View Full Version : Environment: Ron Paul's position on the economics of Environmental issues

05-14-2012, 08:36 PM
I am a member of a car forum where we have a Ron Paul thread and someone there wants clarification on some things before he can fully become a Supporter of RP. Anyone want to give it a shot?

His first post

Here's something that strikes me as odd. The weather is warm and the election season is upon us, thus American campuses everywhere are filled with political neophyte banner-wavers. On the way home from the lab today, I was stopped by a group of Paul supporters, and the were a very nice bunch. They seemed to know quite a lot about Paul's economic predilections (duh), but when I quizzed them about his other positions, they were seemingly befuddled. The guy is a huge states rights advocate, but how does this mesh with the role played by the federal government?

I told them I was pro choice, and all of them admitted they were as well, but they assured me that Paul would leave this to the states -- as if somehow the women in the Bible belt should be left to fend for themselves. I asked them about his energy and environmental policies. Since I work in natural resources, I figured this could make it or break it for me. Not one of them could answer my questions about how Paul would deal with issues such as deforestation, climate change, invasive species mitigation, etc. This is very important stuff, because believe it or not, all economies are based solely upon natural resources. A "gold standard" does nothing to decouple our dollar from the tragedy of the commons.

It took me about 10 minutes to realize that these folks supported Paul because of his economic positions. Now, don't take me wrong here, I'm not saying that Obama, Romney, or anyone else in this cycle has much of an inkling to think outside of his or her own myopic view of the world. I was astounded, however, when these guys kept telling me that environmental issues should/would be left to the states. Oh really? Do you know what Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama, Arizona et al would look like if there were no overseeing agency, fed or otherwise, to keep them in check? Georgia would just rename itself Ft Benning, Texas and Louisiana would be known as BP-land. Alaska would become Cold BP-land.

Do libertarians really want all of these choices left to the states? If we follow that thought for a while, I see ourselves becoming like modern day Russia, whereas they were united as the Soviet Union as a single state for many decades, they are now a collective of smaller, less powerful nation states. I just can't understand the benefit in that. I'm more of a "United we stand, divided we fall" type of guy. I don't want to live in a federation of 50 pseudo-countries.

Admittedly, I've simplified my position here for the sake of brevity. But I was hoping some Paul supporters could chime in on why I should vote for Paul BESIDES his economic position? Also, maybe someone could help me rationalize why I would want to see the individual states given any number of certain powers greater than the feds?

Someone tried to answer him

Paul is a strong believer in personal ownership, responsibility and leaving the government out of everything if possible.

I think you misunderstand when he talks about state's rights. His first choice is no government at all. Then local, then state, finally federal. He believes in protecting our rights as an individual. So take a natural resource like oil. He would not subsidize it, not tax it, not punish people using it.
It would be open. It would change the market, but he's not saying how. It just would as you removed the feds from as much as possible. So now you have a company that wants to drill or burn an oil furnace. Anyone could use legal means to stop them under 'paul law' if you could prove that they were causing you harm in some way. This would open the courts to decipher rules such as pollution and some of that is already done.

His 2nd Post

I get what you're saying, and I appreciate you clearing up the rights issue for me.

Here is where I am coming from. I'm going to hopefully get the point across in a way that anyone can understand. This means I'm going to be using wording that isn't exactly perfect, or what I would prefer to use professionally.

When it comes to natural resources, things that the earth produces without our help, there are a number of issues.

First, how can we estimate or even begin to put a price on any given resource? I've said this before on here, I'm sure, but how much is a tree worth? How much is a lake worth? Clean air? Potable water? A deer? A handful of oil?

We can try to estimate it's value, but we as humans, have not been able to do so in a very responsible way. Ever. Ask an economist or commodities trader what a barrel of oil is worth. He'll give you an exact number. Ask a scientist the same question, and he'll give you a whole bunch of words, but no clear number. This is because a barrel of oil is a curious thing. It can be used to make plastics, medicine, fuel, etc. Therefore, a barrel of oil has varying value, depending upon what you're using it for.

Now we need to look at opportunity costs. There is a huge industry that is solely involved in gathering oil from the earth. They make a profit on this. There are many other industries that also need oil, and they also make profits. There is a pile of evidence that suggests that we are near "peak oil", where the maximum rate of extraction is reached, and there is also a pile of evidence that suggests that the extraction, modification, combustion and use of oil produces pollution of the air, water, soils, and can even pollute the bodies of every living thing on earth.

Now then, how much is a barrel worth? In order to assess it's "true" cost, we must consider all of this. We cannot only consider the positive aspects of a natural resource. We must also consider the cost of any negative aspects of using that resource (pollution or conversion of land that could be used for farming, for example). Until very recently, people never really thought about the harmful stuff that we do to extract, use, or convert our natural resources. Even know, we are just able to scratch the surface. Science uses Life Cycle Analysis to assess the cost of something from the cradle to the grave, as it were. That said, evidence suggests that the price that we currently place on a barrel of oil is very, very low. If we take everything into account, we probably would've switched to something other than oil to run our cars and machines by now.

Here is a site that gives a decent idea of what I'm saying about oil. It uses flash graphics and is easy for us to understand. http://priceofoil.org/thepriceofoil/

Here is another problem; we can put a price on natural resources, but it doesn't mean Canada or Israel or China is going to agree with our estimation. Thus, we may end up putting ourselves at a potential disadvantage if we value our resources too high! This is where many people argue about climate change. They say, yeah, we may be changing the climate, but even if we stop burning oil and coal immediately, other people in other countries may still burn it at whatever rate they want. We see that the value of resources transcends geopolitical boundaries then. It's truly a global issue. If I sell 100 board feet of lumber for $30, and a Chinese dude sells it for $2, and is willing to ship it all the way across the ocean for another $15, which are you going to pick? Even though I may harvest my wood in a sustainable manner, thus insuring availability of lumber in perpetuity, you may still want to buy from the other guy that clearcuts and can sell for cheap.

All that said (whew), how does Ron Paul propose we use our natural resources in a responsible, sustainable, yet profitable manner? I ask this question not only of Ron Paul and his supporters, but to everyone else, too. What is the answer? Capitalism? Communism? Small government? How can we control those who put short term personal profits before the long term health of ourselves and our planet? Is there a libertarian answer for this?

A satisfactory answer might win him over and who knows, maybe he might convince his family and friends, and so on and so on :)

05-14-2012, 09:54 PM
Bottom Line is President Ron Paul will be the Best thing that can happens in 20122-013,4,5,6 for America and the World . http://betterandbetterinfo.biz/ http://www.bettermileagetoday.com/ http://3568937.myforevergreen.org/US_Tree.html Doing my Part to make a Better World

09-30-2013, 12:00 PM
An interview with Ron Paul (http://www.ronpaul.com) about his presidential platform on energy and the environment: http://grist.org/article/paul1/