Thursday, January 11, 2007

Poverty As Progress?

Don Luskin turns us on to this outstanding post on George Reisman's blog taking the NY Times to the woodshed for its moronic blather about energy conservation Japan. Read the whole thing, but here is the distilled essence of Reisman's critique - what the the NYT describes in Japan is not conservation, it is poverty.

Reisman sarcastically praises the glorious, green future that the Times pines away for, but this vision of poverty as progress is not new. In this post, I relate the ideas put forth by Peter Huber and Mark Mills on energy to my own experience to show that less energy means we are poorer, materially and, in a sense, spiritually. Huber and Mills dubbed these 'poverty as progress' types as Lethargists and they expose their illogic as deftly and devastatingly as Reisman does. Huber and Mills:

"Slower trips, dimmer bulbs, smaller refrigerators, and such aren't more efficient; they're slower, smaller, darker - they nudge us toward a less frenetic, peripatetic, and physically expansive way of life. Perhaps it is a good thing. But it is not more efficient, it is more sedentary, calm, and quiet - in short, more lethargic."

Huber and Mills also point out that the Lethargists of the 1970s made no apologies about what they were after; they cared not one iota about efficiency, what they wanted was for us to do less. They wanted us to live simpler, less active, in essence poorer, lives. Do not mistake this for somethig other than what it is - it is our supposed betters' desire to impose a lifestyle and material conditions on us, otherwise known as tyranny, albeit petty tyranny.


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