Worth Reading - 2/2

1. At First Things last week, John Murdock examines the link between misanthropic beliefs and some forms of environmentalism:

As I was rallying for life with several thousand other Texans at our state capitol, a few dozen pro-choicers insisted on parading through with “Abortion on Demand and Without Apology” banners while screaming “Keep Your Rosaries, Off our Ovaries!” That’s pretty standard irreligious stuff, but at the West Cost March for Life, marchers were subjected to a chant with a different wrinkle: “Save the Earth, Don’t Give Birth!” It’s a particularly unfortunate slogan, for it risks obscuring the connections between welcoming the unborn and caring for creation—connections long noted by heroes of the pro-life movement and well worth remembering today.

2. A modest proposal that would allow conservatives to steal the march on maternity leave from fiscal liberals:

You will almost always hear someone intone that America is the only advanced country that doesn’t “have” maternity leave, when, in fact, that’s not true: many companies offer paid maternity leave. To conservatives it is frustrating — and even scary — when progressives do not seem to grasp the difference between something existing and something being made mandatory.

The main problem with the idea of mandatory paid maternity leave is basic economics: Maternity leave of any kind is basically a tax on hiring women, paid leave even more so. And more generally, all labor regulations make hiring people more expensive, depressing employment, as is evident in my home country of France.

3. The Wall Street Journal shares an opinion about what to do about climate change. The best way to reduce impact, they say, is to decrease poverty:

In short, climate change is not worse than we thought. Some indicators are worse, but some are better. That doesn’t mean global warming is not a reality or not a problem. It definitely is. But the narrative that the world’s climate is changing from bad to worse is unhelpful alarmism, which prevents us from focusing on smart solutions.

A well-meaning environmentalist might argue that, because climate change is a reality, why not ramp up the rhetoric and focus on the bad news to make sure the public understands its importance. But isn’t that what has been done for the past 20 years? The public has been bombarded with dramatic headlines and apocalyptic photos of climate change and its consequences. Yet despite endless successions of climate summits, carbon emissions continue to rise, especially in rapidly developing countries like India, China and many African nations.

Alarmism has encouraged the pursuit of a one-sided climate policy of trying to cut carbon emissions by subsidizing wind farms and solar panels. Yet today, according to the International Energy Agency, only about 0.4% of global energy consumption comes from solar photovoltaics and windmills. And even with exceptionally optimistic assumptions about future deployment of wind and solar, the IEA expects that these energy forms will provide a minuscule 2.2% of the world’s energy by 2040.

4. An old blog from Carl Trueman, discussing the trouble with the internet and the democratization of knowledge:

This is where the democratization of knowledge which the web has fuelled is so damaging. Now anybody can spout on anything and find an audience, no matter how hateful or inept or ignorant they are. After all, cyberpsace dissolves the difference between a large, credible denomination, say The Presbyterian Church in America, and some survivalist nutcase out west who gathers with his wife and kids every Sunday and has a webpage entitled `The Presbyterian Church in America (Reconstituted).’ In webworld, both apparently have an equally legitimate existence and an equally legitimate right to be heard. On a more prosaic, and less harmful level, webpages and blogs allow any Tom, Dick or Harriet, regardless of qualification, to hold forth on just about anything. And this is where it all gets so incredibly messy and even, in the technical sense, deconstructive.

5. A thought-provoking book review from Trevin Wax dating to October 2009, which discusses how the German people could have supported the horrors of the holocaust:

The Enlightenment myth is dying a painfully slow death, painful because it is taking so long for people to figure out that it is a sham. The idea that humans are progressing in a continually upward ladder of freedom and power marches on in the 21st century, much like it did at the beginning of the 20th.

Two world wars and the slaughter of millions of innocent civilians have still not eradicated the Enlightenment myth. We continue to believe that now, at the dawn of the 21st century, civilized people are incapable of the atrocities committed during World War II.

But we are wrong. We deceive ourselves.