Flipping the Green Paradigm

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Flipping the Green Paradigm

By: John A. Baden, Ph.D.
Posted on November 25, 2014 FREE Insights

Both Ramona and I have been traveling for several weeks and are home for Thanksgiving.  She was in Cuba marveling at how a socialized economy operates (poorly).  Meanwhile I was in DC and the Research Triangle of North Carolina meeting with economists, friends, and relatives. 

I wanted to better understand how to flip the Green model of environmental management.  As always, my primary interest lies in the romance arena; parks, wildlands, wildlife, range, and water.  I leave the sludge sector for others.     

All Americans know burgers and pancakes. We also understand why they need turning, if we don’t they’ll burn.   It’s easy to flip them.  Paradigms are harder, both to understand and to flip.  I’ll explain.

In the late1970s the environmental campaign became the Green movement.   It was largely identified with modern liberal causes and substantially reliant upon government oversight, management, ownership, and control. 

Accompanying this was a complementary dismissal of property rights, entrepreneurship, prices, and markets, the things that generate wealth.  Ironically, prosperity plus education foster environmental sensitivity. 

Vying with communism and crony capitalism, poverty is a horrible polluter and despoiler.  Consider Butte, America’s largest Super fund site and mountain top removal mining in West Virginia’s coal country.  Poor people usually trade off their environment to increase other dimensions of wellbeing. 

Here is the paradigm flip I’d like to see: Greens asking how to maximize the overlap of; responsible liberty, modest prosperity, and sustainable ecology.  This implies two changes.  First, understanding that governmental ownership, management and control is inherently flawed and that superior alternatives are available and are continually demonstrated. 

The second change is harder, accepting an alternative.  The one we advocate begins with good information and incentives to act responsibly upon it.  It's called the New Resource Economics, a model my colleagues and I began at Montana State University decades ago and we continue the work, now independently.

Thursday we celebrate Thanksgiving--and Americans have so many reasons to do so.  Here are a few of ours. We've had over 100 elk just a mile south of our home and four of my friends have filled their elk tags here--with lots of deer harvested too.  Also many groups of veterans, kids with cancer, and handicapped people fished our place last summer.  The largest trout landed this year were a 25" Rainbow and a 23" Brown.

Our greatest blessings however are liberty and the rule of law.   Like wildlife and environmental quality, these are always at risk from predation.  I hope you will remember this on Thanksgiving Day.



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