Government Expropriates Private Corporations and Nobody Screams

In Saving Energy, Growing Jobs (published in 2007 by Bay Tree Publishing) I observed that there is a strong connection between efforts to stop climate change and a fear of Soviet-style big government. I wrote that:

"Many of the arguments against environmental protection actually are concerned more about the issue of potentially dangerous top-down government economic planning-the sort that was used in the Soviet Union-than they are about the environment itself.

...much of the opposition to environmental policies disproportionately emphasizes the issue of government control versus individual choice as the primary reason to oppose environmental protection. A surprisingly large percentage of the anti-environmental writings on the Internet address the authors' opposition to a state-controlled economy and their apparent belief that environmentalism is a stalking horse for big government.

Fear of government control by business is a key recurring theme when examining the politics of anti-environmentalism...this fear is often expressed in broad terms that relate to property rights

Evidently many people believe, or accept the policies of people who believe, that environmentalism is less important in its own right than it is as a "battleground on which competing visions now engage."

The view above would seem to explain much of the business community's knee-jerk advocacy against environmental protection. American business has been concerned about socialism for well over 150 years. In fact, much of businesses activism against organized labor in the nineteenth century was based on the fear that labor union organizations were the precursor of Communist revolutions that would expropriate property from business.

The fears of Communism are not completely ill founded: many countries, beginning with the Soviet Union, underwent socialist revolutions and did in fact expropriate property."

But this week, so did a self-describedly conservative Administration. Two of the largest publically-traded corporations in America, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, were place into conservatorship by the government. This amounts to expropriating private property, since the shareholders of these companies have been essential wiped out. This action is no different than what the early Soviet government did, or that other self-describedly socialist governments have done or threatened to do.

Surprisingly little negative reaction has appeared from the folks who are so worried about government takeovers in the context of climate change.