TCS Daily

A Modest Plea for Pollution Control

By Bob Formaini - September 14, 2004 12:00 AM

It is now a well-accepted principle that governments can, through central regulatory control, protect us from whatever it decides is "pollution." The word pollution is not a scientific term; pollution is whatever the people who control discourse on this issue deem it to be. In that spirit, I would like to propose that government get busy at once controlling the most damaging form of pollution the human race has to contend with: mind pollution.

So-called hate crimes laws and political correctness are a weak, inadequate way to deal with the byproducts of mind pollution. They do nothing to prevent the contamination in the first place, and nothing to lessen it after the fact. What we need is total control of mind content by the state so that each of our brains will be protected from ingesting harmful pollutants that can only hurt us -- or others -- after we "consume" them. The pollution of thought is worse than the pollution of water or food or air, and often leads to much worse consequences. It is time that we did something of a serious nature about rising global stupidity and then problems such as global warming will take care of themselves. Our pollution fighting priorities are clearly misplaced. In fact, if we eliminate mind pollution we will, ipso facto, eliminate other types of pollution altogether.

Imagine a world without war because people no longer believe that war solves anything. No more Hitlers, Stalins, or Jim Joneses. No more Saddams or Osamas. Because we prevent the inculcation of mind pollution at the source, we secure the benefits across all human lives for all time. As a cost-benefit issue, things are clear-cut: the benefits of stopping mind pollution far outweigh the costs of tolerating its continuation. There will be some objections from currently polluted minds, naturally, but all are easily dealt with.

Some might object that individuals have the "right" to think whatever they wish, and the "right" to freedom of expression. But there are no such rights, and it is empirically clear that allowing individuals these so-called rights leads to war, famine, genocide, environmental deterioration and a host of lesser, but still serious, phenomena such as racism, sexism and bad breath. The U.S. Constitution is itself a rather extreme example of mind pollution because, as any random college professor can explain to you whether you want to hear it or not, it has led to policies that are devastating for the entire world. "No wonder America is so hated. Almost every problem is our fault." So out goes the Constitution (happily, the federal courts -- handily aided by the Supreme Court -- are well along the road to abolishing the Constitution already).

The government has been tasked with the ascertainment of "truth" for some time. It tells us what is good for us to eat, how much exercise we ought to have, how much sleep, what we should drive and how, where we should live and how, which resources we can use and how -- the list really is endless, and those who support these policies cannot deny the implication that there is some kind of objective mechanism for establishing what is ultimately true and useful and desirable and, therefore, what will be allowed. After all, that is what national -- and international -- scientific bodies are all about. What possible justification can there be to allow the exposition and dissemination of non-truths? They can, in the long run, only cause harm to every one of us.

The media, who believe in government control with a fervor that is commendable, will happily homogenize their future dissemination of ideas and facts. They do a good job of this already, angrily attacking any person or group that argues against their self-believed groupthink truths. What we will do is simply have one media monopoly source -- the state. Our politicians agree, demanding that we amateurs refrain from commenting on them and their performance, and even forbidding us from doing so in the name of "campaign reform." Bravo, we are well on our way.

One Internet site, one channel on television, one of everything -- Then all of us can be relieved of the endless task of searching for what the government already knows to be correct on thousands of sites, in thousands of publications, and on hundreds of radio and television channels. What's the point of all this duplication and resource waste when we already know the truth and can control mind pollution by censoring all non-truths? If only we had pursued this policy forty years ago, Waco would not have been necessary. And Waco is just a small drop in an endless ocean of negative consequences that daily flow from uninterrupted mind pollution.

Children will have to be raised by the state because it is empirically demonstrable that mind pollution begins at home in the family. Therefore, future disinterested caregivers will be superior to, and prevent the inculcation of, the lies, bigotry, falsehoods, and hatreds that parents routinely impart to their offspring. Child abuse will vanish. Poor nutrition for children will disappear. Obesity will disappear as diets will be closely controlled and good eating habits learned by happy children. Those who waste their time praising the Head Start or WIC programs are settling for inept, less-than-halfway measures. If those interventions by the state are good, then total intervention has to be better. The programs will be continually monitored and improved by the application of the latest social science research techniques. Anything would be better than the status quo where people need a license to drive but can have all the children they can create, regardless of the ruinous fiscal and mind pollution consequences. All that will be a distant memory after a generation or two.

There will undoubtedly be implementation issues as we move to a mind pollution-free society, but nothing that can't be handled because, after all, government exists to solve social problems -- as any random professor or journalist will be happy to explain to you. And what problems we will solve! In the future, crime will disappear because children will be properly raised away from those environmental problems that create criminals in the first place. The dreams of our greatest minds, e.g., B. F. Skinner, will finally be realized, and a pollution free utopia will emerge. Clean minds = clean bodies = clean living = social harmony.

Who, besides philosophical Neanderthals whose minds have been hopelessly polluted, can object to these suggestions? Such people don't matter anyway because it won't take long for them to die out. Think carefully about all of this, if you can, and you must logically draw the conclusion that this modest proposal ought to be implemented as soon as possible. Any other conclusion merely shows a polluted mind.

Bob Formaini is CEO of Quantecon, a Dallas-based economic consulting company. He is a TCS contributor.


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