Sustainability as a racket

Those of you who read Roy Cordato’s 2008 Macon Research Series report might remember his admonition to political leaders who are interested in sustainability:

So long as there is a free market system, where prices are allowed to fluctuate and entrepreneurs are free to pursue profits through creativity and innovation, sustainable development is assured. Indeed what is most likely to retard this process are government programs meant to manage and direct the timing and kinds of technological change that should be pursued.

The standard view of sustainable development is not rooted in any coherent set of philosophical principles. Advocates for sustainability tend not to focus their arguments on the basis of liberty, equality, or economic efficiency. Instead they push a collection of anti-free market ideas that have made up the core agenda of the major environmental advocacy groups since the 1970s.

Cordato’s work came to mind as I read a Bloomberg Businesweek article about the proliferation of “sustainability analysts and nonprofits” trying to cash in on the rush to rate companies on issues such as “water usage, carbon emissions, workforce diversity, and scores of other factors.” It’s always interesting when people learn how to make a buck out of anti-free market ideas.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...