The Market, Not Nature, Is Bountiful

by Don Boudreaux on April 11, 2008

in Complexity & Emergence, Environment, Myths and Fallacies, The Economy

Robert Kennedy, Jr., recently wrote this letter to the editor of the New York Times expressing his opposition to building hydroelectric dams in Chile.  I sent my own letter in response to Mr. Kennedy’s missive:

Robert Kennedy, Jr., might be correct that electricity is best provided
in Chile by means other than hydroelectric dams (Letters, April 8).
His presumption, however, about the source of prosperity casts doubt on
the quality of his argument.

Mr. Kennedy opposes dams because
he wants to protect "nature’s bounty."  But nature is not bountiful.
If it were, human history would be one of prosperity and long, healthy
lives rather than one of oppressive poverty and short, miserable
lives.  Nature is miserly.  The bounty that Mr. Kennedy presumes comes
from nature is, in fact, the relatively recent product of human
creativity and industry unleashed by free markets – and now threatened
by the mindless worship of nature.

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux

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