Does Capitalism and Industry Really Make Our Environment Dirtier and More Dangerous?

by Don Boudreaux on April 22, 2005

in Myths and Fallacies

Check out this political cartoon appear today — "Earth Day" — in the Christian Science Monitor.

Here’s a letter that I sent in response:

22 April 2005

Editor, The Christian Science Monitor

Dear Editor:

Clay Bennett’s Earth Day cartoon shows scissors (labeled “White House”) recklessly slicing through environmental statutes.  Without here questioning the merits of the statutes or the reality of the slicing, I plead for protection of a most endangered resource: perspective.  Pause for a moment to appreciate just how clean and safe our everyday environments are compared to those of our ancestors.

– Refrigeration keeps our food free of bacterial pollution;
– indoor plumbing immediately whisks away our own waste;
– household detergents clean our homes of germs and grime;
– automobiles keep our streets clean of horse manure and the swarms of flies it attracts;
– antibiotics and other medicines protect our bodies from many diseases, such as tuberculosis, that were major killers just a century ago.

In fact, our everyday lives are more sanitary and healthier today than at any time in history.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Chairman, Department of Economics
George Mason University


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