Liberals Shocked when out-debated on the EnvironmentSubmitted by HuskerSkier on Sat, 03/02/2013 - 21:46
I was recently on a back country skiing expedition. My group was staying at a communal back country cabin called Uncle Bud's Cabin. It's a 6 mile treck in and the cabin is located just below tree line at 11,380ft.
We met and made friends with another group staying at the cabin that was comprised of 4 friends celebrating there 60th birthdays. They were very interesting and good people, but fully stuck in the matrix. One was your typical bush defending "conservative", another a full blown liberal, and the other two somewhere in between, although they all believed in global warming.
As conversations sometimes do, ours ended up on politics. I sat back and mainly listened and asked questions. I usually don't try to associate myself with a label. I find that if you can do that you can really explain the philosophy without constantly fighting the stigma of someones particular stereotype.
I was able to establish some credibility amongst the group simply by asking good questions. They appreciated my perspective on foreign policy when I challenged them to view things from the shoes of others (specifically the Pakistani as was appropriate at that point in the conversation) and how we would feel if another country was meddling in our politics as much as we do in theirs.
Then one of my friends announced that I was a libertarian and suddenly my roll of asking the questions was gone and many of the questions came my way.
I was first challenged on public lands as they were popular amongst the group and we were all out enjoying the beauty of this national forest. I explained the tragedy of the commons and they were mildly satisfied, but the show stopper came when I explained the libertarian stance on pollution. This is what I said:
"Libertarians don't believe in regulations because they are too weak. Regulations essentially say that a certain amount of pollution is acceptable and the costs of that acceptable amount would be spread throughout society. I believe that the polluter should pay the full cost of the pollution"
They were intrigued and asked how you could do that.
"It certainly isn't an easy issue, especially when you have pollutants that float around the air or through streams, but I can't imagine that it would be any harder than setting an arbitrary acceptable level and regulating that. The key to it all is a strict enforcement of property rights, but unfortunately long ago the courts ruled that your property rights can be infringed upon for "the greater good".
Then I followed up "as long as we accept this system of regulations large corporations will spend billions lobbying to get favorable regulations so that they can dump trillions of dollars worth of pollutants on us. If we made them pay the full costs of their operations including the cost of pollution they would, hopefully, use those resources to come up with innovative ways to actually reduce the amount they are polluting. The incentive structure would be in place to reward good behavior. With regulations the winners are the ones with the best lobbyists."
No one wanted to argue with that. They almost seemed perplexed that they agreed with this "radical" thinking. The biggest liberal in the group seemed very surprised that he was stuck with nothing to say, he simply said "well, at least you have thought this through. most libertarians I talk to just want to smoke weed and haven't thought about issues past that"
Another just said they completely agreed with it.
The conversation was good and went on to many other topics, and as we parted for the evening the bush defender said "well, I think I'm going to just vote straight libertarian next election". Winning.