As the mainstream media present wall-to-wall coverage of the wildfires raging in California, the talking heads already have two culprits to blame for destroying celebrities’ homes and killing dozens of residents: Donald Trump and global warming. Like everything else the Fourth Estate gets wrong these days, the press cannot fault the president or climate change for this natural disaster. It is years of gross government mismanagement and regulations that fan the flames.
Trump Has a Point
It might be politically expedient for news anchors and pundits to use Trump or even the private sector’s CO2 emissions as scapegoats. What they fail to realize is that government is the cause of these wildfires, not a billionaire real estate mogul who has been in office for two years.
President Trump made an excellent point about the situation in a recent tweet:
There is no reason for these massive, deadly, and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor. Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!
In 2017, nearly 9,000 blazes were recorded in Northern and Southern California, resulting in an unacceptable tally of deaths and billions of dollars in damages. While it is true that the Golden State is far more susceptible to raging wildfires than Florida or Alabama, these devastating incidents do not have to be the new norm, no matter how many times statists scream at the top of their lungs about climate change and the need for more government.
From land grabs to restrictions, the state has been the one pouring figurative gasoline on the trees, not Mother Nature. Unfortunately, the president is likely to demand more of the same: action from Washington, but by people he thinks are more competent than their predecessors.
So, what is the solution to prevent damage from wildfires?
The answer to that question may rest, surprisingly, with Kanye West and Kim Kardashian.
West Saves the Neighborhood
According to the Daily Mail, West and Kardashian hired private firefighters to save their neighborhood. The power couple relied on a private team to combat the blaze, which ended up saving their $60 million mansion, as well as their neighbors’ homes. Because their humble abode rests at the end of a cul-de-sac situated near a field, the flaming destruction of their home would have produced a domino effect. The private firefighters dug several ditches to establish a fire break that warded off the approaching inferno.
The neighborhood is now grateful for the West family enlisting the services of the private sector.
Why does this matter?
First, it shows that the private sector is more efficient at staving off a fire. Second, private property owners have more of an incentive to employ preventive measures that can ensure such a blaze does not break out; bureaucrats don’t own the territory and have very little at stake other than increased budgets when disasters strike. Third, the market typically offers innovative solutions to either prevent or stop fires, while the red-tape industry relies on ineffective and outdated rules and regulations to achieve this.
The left routinely argues that capitalism is a selfish system, enriching some lives at the expense of others. They believe more government is true altruism. The reality is that selfishness benefits the rest of society. Do you think Kardashian and West cared about their neighbors? Not primarily. They were more concerned about their $60 million property, but this self-interest saved lives and prevented further damage elsewhere.
The situation unfolding today may be blamed on former President Theodore Roosevelt, who promoted the idea that the leviathan is more competent to manage lands than the free market. Some say that you can even go back to the Louisiana Purchase of 1803 that allocated power over new western domains to the federal government.
The results of this blind faith in bureaucracy? Decay, destruction, and death.
To understand most wildfires, Steve Swindle, spokesman for the Ventura County Fire Department, offered a great deal of insight into a devastating forest fire last year with just one sentence: “The fuels in there are thick and they’re dead, so they’re very receptive to fire.”
In forests, dead trees amass, and when saplings are crushed together, they consume water and cause old-growth trees to perish and experience an infestation of bugs. This ties in to the next fact: Today, Washington owns about half the ground in Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Oregon. As a result, logging has plunged approximately 75% in these regions.
The simple solution is not further conservation, but private logging companies to thin the forests. Think about how much damage could be prevented if businesses started thinning these areas. But leaders do not want that to happen because they want to preserve forests in their natural state.
…capitalism does more for nature conservancy than the government or Greenpeace…
Also, as eminent libertarian author, Lew Rockwell, noted, “They are socialist puritans consumed with fear that someone, somewhere, might be making a profit.”
If you don’t believe it’ll work, then look to the Sunshine State or the Peach State, where the feds own 8% and 4%, respectively, of the land. Private forests that offer a large portion of the country’s lumber are maintained by entrepreneurial tree-huggers who realize uncultivated and neglected trees are dangerous. Florida had a third of the wildfires that California had in 2017.
This is evidence, once again, that capitalism does more for nature conservancy than the government or Greenpeace ever could.
Another option that some economists recommend is selling dry tinder rights to non-profit organizations that would manage tinder and other fuels to safe levels. This would be preferable to spending billions of dollars on Soviet-style Five Year Plans.
A Century of Wildfires
Since 1970, the number of large wildfires (consuming 1,000 acres per year) on U.S. Forest Service property has been steadily increasing, from about 20 to as many as 80. Government-paid scientists contend that this is because of man-made global warming. What also has been steadily increasing over the last 50 years? The public takeover of lands.
Clearly, the status quo is not working. Bureaucrats and policymakers will not concede defeat – and why would they? California has already spent more than half of its annual fire budget in 40 days, which means that politicians will demand greater funding, and departments and agencies that receive this money will concur.
It’s the Rahm Emanuel Rule!
Thankfully, there are those in Congress and in California proposing to ease logging permits to eliminate dead trees. The chances of such legislation succeeding are slim to none because of the upcoming Democrat-controlled House and petulant environmentalists on the West Coast.
Whoever proposes a market-based solution to an environmental problem usually is accused of being anti-nature and pro-profit. But why can’t nature and profits coexist? As Liberty Nation reported, the free-enterprise system has intervened numerous times to save beautiful creatures or preserve gorgeous sceneries. Often, the perverse character of the state does more harm to the environment than industry. Government land ownership and state-run services are just more examples of green failures.