Let Me Get This Over With, First Thing

Fuck “Earth Day.”

That is all.

Memberships are $10 monthly, $20 quarterly, or $65 annually. The cost of two premium coffees per month. Every membership helps finance the travel to write, photo, and film from interesting places and share the experiences with you.


  1. Kyle Bennett on April 22, 2008 at 10:11


    And it's no coincidence that it's held on Lenin's birthday.

  2. Richard Nikoley on April 23, 2008 at 10:02

    "…what's wrong with Earth Day?"

    Here's a couple of people who took the time to spell it out.

    Greg Swann
    Warren Meyer

    I encourage you to read and understand both. It's only the tip of the iceberg. In terms of fundamentals, what's wrong with it is collectivism.

  3. LiberalTendencies on April 23, 2008 at 07:17

    Alright, I'm new to your blog and while I don't always agree with you, I find a lot of your points interesting. I just have to know, though, what's wrong with Earth Day?

  4. Richard Nikoley on April 23, 2008 at 14:18

    I could hardly care less about hygene.

    Do you understand –I mean really fully understand — why you have that luxury, and the whole chain of philosophical ideas, enlightenment, science, industry, capital investment, big risk taking, that went into creating the situation where you don't have to even care about what would have been the absolutely most deadly thing to you a mere few hundred years ago, and even less for some pathogens?

    I may get to some of the rest of it later, but just know I have things to attend.

  5. Kyle Bennett on April 23, 2008 at 17:04


    Do you understand that Earth Day is a *political* event, and not an environmental one? That the environmental trappings are merely a vehicle for a political movement, and would be dumped in a New York minute should a better vehicle be found?

    That's why I hate Earth Day, because celebrating Lenin's birthday and furthering his agenda (or an agenda that claims kinship to it) is the *primary* purpose of it.

    People pursuing their own long-term interests take care of their corner of the environment just fine and don't have to sacrifice to do so. Collectivism, sacrifice, and power are detrimental to it, yet those are exactly the things the environmental leaders call for. It's because those are what they want from you, in and of themselves, and the environment be damned.

  6. Kyle Bennett on April 23, 2008 at 17:12

    BTW, LT,

    As to what Rich said, are you aware that diarrhea and tooth decay were among the biggest killers in primitive societies, and still are today in impoverished third-world areas?

    Do you understand why that is no longer true, and what the environmental agenda at its most extreme would do to that?

    The people at Earth Day rallies with their Che t-shirts and their red banners and their anti-capitalism and anti-globalism slogans would reverse that circumstance in a heartbeat given the opportunity.

    Humans' unique adaptation to the environment is to change it to suit their needs. Stop that, and humanity as we know it stops.

  7. Richard Nikoley on April 23, 2008 at 17:24

    Now having had a chance to review your comment more closely, I first want to recognize that you have a refreshingly honest disposition for someone with "liberal tendencies" (or conservative ones, for that matter).

    Look: I don't hate the environment and I don't even hate conservationism, which is the true, non-politicized "environmentalism." The valid notion of conservation of genuine values for further well being for all was simply hijacked by political opportunists, and it's being democratically advanced by what I see as mostly sycophants, i.e., essentially people one would find in the pews of a fundamentalist church, only their intrinsic value is the floating abstraction of "the environment" rather than the floating abstraction of sooper man.

    Other than that, the question I want to ask when presented with the notion of "the environment" is: whose environment?

  8. Kyle Bennett on April 23, 2008 at 20:00


    No, I wasn't trying to be condescending. Sorry if it came off that way. I meant those questions honestly, I really don't know how much of that you understand. A lot of people with "liberal tendencies" can't or won't understand it, and have often never been exposed to it. I do think you're being honest about things, so I don't mean to sound harsh.

    One of my problems with the politicization of environmental causes is not just that power-mongers free-ride on the activities, but that those agendas are actually harmful to keeping the environment one we can live and thrive in. Those environmentalists that don't have an anti-capitalist (and therefore, indirectly, anti-environment) agenda should be at the forefront of denouncing those opportunists. Participating in their activities helps the politicals more than it helps the true environmentalists.

  9. LiberalTendencies on April 23, 2008 at 13:55

    The first link you gave was interesting but I could hardly care less about hygene. I mean, again, interesting that think about but when I'm thinking about the environment and Earth Day, the last thing I'm worried about is personal cleanliness. The truth is, and call me a hippie (or worse) if you're so inclined, I think it's pretty damn selfish to think of the clean environment in terms of how healthy water is for us as humans today. That's all well and good but what about our pollutants that don't hurt us but do hurt the ecosystem? What about future generations? And no, I'm not one of these people who say "think about the children" all my life for every argument I make. I'm very much the opposite and never even want my own children but at the same time, again, it is selfish and even lazy to not be considerate of the future. Yes, things may be better now in some ways but not in every way. And just being better … that's no reason to say fuck it, it's good enough, what do I care.

    Furthermore, I'm not so sure Greg Swann would be so against a lot about Earth Day. I understand what you're saying about collectivism but I read his comments and he admits that private people doing their part for the earth often do the right thing and that it's the government that fucks things up. I'm not going to disagree about the government and he makes a lot of great points about liberal politicians using the environment to gain power. At the same time, I'd rather truly environmentally friendly politicians have power, though, than people like George W. Bush. Perhaps no politician is really environment friendly, though. There's plenty of evidence for that. But I still don't think there's anything wrong with Earth Day if it means more individuals are making conscious decisions to do the right thing by the environment and stop being as wasteful.

    I did also enjoy reading the second link and I agree that alarmists are often part of the problem, not part of the solution. To me, what Earth Day should be about isn't making drastic overhauls that may end up hurting more than helping. It's the little changes you can make in your life to reduce waste. No, I don't lose sleep over things like Global Warming but I also am not as cavalier and dismissive of the entire idea as people like Warren Meyer.

    Despite the fact that I'm not on board with you here, I really do appreciate the links. It never occurred to me that so many people would hate Earth Day. I believe I understand why you are one of them but I still think that all and all, it's a good thing.

  10. LiberalTendencies on April 23, 2008 at 18:56

    First of all, I'm enjoying reading all the comments, although I must say, KB, your comments would probably go a lot further with me if they weren't delivered in such condescending way. I was here asking an honest question and reacting honestly to links provided to me. I do know it's hard to read inflection online so if I misread you, KB, I apologize.

    I do understand both of your points about hygiene, especially in terms of third world countries. I've even lived in a former communist country where bad water, bad dental care and general bad hygiene in small villages is very much an issue. I think it's important to be aware of this connection to the environment but when we're talking about the environment in America (and I admit, I took it for granted that we were all talking about America, even though it is Earth Day), hygiene and the environment aren't really tied up together like they once were … that is to say, we have overcome that hurdle and have moved on to other hurdles.

    As to what you have to say about Earth Day being a *political* event, I don't disagree with that and, frankly, I'm ok with that. I understand why you have the problem in terms of politics hijacking conservation and I understand why it's important for people to be aware that politicians can play on their sentimentalities in order to gain power. I guess what it comes down to, in my opinion, is this: politicians will most likely try to take advantage of any opportunity to gain power. It is our responsibility to be aware of this likelihood, get educated on what's going on and decide for ourselves what's important. I also don't believe that everything political is evil and I personally don't want to let politics chase me away from issues such as these.

    I don't think you hate the environment or conservation. I think that just as it is important for people to be aware of the political overtones of events like Earth Day, it is also important to recognize that not everyone who actively tries to "be green" is necessarily anti-capitalism, communist opportunists.

  11. LiberalTendencies on April 23, 2008 at 20:44

    I see where you're coming from, KB, in how you framed your questions. I'm probably just too sensitive to how people communicate political differences … it usually is very harsh. In this case, I saw that harshness when it wasn't really there. I'm probably just as guilty of causing division since I call myself LiberalTendencies on blogs but I do think there's a very unfortunate division between people of different political persuasions and that leads to hostility instead of learning from each other. That's completely off topic, though.

    I also see what you are saying about denouncing alarmists and opportunists … but I'm not as convinced as you are about all of this. The alarmists may take things too far but, excuse the cliché, aren't you just throwing the baby out with the bathwater by refusing to participate in the worthwhile activities, like encouraging people to get reusable fabric bags instead of throw-away grocery bags? I personally think so. But I'll keep my eyes open more to the alarmists and possible damaging activities. And I appreciate you guys helping me see things differently already.

  12. Kyle Bennett on April 24, 2008 at 06:13


    The grocery bag is a good example, a microcosm of sorts for the whole problem. What I'm saying is not that the opportunists take a good thing and take advantage of it, it's that they turn it from a good thing into a bad thing.

    For most people, using reusable cloth bags is a sacrifice. They would have to give up convenience. Particularly for people who buy a whole cartful of groceries every week or two, they'd need to have several bags on hand, would have to store them somewhere at home, remember to take them to the store, and then risk either not having enough or having too many and needing to carry around the extras. And that's assuming they don't mind the cost of buying them in the first place.

    That doesn't mean it's impossible to get people to use them, it just means that what you're asking for is a sacrifice. The people who organize the events that call for that (not all the people who attend), are happy to demand sacrifice, in part because *they know people won't do it*. Guilt serves their purposes better than just about anything.

    All that energy expended (I mean human energy, effort, emotion, time, etc), goes towards making people feel bad about themselves, but does nothing to actually solve the problem. And it's energy that is not available for finding real solutions.

    The real solution is to make the bags more appealing in some way. Figure out how to make them more convenient, for one. What about encouraging the stores to have a "take a bag, leave a bag" system in the store, for instance. Design a new kind of bag that is easier to fold, store, and carry when empty. Design a bag caddy for people's cars. Start a company that offers free bags, but you make money by selling advertising on them. Design bags with fun slogans and images on them, like those Che t-shirts. Design a hook for storing bags right on a shopping cart, and sell them to the stores.

    Those are just ideas off the top of my head. The point is, if all that energy and creativity that is flushed down a black hole at Earth Day events was directed at entrepreneurial ideas to make using the bags practical or at least preferred over plastic – and make them competitive in the marketplace – the problem could actually get solved without having to demand any sacrifice. Working *with* business and with consumers instead of against them should be far more effective.

    The price of that is abandoning those anti-capitalist ideologies and the calls for sacrifice. That it doesn't happen tells me that environmentalists have put anti-capitalism and sacrifice and guilt above environmental solutions.

  13. Billy Beck on April 24, 2008 at 08:19

    I rise to make a point of ethics. LT remarks on "worthwhile activities".

    Once more, with feeling: it is completely idle to ever speak of value without reference to the valuer. The language is constantly going straight to hell with alacrity, and the word "assumption" is a good example. People use it instead of any number of other perceptual tags ("words", the function of which is to raise concepts to the perceptual level) connoting what they really intend. This, however, is a true assumption: it takes as granted everything that Kyle had to explicate in his remarks in order to make clear that the assertion about shopping bags ("worthwhile") is simply not true. And the gross error is in disconnecting value from its actual, factual, manifestation: the conviction and action of individuals.

    You don't get to go around positing other peoples' values. Right now, in the time we live in, this is the thing killing western culture: nobody knows how to mind their own fucking business.

  14. Richard Nikoley on April 24, 2008 at 17:45

    I'm surprised that a Libertarian feels that convenience is more important than anything else to the point of handing over a guilt free lifestyle on a silver plater.

    Well I'm sure Kyle would permit me to speak for him in saying that he doesn't consider "convenience is more important than anything else." That said, what are your premises contra a "guilt free lifestyle on a silver platter?" Speaking for myself, I dumped Original Sin a long time ago, and all its variations and manifestations.

    …to make a difference…

    To whom?

    … to do the right thing…

    By whose standard?

    …you feel good about yourself.

    I'll take you at your word that you do. Personally, I think it's laughable to the point of utter absurdity that anyone would "feel good" about "making a difference" to "the earth" with something as superficial and insignificant as grocery bags or any of the other "feel good" cog-in-the-machine functions people toil over.

    But that's the nature of the indoctrination, I suppose. After all, the world is full of people who sincerely believe in a god of the universe that cares personally for them. No end to the ways in which the individual human can fool himself into self importance based upon the superficial, irrelevant, and delusional.

    All that said, LT, I think you have a refreshingly honest approach, which I find rare and hope I come off as frank but not too off putting.

  15. Kyle Bennett on April 24, 2008 at 20:23

    it surprised me that KB suggested that he would have less of a problem with things like the fabric grocery bags if they were more convenient and guilt free.

    Well, I didn't say that. We're coming from radically different premises, so I'll take it as a misunderstanding. And I nowhere here belittled people who make personal choices based on their own values. In fact, that, in principle, is the minimum I expect from decent, rational human beings.

    What I said was in the context of the widespread adoption of reusable bags, not my particular preferences. As to me, I don't feel the slightest twinge of guilt for using plastic. There's some value in using less landfill space, but not a whole lot. There's even less value to the microscopic difference my personal use of plastic bags makes. (And that value could be made real and quantifiable if the whole thing wasn't arbitrarily brought into the commons – I'd guess it would amount to about a penny per year.)

    That tiny, tiny value is far outweighed by the inconvenience, as small as it is. I would feel worse about myself if I switched to cloth bags as things stand. I don't have a problem with cloth bags, I just prefer disposable plastic bags. If the cost (inconvenience, etc) was reduced, or the benefit increased, to the point where the balance shifted, I'd switch. Not to save the environment, but to save money and/or hassle.

    As to those radically different premises, this conversation might proceed more smoothly if you made an attempt to fully understand what Billy wrote. I haven't attempted to get down to core principles in all this, but he can usually be counted on to do just that. Your basic assumption that switching to cloth bags is "the right thing" for everyone is out of context, and empirically false.

    I'm not trying to discourage you from doing what you "feel" is right (aside from saying I believe you'd be better off doing what you *think* is right, but it's your choice), I'm just trying to tell you what will be required if you expect to affect what a significant number of other people choose.

  16. LiberalTendencies on April 24, 2008 at 15:25

    I see your point, KB, about conveniences but I don't agree with it. I'm sorry if people are made to feel guilty by having these options available and to be reminded of these options but there are ways to deal with that. Some of the ways you mentioned are good but I'm surprised that a Libertarian feels that convenience is more important than anything else to the point of handing over a guilt free lifestyle on a silver plater. From my point of view, I have about 6 fabric bags and I keep 3 in my two household cars. If I forget to bring them into the store, oh well. I'll try to remember next time. We don't have to be perfect to make a difference and as long as we realize that, we won't let our guilt stand in the way of trying to do the right thing.

    By the way, different versions of what you mentioned already exist. Some stores will take 10-20 cents off your total for each paper or plastic bag you don't use because you have fabric bags. The fabric bags are bigger than paper and plastic bags so you don't need as many and they are cheap and available to buy right there in most grocery stores. My place of employment gave out 2 free bags to each employee 5 months ago. There's no reason other companies couldn't do the same thing with their logos on the bags for advertising. Anyway, I think it's a great deal and when you do remember, you feel good about yourself. When you don't, you just remind yourself that you make a difference when you can so forgetting now and then isn't a big deal.

    BB, I would never, ever tell someone they should really do this or that. I may tell people some things I've tried, I may spread the word a bit but I do not lecture and I do not guilt. Especially in my everyday relationships. Here, we're having a discussion about the environment so I may come off with a bit more zeal but how can you have a discussion if you don't express your opinions? When it comes to how people live their lives, though, I agree that it's none of my business but I also don't think it's wrong to say "hey, I'm trying something new and I really like it."

  17. Kyle Bennett on April 24, 2008 at 22:26


    First, lets not worry about what Libertarians supposedly think. I'm not sure you understand all the subtleties of the terms, let alone the ideas involved (even those who self-describe themselves that way argue about it among themselves). That's nothing against you, or meant to call you stupid or anything, it's just an area I doubt you have much experience in. For instance, I am absolutely not a Libertarian, nor am I a libertarian, but I am libertarian. If that last sentence went over your head, don't worry about it, it's not important, and most people who are in one or more of those categories don't understand the distinction. I'm just pointing out that trying to reconcile what I'm saying with what you think are Libertarian beliefs will just lead to confusion.

    Billy's post was about context. We're big on context here (if I can be allowed to speak for Rich et al for a moment). I find that most arguments or misunderstandings of this kind are about context, not about facts.

    You've made statements to the effect that using cloth bags is "the right thing". You may not mean to say that everyone must think so, but saying it like that leaves out all context. Right thing for whom? Right when judged against what values? Right when judged against what costs? A contextless statement like that tends to imply that the intended context is the universal one.

    Everyone has different values, and everyone will incur different costs for the same kind of activity, like using cloth bags. To say it's the right thing, you have to take those individual differences into account. And of course, you can't take into account everyone's weighing of those factors, nor can you even know them if you tried.

    In the context of your own choices in the matter, I have no problem with any of it. I have no opinion, really, except that I give you credit for making a conscious effort to identify your values and acting on them.

    The context of my statement that you are questioning was the context of the choices of a wide range of people in the aggregate. I was saying that guilt is not a cost of cloth bags, but a cost that some people try to impose on using plastic. I doubt that it changes anyone's mind in favor of using cloth.

    In the context of my choices, I've never said that I have a problem with cloth bags, and certainly not one having anything to do with guilt (which I don't feel over the issue anyway). I said I prefer plastic, because it's cheaper. Yes, that has to do with convenience, but not because I value convenience, out of context, above all else. It's because inconvenience is always some cost, and in this case it is a higher cost than the benefit – to me. In some cases, like the inconvenience of having a job that takes 40 minutes to drive to every day, the benefit outweighs that cost, so I take the job. But I'd still rather have one closer to home, all else being equal.

    I weigh the environmental damage from plastic bags extremely low, essentially zero. That doesn't mean I don't care about "the environment", because, again, saying it like that leaves out a lot of context.

    The main context the question of the value of the environment leaves out is, again, value to whom? Value for what ends? Value of what aspect of the environment?

    The environment is not in any way a value in and of itself. All questions of value must include a valuer, and a purpose. I value the environment first because I need to breathe, drink, and eat. But pristine, inaccessible land is of little value to me aside from it's part in the eco-system that allows me to eat, breath, and drink. On the other hand, rural areas that are accessible to me have that value, plus the value I put on being able to interact with them in some way, such as enjoying the scenery, smelling the smells, feeling less crowded, etc. Other people might put their values directly opposite.

    What I'm saying is that to convince people to do what you want to do, you have to work within their values, not try to get them to adopt yours. I'm not talking about force, or imposing your values, I'm saying that you can never convince someone to change their values. The way to convince them to change their behavior is to provide them a means to achieve their values at a lower cost/higher benefit than they do now. That's the whole point of capitalism, and it's the way progress is made. There is simply no other way to get anyone to change. And if there is no way to get them to value the choices you are trying to encourage higher than the alternative, you will *not* get them to change. And that's not a failure of some kind on their part, it's the way it *should* be – it means your choice is by definition wrong for them.

    You mentioned that you're OK with people pursuing their own values "right or wrong", and that's fine, but do you see how it implies, again, an out of context absolute? Beliefs may be factually incorrect, but that is a different issue. People's values just are, from your point of view. They are neither right nor wrong, because the context of right or wrong is dependent on those values, not the other way around. You said that people don't use cloth bags because of "apathy". What that fails to take into account is that not using cloth can be a rational, value based decision, and is in fact right *for them*, in their context.

    I realize I'm in danger of sounding like a moral relativist here. Interpreting it that way would be a mistake. I'm trying to account for our different core premises without getting too bogged down, but it's difficult to be clear without this being ten times as long as it already is. Suffice it to say that cloth vs plastic is not a moral issue, though it looks to me like you might think it is.

  18. LiberalTendencies on April 24, 2008 at 18:32

    I probably didn't explain myself well enough when I said "guilt free lifestyle on a silver platter." What I mean by that is I have always understood Libertarians to be do-it-yourselvers who don't approve of any type of hand-outs or interventions. If you're going to do something, you do it. So that's why it surprised me that KB suggested that he would have less of a problem with things like the fabric grocery bags if they were more convenient and guilt free. I hope that makes more sense.

    As for making a difference with grocery bags, I know that it sounds silly but I believe it's true. Especially as more people do it. If I give up because I assume others will be apathetic so why should I give a shit? … then nothing ever changes or improves. That's the hippie in me coming out. Also, I've said at least one other time that I don't think Earth Day has to be about huge overhauls in lifestyle … it's about small changes and doing what you can, when you can. From what I can tell, you guys don't like the over-the-top environmentalists who do more harm than good so it's seems a bit unfair to now belittle people who go about their daily lives as usual but who find ways to fit "green" into their day-to-day.

    I've got to say that you know where to land punches, RN. I wouldn't say that your frankness is off putting but I do think that what you said about "feeling better about yourself" is a bit unfair. All I said is that by doing little things, you feel better about yourself. In contrast to feeling guilty … and assuaging that guilt by voting for the seemingly environment friendly politicians. It doesn't mean that you feel like the center of the universe. All I mean is that you feel like you're doing your part, your *very small* part in a huge world. Just because you can't do everything doesn't mean that you can't feel good about doing a little bit of something. I refuse to allow apathy keep me from doing what I feel is right. I'd say that you agree with me and that's why you voice your opinions on the Internet. Otherwise, you'd let people go on believing differently from you without presenting a voice of dissension. Sure, not everyone will hear you but that doesn't mean you stop talking.

  19. LiberalTendencies on April 24, 2008 at 21:03

    I think part of the problem here may be that I wasn't clear enough that in my last comment posted April 24, 2008 at 18:32, I was responding directly to what RN had to say, not to you, KB. I hope that if you read what I said in that context, it won't seem like I'm saying you're discouraging me from doing what I feel/think is right (btw, I see your point with specifying between feel and think. People should be precise in how they communicate. In this case, feel and think are tied up together to form my opinion). In fact, in my response to BB, I also specified that I'm not trying to push my opinions across as facts or that they are "right" for everyone … simply that I'm doing what I believe to be right just as you are doing what you believe to be right. I think on the front of personal freedoms, particularly in regards to individual beliefs of right or wrong, we are very much in agreement. If, like you say, I still do not "fully understand" what BB was saying, then I need some help. Please be more specific.

    As for what I said about you suggesting that you'd have less of a problem with fabric bags if they were guilt free and more convenient, that is how I interpreted your earlier comment. I re-read that comment again and that is still how I interpret what you said. I'm not sure where I might have misunderstood. Based on your last comment, it seems that cost and convenience may be the main thing keeping you from liking the fabric bags. And that's fine. To each your own. I was just trying to explain to RN why your recommendations to making the fabric bag campaign a better one (while good recommendations) did not seem to fit in with my conceptions of Libertarianism. I learn many new things every day, though.

    On another note, I've got to say, I'm owning up plenty to miscommunication and I am being told that I need to attempt to fully understand your point of view. I've got to say, I've been reading carefully and I don't think the misunderstanding is all on me. If I'm still missing something, I need help seeing what it is.

    I continue to enjoy this conversation with you all.

  20. Richard Nikoley on April 25, 2008 at 06:47

    LT, just this quick bit now, more later.

    From what I can tell, you guys don't like the over-the-top environmentalists who do more harm than good so it's seems a bit unfair to now belittle people who go about their daily lives as usual but who find ways to fit "green" into their day-to-day.

    First, it's not about "more harm than good." "Good" to whom? By what means? At whose expense? See, I certainly have my own values that constitute the "good," but that doesn't mean I get to override your "good" just because I can get more people together than you can. Numbers (democracy) doesn't equal "good." Otherwise, slavery, when institutionalized, would have been "good" because a majority of people supported it.

    By the same token, I can think it's as silly as the day is long to get excited about bags, or recycling, or what have you, but you know what? If we gradually get "greener" because that's what a free market believes it wants, pressures the companies it does business with to operate and offer things us that way, I've got no problem in the world with it.

    It's the force, the compulsion, and that the all of it. Otherwise, knock yourselves out and we'll see how it comes out.

  21. Richard Nikoley on April 25, 2008 at 08:47

    I also specified that I'm not trying to push my opinions across as facts or that they are "right" for everyone … simply that I'm doing what I believe to be right just as you are doing what you believe to be right.

    But how does that square with this previous statement:

    …voting for the seemingly environment friendly politicians.

    Now, what is it you and everyone else is trying to accomplish by voting for the seemingly [insert pet value] friendly politicians? Are you not attempting to put people into office with the power to force your values upon people who don't find enough value in it (or find it a disvalue) to adopt the particular value that you've adopted willingly?

    See, that's my big problem. If y'all (and everyone else with their pet issues) would simply stick to persuasion and voting with their dollars in a free marketplace, then it doesn't matter how smart, enlightened, or silly and dumb I find you or anyone else (and you and everyone else with me).

    I have lots and lots of values that I think would be good for lots more people to see the wisdom of and adopt. But I'm not about to participate in a process that attempts to acquire the power to force, compel, fine, prosecute and jail people who don't tow the line. Force and coercion are proper only in defense against initiators of aggression and fraud. And one more thing: you don't get to make other people's business your business. Just because you think some act is an act of destructive aggression against some value (say cutting down a forrest) doesn't mean you and others get to put yourselves in the middle of it. You get to decide when your property or values have been transgressed, and that's when you have the moral authority to act and seek redress.

  22. Kyle Bennett on April 25, 2008 at 09:50


    OK, it sounds like we more or less agree, except of course on the specific questions of the value of cloth bags, etc., and on the value of Earth Day.

    And I did misunderstand the apathy comment. I took it to mean the general populace, not the people who claim to hold the values of Earth Day but then don't act on them.

    And I was careful to say that your "brightness" was not in question re libertarianism. It's an arcane area that few people are conversant in, but I'm glad you do know something about it.

    You original question was why is Earth Day so bad, and I think you understand my view better now – that it's detrimenal to me because much of the event *is* about forcing those values on people, and I think it's even detrimental to *your* values as I understand them.

    I'd be interested to hear your response to Rich's last.

  23. Kyle Bennett on April 25, 2008 at 10:53

    I get jumped all over for talking about what I feel to be worthwhile activities and how dare I think it is my business to decide what is and what is not worthwhile.

    You haven't gotten jumped on.

    If I decide I care more about PBS then anything in the world then I can vote accordingly.

    PBS is a crime. Voting for someone who will perpetuate it is an attempt to force your values on other people.

    Rich and I pretty much agree that all voting (in the context of government offices) is an act of aggression, but that aside, certain positions can be evaluated as inherently rights-violating or not. Most environmental legislation is a violation of our rights. Not all, but most. Voting for "environmental friendly" politicians, without reference to specific positions, generally implies politicians who will violate our rights.

    A vote is not an opinion, it is not a "voice", it is an action with specific consequences. We're arguing that your vote for "environmentally friendly politicians" could conflict with your statements that you are OK with people pursuing their own values. That might not be true, but more information is needed to determine that. What specific legislation do you support? Do you support legislation in this area at all?

  24. Richard Nikoley on April 25, 2008 at 11:04


    I understood the context. I didn't include the whole thing because it was impertinent to my point, i.e., the reasons or motivations people have for voting is beside the point. It goes without saying that people vote in some semblance of consonance with their values and motivations be they opportunity or guilt driven.

    But at root, its purpose is to accomplish, by force, that which is not being done voluntarily, or not in sufficient degree according to some. It's also often for the purpose of having those things done at the expense of others who aren't already voluntarily paying for it.

    Then, you come along and talk about how people should or should not be voting? What is the difference here?

    Self defense against the coercion described above.

    I have no problem with you admonishing people to understand, applaud, or even adopt your values. I have a problem with advocating, agitating, and admonishing public policy (through voting, lobbying, activism, etc.) to force and compel people to act against their own will and values, and to pay for that which they wouldn't voluntarily pay for as a value to themselves.

    If I want to vote for Brad Pitt because I think he's the dreamiest American in all the land, then I can.

    For what purpose? If it's a popularity contest, good for you. I used to occasionally toss a vote for an American Idol. But if you're voting for Brad Pitt because he has power over other people to compel them to adopt or pay for your values they wouldn't do on their own, through persuasion or some form of trade or exchange, then I think you'd ought to be ashamed of yourself. I would never do that to you, or anyone else.

    If I decide I care more about PBS then anything in the world then I can vote accordingly.

    Again, for what purpose? Are you voting to have your voice counted amongst those who like PBS, or are you voting to have people compel me and other who don't care for it to pay for it because that's easier than you and all who like it getting together and footing the bill yourselves? In the former, fine, setting aside the fact that it is partially funded by force. In the latter, again, shame on you and anyone else who operates so savagely under the veil of "civilization."

    I don't think that there is anything wrong with trying to change someone's mind, to have a discussion about differing beliefs or to even hold a protest for a cause you personally find worthy.

    Oh, then you don't vote or generally advocate for public policy and politicians to force people to behave in consonance with your values, or pay for them?

  25. LiberalTendencies on April 25, 2008 at 07:06

    This comment is in response to KB. I have nothing new to add from RN latest comment expect to say that I'm in complete agreement that what is popular is not always right or good.

    First of all, believe it or not, I am bright enough to pick up on grammatical nuances so no, what you said about being libertarian did not go over my head. I think for all the generalizations that go on around here (and everywhere) about different political ideologies, it's not completely absurd that I too would have preconceptions about you just like you had preconceptions about me, someone with liberal tendencies. I was just pointing out where I was mistaken and why that surprised me. But, like you, I'm ready to move on from that point.

    I'm also ready to move on from that point about worthwhile, and right and wrong. I feel like you are lecturing me without hearing what I have to say … I have said in 3 separate posts that I agree with your point. This makes 4. I was not specific in my comments when I called things like using fabric bags "worth while activities." I have specified since then that I mean worthwhile to me. I suppose that since I was expressing my opinion that I didn't think it was any leap to realize that I was also talking about my own values. When I spoke about apathy, I was speaking about the people that you talked about, KB, who go to environmental rallies but do not follow through because "what difference does one person make," not all people. Since RN thought it ridiculous to feel good about yourself for using cloth bags, because "what difference does one person make," I answered that the thinking of what difference does one person make does not weigh into my decision process. If it is worthwhile it to me then I will do it regardless of whether or not others participate. Period. I understand what you are saying about context but I have also understood that from BB's comment and I've been of the same mind long before I started commenting here. I'm not sure how else to convey to you that I agree that each person has the right to make up their own minds and to decide for themselves what they deam to be worthwhile. I would say that it's time to agree to disagree but the thing is, on this point, we do agree.

  26. LiberalTendencies on April 25, 2008 at 10:16

    KB, I'm glad that we have come to an understanding to this point and that I had the opportunity to explain myself in regards to apathy. As for my response to RN's last … :)

    Wow, you want to talk about context. That statement about voting for the seemingly environment friendly politicians was taken completely out of context and the difference here is that when I was being lectured about context, it was undercurrent context, context that you could not necessarily see without more conversation and getting to know a person's background. But you just took that out of context with all the evidence right there to show you the actual context. Let me back it up to explain the true context and why your argument doesn't hold water with me. KB said that people at environmental rallies will use guilt to gain power because they know the people there won't follow through on things like using fabric bags. By gain power, I read that to mean that these people believe they will rake up the votes from people who try to assuage their guilt by not doing "their part for the environment" so they'll make themselves feel better by voting for someone who will (notice I put "their part for the environment" in quotes … I'm not saying that each and everyone of us needs to do something for the environment. I'm saying that some people, like myself, feel compelled to take part and, as KB brought up, will sometimes feel guilty if they do not follow through). The point I was making with the portion of text you quoted (as well as text that you happened to leave out) was that if people would just get over their guilt of "gosh, if I get started doing this, what if I don't do it every time and I'll feel so guilty if I forget once in a while" and just do when they can then they will not need to feel compelled to assuage their guilt by voting for the seemingly environment friendly politican.

    Furthermore, I find it very interesting that I get jumped all over for talking about what I feel to be worthwhile activities and how dare I think it is my business to decide what is and what is not worthwhile. Then, you come along and talk about how people should or should not be voting? What is the difference here? If I want to vote for Brad Pitt because I think he's the dreamiest American in all the land, then I can. And if I never want to vote a day in my life then that's for me to decide as well. If I decide I care more about PBS then anything in the world then I can vote accordingly. And if I decide it is of more value to vote for someone of the same political persuasion then that's the best decision for me. I guess the point that I'm trying to make here is that I'm talking about opinions, you're talking about opinions. If you're going to hold me to a standard in which I need to specify every time that I'm talking about my opinions, values and what I deem to be worthwhile, then shouldn't we all go by that standard? Are you going to be the one to say how a person should decide who they want to vote for?

    Finally, I never once brought up anything about telling someone else that they are being destructive and must stop doing something, whether that's to stop cutting down forests or to stop using plastic bags. I've never made that any of my business. I have simply stated my own opinions. Yet you feel it is your business to tell me what I can and cannot voice and that I need to mind my own business. I don't think that there is anything wrong with trying to change someone's mind, to have a discussion about differing beliefs or to even hold a protest for a cause you personally find worthy. Isn't that part of what you do when you blog or comment on blogs? If we as society decided half a century ago that these methods are unacceptable then schools would still be segregated and people of color would still sit on the back of the bus.

  27. Richard Nikoley on April 28, 2008 at 15:48


    Got it.

    Some libertarians vote as an act of self-defense, i.e., not for the purpose of imposing their values on others, but as a small measure of defending their liberties. I'm sympathetic to that motivation for being engaged in the process, but considering the long view of history, I think it's futile.

    But then again, so likely is blogging about politics.

    Alright, then. Until the next dust up.

  28. LiberalTendencies on April 28, 2008 at 13:25

    Apologies for the delay in my response. I had a busy weekend and hardly got on the computer at all.

    First of all, I feel silly once again having to explain the point I was making but I would never intend to vote for Brad Pitt because I think he's the dreamiest American in all the land (for one, I don't think that … for two, I don't vote like that) nor do I care more about PBS than anything else. In fact, I hardly ever watch PBS. I was exaggerating to make a point and that point is that people are free to vote however they please for whatever reasons they wish. I was under the impression from RN's comment from April 25, 2008 at 08:47 that he was saying that you should only vote according to your political persuasion, not according to some pet issue or issues. I agree with him in theory but I'd never presume to tell someone they are irresponsible for voting based on particular issues. That's not for me to say.

    So, I think from what I just said above that you know that I do vote and, further, I do not agree with your premise that voting is an act of aggression. KB, I appreciate how you explained your thinking and I understand your point but I disagree. I do not think that this is the type of issue where I will change your mind or you will change mine. I will simply say that, to me, voting isn't aggression because each person has one vote. No one vote is more important than another (don't get me started on Super Delegates … that's a completely different and messed up situation).

    If anyone thinks I'm fighting a losing battle by using fabric bags instead of plastic, you have to know that not voting out of principle is even more of a losing battle. I have a great deal of respect for you, though, for following your convictions and not participating in something you deem to be wrong. And at the same time, I resent the idea that people who vote should feel shame for being involved in the political process. By not casting your vote and by not standing up for your rights through voting and other means (such as writing your congressman, signing petitions and participating in protests), you are allowing politicians to pass laws that negatively effect you.

    I hope that didn't sound like a lecture. I know you understand your decision and, again, I understand why you feel the way you do just as I hope you can understand and respect me for feeling the way I do.

    Thanks again for this conversation. I will read any future comments and I may respond but, at this point, I feel like I have said enough on this for the time being.

    All the best,

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.