Thursday, June 14, 2007

Eco-Hypocrisy Corporate Style II

As we look at corporate eco-hypocrisy I am going to refer to a few concepts from economics and the green movement, "Bootleggers and Baptists", rent-seeking and greenwashing.

Bootleggers and Baptists:
"Here is the essence of the theory: durable social regulation evolves when it is demanded by both of two distinctly different groups. “Baptists” point to the moral high ground and give vital and vocal endorsement of laudable public benefits promised by a desired regulation. Baptists flourish when their moral message forms a visible foundation for political action. “Bootleggers” are much less visible but no less vital. Bootleggers, who expect to profit from the very regulatory restrictions desired by Baptists, grease the political machinery with some of their expected proceeds.
They are simply in it for the money."

From Bootleggers and Baptists in Retrospect by Bruce Yandle (the guy who coined the term).

Rent Seeking:
"Until 1974, the term 'rent seeking' did not exist. This term was invented in 1974 by Anne Kreuger in an excellent paper published in the American Economic Review."
From "The Fundamentals of Rent Seeking" by Gordon Tullock in "The Locke Luminary" vol.1, no.2

"Rent seeking occurs when an individual, organization, or firm seeks to make money by manipulating the economic environment rather than by making a profit through trade and production of wealth."
From Wikipedia

Rent-seeking behavior (From: "A Glossary of Political Economy Terms" [Auburn University])

The expenditure of resources in order to bring about an uncompensated transfer of goods or services from another person or persons to one's self as the result of a “favorable” decision on some public policy. The term seems to have been coined (or at least popularized in contemporary political economy) by the economist Gordon Tullock. Examples of rent-seeking behavior would include all of the various ways by which individuals or groups lobby government for taxing, spending and regulatory policies that confer financial benefits or other special advantages upon them at the expense of the taxpayers or of consumers or of other groups or individuals with which the beneficiaries may be in economic competition.

In short it is taking someone's money by gaming the government. The taken are usually the consumer or the taxpayer.

Greenwashing is the unjustified appropriation of environmental virtue by a company, an industry, a government or even a non-government organization to sell a product, a policy or to try and rehabilitate their standing with the public and decision makers after being embroiled in controversy.

From SourceWatch

Part Three