America: Home of the (beer) Can-Do Spirit!
Kreuger Beer was cutting edge.
It didn’t come in a bottle, as nearly every drop of beer consumed in America outside of a bar was previous to its debut in 1940. No, Kreuger came in a can , which was damn near heresy. Beans came in cans, not beer. The Krueger Beer can was funky looking, too: They called it a "conetop" in the beer biz, with a scew-on lid.
It was also a bulky thing, that can, weighing almost two ounces when empty. It had nearly as much steel in it as 88-caliber mortar shell. Eventually, most breweries in the country made the switch to cans, even as these cans remained heavy, steel-laden tanks. In the fullness of time, the "conetop" was replaced with a cheaper flat-top, that had to be opened with a "church key", the ubiquitous and cunning little 1950′s tool that punched triangular holes in the lid. (The holes, you see, revealed the "heaven" inside–thus the religious allusion.)
Then came Coors, which, in 1963 introduced the "cold rolled" aluminum beer can. When empty, the aluminum can weighed a little over an ounce. And, while the raw material to make an aluminum can was twice as much to purchase, it was much easier and cheaper to ship. This innovation allowed Coors to build into a regional brand.
In 1963, a single, one-pound ingot of aluminum which Coors used would make roughly 14 beer cans.
Now, Coors, like every other business in America, was always seeking ways to make more profit with less material. So, Coors asked it’s can manufacturers if they could make them cheaper. In short order, that yield from a one-pound ingot was up to 18 cans per pound. Today, a single pound of aluminum will make 34 cans, more than doubling the original efficiency.
This inspiring bit of technological advance wasn’t gained by well-heeled scolds like Al Gore and Paul Erlich breathing down the necks of brewers to save the planet. In our age of Government-enforced scarcity, we ask, what caused beer manufacturers (of all people) to be such good stewards of our benighted natural resources?
The free market.
This is only one small (but very important) example which demonstrates that unfettered access to raw materials at market prices in a free, capital-based mercantile economy is the best system devised by man to make the highest and best use of raw materials, with the least amount of waste. Entropy does not explain the raw-material efficiencies gained a in free-market economy. Only the creative and dynamic mind of man explains it, when combined with untrammeled free societies and free markets.
–Which is also why, as a matter of public policy, nearly every vestige of environmentalism must be opposed.
Environmentalism only encourages waste and inefficiency. For example, composite-plastic decking material requires almost 50 times more electricity to bring to market, versus good old-fashion southern yellow pine or redwood decking. But, in our zeal to prove, well, I’m not sure what , we’ve proven we can do something with old blow-molded milk jugs by turning them into deck material–, even though the plastic milk jug itself was a quantum leap in efficiency over glass milk bottles or waxed cardboard.
Time and again, we can easily find the cunning efficiencies that free markets create. A plastic milk jug weighs only a fraction of what a glass milk jug weighed, and it uses much less fuel to bring it to market.
All a person has to do is visit a local rummage shop or flea market to enjoy the entire pantheon of efficiencies gained in the use of raw materials in a free-market economy. While the oldsters may bemoan the fact that a new belt-sander is made almost entirely of space-age polymers, that old Porter-Cable half-inch chuck, worm-drive drill weighed forty pounds, and used ten times the amount of wound copper as its modern cousin.
Keep looking around the antique shop: See those radios? They had tubes in them that sucked electricity, blew off tons of heat, and had housings made of clear white oak. Nowadays, radios (when you can find one for sale) are made of a cup of petroleum, and a couple teaspoons of sand. The only copper in one is the 18-gauge electrical cord that plugs in the wall. Unless, that is, the radio runs of a 9-volt battery, which weighs nothing compared to it’s 12-volt dry-cell predecessor of the 1940′s.
If one were to listen to the modern 23-year old, angst-y environmentalist, you would think that Capitalism has destroyed the planet. No, capitalism is what allows them to travel from Detroit to Washington in less than a day in a private vehicle they can sit down in, that doesn’t require thousands of tons of forged iron and steel and a steam boiler that runs on felled virgin timber. Everywhere a denizen of our modern culture turns, they can witness the ever-increasingly efficient use of raw materials that a vigorous capitalist society creates. Wasted resources in a capitalism equals wasted money, and wasted money equals business collapse–which is what creates the carrot on the end of the stewardship stick.
In their efforts to assuage the guilt they feel (the reasons for which are more appropriately left to psychologists) about life in a amazingly efficient modern society, environmentalists seek to destroy these efficiencies through market disclocation and enforced scarcity. Oil prices are up, for example, not because of a general shortage of petroleum by wasteful capitalists, but rather through government action against sound currency and against refined products. When the markets were left relatively free through the 1980′s, the prices of oil plummeted as more and more reserves were discovered by the actions of the free market, and more efficient methods of cracking petroleum into its component parts were discovered.
In pre-war America, nearly every urban home was heated by an individual coal-fired furnace in the basement. These behemoth were likely made out of cast iron, sat on a reinforced concrete pad, and burned a couple tons of coal during heating season. The snow in the cities would quickly turn gray from the fly-ash and soot, and the kids raced out early to play in it before it got all dirty. Trucks roamed the city streets delivering coal.
Now, by virtue of the Stewardship Stick, homes are heated with piped-in natural gas, by high-efficiency furnaces that emit only water vapor out a pipe made from polyvinyl chloride. And the snow stays white, except where the neighborhood designer dog has piddled about. These advances weren’t made by government fiat: They were made by the demands of stock-holders, customers, and merchants.
For these reasons, conservatives and conservatism must be full-throated and passionate defenders of free markets, and of unfettered access to lendable capital. Conservatives must also be willing to take on so-called environmentalists, and point the finger of "waste" back at them.
For example, recycling almost anything other than bauxite and some fiber-boards uses more raw material and energy than starting with virgin components. Higher fuel-economy standards for domestic automobiles kill 20,000 Americans every year, while the natural evolution of the automobile and its attendant markets for 60 years prior to the introduction of CAFE standards created automobiles that every year were improvements in power-to-raw material ratios. Now, all these years later, we are merely picking the gnat-crap of fuel-efficiency out of the pepper of government mandate, with little improvement in fuel economy year-over-year, especially in the context of vehicle cost.
Environmentalism is wasteful, and at it’s core, is anti-American. We put more beer in lighter and fewer cans. Need we say more?