John Stossel

In judging any government initiative, you can't look just at the credit side of the ledger. Government is unable to give without first taking away. Inevitably, more is taken away because the government substitutes force for free exchange. Instead of a process driven by consumers weighing their preferences, we get one imposed by politicians' grand social designs, what F.A. Hayek called "the fatal conceit." The green schemes make energy cost more.

Of course, some who push "green jobs" want the price of energy to rise. Then we will live in smaller homes, drive less and burn fewer fossil fuels. But if the environmental lobby wants Americans to be poorer, it ought to come clean about that.

Once you decide nature is inherently healthy, moral and beautiful, the reasons to restrict human activity are endless. Every time we move or breathe, we alter the environment. Some environmentalists won't be satisfied until our carbon footprint is reduced to zero.

Of course, that requires abolishing civilization. But if humanity's impact on nature is an evil, abolishing us wouldn't be so bad. The group Earth First! had the slogan, "Back to the Pleistocene!"

Most of us don't think civilization is evil, but we worry about what environmentalists say. We don't have the time to do complicated calculations about economic trade-offs. It's easier to just recycle something, buy a Prius and donate to the Environmental Defense Fund.

Today, we put up with amazing intrusions in the name of environmentalism. A million petty regulations mandate surtaxes on gas, separation of garbage into multiple bins, special light bulbs, taxes on plastic bags and so on.

Yet these things are of so little ecological consequence that the Earth will never notice. For this, we must surrender our freedom?

John Stossel

John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of "No They Can't: Why Government Fails, but Individuals Succeed." To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at > To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at ©Creators Syndicate