I attended the Human Achievement Hour at the Competitive Enterprise Institute over the weekend, a several hour party and networking event. Designed to be the counter to Earth Hour—you know, that time when hippies everywhere turn off their lights for an hour to supposedly show solidarity with Mother Nature—it involves lots of lights, food, drink, and even had a streaming video of it. (In case you saw me on there, I apologize. I never wanted to hurt people with my ugliness.)
But even uglier than me were some of the comments on the event’s Facebook page. Many called it “stupid,” even “evil,” and one person who said “I wasn’t going to turn my lights off, but now I will.” To which I ask these people, why?
There seems to be a misconception that somehow, free market capitalism and individual liberty are in direct opposition to saving the environment. This is not at all the case. Looking at history, what places have the best environments, the best air quality, the most protected wildlife refuges? It’s not in places like Eastern Europe, swamped in smog, or places like India or China or South America. They’re in places that have well defined property rights and a free market system. It all goes back to the Lorax and the Tragedy of the Commons: if you put private property rights in something, people will care about it.