More Althouse Logic

We covered Althouse in an earlier post, here, with additional links that are aptly illustrative.

On that popular blog, it's just non stop ideology and spin: often wildly misleading or ill informed, and, even more frequently, seemingly regardless of the context or logic behind it.  

Here is another example, from today: It is a statement that in the abstract, this blog agrees with. That is, just because we are a nation of laws, we should not:

...need law[s] telling us every last thing we ought to do: Individual voluntary action is a big distraction from what we really need — compulsion.
Except that once the context is considered, the very reasonable sounding statement -- why do we need laws telling us "everything," suddenly, is either manipulative, or illogical.

The context is a Washington Post editorial by Mike Tidwell. We are not sure that we agree with the editorial overall, but the basic underlying message is that volunteerism does not work when it comes to environmental matters.

In fact, environmentalism may be the very last place where volunteerism can effectively work.

This is not to say it is bad. It's good. Just that the problem is that the sacrifice is made by the individual making the choice. The benefit (known, or, more often in environmental matters, hidden) is conferrd to society at large. It relies upon idealistic altruism ahead of self interest.

Another "ism" -- apart from some other serious problems -- that relied upon so called good will as its prime moving force, was Communism. Aside fromg being anti individual to the hilt, ultimately anti freedom, and anti motivational, that also does not work on a practical level either. And for the same reason that large scale enviromental issues won't be solved by a small segment of the population, thru "good intent" trying to adjust for them, and the majority of the population, not.

This basic phenomenon has been so exhaustively covered, there is no point in it being gone over here. Althouse is a law professor, but yet has seemingly immunized herself from the basic ideas, and the multitude of corrollaries, of the "Tragedy of the Commons"? [Update, see here]

Again, volunteerism done in this regard is good. It helps. It is just that it can not work on its own when it comes to most problems that we all equally share, to which the cost of solution is borne individually, while the benefit is borne collectively. 

This does't mean the solutions always need to be "laws." And the less often they are, for many reasons, the better. But it does mean that solutions should often entail policies that help balance out the tremendous unfairness to business and industry that is at an enormous competitive disadvantage because its processes do not harm the environment for everybody as much as others,  yet it receives no commensurate competitive advantage as a result of this.

And why? Because while some people (presuming perfect knowledge, which it self is usually quite a stretch) might take this into account, most won't. And again, that is just with respect to those with perfect knowledge. (Sure there are what seem to be very rare, occasional, smaller scale exceptions, but these are largly de facto advertising campaigns, that happen to hit upon an emotion of concern or new chic "in," which may be also be almost as likely ignorantly engaged in as not.)

But then these are economic concepts. Althouse has shown that when it comes to economics and science both, well, the blog is popular -- and maybe this is why it is? -- let's just suggest there is room for considerable, reasoned, additional thought.  The blog, instead, is great for spinning things to fit a pre formulated view, and for affirmation of what one perhaps really wants to, or thinks one, believes; but not so great when it comes to actually informing, or being objective.  It is great at making people think that they are thinking, but poor at actually requiring them to think (most online sites are that way, however), and the blog is poor at exhibiting actual thinking, as opposed to almost constant knee jerk ideological pigeounholing, and overly clever spinning.

In effect, the business and industries -- not that they are "bad" -- that do tend to wreak more enviromental harm, are implicity subsidized, in that their true costs are not reflected in their pricing structure. Other businesses and industry and processes and methodologies which don't (or do less) are thus unduly punished, implicitly, since thus the absence (or lesser amounts) of these costs, is not reflected in their pricing structure.

That is why environmental issues are, according to economists, the classic "externality" -- or harm (or, theoretically, good) that occurs outside of the umbrella of market place decision making.

Of course, to Althouse (and perhaps some other far right wingers), the market "naturally integrates" these things.  Then again, Althouse frequently exhibits an utter lack of objectivity -- along with an abject scientific illiteracy and a seemingly open open hostility toward correcting that.  As, for example, by claiming that climate change may be "potentially be the biggest hoax ever," when the essence of climate change actually is defined by a few things that are in fact incontrovertible, with the unknown -- what is the exact effect -- being somewhat secondary, yet fairly easily reasoned.  (Again, see here).

Of course the marketplace doesn't integrate these things. If it could, communism -- aside from the other, in our estimation, quite severe, philosphical problems with communism expressed above -- would work. And it doesn't.

Continue to do good things to help the environment, if that moves you. It is good (so long as people don't start over proselytizing issues.) While problems can, in small measure, be improved this way, by the basic practical nature of man, including the entire premise of our otherwise quite sound capitalistic system -- make economic decisions that benefit us, not everyone else -- they can not be solved. Logic ovewhelmingly illustrates this. Common sense overwhelminginly illustrates this.  And actual experience, when it comes to ubiquitous, large scale wide spread environmental problems, has never failed to illustrate this.

Just not in the disconnected from reality world of the Althouse blog. A world where sensibly addressing environmental concerns that effect the quality of the existence of all of us, and the world that we leave our children, is "compulsion," and where the world will magically become clearner and species will flourish, and excessive net greenouse gas emissions will never occur  --and little green fairies will come down from heaven every other evening to mow everybodie's lawn, and sprinkle money under their door mats -- by everyone just "doing the right thing (not to mention, even more problematically, having the knowledge to do that) for everyone else, on their own, via only their own, sacrifice.

This doesn't work, whether it be a locality (where if it is small such practices do tend to be more practical), a region (where they don't) a country (where the idea is a bit far fetched), or the world (where it is even more far fetched, such as in he case of climate change.)

Don't want compulsion? Work towards sensible policies -- that solve the problem --that aren't compulsive. Fighting sensible redress to climate change, and continuing to pour out misinformation that is only undermining reasonable and informative discussion and policy, is if anything moving us on a path where more and more compulsion may be in the cards, as we get the worst of both words:  More compulsion by a frustrated populace and governing agencies as the problem subsequently gets worse and people wring their hands over the needless failure to take sensible, earlier action; and the unneccesary destructive ecological and biological effects of continued atmospheric heat trapping gas concentration levels.

Update: Below is a reasonably typical comment, if a bit more extreme, to Althouse's post on this. It helps exhibit the tremendous disconnect between the facts on this issue, and the level of information and how it is being perceived.  It is also evidence of just how far the so called "left" is from being able to effectively articulate a case (since, even though it is a scientific, and non partisan issue, Democrats seemed to be more inclined to want to address climate change than Republicans, though most moderate Republicans want to as well.)

How can a party that is supportive of reasonable measures to address a serious ecological problem that extremely short sighted (and quite unnecessary) practices and policies have promulgated, carry on with business as usual with thes level of misinformation and misperception,as well as mistrust, in the comment exhibited just below? Of course, the problem with the left is that they then soley blame those on the right, not realizing that misinformation is a product not just of the misinformation that many are feeding, it is also a product of the non effective communication and informative focus of those who are trying to inform. And maybe Democrats, including wholescale moderates, are letting the far right use a small number on the left to define everyone who doesn't agree with some of the policies or ideas of the far right.

Here is the comment:

And the beat goes on from the brainwashed liberals. They really accept unquestioned the assumption the CO2 is a dirty pollutant. With that much stupidity they are trapped in an end to their own lives and insist that like the Prophet of Jonestown they shall make is all drink the cool-aid together, quickly, quickly...before an adult posting on Facebook comes and puts an end to the Cult. Crack Emcee was right all along. This is not mere politics for men like Mike Tidwell. It is a mass murder cult that desires to see us all driven out into the wilderness as Pol Pot did for the Cambodians.
They "really accept the unquestioned assumption that CO2 is a dirty pollutant." Just how poor a job have "brainwashed" liberals done at conveying what is going on here? (As well as the media, which is supposed to be covering the news and informing, not trying to appease groups that are going to shout at if if the relevant facts don't happen to support that group and the media simply reports the facts).

CO2 is a gas. We breathe it out. Most things in nature are bad or good -- often even lethal, or life requiring, depending upon usage, and amount. CO2, in general is no different. It is the most important greenhouse gas. Greenouse gases make life as we know it on earth possible. Without them, the earth would largely be a frozen ball.

Increasing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, and we strongly suspect -- many scientists are convinced (and the long term geologic record strongly supports)  -- that the earth gets warmer, are even more certain that the climate gets more extreme and volatile, and even more certain that inevitably, there will be rapid climatalogical changes (from a geologic perspective).  And we know that this will represent far too quick an ecological shift for adjustment. (Not to mention, if it is warming, which all theory and evidence both strongly point to, it will ultimately lead to a host of additional problems, if not minor to major catastrophes for large populations, and there is not much adjustment that can be made to increasingly volatile weather patterns, and increasing sea levels.)

We know there is too much greenhouse gas buildupin the atmosphere, because we know how much there has been historically. And we know the very precise, identifiable, reasons why they have risen dramatically above the normal, and far more slowly (on the order of ten to one hundred times slower) fluctuating cycles. Again, see link above for multiple links to data.