Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Banning Fireplaces: Environmentalists Strike Indoors

Recent news reports (and on talk shows) show a disturbing trend in an increasingly "environmentally conscious" America. Now that much of what supposedly harms the environment is controlled out of doors, the environmentalist whackos are trying to prevent us from burning wood in our indoor fireplaces. The bans are preventing fireplaces from being installed in new homes and would undoubtedly lead to a natural gas monopoly of the home-heating market.

The differences between wood and propane/natural gas heating are relatively simple: the former is cost-efficient but requires a little extra work while the latter is costly, but requires little work and pollutes slightly less.

In the industrialized and simplified society of the 21st century, where cell phones, computers, and the remote control dominate hundreds of millions (perhaps billions) of lives worldwide, people simply want things to work but care not how it works and who makes it work.

In this case, they'd rather just tap the LCD-panel a few times to heat or cool their home as opposed to lugging around those heavy (sarcasm) logs and stacking them. That is such a tiresome and menial task which went out of style long ago.

I wouldn't be surprised to see a pack of rabid lobbyists swarming city halls across America demanding that fireplaces be banned in their respective cities, perhaps even state or nationwide. Why not? The removal of the fireplace option in new homes as a complement or replacement to central heating would provide the propane/natural gas companies with quite a hefty increase in profits.

In a market-driven economy, where competition reigns, this is entirely unacceptable and patently absurd. If a product is harmful or any number of bad things, consumers replace it with something else that serves a similar purpose. If they don't like Coke, they drink Pepsi. If they don't like a Ford, they drive a Toyota. If they look at data or hear reports that firewood pollutes more than natural gas and decide they don't want to use it anymore, it is their prerogative to seek other means of heating their homes. It is not the place of local, state, or national government to decide whether or not fireplaces are acceptable.

Barriers to economic freedom are popping up more and more in the U.S. and they never fail to harm the people more than they help. Perhaps a small benefit is found as a result of banning smoking in bars and restaurants. However, the costs far exceed that benefit, namely the loss of patronage at these establishments because smokers decide to either go out of town or just go home instead of spending an hour or two at the bar with their pals.

To ban fireplaces would simply insert another roadblock, albeit a small one, in the American marketplace that further impairs consumer freedom.

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