Most of you know me as a dedicated conservative. My church, most of my friends, my lifestyle, and my other opinions are all on the conservative side of most issues. However, there are matters on which I would side with the liberal view. One way I consider myself a liberal is on the subject of the environment.

Sympathy for Green Thinking

Due to a temporary problem I am having with posting pictures on the site, I won’t be able to upload any more pictures from End the Fed and my interviews in Dallas yet. In the mean time, depending on how long it takes to resolve the problem, I will be posting some opinion pieces. While I was driving home today, it was starting to rain in central Oklahoma, and it got me thinking about those places you always see with their sprinklers running in the rain. I’ve always thought, “What a waste of resources!” even since I was a kid.

This (if you can follow my ADD-inspired train of thought) brings me to my liberal view on the environment. I actually believe that pollution is, well, polluting our air. Before modern regulations were in place, many cities were saturated with clouds of smog. Believe it or not, but dirty river water can actually harm you! In fact, I don’t totally deny global warming, though a typical “conservative” might do so. If the math on greenhouse gases checks out on a small scale (and it does), it must also be valid on a larger scale (and it is). However, I do think the claims are much exaggerated. Just like every President since before I was born has promised to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Ha ha. Including current President Barack Obama, and former presidents Bush, Clinton, and Reagan, if I’m not mistaken. Claims always get exaggerated. That’s how you sell ideas.

But I’m a Libertarian!

That’s right, I’m a… well sort of a Republican-Libertarian. It’s no secret which party I belong to. It’s also no secret I have many quarrels and differences with that party. I believe their candidates have to actually earn my support, not just put an (R) behind their names. Additionally, they do not own my vote. I publicly say that I do not always vote “party line.”

So here’s the thing, since I don’t believe in owning other human beings, I don’t believe in forcing them to do things they don’t want, either. At least, not unless they’re hurting someone else. You have the right to jump out of a tree and break your leg if you want, that’s your right! But you don’t have the right to push me out of that tree and break mine – that isn’t your right. Many could argue, and with good reason, that if pollution harms the environment, it harms all of us. To an extent I believe that is true, i.e. I have no problem with laws against littering and dumping hazardous materials. Live in the city? I’ll bet you’re glad your neighbors aren’t allowed to pile up trash in their front yards and stink up the whole street. Most cities have codes regulating things like this.

Also, since I am a free market capitalist, I’m not usually for government solutions unless they are the only option. But, Ryan! – or @FoaRyan, Ultimation, however you know me – isn’t Uncle Sam the only one who can possibly force companies to make cleaner technologies?! Well if I though that was the case, I wouldn’t have spent the time to write this article, now would I? I happen to have an answer to that question.

The free market absolutely has the potential to come up with cleaner and more efficient technologies in every thing it does. One of my favorite examples of this is the SpaceX corporation. The Space Shuttle may be history now, but Falcon 9 is charting the course for private space flight. NASA has awarded a contract to this private company for 12 missions to the International Space Station. Oh yeah, AND it lands upright using a first-of-its kind propulsive landing system. On less fuel than the Shuttle. For a fraction of the cost.

The reason this happens is because of a principle called market demand. When markets demand a certain product or behavior, competition drives prices down, and in this case efficiency up. SpaceX wasn’t the only contender for this contract with NASA. Last time I checked there are at least 5 or 10 private space companies right now, such as Virgin Galactic who sells trips into space for $200,000 per person.

The US government didn’t pass a law stating that companies had to reduce space flight costs by 15% and cap carbon emissions, they just said the best company with the best product at the best price gets the job. Uncle Sam remembered what it was like to be a private citizen for once, and if more situations were handled this way, we could see great change toward a cleaner environment without all the government intervention. There are two sides to this equation, the consumers, and the producers. If enough consumers demand a certain market behavior, producers will respond by meeting that demand with a product. This also drives the economy, as opposed to government forcing companies to produce a product for which there is not sufficient market demand. Think about it, the government can’t force you the citizen to buy something – or at least they couldn’t for the first 234 years of this nation’s existence. If you, the consumer, don’t buy a product that a producer made, the economy suffers. In the other scenario, the economy thrives because trade is increased and profits are made.

All in all, you’d have to label me a conservative (please do not attach the prefix neo- to that term), but this is one issue on which I have to side with what is usually a liberal ideal. Wait, conserve… the environment. Yes, conserve it. I am an environmental conservative. There you go. Good night.