Thomas Sowell

 Real nature can be pretty ugly, as the pioneers discovered, and as the bleached bones of their animals or themselves on the old trails can attest. Even in more recent times, anyone who has had to get up on cold mornings, all winter long, to start a fire in the fireplace to heat the house is unlikely to regard it as a romantic experience.

 It's romantic if you are doing it for a little while, by choice, knowing that it is only a matter of time before you return to your home with central heating, provided by the oil that you don't want drilled for off shore or in Alaska, or by the coal that you deplore seeing mined anywhere.

 Personally, it has only been within the past few years that I have been able to enjoy starting a fire in the fireplace -- in my centrally heated home -- because it reminded me too much of when I was a kid down South and a fireplace was all we had to try to keep warm in the winter.

 Of all the romantic self-indulgences of the affluent and the wealthy, few are more ridiculous than their passion to "save" farmland. This country has no shortage of farmland or of food.

 One of our biggest problems is over-eating and, even so, there are huge agricultural surpluses that cost the taxpayers billions of dollars every year. Yet the greenies with lots of green are pushing for laws and policies to prevent farmers from selling their land to people who want to build houses on it.

 Would it be worth it to be rich if it also meant being so foolish? I doubt it.

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

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