The Green Recession

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Americans are feeling the pinch of stagflation. Going to the grocery store and to the gas station leaves consumers in a state of sticker-shock. Neighbors are losing their homes. Retailers, restaurants, and countless other businesses are closing their doors. Mass layoffs are being announced with alarming frequency. As inflation and joblessness spiral upward, the economy plunges to greater depths. Opinions abound as to why America’s economic ship is taking on water. Just as certainly as John McCain has personally witnessed global warming, I have ascertained the cause of America’s economic malaise. Indeed, in a moment of deep insight, I have discovered that our economy is sinking in direct proportion to the rise of the environmental movement. The greener Americans become, the further our economy falls.

Please understand that I have written this essay holding myself to the same standards as eco-alarmist Stephen Schneider. In the spirit of scaring humanity straight into the clutches of the green movement, Dr. Schneider (a Stanford University Professor) stated the following in the October 1989 issue of Discover magazine:

To do this, we need to get some broad-based support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we may have. This "double ethical bind" we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest.

To say the least, the green movement is presently receiving loads of media coverage. Day after day anthropogenic global warming is mentioned on TV news, PBS documentaries, talk shows, etc. Fortune 500 companies are paying for expensive television ads declaring that they have gone green and are fighting to protect Mother Earth. We are being harangued to conserve this, recycle that, and boycott something or other. Americans have been so saturated with environmentalist gobbledygook, that green has become mainstream.

If one person epitomizes the rise of the green movement, it is Al Gore. He is the environmental movement’s self-appointed ambassador who has brought a high degree of legitimacy to the green movement. Mr. Gore has accomplished this by winning, in 2007, a Nobel Peace Prize and an Academy Award for his "documentary" An Inconvenient Truth.

Today, thanks to Al Gore, greenies are riding high. For it is they who are the anointed ones who have the answers to prevent hurricanes, tornadoes, typhoons, soil erosion, flooding, osteoporosis, indigestion, migraine headaches, and shark attacks. (Of course, their real objective is to eradicate humanity, but that is an issue I have covered previously). And, true to Stephen Schneider’s "vision", the green movement’s success has been built upon a pack of lies.

For those who want an antidote to the gibberish being spewed by greenies, I highly recommend The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming and Environmentalism by Christopher C. Horner. As for attempting to understand the natural fluctuations pertaining to Earth’s climate, a terrific book to read is The Chilling Stars: A New Theory of Climate Change by Henrik Svensmark and Nigel Calder. I also recommend this article about the distinct possibility of global cooling. But I digress.

So let’s get back to the robust correlation between the rise of the green movement and the decline of the American economy. Greenies, and their political minions, are constantly bossing Americans around. Watch out for having too large of a carbon footprint. Did that bottled water come from Fiji? Recycle your paper, your plastic, your metals and don’t you dare mix any of these materials in the wrong recycling bin. Don’t water your lawn, get a low-flow toilet, and for gosh sakes replace your incandescent light bulbs with fluorescent ones. Are you driving an SUV? Shame on you. Think globally, but act locally. Blah, blah, blah.

An enormous amount of physical and mental energy is expended to make the green busybodies happy. None of this "work" is productive. Sure there are those who feel a sense of fulfillment by following these mind-numbing edicts from greenies — as one feels more connected to nature and to a worthy cause (I suppose). I have little doubt that green sympathizers are the same people who celebrate the income tax so that money can be forcibly taken from bad people and transferred to the good downtrodden proletariat. Hurray for April 15th! All in all, going green is a monumental waste of time and energy. It is, consequently, a drag on our economy and a proximate cause of economic decline.

MBAs, across the country, have been indoctrinated with the claptrap that just about anybody or anything can be a stakeholder in a business. It is passé to believe that simply treating employees well and pleasing customers are the keys to business success. No, it is now chic, and politically correct, to integrate varying degrees of environmentalism into a company’s business plan. For Mother Earth herself is a stakeholder in every business. The intrinsic value of nature must be acknowledged and celebrated in order for a business plan to be credible. By embracing such twaddle, it is no wonder once-great American companies are slipping into mediocrity or worse. MBAs, from top business schools, are part of the problem, not the solution.

Recently, some of Wall Street’s mightiest companies — such as Citigroup, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, and Wachovia Corporation — have had to go begging for money to repair damaged balance sheets. Due to blatant numbskullery, these titans of finance have lost focus and poisoned their respective corporate cultures with standards that are impossible to meet. After all, how does one perform as a stockbroker, on an environmentally-sustainable basis, so that the stockbroker may protect the global ecosystem? How does a loan officer see to it that a loan is being originated in an environmentally-friendly manner? How can a financial company, or any company for that matter, really battle climate change? Wouldn’t this entail controlling the Sun’s output? Good luck with that. Business planning, peppered with green ideology, apparently causes companywide brain damage. Thus, it is no wonder that these companies have reported staggering losses.

In each company’s own words, here are their respective declarations of greenness. Read it and weep (or laugh). I did a little of both.

Citigroup: At Citi, we believe that working to promote environmental and social sustainability is good business practice. As a global corporate citizen, we view sustainability issues from both a risk and an opportunity perspective. We analyze the potential impacts of our business activities and take action to reduce environmental risk and impact. We also look for opportunities to make sustainable investments and develop products and services with positive environmental and social impacts.

Lehman Brothers: As a global corporate citizen, Lehman Brothers is committed to addressing the challenges of climate change and other environmental issues which affect our employees, clients, and shareholders alike. It is critical that we continue to develop initiatives to focus on these challenges facing our environment now and in the future.

Merrill Lynch: At Merrill Lynch, a longstanding commitment to the fundamental principles of corporate social responsibility underpins our recognition that protecting our global ecosystem is of vital importance to us as a commercial enterprise as well as a good corporate citizen.

We are strongly committed to reducing unnecessary or wasteful exploitation of scarce nonrenewable resources. And we are committed to providing sound investment analysis, guidance and capital to enterprises dedicated to promoting environmentally responsible and sustainable economic development.

Wachovia Corporation: Wachovia is committed to being the best, most trusted and admired financial services company. We carefully consider the impact of our business activities on shareholders, customers, communities, employees, and the environment. We leverage our social, economic, and human assets to deliver business results in a way that supports fair business practices and sustainability. Our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Report highlights our social responsibility commitment and values in action.

What a load of tripe. Multiply these declarations of greenness by countless companies, and it becomes obvious that American businesses have lost their way. It would be hilarious to compel corporate executives to define exactly what "sustainability" means and how they can measure their respective contributions to environmental sustainability. By diverting precious capital and human resources toward nebulous objectives such as eco-sustainable business practices, innumerable companies are damaging themselves and the economy as a whole.

As Wilfred Beckerman stated in his magnificent book A Poverty of Reason: Sustainable Development and Economic Growth:

If, therefore, the increasing popularity of the concept of sustainable development cannot be explained by its intellectual strength, its growing influence on international and national policy might perhaps be better explained by reference to sociological phenomena, such as the public’s appetite for dramatic environmental scare stories or politicians’ tendency to jump on media-supported bandwagons. Such phenomena also fit easily into what economists describe as rent-seeking behavior of various agents in society: each agent seeks to maximize its market power by means other than socially valuable methods of increasing productive efficiency and the like.

To be sure, green companies may as well rewrite their respective business plans in order to concentrate upon searching for, and capturing, griffins and unicorns.

Without a doubt, by using the green movement’s "correlation equals causation" methodology, I have proven that America’s current economic downturn is directly correlated with the meteoric rise of environmentalism and its damaging effects on business management (just as certainly as global warming brought about the destruction of New Orleans). Using this standard, set by greenies themselves, feel free to blame environmentalists for what may be unfolding as the United States’ next Great Depression. They’ve earned such opprobrium.

Eric Englund [send him mail], who has an MBA from Boise State University, lives in the state of Oregon. He is the publisher of The Hyperinflation Survival Guide by Dr. Gerald Swanson. You are invited to visit his website.

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