The idea that government is at all restricted in any sense is a proposition no longer even quaint. With one hand in our pockets and the other on a printing press, government no longer even finds the sky a limit, as we now have a space force. Willie Sutton went to prison for robbing banks, and he was incarcerated by a government funded solely by theft. Government, as it is a monopoly of violence, punishes competition, and under the aegis of law escapes criminality.
And like Hamilton, most people think we can’t have civilization any other way.
But now, environmental panic is peaking. Greta Thunberg has put her face “on the existential issue of our time.” Capitalism, we’re told, is destroying the natural world and only some form of global socialism can save us. Kill the cows, shut down the coal plants, outlaw those forty million methane-emitting gas stoves otherwise we’ll all die. We can no longer tolerate freedom, either among the unwashed or the captains of industry. Unlike physics or artificial intelligence, climate change is settled science, and climate scientists are urging politicians to take real action since we can’t live much longer given present trends.
To paraphrase Thomas Paine, in the name of saving the planet, freedom is being hunted “round the world.”
About Those Settled Sciences
In today’s world it is sometimes necessary to affirm what is well known: two plus two really does equal four, and empirical science—which deals with testable hypotheses and outcomes—is never settled. An example of an empirical science that is never settled is climatology, the dictionary definition of which is the scientific study of climate.
Yet not all science is empirical. Scientific conclusions and everyday observations obey certain axioms, or laws, that have proved favorable to our mental stability and overall well-being. These laws had to be discovered and in this respect could be considered the science of correct reasoning. As such they are also laws about the nature of reality. For more on this topic see W. Stanley Jevons’s book Elementary Lessons in Logic or go to the original source in Aristotle.
The logic underlying the climate change movement is captured in the following syllogism:
- Certain human activities are making our climate dangerous.
- Since we need a favorable climate to sustain life, these activities should be eliminated.
- Therefore, governments, which have the power to control human behavior, should mitigate and ultimately eliminate the aforementioned activities.
So why the big fuss?
Climate activists take a familiar approach to label their opposition: climate deniers. We’ve heard about holocaust deniers, election deniers, vax deniers, and now climate skeptics are climate deniers. The activists control the media, and along with congressional testimony of leftist climate professors, they are pushing us toward the abandonment of common sense and the last remnants of a free society.
But get this, climate priests: Climate skeptics have learned to distrust anything with government behind it. They’re really government skeptics. Call them government deniers.
On September 10, 1990, the New Yorker published a piece called “After Communism” by socialist economist Robert Heilbroner, author of the Worldly Philosophers: The Lives, Times and Ideas of the Great Economic Thinkers. As Gary North wrote in 2020, “The book has sold almost 4 million copies. As a book on economic theory, this is second only to the textbook written by Paul Samuelson in 1948, Economics. Not once did Heilbroner mention Mises. But he devoted a chapter to Karl Marx.”
Ludwig von Mises’s book Socialism, published in 1920, argued that from a purely economic perspective socialism would fail because without market prices it could not determine what anything was worth. No one listened.
But then in 1990, reflecting on the collapse of the Soviet Union, Heilbroner said, “It turns out, of course, that Mises was right. The Soviet system has long been dogged by a method of pricing that produced grotesque misallocations of effort.”
Does his confession mean capitalism is right? Not to Heilbroner.
Socialism may not continue as an important force now that Communism is finished. But another way of looking at socialism is as the society that must emerge if humanity is to cope with the ecological burden that economic growth is placing on the environment. From this perspective, the long vista after Communism leads through capitalism into a still unexplored world that [must] be safely attained and settled before it can be name. (my emphasis)
Let’s see. Socialism does not work, admits the socialist Heilbroner. Capitalism, to the extent it’s been allowed to exist, has solved problems of every kind since its inception in the name of profit—the dirtiest word in the language to socialists of every stripe. If it wasn’t a problem solver it would have been abandoned.
The immigrants flooding our southern borders every day are not running from capitalism.
Capitalism preserves assets—because it’s profitable. The planet and the climate around it are assets. Turning them over to an organization founded on theft, violence, and lies—government—should give anyone reason to reject the idea out of hand.