Potomac Fever is the blog of the Hamilton College Semester in Washington Program.
I don't understand why this argument is always brought up by conservatives.I realize that Friedman, Gore, any other millionaire/billionaire environmental advocates, have large houses and live luxurious lifestyles, but what does that have to do with anything? Most of what they "preach" is that government should be enacting policies to reduce carbon emissions. They know that just individual actions can't help reverse or dampen climate change, which is why they support widespread governmental action. I realize that this seems somewhat hypocritical of them to preach about the environment, but own massive houses, large cars, and private planes, but these things have nothing to do with their arguments. Both believe that climate change will be dramatic and devastating and that the government can help mitigate the damage through CO2 reduction policy. Conservatives, instead of trying to answer the real questions behind Friedman and Gore's theses, just say "look at their houses, they are hypocrites." Noone trying to live a normal life today in America can be environmentally perfect. Gore and Friedman know this, which is why they are pushing for more environmentally friendly gov't policies that can make day-to-day life less harmful towards the environment.Isn't the conservative view of wealth that people should be able to make it and use it however they want on the free market? It just seems like them pointing this out about Friedman and Gore is an attempt to distract from their overall points.
Similar to Peter's response, isn't Friedman just enjoying the success of a free market activity?Also, this jabbing of environmentals with big houses is similar to the conservative jabbing of rich people who advocate for higher taxes to pay for social services. Conservatives always say these people should practice what they preach, and live in a tiny house/never fly or donate their money to the IRS. But that's not what these "liberals" are arguing for- they are arguing that everyone in a given class (not the pejorative socioeconomic understanding, but the basic term used to refer to people similarly situated) should be treated equally. This is designed to prevent freeloading on issues like climate change, where they'll suffer none of the consequences but reap all of the benefits. Aren't conservatives the ones always talking about personal responsibility and preventing moral hazard scenarios? And yes, I know- climate change is a myth so conservatives aren't engaging in a moral hazard activity by mooching off everyone else...becuase there will be no benefits from addressing climate change, just economic costs.
Isn't the conservative view of wealth that people should be able to make it and use it however they want on the free market? Should it matter who or how they make that wealth?
I have no objection to Tom Friedman spending his riches in any way he pleases. But isn't it a tad hypocritical for him to be constantly lecturing the rest of us poor slobs.
I don't think this hypocrisy is nearly as bad as some that can be found on the right. Examples: keep the government out of my life, unless it is enforcing my morals (drugs, abortion, etc.); gay people shouldn't be able to get married, but I can cheat on and divorce my bed-ridden wives (Newt); gay people shouldn't be able to get married, but I can still have secret love/drug affairs with men/male prostitutes, and/or solicit sex with men in public places; I adhere strictly to the Constitution, but don't believe in the separation of church and state; I adhere strictly to the Constitution, except when a Republican is President; I think that taxing the rich is class warfare, but reducing benefits for teachers needs to happen because they are just so greedy. I could go on, but I think have done enough ranting for now.
Doesn't Friedman just mostly focus on government action around the globe- not rants against individual activity (I don't read him that much- only the occasional article since the World is Flat [semi-hated that metaphor], so I could be wrong?)I always though his big things were:Climate Change is occuring- countries should do something about it.China's economy is doing great- in part because of state planning and investment on things like infrastructure (which by the way, the U.S. used to do with things like the Railroad system of the Federal Highway system- we don't anymore). International businesss and political actions/frameworks. I'm not saying I don't find him tiresome or tedious- but I think the conservative critiques are really a smokescreen for their utter lack of policy ideas (mostly because their true idea is to cut back massively on everything except defense, which they know the American people disagrees with strongly. As long as they can float above the fray with ideas and fuzzy statements, they do fine. But the devil's in their details).
Sorry for the serious sass in the last comment. I don't think he's lecturing us to change our habits. He is trying to lecture policymakers to change policy so that our day-to-day lives will be more environmentally sound. I've read one of Friedman's books, Hot,Flat and Crowded, and he doesn't argue that people need to be more aware of their own actions. He instead argues that there needs to be new energy efficiency technologies like smart grids in houses that automatically turn things on and off for people (like fridges, AC, TVs that aren't in use, etc) to be more efficient with energy, because people are not efficient with it on their own. He also promotes a cap and trade system for carbon, but argues for it from a number of perspectives (population size, foreign policy, environment). He is trying to change people's actions through government policy and economic innovation, not by trying to tell everyone that what they are doing isn't environmentally friendly, while what he's doing is.
In the letter he quotes someone who says environmental protection is about personal responsibility but this is Friedman's conclusion: "So let’s pass an energy-climate bill that really reduces our dependence on Middle East oil. Let’s pass a financial regulatory reform bill that really reduces the odds of another banking crisis. Let’s get our fiscal house in order, as the economy recovers. And let’s pass an immigration bill that will enable us to attract the world’s top talent and remain the world’s leader in innovation."If anything, he is pushing individuals to push for legislative action, not to change their environmental habits.
But he writes that it's "the best reaction I've seen" to the BP spill.Is his biking to and from his palace?See Edmund Burke quote in Moore comments.
Yeah, he does highlight that letter, but the overarching theme of the piece is that everyone (and mainly both parties) is responsible for our current set of circumstances. He never says himself that he thinks people should be biking more, but he does say that people are personally responsible for what their politicians are doing.
Ah, I see. If only we could be China for a day:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ul_XsGx3dk8
He doesn't want to be China for a second, he just wants our democracy to function- as he says in the video
According to the US Energy Information Administration, the residential sector makes up a mere 6% of total carbon dioxide emissions. Friedman and others advocate regulating the electricity industry, which produces 39% of total CO2 emissions.http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2008/05/30/business/20080601_ENERGY_GRAPHIC.html
The fact that these men are raging hypocrites says nothing about the merits of their policies. Any argument claiming their lifestyles as evidence of a failure of their arguments is an ad hominem attack, pure and simple.That's my opinion.
I agree ND, especially about the raging hypocrite part. Here's a piece by two unconventional left environmentalists who find that on one issue TF is guilty of both hypocrisy and bad argument:http://thebreakthrough.org/blog/2008/01/the_little_car_that_environmen.shtml
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