June 16, 2011, 2:46 pm
Over the weekend I attended two conferences: one in Philadelphia on “Business Ethics and the Eighth Commandment” and one at UCLA titled “Big Footprint: Is Green the New Tyranny?” They didn’t quite rhyme, but they were consonant. The Eighth Commandment—“Thou shalt not steal”—turned out to be a surprisingly rich source of reflection on the financial crises of our time and the moral order needed to foster the kind of prosperity that benefits everyone. The “Big Footprint” conference centered on the thesis that efforts to combat global warming are really a stalking horse for those wish to curtail private property rights and democratic freedom.
These two conferences, though quite different in tone and spirit, were both expressions of discontent with contemporary ideas about how we should conserve and use resources. I want to thread these two conferences together as a …