From Moonshine Whiskey to Green Tourism
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I never doubted that the US can (nay, will) create a market for anything, and, most important, will link a piece about it to Adam Smith. Well, as long as the link is appropriate, that’s OK with me. So following the post on moonshine whiskey, I find this on “Wheat and Weeds”, about a NYT piece on "green weddings” and was amused:
“Gather more than 150 friends and relatives at an organic farm for a pre-wedding day of hikes and environmental tours. Calculate the mileage guests will travel and offset their carbon dioxide emissions by donating to programs that plant trees or preserve rain forests.
These stories are delightful both because of the extent to which the Lefty lifestyle can parody itself, and because they're the perfect example of the market working efficiently, creatively, and unexpectedly to respond to even the most outlandish predilections of the very people who doubt the market's ability to do any such thing.
The story looks at "green" honeymoon, reports Mary Katherine Ham:
“You used to have to go camping,” said Ted Ning, the executive director of the Lohas Journal, a resource guide for businesses that serve the environmentally conscious market. “Now you have these amazing luxurious spas in Africa or Fiji. You can look at different animals while getting a massage in a tree.”
I don't mind this kind of development in these countries, by which the folks who live there can benefit and earn a living by catering to the self-absorbed honeymoon plans of Western environmentalists. That's good stuff, economically speaking, but aren't environmentalists generally opposed to it? Until they need somewhere to go on their honeymoons that'll produce the requisite number of Peace Corps-style photo ops to please their friends back home, I guess.
It is delicious, all these folks who fancy they're dropping "off the grid" with organic, free-range, sustainable-farming products --they've created a market!”
Now that’s what I call a good story to brighten my day.
Though, I am slightly perplexed by the mandatory compensation for the carbon emissions by donations to plant trees. If the plane flies at all, full or empty, it emits carbon (or whatever the chemistry). How do they calculate the per head compensatory fee? Each passenger pays their share, or each pays for the whole share to allow for the inevitable free-riders?
Scheduled flights fly full or empty and anything in-between. If the ‘green minded’ fly, they pay their share, which is something towards the full carbon ‘cost’ – if they decide not to fly, and nobody who does fly on that plane pays anything, then the net cost in uncompensated carbon is larger. The imperative is to make excuses for flying as long as you, irrespective of what others do, pay compensation.
Other than the comfort of feeling good about it, or by being on a plane full of ‘green’ activists flying to a world conference on ‘green’ issues, I am not sure this will last, and the next step will be compulsion (the organiser of the trips collects from the paying travellers, or, ultimo extremis, the government imposes a green tax).
Which ideologues will blame on ‘market failure’… and (cynical me) ‘green’ organisers will decide to donate the voluntary compensatory ‘tax’ they collect to ‘green’ campaigning all over the world instead of trees, and governments will absorb into their spending.
Now last year I planted six fruit trees in the field in which my French house sits, so how many miles can I fly for that? How many must I plant this year? ... I must check through Wealth of Nations and Moral Sentiments to see if Adam Smith said anything remotely connectable to this issue.
[Read it at “Wheat and Weeds”: (http://wheatandweeds.blogspot.com/2007/02/valentine-to-adam-smith.htmlreligion, politics and the glories of home-grown tomatoes]