Archive for the ‘Reisman Rule’ Category

For climate fever, take two open-air atom bombs & call me in the morning; "serious" libertarian suggestions from Kinsella & Reisman!?

November 4th, 2009 No comments

First, George Reisman, and now, Stephan Kinsella.  I have asked two of our leading lights whether they and libertarians are striving for a self-satisfied irrelevancy on climate issue, or wish to be taken seriously, and they both, with self-professed seriousness, announced that we should, in Stephan`s words, “investigate nuclear winter as a way to offset alleged global warming“.

I`m afraid these proposals leave me a bit stunned. On first blush – nay, lengthy consideration – such proposals can not in the least be considered libertarian, or something libertarians could countenance. This is the way to libertarian relevancy, and to take both the challenge of statist climate change proposals and libertarianism itself seriously? 

I don`t get it – is this obvious sarcasm or straightforward mockery of climate concerns, an inside joke, from which suspected “watermelons” are excluded, or am I just not on the right sober, libertarian wave-length?

And am I the only one who notices and is jarred by the cognitive dissonance in these messages from our leading lights? You know – puny man can`t possibly be affecting the climate, but if so, it`s something we can easily fix with a little “geo-engineering” (even if we have to use the state), so let`s just let our little ongoing and uncontrolled world-wide climate geo-engineering experiment continue?

Readers` help appreciated!

I copy below relevant passages, both from Dr. Reisman and from Stephan (emphasis added).

1.  George Reisman: Global Warming: Environmentalism’s Threat of Hell on Earth  March 16, 2007 (emphasis added):

In contrast to the policy of the environmentalists, there are rational
ways of cooling the earth if that is what should actually be necessary,
ways that would take advantage of the vast energy base of the modern
world and of the still greater energy base that can be present in the
future if it is not aborted by the kind of policies urged by the

Ironically, the core principle of one such method has been put
forward by voices within the environmental movement itself, though not
at all for this purpose. Years ago, back in the days of the Cold War,
many environmentalists raised the specter of a “nuclear winter.”
According to them, a large-scale atomic war could be expected to
release so much particulate matter into the atmosphere as to block out
sunlight and cause weather so severely cold that crops would not be
able to grow. …

Certainly, there is no case to be made for an atomic war. But there is a case for considering the possible detonation, on
uninhabited land north of 70° latitude, say, of a limited number of
hydrogen bombs. The detonation of these bombs would operate in the same
manner as described above, but the effect would be a belt of particles
starting at a latitude of 70° instead of 30°. The presence of those
particles would serve to reduce the amount of sunlight reaching most of
the Arctic’s surface. The effect would be to maintain the frigid
climate of the region and to prevent the further melting of its ice or,
if necessary, to increase the amount of its ice. Moreover, the process
could be conducted starting on a relatively small scale, and then
proceed slowly. This would allow essential empirical observations to be
made and also allow the process to be stopped at any time before it
went too far.

This is certainly something that should be seriously considered by
everyone who is concerned with global warming and who also desires to
preserve modern industrial civilization and retain and increase its
amenities. If there really is any possibility of global warming so
great as to cause major disturbances, this kind of solution should be
studied and perfected. Atomic testing should be resumed for the purpose
of empirically testing its feasibility.

2.  Stephan Kinsella & TokyoTom, Physicist Howard Hayden’s one-letter disproof of global warming claims  October 29, 2009

Stephan Kinsella October 30, 2009 10:03 AM

If there were really global warming why not just use “nuclear winter”
to cool things down?
You don’t see the envirotards advocating that! 🙂 (see Greenpeace to advocate nuking the earth?)


TokyoTom November 3, 2009 4:01 AM

Austrians know very well that resource battles very often become
politicized as soon as government steps in; are “misanthropes” and
“rotten watermelons” responsible for the state grant of public utility
monopolies, the lack of court enforcement of common law rights to
protect property from state-licensed corporation that led to massive
pollution problems, the massive state role in the development of
nuclear weapons (that you & George Reisman mock-seriously suggest
the federal govt ought to start using again in the open atmosphere) ….


Stephan Kinsella November 3, 2009 8:00 AM

I don’t remember Reisman’s proposal, but I never said the feds should do it. I’m an anarchist, remember?


3.  Stephan Kinsella & TokyoTom, In which I applaud another balanced, productive post by Dr. Reisman, and draw attention to a post by Lew Rockwell on the need for more power competition (Apr 23 2009)


# Friday, April 24, 2009 2:27 PM
Stephan Kinsella

left yabbers about nuclear winter caused by nuclear bombs. This implies
nukes can be used to cool things down. The left yabbers about global
warming. Why is it unreasonable to investigate whether nuclear bombs
could not be used to cool things down and offset global warming? Which
one of these two contentions are you watermelons not serious about?

# Friday, April 24, 2009 9:45 PM

I was just talking about the frumious bandersnatch and in walks the
yabberwocky!  Such coincidences are to be celebrated!

But surely you`re not serious about open air nuke tests to combat
climate change, but Reisman was, and on the LVMI main pages.  His
discussion was not the type of facetious one you throw out to dodge
addressing it.  You disappoint me.

What the left yabbers about is worth mocking, but anyone worth his
salt as a libertarian would do like Lew and spend a little time
acknowledging that preferences for green power, etc. are perfectly
fine, explaining that the reason for their frustration is public
utility regulation that stifles competition and protects utilities, and
suggesting approaches that would foster consumer goals while advancing

But it`s so much funner to be like George, right?

What would Ludwig von Mises have said?…/draft.aspx (quoting Reisman`s translation)


# Sunday, April 26, 2009 2:25 PM
Stephan Kinsella

it’s time to drop your sarcasm and just be direct and clear. I am
serious–why not investigate nuclear winter as a way to offset alleged
global warming?

As for all the fulminating against global warming… are you aware
that we are in an interglacial period, probably somewhere near the
middle? The earth is bound to start cooling and heading towards another
ice age before long. If global warming is real, it will only delay
this–which is good. In any event, suppose we impoverish ourselves to
slightly decrease the warming for a few decades, until natural cooling
starts anyway. Why do this.


# Friday, May 08, 2009 7:54 PM

thanks for your comment, but I`ve been preoccupied.  However, it`s hard
to believe that you want Dr. Reisman`s suggested testing of atom bombs
in the Arctic to be taken seriously from ANY perspective, much less a
libertarian one.  There are obvious issues about the role of
government, consent and compensation of those facing fallout risks, the
problem of interfering with Arctic ecosystems and access to resources
that are coming available as a result of thawing, potential releases of
methane by the explosions themselves, plus small things like
international treaties as crf notes.

Are you suggesting that I`m “fulminating” about “global warming”?
 I`ve just been trying to steer the discussion from fulminations by
Reisman (and fawning worshippers) towards actual libertarian principles
and productive engagement.

“are you aware that we are in an interglacial period … Why do this”?

I don`t agree with your suppositions, but at least they provide a start for conversation.  

My reading indicates that climatologists agree that the Milankovich
cycles are in a unique period of overlap and, given the forcings that
we have already made (starting millenia ago with albedo changes/methane
releases resulting from agriculture), this interglacial is expected to
last for another 50,000 years, and that man`s activity is by far the
largest climate forcing variable – and we`re only heading north.  This
involves heavy pollution and will be accompanied by other large costs
to private and shared assets, including drastic changes in ocean
chemistry and ecosystems.

Mises, Yandle and others recognize that societies invested in
establishing informal and formal private and communal property rights
systems in order to tame tragedy of the commons problems and lead to
more efficient plan formation; IMHO it`s time for us to start managing
our atmosphere and oceans, instead of allowing those who profit from
exploiting these resources (a wealthy class of investors and
executives) to continue to do so while playing a rent-seekers` and
spoilers`s game that allows them to continue to shift costs to the rest
of us.

A focus on this will also help to shift down the environmental
Kuznets curve and improve the protection of private health and property
in China and elsewhere.


4. Greenpeace to advocate nuking the earth?

Scientist publishes ‘escape route’ from global warming
reports the emergency plan to save the world from global warming, by
altering the chemical makeup of Earth’s upper atmosphere. Professor
Paul Crutzen, who won a Nobel Prize in 1995 for his work on the hole in
the ozone layer, believes that political attempts to limit man-made
greenhouse gases are so pitiful that a radical contingency plan is
needed. … he says that an “escape route” is needed if global warming
begins to run out of control. … Professor Crutzen has proposed a method
of artificially cooling the global climate by releasing particles of
sulphur in the upper atmosphere, which would reflect sunlight and heat
back into space.”

Hey, if that doesn’t work, why not use the phenomenon of nuclear winter to cool things down? You know, explode a few nukes, kick up dust, cool things down. Any takers? Greenpeace? Earth First?

In which I applaud another balanced, productive post by Dr. Reisman, and draw attention to a post by Lew Rockwell on the need for more power competition

April 23rd, 2009 11 comments

[Snark Factor:  Ridiculously High]

In honor of Earth Day, yesterday Dr. George Reisman, Professor Emeritus of Economics at Pepperdine University and author of Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics, put up a fun little post that mocks the full-employment arguments made by President Obama on behalf of environmentalists and investors in the wind and solar power industries.

On the comment thread, I couldn`t resist expressing my appreciation, while introducing newer readers to the deeper challenge to which Dr. Reisman invites his readers:

I too have enjoyed another delightful article from Dr. Reisman; bravo!

But Dr. Reisman`s style does seem to present problems of
interpretation for some readers, whom do not seem to understand that
while Dr. Reisman appears to simply be bashing environmentalists or
environmentalism generally (by focussing on the most absurd arguments
that some of them offer), he is in fact challenging his readers to do
precisely what he has studiously avoided.

That is, far from simply pulling the wings off of flies as he might
seem to some, Dr. Reisman is actually suggesting that serious students
of economics and libertarian approaches to society should diligently:

  • – seek to engage others productively and with sympathy, in a manner
    carefully designed to improve the functioning of markets and ancillary
    institutions that enhance plan formation across society;

    – note that there are many important, valuable open-access/unowed
    resources and government-owned resources – in which property rights and
    pricing mechanisms are working poorly at best;

    – acknowledge that while proposed “solutions” offered by
    environmentalists may be misguided, enviros have legitimate preferences
    as to how such resources should be protected, managed and distributed;

    – recognize that the concerns of enviros frequently arise in
    response to government interventions have clearly benefitted powerful
    insiders, including wealthy investors and large enterprises, while
    shifting costs and risks more broadly.

    As a result, Dr. Reisman`s tongue-in-cheek posts are in fact searing
    of the status quo and tbe fat cats who are using government
    to stifle open competition, consumer choice and innovation, while
    frequently generating large external costs. Unlike some who spoil the
    fun by engaging in the pedestrian task of spelling out the problems
    with the status quo that enviros are right to be dissatisfied with, Dr.
    Reisman treats his readers as adults by bracingly challenging them to
    use their thinking caps and to clear their own heads.

    For those for whom this task is too difficult, perhaps this piece by Lew Rockwell might be a good start:

    “Just who is in charge of getting electricity to residents? A
    public utility, which, in the absurd American lexicon, means
    “state-run” and “state-managed,” perhaps with a veneer of private
    trappings. If you look at the electrical grid on a map, it is organized
    by region. If you look at the jurisdiction of management, it is
    organized by political boundaries.

    “In other ways, the provision of power is organized precisely as
    a central planner of the old school might plan something: not according
    to economics but according to some textbook idea of how to be
    “organized.” It is “organized” the same way the Soviets organized grain
    production or the New Deal organized bridge building.

    “All of centralization and cartelization began nearly a century
    ago, as Robert Bradley points out in Energy: The Master Resource, when
    industry leaders obtained what was known as a regulatory covenant. They
    received franchise protection from market competition in exchange for
    which they agreed to price controls based on a cost-plus formula — a
    formula that survives to this day.

    “Then the economists got involved ex post and declared that
    electrical power is a “public good,” under the belief that private
    enterprise is not up to the job of providing the essentials of life.

    “What industry leaders received from this pact with the devil was
    a certain level of cartel-like protection, the same type that the
    English crown granted tea or the US government grants first-class
    postal mail. It is a government privilege that subjects them to
    regulation and immunizes companies from business failure. It’s great
    for a handful of producers, but not so great for everyone else.

    “There are many costs. Customers are not in charge. They are
    courted only for political reasons but they are not the first concern
    of the production process. Entrepreneurial development is hindered. Our
    current system of electrical provision is stuck in time. Meanwhile,
    sectors that provide DSL and other forms of internet and
    telecommunication services are expanded and advancing day by day — not
    with perfect results but at least with the desire to serve consumers.

    “How New York and California consumers would adore a setting in
    which power companies were begging for their business and encouraging
    them to turn down their thermostats to the coldest point. Competition
    would lead to price reductions, innovation, and an ever greater variety
    of services — the same as we find in the computer industry.

    “What we are learning in our times is that no essential sector of
    life can be entrusted to the state. Energy is far too important to the
    very core of life to be administered by a bureaucracy that lacks the
    economic means to provide for the public. How it should be organized we
    can’t say in advance: it should be left to the markets. Whatever the
    result, you can bet the grid would not look like it does today, nor
    would its management be dependent on the whims of political

    What we need today is full, radical, complete, uncompromised
    deregulation and privatization. We need competition. That doesn’t mean
    that we need two or more companies serving every market (though that
    was common up through the 1960s). What we need is the absence of legal
    barriers to enter the market.

    Thanks, again, Dr. Reisman, for challenging us, and not pandering to the dullest and laziest among us, the way Lew Rockwell does!

    Your admiring pupil (and fellow enviro-hater),


  • Published: April 23, 2009 5:32 AM


For those who think that Dr. Reisman is being serious in his one-sided attack on enviros while ignoring the problems of ongoing rent-seeking by entrenched statist corporations, I would be pleased to refer to other posts in which he is clearly posting tongue-in-cheek and intends no rancor or imbalance.  A good example would be his light-hearted post in March 2007, Global Warming: Environmentalism’s Threat of Hell on Earth, in which Dr. Reisman appeared to seriously argue that

there is a case for considering
the possible detonation, on uninhabited land north of 70° latitude,
say, of a limited number of hydrogen bombs. … This is certainly
something that should be seriously considered by everyone who is
concerned with global warming and who also desires to preserve modern
industrial civilization and retain and increase its amenities.
there really is any possibility of global warming so great as to cause
major disturbances, this kind of solution should be studied and
perfected. Atomic testing should be resumed for the purpose of empirically testing its feasibility.

While apparently serious, how could this possibly be a libertarian, nonstatist proposal?  The answer clearly MUST be – since Dr. Reisman is a lover of freedom and markets, and not of big government, goverment-run mega projects or statist corporate rent-seeking  – that Dr. Reisman was NOT being serious.  Instead, in his usual playful manner, he was simply inviting his readers to see through his words, and to productively engage those who are concerned with climate or other commons issues, on the basis of a cool consideration of libertarian and market principles.

Inquiring minds might like to note that I have remarked on Dr. Reisman`s  productive and insightful playfulness on a number of other occasions, on top of comments on his environment-related posts,  which have been fertilizing the LVMI pages since the 2005 Earth Day.


Holiday joy: roasting "watermelons" on an open pyre!

December 17th, 2007 1 comment

[snark on]

One of Sean Corrigan’s threads brings us not only more information on handy Misesean definitions, but a path towards Yuletide joy.  (For those of you who have not been reading them, Sean’s columns and comment threads are truly gifts that keep on giving.) 

In this case, we learn more about “watermelons”, and how to enjoy them.

– In the second comment on Corrigan’s “Heroic opposition to the Bali-hoo on AGW”,, one reader capably summarizes what I call the “Corrigan Creed” (sometimes known as the “Reisman Rule”), which is now ensconced as a seemingly venerable part of the Mises Blog orthodoxy:

Evidence does not deter the global warming crowd. Nor does a list of dissenters. Dissent is viewed in the same light as denying the holocaust. Global warming is the new religion.

It also serves as a handy excuse to grab power. This is what Al Gore and his fellow “watermelons” are really after. Scare the masses and the elites can get away with perpetrating any fraud imaginable, including the notion that governments can change the weather.

Posted by: Steve Hogan at December 13, 2007 9:22 PM 

– After first swallowing Corrigan’s commendable suggestion that the very noticeable and widespread warming of the Arctic may be due to localized geothermal heating in one remote corner of Greenland (as opposed to the seven degrees Fahrenheit rise in air temperatures over the past 15 years bandied about by so-called “scientists”), reader IMHO, sadly behind on important lingo, implores:

BTW, would someone please be kind enough to explain to me the use of the term “watermelon” and its relationship towards those who support global warming? Thanks! 🙂

Posted by IMHO at December 15, 2007 1:20 PM

– Faithful follower Dennis – who nobly objects to the “goose step” advance of “statism and the revolt against reason” in much of the academic/intellectual and media worlds and to the “perversion of reason-based discourse and truth that has been fostered by an alliance of rent-seeking politicians, court ‘intellectuals’ (including many natural scientists), bureaucrats, statist businessmen, and others” – helpfully and ably explicates the term:

The term “watermelon” is used by some to describe an individual that is allegedly green (environmentally friendly) on the outside, but red (socialist), on the inside. As to its relationship to global warming, I believe that you can make the inference.

Posted by Dennis at December 15, 2007 1:47 PM

– For the sake of making the “inference” perfectly clear, I offered IMHO the following further color (further emphasis added) on how Miseseans view global warming “watermelons”:

Further to Dennis, in other words, “watermelon” is a venerable ad hominem here, useful for Miseseans to put fingers in their ears and dismiss what practically everyone who disagrees with them on climate change – from our national academies of science on down – has to say.

The trick is to first dismiss the evil “enviros” – you know, that class of rent-seekers that Rothbard and others tell us were created when statist corporations managed to subvert common law protections against polution damage to property – by focussing on their efforts to use the state to control corprations, while resolutely ignoring not only corporate statism but what Austrian economics tells us about how markets and private transaction are inefficient with respect to resources that are not clear owned or protected by enforceable property rights.

Then, having dismissed those wacky “watermelons”, we can simply ignore everyone else, by jeering at the enviros and thereby implicitly imputing to the whole scientific, economic, business and government community the same malevolent and stupid misanthropism.

Neat trick, isn`t it?

IOW, enviros should be burned at the stake for the heresy of trying to use the state to solve a possible problem, and everyone else, who have gullibly been corrupted by them, ignored. In this way, we can cleanse the body politic and avoid serious mistakes. See?

[Serious people know that only irreproachable commentators like Dr. Reisman get to suggest that we use the state to address possible climate change:

there is a case for considering the possible detonation, on uninhabited land north of 70° latitude, say, of a limited number of hydrogen bombs. … This is certainly something that should be seriously considered by everyone who is concerned with global warming and who also desires to preserve modern industrial civilization and retain and increase its amenities. If there really is any possibility of global warming so great as to cause major disturbances, this kind of solution should be studied and perfected. Atomic testing should be resumed for the purpose of empirically testing its feasibility.“]

– Enjoying the occasion, another reader reaffirms his willingness to partake in the Misesean ritual:

Did someone say ‘stake’? 🙂 I’ll prepare the pyre!

Posted by Inquisitor at December 16, 2007 11:02 AM 

– Whom I promptly commended:

Good boy, Inquisitor!

Now, we just need Sean, a “neopyrrho” or somesuch to light the fire, and we can neatly cleanse the world of misanthropic scum!

Enviro-haters, unite!



O what fun, what joy and conviviality, the Austrian community offers!  And how appropriate for the season! 

Who but a Scrooge would fail to agree with the reasoned Misesean revolt against revolting unreason, or to heed the clarion, heart-warming call to roast the Beast?

As the solstice arrives, let us rejoice in the Good News that the gathering forces of Darkness have been defeated at Bali by the voices of reason – spines stiffened by PR from the clear-eyed contrarians trumpeted by Corrigan, and champions of liberty and free markets in Russia (where the overlords are firmly opposed to measures that would reduce their personal wealth and growing influence on oil markets); a new dawn of light and reason must surely be ahead of us!

So let us enjoy the spirit of the holiday, I say!  As “Inquisitor” suggests, let us assemble a few watermelons, gather with our brethren ’round the cleansing pyre, remember the words of the angels on the first Christmas (announcing “Peace on Earth; goodwill towards men who slay enviros”), and sing merry holiday songs, like “What fun it is to ride and sing, a slaying song tonight” and “Enviros roasting on an open pyre”!

And then, united in fellowship and renewed in purpose, we can arise fresh in the dawn of a New Year, to proclaim our undying dedication to Reason and, linking arms, boldly step out in glorious battle against the evil, goose-stepping, man-hating watermelons.  AFTER we’ve defeated the RED herrings, THEN we can turn our attention to their bootlicking sycophants – throughout the world’s scientific, economic, business and government communities – who have swallowed the enviros’ KoolAid.

And with Reason (not to mention love of mankind and brotherhood) on our side, how can we fail to prevail?!