03 July 2009


Every time we exhale we produce carbon dioxide. CO2 is a byproduct of a myriad of natural processes, and essential to life on earth such as plants. It is also a byproduct of various agricultural and industrial processes that make our lives livable such as electricity, heating and cooling, and transportation. It is a naturally occurring gas, ubiquitous on this planet. Nevertheless the government has determined that it is a “pollutant” that can be regulated by the EPA. This effectively gives government bureaucracy virtual control of all aspects of life, since there is hardly a process that does not involve CO2. Based upon the dubious premise that it is harmful, the government is poised to issue thousands upon thousands of regulations over our entire way of life. The costs that will born will set our economy into reverse, significantly lower our standard of living, while making life considerably more unpleasant. Rather than looking towards natural processes, such as planting trees for a truly “greener” world, all of this is to be managed and controlled.

The greater tragedy is that none of this will work as intended or predicted. It never does, because it is based upon the false assumption, which Hayek called the “fatal conceit,” that those in charge know enough to control things. But no one can possibly possess all of the information necessary to effectively do so. This fantasy has caused more misery in the world than any other man-made factor over the last century. Life on earth involves a vast chain of events that are unpredictable, uncontrollable, and unforeseeable. Prediction about anything more than a year or so ahead becomes hazy; over five or more years it is useless. No one has the knowledge to manage things on so broad a scale, but as the government usurps decision-making on the minutiae of life its consequences will only be destructive, being riddled with errors, incorrect information, and false assumptions.

The government can no more manage the environment than it can manage the economy. Never mind health care and the condition of every individual’s life. These are processes that unfold in countless billions of discreet actions that are best left to self-determination. But the conceit of those in power is that they can remake the world and effectively manage everything. This involves not only control of institutions, but of people, for the more power that is assumed by the state, the less power is left to individuals to control their own lives. This can only lead to repression, as no one can stand in the way of the government’s attempt to reach its goals, and the liberty of everyone is thereby diminished, and for no good reason given that the government cannot manage what it claims it can. For in the end, the truth about those in power is, as Socrates said of those presuming to rule in his own time, is that they do not know what they claim to know.

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