Saturday, February 04, 2006

Free-Market Ecology

Julian, in his boundless wisdom, brings up the idea of asymmetry in the core beliefs of capitalists and environmentalists: Many strong proponents of free markets are quick to point out that tinkering with the economy is fraught with difficulties and tends to introduce a lot of unintended consequences, many (most?) of them negative. In a somewhat parallel manner, many environmentalists are steadfast in their belief that messing with ecological systems is bound to cause problems. However, neither group seems to be willing (or able) to translate their beliefs over to the other system. Intervention into the economy (or conversely, the environment) is strongly criticized by a certain segment of the population, but intervention in the environment (or the economy) is not. Another similar, and seemingly hypocritical, position would be how each group views complexity. Economists advocate that the complexity of the economy is part of its strength, while largely ignoring the possibility that decreasing the complexity of ecological systems (i.e. biodiversity) may undermine them. On the other hand, many environmentalists who advocate maintenance of the complexity of natural ecosystems are loathe to buy into the idea that a complex economy is a strong one, and tend to support autarky and self-sufficiency. Perhaps I’m missing something, but I think there are real parallels here, and the ideology of individuals has blinded them from seeing how principles they support in one situation might apply to another arena as well. (Obviously, there is some overlap here with my previous post).


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