Thinking Out Loud

November 10, 2018

Environmental Social Contract

Either my memory is fading, or the version of “social contract theory” that I was taught in university had less to do with the role government, and more to do with the individuals in a society — even a local neighborhood — acting in practical ways toward mutual deference to each other. offers this:

1. the voluntary agreement among individuals by which, according to any of various theories, as of Hobbes, Locke, or Rousseau, organized society is brought into being and invested with the right to secure mutual protection and welfare or to regulate the relations among its members.

2. an agreement for mutual benefit between an individual or group and the government or community as a whole.

In my view, when I’m driving down an undivided highway I am trusting that the car coming the opposite way will stay in its lane, and he or she is trusting that I will do the same.

When the neighbor across the road is changing his oil, I’m trusting he won’t pour the old oil into the municipal sewer system which goes into the lake, from which we get our drinking water.

But I’ve seen that done, close up.

When the other neighbor, who runs the chemical pesticide lawn treatment business needs to empty the tank on his truck, I’m trusting he won’t just drive to the abandon lot and dump the contents onto the soil.

But I’ve seen that done, relatively close up.

On a macro scale, I’m also trusting that the industrial and commercial businesses in our region won’t release toxins into the air through their smokestacks and won’t discharge carcinogenic chemicals into our lakes and rivers.

But we know that happens.

This may be a bit biased, but in the case of those macro infractions, I think that factories and manufacturing plants in America are more likely to see their legislators avert their eyes than what we see in my country. In the U.S., profit is king. The rights of business take precedence.  Which is interesting because, nominally at least, Americans would claim a much higher percentage of people identifying as Christians, and one view of scripture teaches that we ought to be caring for (stewarding) the earth, while another (possibly overlapping) view teaches that while the earth as we know it may be destroyed, the planet itself won’t be and in fact becomes a “New Earth” that we will inhabit in eternity.

Realistically, there doesn’t seem to be a solid entrenchment of environmental social contract in place. While themes like water pollution and air pollution don’t dominate either our conversations or our pop songs like they once did, we still treat the earth with relative disdain.



November 24, 2016

Giftware Can Inspire but Uses Scarce Resources to Manufacture

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:38 am

christian-kitschA few days ago Zach Hunt posted a picture to Twitter which reminded me of one of my constant rants, namely the amount of scarce and costly resources that are used to manufacture items in the broadly defined category of giftware.

While some items are truly inspirational, and there is a scriptural precedent for adorning your house with such things (see Deut 6:9, Duet 11:3,) many items are simply wasteful, especially when you zoom out from Bible-themed gifts to the broad gift industry. (We regularly visit a liquidation warehouse for such things and always see a skid piled high with resin tabletop items made to look as though shaped with human excrement. Guess that one didn’t sell.)

barcodeSo here’s the rant: I would argue that in order to obtain a bar-code (a UPC) you would have to appear before a tribunal and argue why the manufacture of your product is necessary. In other words, before you start fabricating anything (other than a sample) you would need to prove to a governing body (operating in regional centers) why scarce resources should be sacrificed for the making of that item.

Since it’s basically impossible to get anything into the distribution and retail system unless it bears a bar-code, you would be told whether or not what you’ve come up with contributes to society.

I recognize that from an American perspective this is very anti-business or anti-capitalist; but I would think from a European perspective you might see acceptance of this type of screening filter.



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