Money talks

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

From an entry by Hans Noeldner, a local peak oil activist, on The Oil Drum:

Somewhere along the way, we-the-people seem to have reached a consensus that when it comes to allocating natural resources, money should do the talking. In fact many true believers contend money is the only legitimate communicator.

“How much oil should I be able to burn? Every barrel I can afford.”

“How big a house – how many houses – should I be able to buy? Just as many as I can afford.”

“How much CO2 should I be able to emit? Not one damned molecule less than I can afford.”

“And if I want to burn and buy and emit more, then acquiring more money naturally gives me the right to do so.”

If our economy fails to charge us the “true cost” of denying future generations the fossil energy they might need to feed themselves 50 years hence; if our economy suffocates vast swathes of bio-productive land beneath highways and parking lots for our Happy Motoring convenience, if our economy fails to extract “flood money” from us to recompense millions of coastal dwellers for the loss of their ancestral homelands beneath rising oceans; well…perhaps the solution is to internalize those costs somehow.

Tellingly, the specific methods politicians might use to sneak such price-boosting tariffs past hyper-vigilant business interests and an unsupportive consuming public are seldom explained. But in any case it is deemed essential that we remember the distribution of natural resources is not – and cannot be – a “moral” issue.