bullshit and libertarianism


pennteller.jpg  The Justice Talking trash special got me thinking about the recycling episode of Penn and Teller’s Showtime series Bullsh*t.  In it, the comic magicians make an argument similar to the one the Adrian Moore of the Reason Foundation made on the radio this week.  Essentially, they think recycling is too complicated, costly and inefficient and the only way to make it worthwhile would be to follow the money.  Either offer cash incentives for recycling by buying back reusable trash or charge people for the amount of trash they generate (thereby offering a cash disincentive to create waste in the first place). 

While I’m all for big government, mandated recycling and corporate responsibility, the bottom line is the bottom line: money talks.  The most effective arguments for recycling aren’t that we’re running out of space for trash or that gasses and other polution will harm the environment.  These are longer-term issues most are happy to pass on to our grandchildren.  Proving that reusing products saves money, on the other hand, or that recycling can generate income or threatening to charge big wasters their fair share of trash hauling costs are arguments more likely to resonate with the mighty.  And the frugal.  One cost-benefit analysis is worth a thousand soapbox speeches. 

4 Responses to “bullshit and libertarianism”

  1. kimberly Says:

    when cost-benefit anaylsis starts factoring in ACTUAL dollar savings/efficiencies and human savings, i’ll become a fan. it hardly ever does, so it’s not REALLY accounting for the true dollar cost, which IS the financial cost passed on to future generations (among other costs). I’ll let alone the human cost for now, giving the econo-libertarians a little handicap even. if the bottom line must speak so loudly, it should be an accurate bottom line.

  2. everydaytrash Says:

    Exactly. I’m not saying we shouldn’t account for longer-term benefits, just that we should quantify those benefits to coax others over to our side!

  3. kimberly Says:

    tee hee. i did miss your point. i read the words “Reason Foundation” and “cost-benefit analysis” and get just a little ranty. the whole “free markets/free minds” tagline makes me crazy and obliterates the rest of my cognitive abilities.

  4. everydaytrash Says:

    Ranty is what blogging is all about!

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