So, on top of his apparent association with racists, Ron Paul surely has many weird and wrong views. But you know what’s depressing? When someone gets column space at a major publication not to expose why those views are wrong with any kind of rigor, but to waste readers’ time with a vacuous, folksy “don’t sound right to me” spiel. Hence:
He’s right in the sense that the Bush environmental record is abysmal, but Paul’s solution — let the private landowner protect his own land — is naivetè bordering on sheer lunacy. If Chauncey Moneybags owns 40,000 acres up near the Idaho-Montana border and decides to cash in by letting the timber boys do a little clear-cutting, who’s going to stop him? Paul says Chauncey can do whatever he wants to with his land. How is that helping the natural environment? (I’m assuming here that’s the environment Paul refers to.)
What the author’s telling you here is that he’s never actually read anything about market environmentalism, and indeed, couldn’t be bothered to do five minutes of Googling to see whether maybe his rhetorical question actually had an answer of some kind. I’m all for division of labor, but do we actually need to outsource the production of uninformed, half-assed thought experiments to opinion writers? A scenario like that is what crosses the mind of everyone encountering the idea that private owners are the best protectors of the environment. (Well, unless they already know a bit of economics, anyway. Then the counterargument probably occurs to them unaided.) As long as this guy was getting paid to write about the topic, couldn’t he have gone that extra mile and, like, made a phone call or something? To someone knowledgeable about the topic? I’m not even saying the property-centric view is right here; just that the author clearly didn’t care to learn enough about the topic to render any kind of serious opinion either way.