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Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Internet, Global Warming, and the Power of Free Markets

Back when I was in school one of the most talked about environmental threats to the world's trees from usage of paper. We were warned that our use of paper would soon deplete the world's supply of trees. Such threats to the world's trees are no longer talked about much. That's because the power of the internet means we are near a totally paperless society. Already, most everyone can see that the future of news will be paperless. Frankly, the internet allows for just about everything to be done without paper. As such, the threat to our trees from all the usage of paper is a problem of the past.

It's not only remarkable but instructive just how the internet solved a problem once at the top of every environmentalists lists of threats to the environment. That's because the internet was NOT created in order to save trees. Its ability to transform our society into a paperless one is merely a great side effect that no one involved in its creation likely ever even thought of. The internet was also the creation largely (though not exclusively) of entrepeneurs. Its roots are held in the tax cuts of Ronald Reagan of the 1980's. Reagan's tax cuts exploded the power of the entrepeneur and those entrepeneurs came up with many of the ideas that now form the bed rock of the internet.

Furthermore, the government made sure to stay away from regulating, taxing, or other wise controlling the internet. The lack of government involvement allowed the entrepeneurs free reign to innovate and expand its reach. Great ideas, like the internet, have all sorts of benefits on society and many of them are unintended. That the internet is moving our society into a paperless world is just one example of this.

We could use the same approach to solving the problem of global warming and other environmental issues. The government could stay out of the way and give entrepeneurs all the motivation they need to solve it themselves. Through a similar set of tax cuts the government could unleash the power of the entrepeneur to solve all our environmental challenges. Instead, the government feels it is a problem they must solve on their own. The government is determined to spend and to develop diplomacy toward a solution for global warming.

The government spent billions in research for decades in trying to solve the problem to the tree population by all the usage of paper. Internet entrepeneurs spent absolutely nothing on such research. They created an idea that they likely never dreamed would even solve the problem. Yet it did, and maybe that should be a lesson to all those that demand a plethora of government action to solve global warming and other environmental problems.

1 comment:

Gururaj said...

Internet seems to be the ultimate free market
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