22 Responses to Krugman: The Economist opposed attempts to improve public sanitation in the 19th century
Monday I wrote $#*! My Texas AG Says: “It is almost the height of insanity of bureaucracy to have the EPA regulating something that is emitted by all living things.” I pointed out this view suggests doing nothing about sewage, too.
Today NYT columnist and Nobel-prize-winning economist Pual Krugman links to my piece and points out that in fact:
hey, there was a time when conservatives did, in fact, argue for doing nothing about effluent of any kind. In the years leading up to the Great Stink of 1858, which finally got the British to build a London sewer system, The Economist editorialized against any such foolish notion (pdf):
suffering and evil are nature’s admonitions””they cannot be got rid of.
Or, to put it (almost) in the modern vernacular, stuff happens.
And given the way we’re heading “” with politicians arguing that the federal government has no right to ban child labor “” don’t be surprised to see the anti-sewer movement making a comeback, and to see elected representatives, even if they know better, holding their noses and going along.
The full 1848 quote from The Economist is worth a look to see how far we haven’t come:
Suffering and evil are nature’s admonitions””they cannot be got rid of; and the impatient attempts of benevolence to banish them from the world by legislation, before benevolence has learned their object and their end, have always been more productive of evil than good.
Loosely translated, don’t even think of addressing pollution until we’re 100% certain it’s harmed all those evil do-gooders irreversibly. To modify the old saying, the less things change the more they remain the same.
And let’s not forget, “After firefighters watched home burn, Obion County expands subscription-only fire service to more towns” and “Humane Society condemns subscription-only firefighters for standing by and letting animals die in fire.”