25 Sep 2013

Balancing between economy and the environment

PL emailed this excellent comment:
I like the way you can see both sides of an often polarizing discussion. Too often the debate is a simplistic good versus evil ie- big greedy capitalists versus Mother Nature. We need both – economic development and a respect for the environment. I think there is a clear correlation between middle class and environmental concern. When people have acquired something to care about – they do. They care about their children’s health, their home, their yard, and their community. Capitalism and free markets foster the development of a middle class. But it has also created a consumer-driven marketplace, where products that are neither wholesome nor necessary are created, packaged and relentlessly advertised to an unsuspecting public. I think the fast food industry in North America has a lot to answer for.

I believe that markets are natural human creations and will arise whenever and wherever there are goods and services to be traded. Unfortunately greed, corruption and fraud are also common human behaviors and markets need to be regulated to protect the consumer, investor or environment from criminals, fraudsters and greedy profit-oriented corporations or individuals. Having said that, I believe that markets should be allowed to exist with the minimum amount of regulation required to protect most people from the avarice of a few. Generally regulators get it wrong and focus on the form – making sure a plethora of documentation is created so that the filing of an improper document becomes the focus of the bureaucracy and the improper behavior is neglected. All the regulation that existed to protect American investors didn’t stop Bernie Madoff.

Anyway the intersection of the economy and the environment is a crucial study since both are equally important. Finding a middle ground amidst the environmentalists running around with their hair on fire and large corporations like McDonalds whose trash was prominently inventoried today is a challenge.

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