About the author
Mark Perry Tweets
What’s New on AEI
Fortune 500 firms in 1955 v. 2015; Only 12% remain, thanks to the creative destruction that fuels economic prosperity
View related content: Carpe Diem
What do the companies in these three groups have in common?
Group A: American Motors, Brown Shoe, Studebaker, Collins Radio, Detroit Steel, Zenith Electronics, and National Sugar Refining.
Group B: Boeing, Campbell Soup, General Motors, Kellogg, Procter and Gamble, Deere, IBM and Whirlpool.
Group C: Facebook, eBay, Home Depot, Microsoft, Google, Netflix, Office Depot and Target.
All of the companies in Group A were in the Fortune 500 in 1955, but not in 2015.
All of the companies in Group B were in the Fortune 500 in both 1955 and 2015.
All of the companies in Group C were in the Fortune 500 in 2015, but not 1955.
The list of Fortune 500 companies in 1955 is available here and for 2015 here. Comparing the 1955 Fortune 500 companies to the 2015 Fortune 500, there are only 61 companies that appear in both lists (see companies in the graphic above). In other words, only 12.2% of the Fortune 500 companies in 1955 were still on the list 60 years later in 2015, and nearly 88% of the companies from 1955 have either gone bankrupt, merged with (or were acquired by) another firm, or they still exist but have fallen from the top Fortune 500 companies (ranked by total revenues). Most of the companies on the list in 1955 are unrecognizable, forgotten companies today (e.g. Armstrong Rubber, Cone Mills, Hines Lumber, Pacific Vegetable Oil, and Riegel Textile).
Economic Lessons: The fact that nearly 9 of every ten Fortune 500 companies in 1955 are gone, merged, or contracted demonstrates that there’s been a lot of market disruption, churning, and Schumpeterian creative destruction over the last 60 years. It’s reasonable to expect that when the Fortune 500 list is released 60 years from now in 2075, most of today’s Fortune 500 companies will no longer exist as currently configured, having been replaced by new companies in new, emerging industries, and for that we should be extremely thankful. The constant turnover in the Fortune 500 is a positive sign of the dynamism and innovation that characterizes a vibrant consumer-oriented market economy, and that dynamic turnover is speeding up in today’s hyper-competitive global economy. According to a 2012 report from Innosight (“Creative Destruction Whips Through Corporate America“) based on almost a century’s worth of market data, corporations in the S&P 500 Index in 1958 stayed in the index for an average of 61 years. By 1980, the average tenure in the S&P 500 had fallen to about 25 years, and in 2012 it was just 18 years. At the current churn rate, 75% of today’s S&P 500 companies will be replaced by 2027!
Another economic lesson to be learned from the creative destruction that results in the constant churning of Fortune 500 (and S&P 500) companies over time is that the process of market disruption is being driven by the endless pursuit of sales and profits that can only come from serving customers with low prices, high quality products and services, and great customer service. If we think of a company’s annual sales revenues as the number of “dollar votes” it gets every year from providing goods and services to consumers, we can then appreciate the fact that the Fortune 500 companies represent the 500 companies that have generated the greatest dollar votes of confidence from us as consumers – like Walmart (No. 1 at $486 billion in “dollar votes”), ExxonMobil (No. 2 at $383 billion), Apple (No. 5 at $183 billion) and GM (No. 6 at $156 billion).
As consumers, we should appreciate the fact that we are the ultimate beneficiaries of the Schumpeterian creative destruction that drives the dynamism of the market economy and results in a constant churning of the firms who are ultimately fighting to attract as many of our dollar votes as possible — and the 500 top winners of that competitive battle in any given year are the firms in the Fortune 500, ranked by their dollar votes.
Creative Destruction: Top 20 reasons ride-sharing is better than taxis and represents the future of transportation
View related content: Carpe Diem
In 1942, economist Joseph Schumpeter described “creative destruction” as a “process of industrial mutation that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one.” There probably hasn’t been a better recent example of Schumpeterian creative destruction than the recent rapid ascendance of app-based ride-sharing services like Uber (and Lyft, Sidecar, Gett, Via, etc.) challenging traditional, legacy taxi cartels in cities like New York, San Francisco, Chicago and more than 170 other US cities.
The chart above displays my list of the “Top 20 Reasons Ride-Sharing is Way Better than Traditional Taxis” and helps to illustrate why pro-consumer, ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft have been so successful in challenging consumer-unfriendly, pro-producer traditional taxi cartels by offering service that is simply “better, faster, cheaper and more innovative and convenient.”
Thanks to the rapid rise of ride-sharing services in recent years, here’s my economic forecast for the transportation industry: Expect continued and very strong hurricane-strength Schumpeterian gales of creative destruction from ride-sharing services, with a high likelihood of market disruption for Big Taxi, accompanied by huge tsunami-level tidal waves of increased benefits and savings for consumers. The taxi cartel is in for some very rough weather ahead — Hurricane Joseph (Schumpeter) is just getting started.
New data on 2015 SAT test confirm 40+ year pattern — high school boys outperform girls on the SAT math test
View related content: Carpe Diem
I reported recently on CD that high school boys outperformed girls on the 2015 SAT math test with an average score of 527 points (55th percentile) compared to the average score of 496 for high school girls (45th percentile), continuing an uninterrupted trend of boys outperforming girls on that math SAT test that dates back to at least 1972. The statistically significant 31-point male advantage this year (and 10 point advantage by percentile ranking) on the SAT math test is the same as the 31-point difference last year, and just slightly below the average 33.9 point advantage over the last two decades favoring boys.
Today, the College Board released some additional SAT data tables for the 2015 test, including percentile ranks by gender for each of the three tests (math, critical reading and writing). Interestingly, more high school boys than girls achieved perfect scores of 800 on the 2015 math test (11,098 boys vs. 5,570 girls), perfect scores of 800 on the critical reading test (5,160 boys vs. 4,746 girls), and combined perfect scores of 1600 on those two tests (1,325 boys vs. 721 girls). For the 2015 writing test (which will now be combined with the critical reading test into a single section called “Evidence-Based Reading and Writing”), 3,176 girls achieved perfect scores of 800 vs. 2,716 boys with a perfect score.
Here are some observations about the 2015 SAT math tests, with details of those test results displayed in the chart above by gender and test scores from 200 to 800 in 10-point intervals:
1. Male students outnumbered female students for all 2015 math SAT scores of 590 (78th percentile) and above, and those outcomes are represented in the chart above by all of the dark blue bars higher than the 1.0 Male:Female ratio (light blue line).
2. As SAT math scores increased by 10-point intervals from 590 to 800, the male-female ratio gradually increased, reaching a peak male-female ratio of 2.04-to-1 for test scores of 780 (99th percentile). At the highest level of math performance on the SAT test this year for perfect scores of 800, there were 11,098 males and 5,570 females achieving those scores, meaning that nearly 2 males achieved perfect scores for every one female (male-female ratio of 1.99-to-1). Stated differently, high school boys represented 66.6% of all students scoring 800 on the 2015 math SAT test.
3. We can adjust for the fact that more young women (903,719) than men (794,802) took the SAT test in 2015, and compare the percentage of males who earned perfect scores of 800 points (1.4%) to the percentage of females with perfect scores (0.62%), which produces an adjusted male-female ratio of 2.26-to-1 (vs. the 1.99 unadjusted ratio) for students who had perfect 800-point scores.
4. For scores of 750 points and above on the 2015 math SAT (98th and 99th percentiles), boys outnumbered girls by a ratio of 1.83-to-1 (36,927 to 20,210) and when adjusted for the differences in sample size, the male-female ratio was 2.08-to-1 (4.64% vs. 2.23%) for scores between 750-800.
One possible explanation for the fact that high school boys consistently score higher on average than girls on the math SAT test and outnumber girls by almost 2-to-1 for perfect scores, would be that high school boys are better students on average than high school girls and are better prepared in mathematics than their female classmates. But that explanation would be false, as I reported recently on CD here.
5. For 2015 SAT test-takers, high school girls had superior overall academic high school records compared to boys: females represented 55% of the students in the top 10 percent of their graduating classes, 59% of the students graduating with an A+ grade point average were female, and high school girls graduated with a higher overall average GPA of 3.45 compared to a 3.31 average GPA for their male counterparts.
6. Further, high school girls were over-represented in advanced AP/Honors math classes in 2015 (54%) compared to boys (46%), and also in advanced AP/Honors science classes by 56% to 44%.
7. For those high school students taking four years of high school mathematics, girls were over-represented (55%) compared to boys (44%), and more of the students studying natural sciences for four years were female students (54%) than male (46%).
Bottom Line: Even though female high school students are better prepared academically on many different measures than their male classmates, both overall and for mathematics specifically, female high school students score significantly lower on the SAT math test, and the +30-point differences in test scores (and 10 point differences in average percentile rankings) favoring males has persisted for generations. At the high-end of math performance, high school males significantly outperformed their female peers on the 2015 SAT math test by a ratio of about 2-to-1 for perfect scores (and 1.83-to-1 for scores of 750 and above), and that outcome has also persisted for many decades.
And yet, despite the persistent, statistically significant differences in math performance by gender on the math SAT test that have continued for generations, we hear statements like this: “There just aren’t gender differences anymore in math performance,” from University of Wisconsin-Madison psychology professor Janet Hyde, who goes on to say that “parents and teachers need to revise their thoughts about this. Stereotypes are very, very resistant to change, but as a scientist I have to challenge them with data.” Given the significant and persistent gender differences in SAT math test scores that have persisted over many generations, the scientific data about gender differences in math performance would seem to present a serious challenge to Professor Hyde’s (and others) frequent claims that there are no gender differences in math performance.
Further, the fact that women are underrepresented in STEM occupations and hold only 26% of STEM jobs according to a 2013 Department of Commerce report certainly isn’t because female students are being discouraged from studying math and science in high school. To the contrary, the evidence shows that females are excelling in math and science in high school – they outnumber their male counterparts in AP/Honors math and science courses, and are more likely than their male counterparts to take four years of math and science classes.
Further, compared to boys, high school girls get better grades on average, and are far more likely than boys to graduate in the top 10% of their high school classes, and are much more likely than boys to attend and graduate from college and go on to graduate schools for master’s and doctor’s degrees. By all objective measures then, girls have essentially all of the necessary ingredients that should result in greater representation in STEM fields like engineering and computer science except perhaps for one: a huge, statistically significant and persistent 30-point gender gap (and a 10 percentile gender gap) on the SAT math test in favor of boys that has persisted for more than 40 years. If there are some inherent gender differences for mathematical ability, as the huge and persistent gender differences for the math SAT test suggests, closing the STEM gender degree and job gaps may be a futile attempt in socially engineering an unnatural and unachievable outcome.
Religion and the press, like fantasy football, operate as largely unregulated industries – to our great benefit
View related content: Carpe Diem
Don Boudreaux reacts cogently here to recent news reports about “the largely unregulated industry of fantasy sports,” of which there are nearly 2,000 according to a Google news search for the term “unregulated fantasy sports.” Here’s Don:
Whenever I hear an industry described as “unregulated” – the absence of regulation by government does not remotely mean the absence of effective regulation. Consumers’ and suppliers’ (including workers’) ability to say ‘no’ to industry offers is an important and effective form of regulation. So, too, is the freedom of entrepreneurs to enter those industries. Such market-supplied regulation is real and effective, especially when it is combined with the basic common-law rules of property, contract, and tort.
Another thought: I have never heard religion in America described as “largely unregulated”; nor have I ever heard warnings that the press in America is “unregulated.” And yet, religion and the press in America are indeed largely unregulated by government. No preacher must first obtain from the state a license to preach; no newspaper must be granted permission by any government in the U.S. to report the news and to editorialize on politics; no political, news, or religious website in the U.S. is shut down if it fails to meet minimum government standards; there are no government-erected job requirements for working as a reporter, as an editorialist, or as a blogger.
Churches and the press in America are regulated only by the forces of market competition and by the basic rules of common-law property, contract, and tort.
And yet, in America these “unregulated” industries thrive. They seem to satisfy their customers without simultaneously screwing their suppliers. While no one would dare describe religion (or churches) in the U.S. as perfect or ideal – and ditto for the press – the sense seems to be that these industries by and large work well and serve useful social functions consistent with the demands of their consumers. Put differently, there’s no real worry throughout the land that, unless government regulators enter the picture to ‘regulate’ churches and the press with the same sorts of diktats, oversight, and self-righteousness that are used to regulate the likes of pharmaceutical companies, banks, and plumbers, Americans will be damaged beyond repair by the recklessness of churches, by the greed of press barons, or by the irresponsibility of reporters.
If society’s most important industries are best left unregulated by government – if the absence of regulation is understood to promote, by and large and over the long-run, the most socially favorable outcomes from churches and from the press – why do most people assume that the absence of government regulation of other industries, industries less important to society, is antediluvian or lamentable?
MP: I’ve made a similar point in the past on CD (e.g. here) that the choice is never between: a) government regulation and b) a completely unregulated economy. Rather, the real choice is who gets to serve as the primary group of regulators: a) government bureaucrats and legislators who are often captured by regulated industries like taxi cartels, or b) the consumer-regulators. And there’s no question that captured government regulators almost always put the special interests of the well-organized, concentrated groups of regulated producers like the taxi cartel over the public interest of the dis-organized, dispersed thousands/millions of consumer-regulators.
And as economist Howie Baejter pointed out here, government regulation often “crowds out” regulation by market forces and consumer-regulators, and markets therefore operate less efficiently because the interests of the producers take priority over the interests of consumers. If the ultimate goal is to protect consumers, then we need a lot more regulation by impersonal market forces and consumer-regulators (e.g. churches, the press, ride-sharing services, and maybe even fantasy football) and a lot less regulation by the government/politicians/bureaucrats for industries like Big Taxi.
Black Lives Matter protested white supremacy at Twin Cities Marathon, even though top 10 finalists were black?
View related content: Carpe Diem
The annual Twin Cities marathon, frequently recognized as the “most beautiful urban marathon in America,” was held last Sunday in my hometowns of Minneapolis-St. Paul. What might not have been so beautiful was a planned protest — titled Black Marathon — organized by the St. Paul chapter of Black Lives Matter. The original and publicly stated intention of Black Marathon, according to the group’s Facebook page, was to “shut down” and “disrupt” the race:
#BlackMarathon will disrupt, #BlackMarathon will bring awareness, #BlackMarathon will bring us closer to ending white supremacy and the institutions that enable it.
In a separate statement, organizer Rashad Turner said that “Our job is to let the community know that every day we are planning on dismantling white supremacy.” In response to the suggestion that disrupting and shutting down the marathon would stigmatize the advocacy group, Rashad Turner said “For anyone who believes that a person’s journey to completing a marathon is more important than our journey to being liberated as a people, you are under the mind control of white supremacy, and it’s time to free yourself.”
Fortunately, members of Black Lives Matter St. Paul honored an agreement they entered into last Thursday with St. Paul mayor Chris Coleman to not physically interfere with marathoners, and a peaceful demonstration took place on Sunday with no arrests.
Tell that to the runners from Africa. Since the race began in 1982, Ethiopians and Kenyans have certainly enjoyed the spotlight. Kenyan males won four straight Twin Cities Marathons between 1996 and 1999, including three straight by Andrew Musuva. Most recently, Chris Kipyego of Kenya won the race and the prize money in 2012. In 2011, Sammy Malakwen of Kenya won the men’s division. That year, Yeshimebet Bifa of Ethiopia won the women’s division and the money that goes with it, succeeding as female champion Buzunesh Deba of Ethiopia.
Now that the results are in for the 2015 Twin Cities marathon, here are the top 5 men and top 5 women finalists, along with their times and countries of origin, listed here and pictured above in the order below:
Top 5 Men
1. Dominic Ondoro, 2:11:16 (Kenya)
2. Elisha Barno, 2:11:39 (Kenya)
3. Jacob Chemtai, 2:14:13 (Kenya)
4. Abraham Kipkosgei Chelanga, 2:15:53 (Kenya)
5. Kipchumba Chelimo, 2:19:39 (Kenya)
Top 5 Women
1. Serkalem Abrha, 2:31:39 (Ethiopia)
2. Jane Kibii, 2:31:44 (Kenya)
3. Simegn Abnet Yeshanbel, 2:32:43 (Ethiopia)
4. Sarah Kiptoo, 2:35:25 (Kenya)
5. Obsie Birru, 2:26:53 (Ethiopia)
(Note: Ignoring gender, the No. 1 female Serkalem Abrha would have finished in 17th place. That is, 16 male runners finished ahead of the No. 1 female.)
Top ten finalists, all Africans, all black. White supremacy? Not when it comes to marathons. In retrospect, maybe the Twin Cities Marathon might have been the wrong event to bring awareness to white supremacy? Based on the top runners on Sunday, wouldn’t “Kenyan or African supremacy” be the main take-away from the marathon?
Whenever some group is not equally represented in some institution or activity, the automatic response in some quarters is to assume that someone has prevented equality of outcomes. Even in activities where individual performances are what determine outcomes, and those performances are easily measured objectively, there is seldom anything resembling equal representation.
We all know about the large over-representation of blacks among professional basketball players, and especially among the star players. Of the 100 top-ranked Marathon runners in the world in 2012, 68 were Kenyans. The list could go on and on. Although blacks are over-represented among professional football players, even the most avid National Football League fan is unlikely to be able to recall seeing even one black player who kicked a punt or a point after touchdown.
Should there be an article titled: “What’s Holding Black Kickers Back in the NFL?” Should there be an article titled: “What’s Holding Back Whites in the National Basketball Association?”
Or related to the discussion above, should there be an article “What’s Holding Back Whites and Americans in the Twin Cities Marathon?”Or given the gender differences for the finalists, “What’s Holding Back Female Marathon Runners?”
And back to Black Lives Matter St. Paul – what’s next for them? A protest of white supremacy at the upcoming season opener of the Minnesota Timberwolves, a team whose player roster is about 75% black, just like the rest of the NBA? Just a thought…..
View related content: Carpe Diem
It’s been a couple of months and time now for my sixth “quarterly” spelling/punctuation/grammar rant of the year (see my last five here, here, here, here and here) on what I think is the most common spelling/punctuation/grammar/orthographic mistake in the English language — the misuse of it’s (or its’) for its — illustrated by the examples below collected from CD comments and other sources on the Web:
1. The famous Stockholm (Wisconsin) Art Fair is this Saturday and celebrates it’s 42nd year!
2. The Lawn Ranger is proud to provide it’s customers with all of their year round property maintenance needs.
3. McDonald’s has changed it’s burger…. (see graphic above).
4. The best defense for capitalism is it’s creation of a middle class.
5. Unbridled capitalism is its best defense, also it’s worst indictment…..
6. In 2007, Big Buns opened it’s doors in Ballston, Arlington and became an instant neighborhood fixture.
7. Could society continue without higher education in it’s current bloated form?
John Tierney in NY Times: Recycling was ‘garbage’ in 1996, it’s still that way today, and the future looks even worse
View related content: Carpe Diem
In 1996, New York Times science columnist John Tierney wrote an article that appeared in the New York Times Magazine about compulsory recycling titled “Recycling is Garbage.” Tierney’s controversial argument in that article can be summarized as follows: Recycling may be the most wasteful activity in modern America. Tierney wrote, “Rinsing out tuna cans and tying up newspapers may make you feel virtuous, but it’s a waste of time and money, a waste of human and natural resources. Americans have embraced recycling as a transcendental experience, an act of moral redemption. We’re not just reusing our garbage; we’re performing a rite of atonement for the sin of excess.” Now you can understand why Tierney’s recycling article set the all-time record for the greatest volume of hate mail ever recorded in the history of the New York Times Magazine.
Because it was one of the first and most effective challenges to the naive, pro-recycling propaganda that has been used to successfully brainwash millions of American school children for the last quarter century, I’ve featured John Tierney’s classic recycling article on CD many times over the years (especially around the “green holy days” known as “Earth Day” and “America Recycles Day”), including here, here, here, and here.
It’s been almost 20 years since John Tierney taught us that “recycling is garbage.” Fortunately, he has just provided a recycling update in today’s New York Times with a new article titled “The Reign of Recycling.” So, what has happened over the last two decades? According to Tierney, “While it’s true that the recycling
message religion has reached more people converts than ever, when it comes to the bottom line, both economically and environmentally, not much has changed at all.” And what about recycling’s future? It “looks even worse,” says Tierney.
Here’s a condensed version of Tierney’s new article on recycling, with my section titles and emphasis:
1. Background. In 1996, I wrote a long article for The New York Times Magazine (“Recycling is Garbage”) arguing that the recycling process as we carried it out was wasteful. I presented plenty of evidence that recycling was costly and ineffectual, but its defenders said that it was unfair to rush to judgment. Noting that the modern recycling movement had really just begun just a few years earlier, they predicted it would flourish as the industry matured and the public learned how to recycle properly. So, what’s happened since then? While it’s true that the recycling message has reached more people than ever, when it comes to the bottom line, both economically and environmentally, not much has changed at all.
Despite decades of exhortations and mandates, it’s still typically more expensive for municipalities to recycle household waste than to send it to a landfill. Prices for recyclable materials have plummeted because of lower oil prices and reduced demand for them overseas. The slump has forced some recycling companies to shut plants and cancel plans for new technologies. The future for recycling looks even worse. As cities move beyond recycling paper and metals, and into glass, food scraps and assorted plastics, the costs rise sharply while the environmental benefits decline and sometimes vanish.
2. Costs vs. Benefits of Recycling. Recycling has been relentlessly promoted as a goal in and of itself: an unalloyed public good and private virtue that is indoctrinated in students from kindergarten through college. As a result, otherwise well-informed and educated people have no idea of the relative costs and benefits.
They probably don’t know, for instance, that to reduce carbon emissions, you’ll accomplish a lot more by sorting paper and aluminum cans than by worrying about yogurt containers and half-eaten slices of pizza. Most people also assume that recycling plastic bottles must be doing lots for the planet. They’ve been encouraged by the EPA, which assures the public that recycling plastic results in less carbon being released into the atmosphere.
But how much difference does it make? Here’s some perspective: To offset the greenhouse impact of one passenger’s round-trip flight between New York and London, you’d have to recycle roughly 40,000 plastic bottles, assuming you fly coach. If you sit in business- or first-class, where each passenger takes up more space, it could be more like 100,000.
Even those statistics might be misleading. New York and other cities instruct people to rinse the bottles before putting them in the recycling bin, but the EPA’s life-cycle calculation doesn’t take that water into account. That single omission can make a big difference. If you wash plastic in water that was heated by coal-derived electricity, then the net effect of your recycling could be more carbon in the atmosphere.
3. Recycling and Landfills. One of the original goals of the recycling movement was to avert a supposed crisis because there was no room left in the nation’s landfills. But that media-inspired fear was never realistic in a country with so much open space. In reporting the 1996 article I found that all the trash generated by Americans for the next 1,000 years would fit on one-tenth of 1 percent of the land available for grazing. And that tiny amount of land wouldn’t be lost forever, because landfills are typically covered with grass and converted to parkland, like the Freshkills Park being created on Staten Island. The United States Open tennis tournament is played on the site of an old landfill — and one that never had the linings and other environmental safeguards required today.
Though most cities shun landfills, they have been welcomed in rural communities that reap large economic benefits (and have plenty of greenery to buffer residents from the sights and smells). Consequently, the great landfill shortage has not arrived, and neither have the shortages of raw materials that were supposed to make recycling profitable.
4. Recycling Economics. As a business, recycling is on the wrong side of two long-term global economic trends. For centuries, the real cost of labor has been increasing while the real cost of raw materials has been declining. That’s why we can afford to buy so much more stuff than our ancestors could. As a labor-intensive activity, recycling is an increasingly expensive way to produce materials that are less and less valuable. Recyclers have tried to improve the economics by automating the sorting process, but they’ve been frustrated by politicians eager to increase recycling rates by adding new materials of little value. The more types of trash that are recycled, the more difficult it becomes to sort the valuable from the worthless.
In New York City, the net cost of recycling a ton of trash is now $300 more than it would cost to bury the trash instead. That adds up to millions of extra dollars per year — about half the budget of the parks department — that New Yorkers are spending for the privilege of recycling. That money could buy far more valuable benefits, including more significant reductions in greenhouse emissions.
5. Recycling as a Religion. Religious rituals don’t need any practical justification for the believers who perform them voluntarily. But many recyclers want more than just the freedom to practice their religion. They want to make these rituals mandatory for everyone else, too, with stiff fines for sinners who don’t sort properly. Seattle has become so aggressive that the city is being sued by residents who maintain that the inspectors rooting through their trash are violating their constitutional right to privacy.
It would take legions of garbage police to enforce a zero-waste society, but true believers insist that’s the future. When Mayor de Blasio promised to eliminate garbage in New York, he said it was “ludicrous” and “outdated” to keep sending garbage to landfills. Recycling, he declared, was the only way for New York to become “a truly sustainable city.”
But cities have been burying garbage for thousands of years, and it’s still the easiest and cheapest solution for trash. The recycling movement is floundering, and its survival depends on continual subsidies, sermons and policing. How can you build a sustainable city with a strategy that can’t even sustain itself?
Bottom Line: Economist Steven Landsburg wrote that “Naive environmentalism is a force-fed potpourri of myth, superstition, and ritual that has much in common with the least reputable varieties of religious Fundamentalism. The antidote to bad religion is good science. The antidote to astrology is the scientific method, the antidote to naive creationism is evolutionary biology, and the antidote to naive environmentalism is economics.” Kudos to John Tierney for his new article that provides another effective economic antidote to the naive environmentalist practice known as recycling.
Bonus Video. In the Penn and Teller video below on recycling, they refer to John Tierney’s 1996 NYT article, and further explain why recycling is an activity that involves “feeling good for no reason.”
HT: Fred Dent