David M. Brown's Blog

November 3, 2009

Should unoccupied buildings be lighted? Should humanity be stamped out?

Filed under: Economics,Politics,Society and culture — davidmbrowndotcom @ 1:35 am

I was not at the debate in Stamford, Connecticut at which the Green Party candidate made his comments, but I was at the web page at which the reporter quoted the comments: “Green Party candidate Rolf Maurer did not address the charter, but said he would like to introduce ordinances prohibiting businesses from lighting unoccupied buildings overnight and limiting police surveillance.”

Why would this Rolf Maurer person be in favor of making it easier to rob and vandalize buildings when they are unoccupied?

Oh sure, sure, Rolf is not really a fan of late-night break-ins but rather, probably, of “saving electricity” and “saving the earth,” and other such rationalizations for enslaving people. (The earth is fine, by the way; the astronomers tell us that it will continue rotating and revolving no matter what pieties we fling at her. Therefore, go ahead and throw your trash in trash cans like you always used to instead of wasting resources tediously recycling every stray drinking-straw wrapper the way you do now.)

What can the building owners be thinking? Why are they hating the earth by keeping the lights on? What did the earth ever do to them? Don’t be earth-hatin’, yo.

Perhaps, however, we might note the fact that the generation of power is not a costless activity. Human effort is required to generate it. Moreover, to the extent that persons are not slaves, they typically do not expend such effort for free. They charge for their services so that they may obtain units of a medium of exchange that they can then use to obtain other things. Thus, keeping the lights on at night costs money; and it is the building owners who must pay the electricity bill. This is a very salient fact.

Why do the owners pay for “unnecessary” electricity? After all, businesses that hope to stay in business cannot afford to be blithely unconcerned about their expenses. If they see no benefit whatever in leaving the lights on at night in buildings they own when those buildings are unoccupied, they have every reason to make sure the lights are turned off during that time. One is tempted to conclude that the owners do see a benefit; perhaps, as I have proposed, that of deterring prowlers. Regardless of the property owners’ precise motives, however, I am happy to let them exercise their property rights as if they actually do own the buildings that they own, so long as they do not try to make me pay for their power bills. I would not even think of advocating a skein of ordinances to subordinate every action of every property owner to my every demoniacal whim.

But according to the theology of totalitarian anti-human environmentalism—premised on the dogma that the industrial revolution and all its prequels and sequels constitute an unforgivable rape of Gaia, which, in this view, should have been left just as it was in the halcyon days before the arrival of Homo Neanderthalensis—all human beings must be ordered about continuously in order to “save the earth” from being exploited in the service of human ends. Many enviro-tyrants argue, indeed, that human beings are nothing but a blight upon the earth. Some enviro-tyrants even suggest that it would not be such a bad thing if said blight were eradicated altogether or at least radically downsized.

No amount of enviro-tyrannical violation of human rights and liberties will ever satisfy the environ-tyrants. They are not going to stop at trying to outlaw plastic bags and night lighting. The reason is that no matter what actions human beings might be prevented by enviro-tyrannical laws from taking, as long as we are not yet curling up in a corner of a cave and dying, we will continue to engage in human action. As long as we are alive, we will continue to function to extend and enhance our lives, which entails the use of matter and energy in humanlike ways to achieve humanlike ends. The matter and energy we deploy is never going to fall like prepackaged manna from heaven, but must be purposefully extracted from the environment and subjected to various technological and market processes.

Living, breathing, aspiring human beings will always be “raping the earth,” which just sits there inertly and allows it to happen—just as the planet has always allowed individuals of all the millions of other species that have flourished on its surface over the last few billion years to exploit its resources in all their own myriad if less sophisticated ways.



  1. Very well put, Mr. Brown!

    Comment by Tibor Machan — November 3, 2009 @ 2:37 am | Reply

  2. Thank you, Mr. Machan!

    Comment by davidmbrowndotcom — November 3, 2009 @ 2:59 am | Reply

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