Steve G.

‘Peter Orvetti is an Idiot,’ Part One of Many

In Libertarian on July 16, 2008 at 12:13 am

Since LFV seems to be where a lot of the more reasonable and intelligent libertarians hang out, I think I’ll occasionally use my posts here to ask questions of you about points of libertarian thinking that I do not quite understand. I don’t promise to agree with your stances once they’re explained, of course, but I’m always interested in learning more about why libertarians (and anyone else, for that matter) think the way they do.

So, first subject: environmentalism. I understand and agree with libertarians who do not think people should be coerced into taking so-called “green” actions like recycling, driving smaller cars, and so on. I also know there are some who are skeptical of climate change theories. But what puzzles me is that some libertarians seem rather contemptuous of things like buying carbon offsets, switching to swirly flourescent light bulbs, driving hybrids, and so on, in and of themselves and as voluntary actions. How come?

  1. So ya wanna buy a hybrid. Got news for ya fella. The local electric company want to increase rates by 30% by this fall. The national electric grid is in serious need of repair. Those swirly bulbs ya mentioned gotta be recycled and not just thrown in the trash. So how many are going to do exactly that. They got mercury in ’em ya know.

    Now back to our regular browbeating episode.


  2. My take is that the general libertarian answer to questions ecological is that the best way to “save the environment” is to make it legitimately profitable to do so… Show me how to make money by being green and you don’t have to do anything but get out of my way.

    However, the actions you mention are all questionable at some level…

    Recycling – lots of gov’t subsidies involved, a significant amount of coercion, and there are some significant questions about the value of doing it, both from an environmental standpoint and from a cost standpoint.

    Carbon offsets – Again, lots of questions raised about how much they will do to LEGITIMATELY reduce pollution – My GF and I heat our home w/ cordwood which is “carbon neutral” – we don’t get any “offsets credit” for doing so, and we don’t do it to be “green” – but because it saves us a $#itload of money…

    As mentioned, Compact Flourescent lightbulbs may save energy (IF you get the advertised lifespan out of them – our results haven’t been great) but they have their own environmental hazards. (Incedentally, we use them almost exclusively in our house)

    Hybrids – again possible vehicle lifespan issues, especially with the battery pack (made with lots of environmentally nasty stuff) performance that hasn’t lived up to expectations according to many owners, and once more lots of gov’t subsidies involved.

    Bottom line, is that many of the things promoted as “green” voluntary actions aren’t all they are cracked up to be. As a class, Libertarians probably do more research and checking into things than the average couch potato that lets the voices from the MSM tell him what to think… The result is we check out the “green” claims, find they often aren’t all they are cracked up to be, and decide not to get involved. In addition, once we’ve gone through this a few times, there is a tendency to get cynical and assume that even the stuff we haven’t personally checked out is probably bogus just because it’s being promoted as “green”…


  3. No good reason I know of.

    Although I’m ignorant of the carbon offsets. If one doesn’t believe in climate change theory, is there still an advantage to them?

    I’d say anyone who is against voluntary environmentalism OR supports violation of private property (i.e. air pollution) is more of a pissed-off conservative than a libertarian.

  4. some libertarians seem rather contemptuous of things like buying carbon offsets, switching to swirly flourescent light bulbs, driving hybrids, and so on, in and of themselves and as voluntary actions. How come?

    Because some libertarians prefer to be Republicans.

  5. Didn’t the government ban regular light bulbs starting in 2012 or something? How much of our tax money is going towards promoting voluntary actions to prepare for accepting these bans?

    How much of our tax dollars go towards promoting hybrids, and subsidizing hybrids?

    Peter Orvetti is an idiot.

  6. Hybrids are subsidized by taxpayers. Recycling is subsidized by taxpayers. Parks are subsidized by taxpayers. Buses are subsidized by taxpayers. Nuclear plants are subsidized by taxpayers. Wind farms are subsidized by taxpayers. Solar panels are subsidized by taxpayers. Government programs to study how quickly we will all die from global warming are subsidized by taxpayers.

    I bet fluorescent bulb manufacturers get a taxpayer kickback per bulb.

    I wonder why libertarians bristle at environmentalism.

  7. In Austin we have gotten or probably will soon get the following:

    1. A jolly $100 million train that will take four or five cars off the road. (The money’s from the taxpayers.)

    2. A law that will ban grocery stores from using plastic bags.

    3. A law that will require you to enviro-fit your home with all the latest green upgrades before you are permitted to sell it.

    4. A law that prevents anyone from building useful buildings on some number of square miles of well-located land, because the land is in the watershed of a famous creek in which some salamanders live.

    I will mention that my own home electricity usage is way below the city average, and I drive my car about 7,000 miles per year. This is not because I love the planet, but because I am a cheap bastard. I love high gasoline prices because it means I’m saving even more money when I don’t drive.

  8. I think the subsidy for solar panels in Austin is less than 91% but they are kind of groovy looking and do give some of the rich Austinites with monstrous houses a superiority complex.

    I’m a more reasonable and intelligent libertarian hanging out here.

    Peter Orvetti is an idiot (Part 1.1).

  9. Lots of Austinites voluntarily took advantage of the 90% subsidy for solar panels, paid for by me.

    I feel burnt.

    Peter Orvetti is an idiot (Part 1.11).

    Peter Orvetti has a twisted puzzling sense of self-deprecating humor.

    Peter, don’t deprecate on yourself too much!

    Hey, you asked for it!

  10. Get what you can in now. This man will be your Vice President one day.

  11. Fluorescents: More of a pollutant than incandescents. LEDs are the way to go.

    Carbon offsets: Scam. People are made of carbon, we eat it, exhale it, excrete it, burn it, build with it, and even destroy with it. Those all are part of the “carbon footprint” (especially the DoD!). It’s life, deal with it.

    hybrid cars: When will the logical answer, the solar-hybrid minivan, come out?

    To top it off, as others have mentioned, we don’t like the subsidies, and we don’t like being forced to do things.

  12. I actually think being an idiot is a prerequisite for the vice presidency.

  13. Libertarians are predisposed to “Question Authority.” Many go even further – “Defy Authority.” I’m pretty much with the side that says “If it needs to be subsidized by the taxpayers, then it probably isn’t yet a good or service that does what it is claimed to do. If I don’t like something at, say, the grocery store, I’m free to not buy it. If I don’t like something the legislators mandate, I’m only free to try to organize a mass political movement to change the legislature.

  14. Well put, Roscoe.

    Always ask Why?

  15. Don’t know if somebody mentioned this already but regarding hybrids: Between the costs for production (gathering resources to make ready the parts, fuel to run the assembly plants, and trucks/ships/trains to market), the cheapening of cast-off vehicles adding to traffic congestion or auto heaps and the negligible fuel savings for actually driving the hybrid, why would any sane, rational person advocate getting rid of a perfectly operable vehicle to put another one on the road?

  16. I see too many Libertarians abandon science in the interest of rebellion.

    It’s especially amusing to watch “climate change skeptics” match their wits with accomplished scientists like George Phillies on this issue.

    The problem is, when nonscientific views like anti-GW activism becomes an assumed or default position of libertarianism, neutral observers considering our case as an entire philosophy cannot be faulted for wondering how much of the rest is also unscientific “faith based” reasoning rather than solid, empirical analysis.

  17. HusbandPerson and I have been using swirly bulbs since their inception. I hate ’em. They’re slow to warm up and turn completely on, and they don’t come in like 3000watt versions. Our outdoor on-at-dark lite neer warms completely in winter.

    We’ve driven a 2002 hybrid since 2001. Love it.

    Carbon offsets? For what? Hearing that many of those companies are cons, and buying offsets accomplishes what, anyway? Al Gore buys a bunch, and has $30,000 electric bill.

    Our lights go off when not in the room. Our water heater is too damn cold. Our house is too damn cold. No newspaper, no TV. Low driving on everyday basis.

    Husband is a tyrant, and we’re doing our share.

    Viva la nukes! They’re the best answer for energy freedom, IMNHO.

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