A Little Eco-Nomics Never Hurt

Tech Central Station Roy Spencer July 31, 2006

Technological advancements have elevated mankind to its healthiest and wealthiest level in history. Our lives are longer, our health is greater, our food is more plentiful, and modern conveniences are now so affordable that even the poor among us own what only the rich could afford 50 years ago.

It is against this backdrop that we now find ourselves debating the merits of many of these conveniences and advancements. From the chemical scares of the 1960’s and 1970’s (e.g., DDT, dioxin, food preservatives), to the fear of runaway population growth and rapidly dwindling petroleum supplies, the very people that have been blessed with the prosperity that unbridled human ingenuity brings are increasingly anxious about the world we have created for ourselves.

Fear of the ultimate environmental threat, global warming, is now striking at the very heart of modern life, casting doubt upon the future availability of inexpensive energy that is necessary to keep society running. Al Gore’s movie ‘An Inconvenient Truth’, Discovery’s recent special ‘Global Warming: What You Need to Know with Tom Brokaw’, and a deluge of media stories and editorials are all dedicated to convincing you that we need to be saved from ourselves.

And while it is true that there are potential negative side effects of our use of fossil fuels (as well as most other natural resources), little attention is ever paid to the practical question: what should be done about it? It is much easier to point out a problem than it is to actually fix it….and ‘fixing problems’ too often leads to unintended negative consequences.

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4 thoughts on “A Little Eco-Nomics Never Hurt”

  1. The Marxists/central planners that regularly post here better not read this article. No doubt the author is in with someone…big oil perhaps…;)

  2. Christopher writes: “The Marxists/central planners that regularly post here better not read this article.”

    Ah yes, another “defend the rich” article. You would like that.

    Let’s look at one of the author’s statements: “I would be glad to have my wealth increase by only 40 percent as the rich see a 200 percent increase in their wealth.

    Interesting! But would he really? Let’s look at the effect of that kind of economy.

    We’ll give Mr Spencer a starting value of $10,000 of wealth. To his wealthy neighbor we’ll give $1 million — not mega-rich, but well-off. We’ll assume that the 40 percent and 200 percent growths in wealth occur over a ten-year period. This means that Mr. Spencer’s wealth will grow by around 3.8 percent per year, while his wealthy neighbor’s will increase by 8 percent. After 10 years Mr. Spencer will have around $14,000, and his neighbor will have $2 million.

    But of course, there is a problem. Assuming a 3 percent inflation rate, Mr. Spencer is making only slightly above inflation. After 10 years he has only made $750 over and above inflation, while his rich neighbor has made around $550,000 over inflation.

    Now let’s carry the trend out 30 years:

    Spencer and Rich start out with an income disparity ratio of 1 to 100. By the end of 30 years that ratio has increased to 1 to 315. Spencer’s wealth is around $29,500, of which $12,600 is gain over and above inflation. The rich neighbor after 30 years has around $9,300,000, of which around $4,115,000 is gain over inflation.

    In other words, adjusting for inflation, after 30 years Mr. Spencer is not too much farther along than when he started, whereas the rich neighbor has now joined the ranks of the mega-rich. This is the result of the 40 percent vs. 200 percent increase in wealth that Mr. Spencer rejoices in.

    But at this point I am so moved by Mr. Spencer’s and Christopher’s preferential option for the rich that I would like to offer a little prayer, which I call the Prayer of St. Christopher:

    “Oh Lord, we do thank thee that thou dost defend the rich against the assaults of the Marxists and central planners. Come now to their aid and succor and defend them against all criticisms of the liberals. Vouchsafe to increase their wealth and influence exponentially. Given unto them yet larger investments, houses, cars, jewelry, and cool toys of all kinds. Defend them also against redistributionist tax increases, but rather, let the jealous poor survive on the crumbs that fall from the noble tables of the rich. And this we ask in the name of Him, who had not where to lay His head . . . . . Amen.”

  3. Mike Gerson, a fomer Bush advisor and speechwriter interviewed in Christianity Today:

    Where specifically do you think the Religious Right has gone off track?

    Some of it is what I would call baptizing policy recommendations, as if there were a Christian view on tax policy or missile defense. These are questions of prudence and judgment on which reasonable people disagree.

    How Then Shall We Politick?, Christianity Today.

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