I read two very interesting posts today which seem directly related when you think about it. The first comes from a post by Steven Den Beste, memorialized at No Oil For Pacifists:
. . . Materialists look at history since Marx and point out that socialism has been tried many times, in many nations, in various forms, and it has always failed. In places where it was fully implemented the result was decline and economic collapse. When it was only partially implemented you got slower decline. It often looks like it’s working in the early stages, but in the longer term it has never succeeded.
So to materialists, it’s apparent that socialism is a nice idea, but one that doesn’t work and shouldn’t be adopted.
To teleologists, none of that matters. What matters is the fact that it’s a beautiful idea. It’s how things should be. In a world in which socialism was implemented and which worked the way the teleologists think it should work, you really would have a utopia. The fact that it’s invariably failed when used doesn’t change any of that. (When asked to explain all the failures, usually the answer is, "They didn’t do it right." But for teleologists, a long string of failures doesn’t matter because fundamentally teleologists don’t believe things like that make any difference.) . . .
I wonder how we get so many "teleologists" in America? Is it a defective gene, or are they made that way by nurture, by a "social justice" education system, and disneyfication. That is a question for psychologists. Regardless, it does explain why socialism has repeatedly risen from its grave. It also may have some bearing on a principal now being bandied about by climate scientists and used as one of the bases for the EPA's finding that carbon dioxide is a dangerous polutant. That would be the precautionary principal. Essentially, it means, in regards to climate science, that no scientific certainty is necessary. If a possible conclusion of a scientific theory is sufficiently catastrophic, then one must act to prevent it irregardless of the lack of settled science. But the precautionary principal is a double edged sword. This from The Volokh Conspiracy:
. . . If we have to take seriously the dangers of a global warming catastrophe, we should give equally serious consideration to the risks on the other side. For example, it’s possible that cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 80%, as some environmentalists advocate, would devastate the global economy, impoverishing millions and causing widespread suffering and death. Moreover, enforcing a worldwide cap and trade regime strong enough to compel obedience by China, India, Russia, and other potentially recalcitrant states might require a global authority with massive powers; even if these states formally agree to a cap and trade system, they might not enforce it aggressively against their own industries, unless compelled. The vast powers necessary to impose compliance could easily be abused in a variety of ways. In the most extreme scenario, the enforcement authority could eventually become an oppressive or even totalitarian world government from which there is no hope of escape. These two scenarios are admittedly unlikely (though the first is improbable largely because an 80% emissions cut is likely to be politically infeasible for the foreseeable future), but they can’t be completely ruled out. If, as Thomas Friedman says, the precautionary principle requires us to “buy insurance” against “a[ny] problem that has even a 1 percent probability of occurring and is ‘irreversible’ and potentially ‘catastrophic,’” these extreme scenarios have to be considered and strong precautions taken to forestall them before any large-scale anti-global warming initiative can be adopted.
Less extreme, but still major catastrophes, are also possible — and far more likely than the worst-case scenarios noted above. For example, as co-blogger Jonathan Adler explains, a cap and trade program could create a bonanaza for interest group rent-seekers who will use it to exploit the general public, while simultaneously falling far short of achieving the level of emission reductions that would be necessary to have a serious impact on global warming. Such large-scale inefficiency might well reduce economic growth. And even small (but persistent) reductions in annual world economic growth would consign millions of people to poverty or an early death, because of the enormous impact of compound growth over time. For example, if India had abandoned its flawed economic policies just a few years earlier than it did in the 1980s and 90s, millions of children who died young might have survived to adulthood. Similar devastating cumulative results could occur if anti-global warming measures slow down Indian or other Third World growth rates today. . . .
It is, I think, a measure of the accuracy of Mr. Beste's analysis that so many people - the majority of whom do not have a pecuniary interest in AGW regulation but nonetheless seek its implementation - do so without any regard for the downside of their plans. One wonders also how the EPA can possibly make a finding on CO2 of this consequence relying upon a one sided analysis of the precautionary principal. My only possible conclusion is that a substantial portion of our fellow Americans and those occupying most positions in our federal government today are insane.