New politics project can’t find a candidate

A lot of people don’t like either the Republican or the Democratic candidate.  Many people believe politics has gotten too extreme and want to vote for a centrist.  Quite a few people are sick of so much partisanship, believing that our hard times call for a national unity slate.  Lots of people believe our political system, with its caucuses and in-person rubber-stamping conventions, is antiquated and that the internet holds promise for greater participation in our democracy.

So Americans Elect was formed, with substantial backing, and gained ballot access in half the states.  Ordinary Americans would choose the candidates in a virtual convention.  The Presidential and Vice-presidential candidates would have to be from different parties.  (Thus the organization is saying it isn’t a third party, just a coalition of the two existing parties, though its candidate would be a third option.)

But despite the groundswell of support, the good ideas, the noble intentions, and the technological and financial infrastructure, the whole effort is fizzling.

According to the rules of the organization, candidates for the Americans Elect nomination will be in contention at the virtual convention if they get at least 10,000 online votes.  But no one has garnered more than 6,000.  (The one who has that many votes is former Louisiana governor Buddy Roemer.)  The deadline for voting has passed.  The quasi-party has ballot access and a convention scheduled but no candidates.

Board members are planning to get together to decide on what to do.  Maybe they will change the rules.  But it doesn’t look promising for a new approach to politics.

 

Centrist group having trouble finding a presidential candidate – The Washington Post.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Too extreme? I think both sides are too centrist, that the difference is more of degrees than it is of substance.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Too extreme? I think both sides are too centrist, that the difference is more of degrees than it is of substance.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    Not well advertised. While not a news hog, I don’t avoid the news and I never heard about the project. Oh well, not to thrilled with the let’s keep the same parties idea anyhow. I seem to recalled a similar experiment that failed rather early in our history

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    Not well advertised. While not a news hog, I don’t avoid the news and I never heard about the project. Oh well, not to thrilled with the let’s keep the same parties idea anyhow. I seem to recalled a similar experiment that failed rather early in our history

  • DonS

    Yeah, it’s kind of a shocker that the apathetic people who really don’t know what they believe couldn’t find a candidate.

  • DonS

    Yeah, it’s kind of a shocker that the apathetic people who really don’t know what they believe couldn’t find a candidate.

  • http://geochristian.wordpress.com/ Kevin N

    DonS — Apathetic and centrist are not the same. I am a Republican centrist, and feel rather strongly about some of my centrist positions (e.g. on energy & environment). I am also tired of the divisiveness of the current political situation.

    Having said that, Americans Elect doesn’t sound like the right solution to the problem.

  • http://geochristian.wordpress.com/ Kevin N

    DonS — Apathetic and centrist are not the same. I am a Republican centrist, and feel rather strongly about some of my centrist positions (e.g. on energy & environment). I am also tired of the divisiveness of the current political situation.

    Having said that, Americans Elect doesn’t sound like the right solution to the problem.

  • DonS

    Kevin N @ 4: A majority of independent voters are low information, low propensity voters. They are independent because they are not particularly engaged in political matters, and they typically only vote in presidential elections.

    You are the exception. Actually, to the extent that you are “centrist”, it is because, in the aggregate, if your positions were averaged, they would fall somewhere in the middle of the political scale. But it might be more accurate to describe you as liberal on environmental and energy issues and conservative on other issues. In other words, you are partisan, and hold strong opinions, but they are not conventionally assignable to one or the other of the “conservative” and “liberal” camps — they are an amalgam of both.

  • DonS

    Kevin N @ 4: A majority of independent voters are low information, low propensity voters. They are independent because they are not particularly engaged in political matters, and they typically only vote in presidential elections.

    You are the exception. Actually, to the extent that you are “centrist”, it is because, in the aggregate, if your positions were averaged, they would fall somewhere in the middle of the political scale. But it might be more accurate to describe you as liberal on environmental and energy issues and conservative on other issues. In other words, you are partisan, and hold strong opinions, but they are not conventionally assignable to one or the other of the “conservative” and “liberal” camps — they are an amalgam of both.

  • http://geochristian.wordpress.com/ Kevin N

    DonS — I am a centrist on environmental and energy issues.

    I strongly disagree with the energy and environmental policies of many “conservatives,” such as most tea partiers and libertarians. For a majority of them, the main plank of their energy policy is “drill baby drill” (or the coal equivalent: dig and burn).

    At the same time, I understand that in many cases, market-based solutions to our energy predicaments are often superior to over-regulation.

    We need energy policies that help us in the short term, such as the Keystone XL pipeline (with appropriate environmental protections). We also need heavy investment in renewable energy resources, for the sake of the economy, our national security, and the environment. I don’t see a good balance in either conservatism or liberalism. So I am a centrist.

    I could make the same sort of case for centrism on environmental issues. I view environmental regulations, such as the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, as necessary restraints on human sin. Many “conservatives” would gut environmental regulations, saying that they put too much of a burden on the economy (as if the economy were the only, or even the highest value). At the same time, I reject the pantheism of much of the environmental movement, and its view that the world would be a much better place with a few billion less humans.

  • http://geochristian.wordpress.com/ Kevin N

    DonS — I am a centrist on environmental and energy issues.

    I strongly disagree with the energy and environmental policies of many “conservatives,” such as most tea partiers and libertarians. For a majority of them, the main plank of their energy policy is “drill baby drill” (or the coal equivalent: dig and burn).

    At the same time, I understand that in many cases, market-based solutions to our energy predicaments are often superior to over-regulation.

    We need energy policies that help us in the short term, such as the Keystone XL pipeline (with appropriate environmental protections). We also need heavy investment in renewable energy resources, for the sake of the economy, our national security, and the environment. I don’t see a good balance in either conservatism or liberalism. So I am a centrist.

    I could make the same sort of case for centrism on environmental issues. I view environmental regulations, such as the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, as necessary restraints on human sin. Many “conservatives” would gut environmental regulations, saying that they put too much of a burden on the economy (as if the economy were the only, or even the highest value). At the same time, I reject the pantheism of much of the environmental movement, and its view that the world would be a much better place with a few billion less humans.

  • http://geochristian.wordpress.com/ Kevin N

    DonS — Upon further reflection, I am neither a moderate nor a liberal when it comes to the environment. It is I who am a conservative, not the typical tea partier or libertarian.

    There is nothing conservative about the environmental position of many (most?) conservative candidates. What is it in God’s good creation that they would conserve?

  • http://geochristian.wordpress.com/ Kevin N

    DonS — Upon further reflection, I am neither a moderate nor a liberal when it comes to the environment. It is I who am a conservative, not the typical tea partier or libertarian.

    There is nothing conservative about the environmental position of many (most?) conservative candidates. What is it in God’s good creation that they would conserve?

  • DonS

    Kevin N. — I didn’t respond to your comment @ 6 because, while I disagree with you, you are certainly entitled to your opinion that you are a “centrist”. So, you think we need the Keystone pipeline with appropriate environmental protections. Obama says pretty much the same thing. So do I. It’s all in what you think those appropriate environmental protections are. Or whether, like Obama, you think the State Department is the right agency to decide those things. Just because you reject pantheism, which doesn’t really directly inject itself into policy positions, doesn’t change my mind that, based on everything I’ve seen you comment over the years, you are most certainly an environmental liberal. But, whatever.

    However, you apparently decided to try to provoke a response from me with your further comment @ 7. It worked ;-)

    Government has been, historically, in almost all nations, the worst environmental abuser and offender. There is no reason to suddenly think that enlisting its coercive powers of regulation will somehow change this historical fact. One does not need to advocate the strong regulatory, confiscatory hand of government to be a believer in environmental care. The traditional laws of private property and nuisance are quite effective in reining in those who abuse their property, and by extension, that of their neighbors. Certain environmental regulations protecting waterways from polluted effluent, and the airways from excessive particulate pollution are also appropriate. But the idea of regulating carbon emissions, preventing the development of energy resources, preventing a homeowner from building on their land because of seasonal pooling, calling those puddles “navigable waterways”, or shutting down a farm because of a rat is nuts. That is not “conservative” in any way, shape or form, and it is certainly not helpful to maintaining and improving the economy for the benefit of the poor, who are deeply hurt by environmental regulations that push good jobs overseas and by the artificially high energy prices caused by the dabbling of rich white urbanists in climate theory modeling.

  • DonS

    Kevin N. — I didn’t respond to your comment @ 6 because, while I disagree with you, you are certainly entitled to your opinion that you are a “centrist”. So, you think we need the Keystone pipeline with appropriate environmental protections. Obama says pretty much the same thing. So do I. It’s all in what you think those appropriate environmental protections are. Or whether, like Obama, you think the State Department is the right agency to decide those things. Just because you reject pantheism, which doesn’t really directly inject itself into policy positions, doesn’t change my mind that, based on everything I’ve seen you comment over the years, you are most certainly an environmental liberal. But, whatever.

    However, you apparently decided to try to provoke a response from me with your further comment @ 7. It worked ;-)

    Government has been, historically, in almost all nations, the worst environmental abuser and offender. There is no reason to suddenly think that enlisting its coercive powers of regulation will somehow change this historical fact. One does not need to advocate the strong regulatory, confiscatory hand of government to be a believer in environmental care. The traditional laws of private property and nuisance are quite effective in reining in those who abuse their property, and by extension, that of their neighbors. Certain environmental regulations protecting waterways from polluted effluent, and the airways from excessive particulate pollution are also appropriate. But the idea of regulating carbon emissions, preventing the development of energy resources, preventing a homeowner from building on their land because of seasonal pooling, calling those puddles “navigable waterways”, or shutting down a farm because of a rat is nuts. That is not “conservative” in any way, shape or form, and it is certainly not helpful to maintaining and improving the economy for the benefit of the poor, who are deeply hurt by environmental regulations that push good jobs overseas and by the artificially high energy prices caused by the dabbling of rich white urbanists in climate theory modeling.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS said (@8):

    Government has been, historically, in almost all nations, the worst environmental abuser and offender.

    Oh, okay. I’ll bite. I’d love to see you back up that assertion, Don.

    The traditional laws of private property and nuisance are quite effective in reining in those who abuse their property, and by extension, that of their neighbors. Certain environmental regulations protecting waterways from polluted effluent, and the airways from excessive particulate pollution are also appropriate.

    Hmm. Unintentionally humorous, that. “All we need is private property laws. … Oh, and the very government laws against which this comment is directed. But only the ones I like.”

    You clearly approve of government’s “coercive powers”. Or at least concede their need because of the weakness of private property laws in dealing with the movement of polluted fluids across properties.

    But it’s not exactly hard to see that the bright line you draw between “good” government environmental regulations and “bad” ones is political, not ecological or scientific.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS said (@8):

    Government has been, historically, in almost all nations, the worst environmental abuser and offender.

    Oh, okay. I’ll bite. I’d love to see you back up that assertion, Don.

    The traditional laws of private property and nuisance are quite effective in reining in those who abuse their property, and by extension, that of their neighbors. Certain environmental regulations protecting waterways from polluted effluent, and the airways from excessive particulate pollution are also appropriate.

    Hmm. Unintentionally humorous, that. “All we need is private property laws. … Oh, and the very government laws against which this comment is directed. But only the ones I like.”

    You clearly approve of government’s “coercive powers”. Or at least concede their need because of the weakness of private property laws in dealing with the movement of polluted fluids across properties.

    But it’s not exactly hard to see that the bright line you draw between “good” government environmental regulations and “bad” ones is political, not ecological or scientific.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 9: The politics in environmentalism was in the extension of the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act of the 1970′s to regulate things that were never intended to be regulated by Congress when it passed those laws. They were passed under the commerce power of Congress, and it is another example of how that power has been abused, particularly by runaway bureaucratic agencies like the EPA, under political pressure from a plethora of environmentalist lobbyists. Politics, unfortunately, is the entire issue when it comes to environmentalism, much to the detriment of ordinary Americans.

    The Sackett v. EPA Supreme Court case this year sheds light on the way that empowered governmental agencies, in the face of strong and persistent political pressure, expand their powers by abusing statutory definitions: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/11pdf/10-1062.pdf The Clean Water Act was originally passed to protect “navigable waters”. Over the years, the definition of “navigable waters” has been expanded so that the EPA attempted to apply their jurisdiction to the 2/3 acre residential lot the Sacketts purchased for the purpose of building a home, because seasonally a small portion of the lot becomes wet. They issued an order preventing the Sacketts from building their home, and thus vitiating the entire value of their lot. In the past, the Supreme Court had to strike down the EPA’s attempts to regulate a sand pit in a gravel quarry which was no where near a body of water. The same kinds of idiocy have occurred in connection with endangered and threatened species, where a farmer or other landowner will arbitrarily lose the entire value and use of their property because a rat or other animal happens to be found on it. The idea of expansive regulation, always subject to political wrangling because of the power involved, and always ending up hurting the regular citizen, and curtailing liberty, is what I am arguing against.

    As for government being the primary cause of environmental destruction, surely you recognize this. In the middle ages, the utter failure of government to provide even basic sanitary infrastructure, its primary function, resulted in the deaths and suffering of millions because of unchecked diseases. The Soviet Union was an environmental debacle, Chernobyl being only the most obvious example of a central planning agency nightmare. The Iraqi government’s firing of the Kuwaiti oilfields in 1990 caused environmental destruction in the Middle East for years. A majority of the EPA Superfund’s worst sites are former government installations or those of government contractors.

    Governmental regulation is no panacea to our problems. And, regarding your statement:

    But it’s not exactly hard to see that the bright line you draw between “good” government environmental regulations and “bad” ones is political, not ecological or scientific

    I will only say that it’s political for me because it’s political for environmentalists. There is no sound scientific or ecological reason for the Sackett’s to be prohibited from building a home on the property they purchased. Those regulations are politics, pure and simple.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 9: The politics in environmentalism was in the extension of the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act of the 1970′s to regulate things that were never intended to be regulated by Congress when it passed those laws. They were passed under the commerce power of Congress, and it is another example of how that power has been abused, particularly by runaway bureaucratic agencies like the EPA, under political pressure from a plethora of environmentalist lobbyists. Politics, unfortunately, is the entire issue when it comes to environmentalism, much to the detriment of ordinary Americans.

    The Sackett v. EPA Supreme Court case this year sheds light on the way that empowered governmental agencies, in the face of strong and persistent political pressure, expand their powers by abusing statutory definitions: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/11pdf/10-1062.pdf The Clean Water Act was originally passed to protect “navigable waters”. Over the years, the definition of “navigable waters” has been expanded so that the EPA attempted to apply their jurisdiction to the 2/3 acre residential lot the Sacketts purchased for the purpose of building a home, because seasonally a small portion of the lot becomes wet. They issued an order preventing the Sacketts from building their home, and thus vitiating the entire value of their lot. In the past, the Supreme Court had to strike down the EPA’s attempts to regulate a sand pit in a gravel quarry which was no where near a body of water. The same kinds of idiocy have occurred in connection with endangered and threatened species, where a farmer or other landowner will arbitrarily lose the entire value and use of their property because a rat or other animal happens to be found on it. The idea of expansive regulation, always subject to political wrangling because of the power involved, and always ending up hurting the regular citizen, and curtailing liberty, is what I am arguing against.

    As for government being the primary cause of environmental destruction, surely you recognize this. In the middle ages, the utter failure of government to provide even basic sanitary infrastructure, its primary function, resulted in the deaths and suffering of millions because of unchecked diseases. The Soviet Union was an environmental debacle, Chernobyl being only the most obvious example of a central planning agency nightmare. The Iraqi government’s firing of the Kuwaiti oilfields in 1990 caused environmental destruction in the Middle East for years. A majority of the EPA Superfund’s worst sites are former government installations or those of government contractors.

    Governmental regulation is no panacea to our problems. And, regarding your statement:

    But it’s not exactly hard to see that the bright line you draw between “good” government environmental regulations and “bad” ones is political, not ecological or scientific

    I will only say that it’s political for me because it’s political for environmentalists. There is no sound scientific or ecological reason for the Sackett’s to be prohibited from building a home on the property they purchased. Those regulations are politics, pure and simple.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS said (@10):

    As for government being the primary cause of environmental destruction, surely you recognize this.

    Um, no. Which is why I asked you (@9) to back up your assertion (@8). You’re not exactly off to a stellar start with that line.

    In the middle ages, the utter failure of government to provide even basic sanitary infrastructure, its primary function, resulted in the deaths and suffering of millions because of unchecked diseases.

    Oof. That’s not much better. First of all, remember that you’re defending your thesis that “government has been, historically, in almost all nations, the worst environmental abuser and offender”. And now you, would-be small-government champion, are … blaming the government for not doing enough? So, wait. Who was actually doing all the, you know, active environmental offending in this situation you bring up? Seems like: private citizens! But you’re blaming the government for not doing enough, claiming, somewhat bizarrely, that sanitary infrastructure is government’s “primary function”. This point of yours seems more than a little bit to be made entirely from a modern standpoint when it comes to the role of governments, much less the expectations of modern sanitation. I’m having a hard time taking this as a serious buttress to your argument.

    I’ll give you Chernobyl.

    I think it’s a bit bizarre that you consider a wartime action taken as part of a scorched-earth policy against another country to be a legitimate defense of your claim, however.

    As for this claim:

    A majority of the EPA Superfund’s worst sites are former government installations or those of government contractors.

    Again, are you going to back up the constituent claims you provice in an attempt to back up your main claim?

    But then, if that’s all you’re going to offer, then no, I don’t put much stock in your answer. Yes, you gave at least one example of an environmental disaster that a government oversaw. But are you just going to ignore all the obvious examples that were overseen by private corporations?

    I mean, hello? The Bhopal disaster? The Exxon Valdez? Love Canal? Tokaimura nuclear accident? The Seveso disaster? Minamata disease?

    I mean, take a look at this page and tell me again how the government is the worst abuser and defender.

    Sheesh. Try harder.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS said (@10):

    As for government being the primary cause of environmental destruction, surely you recognize this.

    Um, no. Which is why I asked you (@9) to back up your assertion (@8). You’re not exactly off to a stellar start with that line.

    In the middle ages, the utter failure of government to provide even basic sanitary infrastructure, its primary function, resulted in the deaths and suffering of millions because of unchecked diseases.

    Oof. That’s not much better. First of all, remember that you’re defending your thesis that “government has been, historically, in almost all nations, the worst environmental abuser and offender”. And now you, would-be small-government champion, are … blaming the government for not doing enough? So, wait. Who was actually doing all the, you know, active environmental offending in this situation you bring up? Seems like: private citizens! But you’re blaming the government for not doing enough, claiming, somewhat bizarrely, that sanitary infrastructure is government’s “primary function”. This point of yours seems more than a little bit to be made entirely from a modern standpoint when it comes to the role of governments, much less the expectations of modern sanitation. I’m having a hard time taking this as a serious buttress to your argument.

    I’ll give you Chernobyl.

    I think it’s a bit bizarre that you consider a wartime action taken as part of a scorched-earth policy against another country to be a legitimate defense of your claim, however.

    As for this claim:

    A majority of the EPA Superfund’s worst sites are former government installations or those of government contractors.

    Again, are you going to back up the constituent claims you provice in an attempt to back up your main claim?

    But then, if that’s all you’re going to offer, then no, I don’t put much stock in your answer. Yes, you gave at least one example of an environmental disaster that a government oversaw. But are you just going to ignore all the obvious examples that were overseen by private corporations?

    I mean, hello? The Bhopal disaster? The Exxon Valdez? Love Canal? Tokaimura nuclear accident? The Seveso disaster? Minamata disease?

    I mean, take a look at this page and tell me again how the government is the worst abuser and defender.

    Sheesh. Try harder.

  • http://geochristian.wordpress.com/ Kevin N

    DonS (#10) said, “The Soviet Union was an environmental debacle, Chernobyl being only the most obvious example of a central planning agency nightmare.” The problem wasn’t just central planning—though central planning was in itself a disaster—but plain old human greed and ignorance.

    There were two primary causes the ecological disaster in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. The first was the totalitarian grip on the people, which stifled or eliminated all protest. I am thankful that I live in a country where we can organize and voice our opposition to abuses by either government or business.

    The second cause was the placement of economics above the environment, and of the short-term over the long-term. There were quotas that had to be met in the five-year plans or else heads would roll. Ecological consequences were always secondary or completely ignored. This parallels much of what passes for “conservatism” in American politics today. If the economy is bad, we must loosen up on environmental regulation to stimulate growth. If the economy is bad, we need to loosen up on environmental regulation to maintain growth. The spotted owl always loses.

    Environmental regulation is a necessary restraint on human evil. Left without restraint, we humans often take what we can get from the land with little thought for future generations. There is nothing conservative about this, but the laissez-faire environmental policies of many “conservatives” does little to discourage this.

  • http://geochristian.wordpress.com/ Kevin N

    DonS (#10) said, “The Soviet Union was an environmental debacle, Chernobyl being only the most obvious example of a central planning agency nightmare.” The problem wasn’t just central planning—though central planning was in itself a disaster—but plain old human greed and ignorance.

    There were two primary causes the ecological disaster in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. The first was the totalitarian grip on the people, which stifled or eliminated all protest. I am thankful that I live in a country where we can organize and voice our opposition to abuses by either government or business.

    The second cause was the placement of economics above the environment, and of the short-term over the long-term. There were quotas that had to be met in the five-year plans or else heads would roll. Ecological consequences were always secondary or completely ignored. This parallels much of what passes for “conservatism” in American politics today. If the economy is bad, we must loosen up on environmental regulation to stimulate growth. If the economy is bad, we need to loosen up on environmental regulation to maintain growth. The spotted owl always loses.

    Environmental regulation is a necessary restraint on human evil. Left without restraint, we humans often take what we can get from the land with little thought for future generations. There is nothing conservative about this, but the laissez-faire environmental policies of many “conservatives” does little to discourage this.

  • http://geochristian.wordpress.com/ Kevin N

    DonS — Take a look at the list of EPA superfund sites for your state. You will see that most of the sites are not “government” installations but a variety of fuels, chemical, nuclear, mining, and agricultural messes. Someone made their millions without regard for the consequences, and left it for others to clean up. Is this conservative?

    In my home state, Montana, most of the superfund sites are related to mining and ore processing. One of these, Berkeley pit in Butte, an abandoned open-pit copper mine, is perhaps the only superfund site in the country that has become a tourist site. You can pay $2 to walk through a tunnel to an overlook where you can see the giant hole (1800 feet deep) filling up with a toxic stew of acid and heavy metals.

  • http://geochristian.wordpress.com/ Kevin N

    DonS — Take a look at the list of EPA superfund sites for your state. You will see that most of the sites are not “government” installations but a variety of fuels, chemical, nuclear, mining, and agricultural messes. Someone made their millions without regard for the consequences, and left it for others to clean up. Is this conservative?

    In my home state, Montana, most of the superfund sites are related to mining and ore processing. One of these, Berkeley pit in Butte, an abandoned open-pit copper mine, is perhaps the only superfund site in the country that has become a tourist site. You can pay $2 to walk through a tunnel to an overlook where you can see the giant hole (1800 feet deep) filling up with a toxic stew of acid and heavy metals.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 11: Well, you ignored my reference to the Sackett case, and the abuses the government has heaped on countless private citizens like the Sacketts in the name of environmental regulation. Somehow, I knew you would. It’s just one couple, after all, and just property rights. We can’t let those kinds of liberty issues get in the way of having government solve all our problems, after all.

    You do understand, I hope, that conservatives do see a proper role for government. That role is to provide for public infrastructure, such as roads, parks, and, yes, sanitary facilities like sewer systems. So, your stereotypical view of me as a conservative having a kneejerk reaction to any governmental spending, and thus being hypocritical in blaming the government for not doing enough for the people in the middle ages is nonsense. Of course I blame the governments of that time for confiscating excessive taxes from the people and not even providing for the social order, including infrastructure. Just as I blame governments now for doing exactly the same thing — excessive taxation, forcing people to labor excessively for their living expenses, and then using those taxes to transfer money to their friends and voting constituencies while neglecting the public infrastructure. I have made this point many times on this blog.

    I think it’s a bit bizarre that you consider a wartime action taken as part of a scorched-earth policy against another country to be a legitimate defense of your claim, however.

    “Bizarre”? Why? Should an aggressor in a wartime action get a pass for intentionally and horrifically fouling the environment? Explain.

    Kevin N. has posted the Superfund sites, and though he claims otherwise, a brief perusal confirms my recollection that a very large number of them, appearing to be a majority, are either government installations or the installations of government contractors. At the very least, it is such a significant number that it is obvious that the government does not have clean hands with respect to environmental degradation, and there is absolutely no reason to believe that it is the agency we should put our reliance in to clean it up.

    Bhopal — The Indian subsidiary of Union Carbide was 49% government-owned.

    Love Canal — a complicated story that involves a host of agencies as well as Hooker Chemical. The City of Niagara Falls, the Army, Hooker Chemical, and others all dumped into the site. Hooker recognized the dangers of building on the site, but Niagara Public Schools insisted on purchasing it for development in the 1950′s. Hooker said it was unsafe and wanted it sealed. The school board refused. It’s pretty clear that the government had the dirtiest hands in this debacle.

    But, again, my point never was that private parties are innocent of environmental damage. Rather, my only point originally was to debunk the notion of government as panacea, and particularly the notion that every problem deserves a governmental regulatory solution. If we value liberty, we need to carefully consider any regulatory schemes because of their inevitable erosion of those liberties.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 11: Well, you ignored my reference to the Sackett case, and the abuses the government has heaped on countless private citizens like the Sacketts in the name of environmental regulation. Somehow, I knew you would. It’s just one couple, after all, and just property rights. We can’t let those kinds of liberty issues get in the way of having government solve all our problems, after all.

    You do understand, I hope, that conservatives do see a proper role for government. That role is to provide for public infrastructure, such as roads, parks, and, yes, sanitary facilities like sewer systems. So, your stereotypical view of me as a conservative having a kneejerk reaction to any governmental spending, and thus being hypocritical in blaming the government for not doing enough for the people in the middle ages is nonsense. Of course I blame the governments of that time for confiscating excessive taxes from the people and not even providing for the social order, including infrastructure. Just as I blame governments now for doing exactly the same thing — excessive taxation, forcing people to labor excessively for their living expenses, and then using those taxes to transfer money to their friends and voting constituencies while neglecting the public infrastructure. I have made this point many times on this blog.

    I think it’s a bit bizarre that you consider a wartime action taken as part of a scorched-earth policy against another country to be a legitimate defense of your claim, however.

    “Bizarre”? Why? Should an aggressor in a wartime action get a pass for intentionally and horrifically fouling the environment? Explain.

    Kevin N. has posted the Superfund sites, and though he claims otherwise, a brief perusal confirms my recollection that a very large number of them, appearing to be a majority, are either government installations or the installations of government contractors. At the very least, it is such a significant number that it is obvious that the government does not have clean hands with respect to environmental degradation, and there is absolutely no reason to believe that it is the agency we should put our reliance in to clean it up.

    Bhopal — The Indian subsidiary of Union Carbide was 49% government-owned.

    Love Canal — a complicated story that involves a host of agencies as well as Hooker Chemical. The City of Niagara Falls, the Army, Hooker Chemical, and others all dumped into the site. Hooker recognized the dangers of building on the site, but Niagara Public Schools insisted on purchasing it for development in the 1950′s. Hooker said it was unsafe and wanted it sealed. The school board refused. It’s pretty clear that the government had the dirtiest hands in this debacle.

    But, again, my point never was that private parties are innocent of environmental damage. Rather, my only point originally was to debunk the notion of government as panacea, and particularly the notion that every problem deserves a governmental regulatory solution. If we value liberty, we need to carefully consider any regulatory schemes because of their inevitable erosion of those liberties.

  • DonS

    Kevin N @ 12 and 13:

    The problem wasn’t just central planning—though central planning was in itself a disaster—but plain old human greed and ignorance.
    There were two primary causes the ecological disaster in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. The first was the totalitarian grip on the people, which stifled or eliminated all protest. I am thankful that I live in a country where we can organize and voice our opposition to abuses by either government or business.

    We agree on this. But as we continue to pile on regulation after regulation, as a first resort in resolving every perceived problem, we are moving quite rapidly to diminish the unique liberties our forefathers have fought and died for. Protests and opposition which are deemed politically incorrect by the establishment are routinely squelched or ridiculed, without substantive analysis or response. Regulation should always be the last resort, reserved for issues uniformly agreed to be sufficiently important to both resolve through this means, and to be worth the resultant loss of liberty, before they are undertaken.

    The second cause was the placement of economics above the environment, and of the short-term over the long-term. There were quotas that had to be met in the five-year plans or else heads would roll. Ecological consequences were always secondary or completely ignored. This parallels much of what passes for “conservatism” in American politics today. If the economy is bad, we must loosen up on environmental regulation to stimulate growth. If the economy is bad, we need to loosen up on environmental regulation to maintain growth. The spotted owl always loses.

    Well, there’s always a balance to be determined between extracting and using the resources God has given us to use, and ensuring that we preserve the environment for future generations, but, again, no one is arguing that SOME environmental regulation isn’t appropriate. The Clean Water and Clean Air Acts were bipartisan and are generally supported by politicians and citizens of both parties today. But they have been expansively interpreted and enforced, far beyond their original intention, by the EPA, at the behest of liberal political environmental groups, and at great expense to the economy, human rights and liberties, and to the poor, for no certain, or even uncertain, benefit. The Clean Water Act – applied to prohibit a couple from building a home on a residential lot because of seasonal puddles, claimed to constitute navigable waterways? Outrageous. The Clean Air Act applied to regulate carbon emissions, without congressional authorization? An absurd usurpation of authority by the EPA. And even if you buy the truth of the theory of global warming, and that it is primarily man-caused, there is not a shred of evidence that the measures being undertaken, at great cost to U.S. manufacturing and energy prices, will have even a minimal effect on the rate of warming. It’s all feel-good politics which, if effected, will result merely in the export of carbon emissions (and other genuine pollutant emissions) to other regions of the world having less environmental controls than we do. No net benefit to the world, and a great harm to our economy. That’s what I object to — political grandstanding and appeasement of radical interest groups without any evidence of benefit and a serious risk of great harm to our economy and citizens.

    Take a look at the list of EPA superfund sites for your state. You will see that most of the sites are not “government” installations but a variety of fuels, chemical, nuclear, mining, and agricultural messes. Someone made their millions without regard for the consequences, and left it for others to clean up. Is this conservative?

    Thanks for the list. But I disagree — most of the sites are government installations and those of government contractors, as I originally stated. And certainly almost all of the worst sites are huge government installations, typically closed military bases.

    The point that should be taken from this however, is that these sites were a function of the times. It wasn’t that “someone made their millions” and then left the mess for others to clean up intentionally — it was just the practice of the times. Government, private entity, it didn’t matter. Sure, there were bad actors, both public and private, but overall much of the dumping that was done was done openly. We know better now, and do a better job of keeping things clean. Conservatives don’t want a dirty environment — they just want to avoid demonization for political purposes, and they want regulatory action that makes sense, environmentally and economically. Radical environmental groups should not be driving government policy, as they are now.

  • DonS

    Kevin N @ 12 and 13:

    The problem wasn’t just central planning—though central planning was in itself a disaster—but plain old human greed and ignorance.
    There were two primary causes the ecological disaster in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. The first was the totalitarian grip on the people, which stifled or eliminated all protest. I am thankful that I live in a country where we can organize and voice our opposition to abuses by either government or business.

    We agree on this. But as we continue to pile on regulation after regulation, as a first resort in resolving every perceived problem, we are moving quite rapidly to diminish the unique liberties our forefathers have fought and died for. Protests and opposition which are deemed politically incorrect by the establishment are routinely squelched or ridiculed, without substantive analysis or response. Regulation should always be the last resort, reserved for issues uniformly agreed to be sufficiently important to both resolve through this means, and to be worth the resultant loss of liberty, before they are undertaken.

    The second cause was the placement of economics above the environment, and of the short-term over the long-term. There were quotas that had to be met in the five-year plans or else heads would roll. Ecological consequences were always secondary or completely ignored. This parallels much of what passes for “conservatism” in American politics today. If the economy is bad, we must loosen up on environmental regulation to stimulate growth. If the economy is bad, we need to loosen up on environmental regulation to maintain growth. The spotted owl always loses.

    Well, there’s always a balance to be determined between extracting and using the resources God has given us to use, and ensuring that we preserve the environment for future generations, but, again, no one is arguing that SOME environmental regulation isn’t appropriate. The Clean Water and Clean Air Acts were bipartisan and are generally supported by politicians and citizens of both parties today. But they have been expansively interpreted and enforced, far beyond their original intention, by the EPA, at the behest of liberal political environmental groups, and at great expense to the economy, human rights and liberties, and to the poor, for no certain, or even uncertain, benefit. The Clean Water Act – applied to prohibit a couple from building a home on a residential lot because of seasonal puddles, claimed to constitute navigable waterways? Outrageous. The Clean Air Act applied to regulate carbon emissions, without congressional authorization? An absurd usurpation of authority by the EPA. And even if you buy the truth of the theory of global warming, and that it is primarily man-caused, there is not a shred of evidence that the measures being undertaken, at great cost to U.S. manufacturing and energy prices, will have even a minimal effect on the rate of warming. It’s all feel-good politics which, if effected, will result merely in the export of carbon emissions (and other genuine pollutant emissions) to other regions of the world having less environmental controls than we do. No net benefit to the world, and a great harm to our economy. That’s what I object to — political grandstanding and appeasement of radical interest groups without any evidence of benefit and a serious risk of great harm to our economy and citizens.

    Take a look at the list of EPA superfund sites for your state. You will see that most of the sites are not “government” installations but a variety of fuels, chemical, nuclear, mining, and agricultural messes. Someone made their millions without regard for the consequences, and left it for others to clean up. Is this conservative?

    Thanks for the list. But I disagree — most of the sites are government installations and those of government contractors, as I originally stated. And certainly almost all of the worst sites are huge government installations, typically closed military bases.

    The point that should be taken from this however, is that these sites were a function of the times. It wasn’t that “someone made their millions” and then left the mess for others to clean up intentionally — it was just the practice of the times. Government, private entity, it didn’t matter. Sure, there were bad actors, both public and private, but overall much of the dumping that was done was done openly. We know better now, and do a better job of keeping things clean. Conservatives don’t want a dirty environment — they just want to avoid demonization for political purposes, and they want regulatory action that makes sense, environmentally and economically. Radical environmental groups should not be driving government policy, as they are now.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@14) said:

    Well, you ignored my reference to the Sackett case…

    Yes, because it’s an ephemeral talking point that you won’t even be discussing in a year.

    More importantly, it bears no import whatsoever on my sole goal here, which has been to get you to defend your overwrought claim (@8) that:

    Government has been, historically, in almost all nations, the worst environmental abuser and offender.

    But you seem rather uninterested in defending the actual claim, outside of a handful of anecdotes that appear to constitute the whole of your argument about (almost) all nations at (almost?) all times.

    Should an aggressor in a wartime action get a pass for intentionally and horrifically fouling the environment?

    Look, it hasn’t exactly escaped my attention that you didn’t list Hiroshima or Nagasaki. Are you going to call those environmental disasters as well? Because the very fact that the damage was intentional seems to differentiate such actions from everything else we’re talking about, in which the damage was unintentional, due either to negligence or incompetence.

    Kevin N. has posted the Superfund sites, and though he claims otherwise, a brief perusal confirms my recollection that a very large number of them, appearing to be a majority, are either government installations or the installations of government contractors.

    Well I just ran through the list of Oregon Superfund sites, and I found the overwhelming majority of them were from private corporations. In fact, out of the 17 sites listed on Wikipedia, I could only find one that appears to be government run (the Umatilla Army Depot). That’s pretty darn contrary to your claims. Care to give some actual facts and numbers to back up your “brief perusal”?

    Bhopal — The Indian subsidiary of Union Carbide was 49% government-owned.

    Oh, good grief. I can read Wikipedia better than you can (my emphasis):

    UCIL was 51% owned by Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) and 49% by Indian investors including the Government of India.

    That does not make it a government disaster. In fact, it makes it yet another environmental disaster brought about by private entities.

    I’ll grant you that Love Canal wasn’t just Hooker Chemical’s fault, that both Niagara Falls (the city) and the Army also contributed to pollution there.

    Still, I consider your original claim to be way overblown and, more to the point, as yet unsubstantiated.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@14) said:

    Well, you ignored my reference to the Sackett case…

    Yes, because it’s an ephemeral talking point that you won’t even be discussing in a year.

    More importantly, it bears no import whatsoever on my sole goal here, which has been to get you to defend your overwrought claim (@8) that:

    Government has been, historically, in almost all nations, the worst environmental abuser and offender.

    But you seem rather uninterested in defending the actual claim, outside of a handful of anecdotes that appear to constitute the whole of your argument about (almost) all nations at (almost?) all times.

    Should an aggressor in a wartime action get a pass for intentionally and horrifically fouling the environment?

    Look, it hasn’t exactly escaped my attention that you didn’t list Hiroshima or Nagasaki. Are you going to call those environmental disasters as well? Because the very fact that the damage was intentional seems to differentiate such actions from everything else we’re talking about, in which the damage was unintentional, due either to negligence or incompetence.

    Kevin N. has posted the Superfund sites, and though he claims otherwise, a brief perusal confirms my recollection that a very large number of them, appearing to be a majority, are either government installations or the installations of government contractors.

    Well I just ran through the list of Oregon Superfund sites, and I found the overwhelming majority of them were from private corporations. In fact, out of the 17 sites listed on Wikipedia, I could only find one that appears to be government run (the Umatilla Army Depot). That’s pretty darn contrary to your claims. Care to give some actual facts and numbers to back up your “brief perusal”?

    Bhopal — The Indian subsidiary of Union Carbide was 49% government-owned.

    Oh, good grief. I can read Wikipedia better than you can (my emphasis):

    UCIL was 51% owned by Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) and 49% by Indian investors including the Government of India.

    That does not make it a government disaster. In fact, it makes it yet another environmental disaster brought about by private entities.

    I’ll grant you that Love Canal wasn’t just Hooker Chemical’s fault, that both Niagara Falls (the city) and the Army also contributed to pollution there.

    Still, I consider your original claim to be way overblown and, more to the point, as yet unsubstantiated.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 16: I defended my claim, quite adequately to support my original point. You just chose not to accept my defense, which is your perogative.

    The Sackett case is far from an “ephemeral talking point”. It is the very crux of why I made my original statement. Not only is government no panacea for resolving environmental problems, but using government regulatory power to tackle them is to surely harm private citizens by robbing them of their liberty and property rights. The Sacketts are but one of hundreds of examples of the harms caused to individuals by the EPA’s expansive view of its mission, and of the difficulty of fighting its arbitrary determinations. Recall that the issue in Sackett is not about whether the EPA or the Sackett’s were correct in their view of the law, but rather whether the Sackett’s were even to be allowed the opportunity to defend their rights in court.

    The EPA’s position in that case was entirely unAmerican.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 16: I defended my claim, quite adequately to support my original point. You just chose not to accept my defense, which is your perogative.

    The Sackett case is far from an “ephemeral talking point”. It is the very crux of why I made my original statement. Not only is government no panacea for resolving environmental problems, but using government regulatory power to tackle them is to surely harm private citizens by robbing them of their liberty and property rights. The Sacketts are but one of hundreds of examples of the harms caused to individuals by the EPA’s expansive view of its mission, and of the difficulty of fighting its arbitrary determinations. Recall that the issue in Sackett is not about whether the EPA or the Sackett’s were correct in their view of the law, but rather whether the Sackett’s were even to be allowed the opportunity to defend their rights in court.

    The EPA’s position in that case was entirely unAmerican.