Investment banker Peter Schiff told UFC color commentator Joe Rogan on Wednesday that socialists were making up environmental concerns about “fracking” in a secret plot to take away people’s private property.
The two public figures were debating the role of government regulations on Rogan’s podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience.
“I think also the idea is that the government is going to be the one that is impartial, the government is going to be standing outside looking at this industry, having no vested interest in you profiting over you, or you over you, and say, ‘Hey, these are the rules and this is how we can make this fair and ethical.’ That is the idea that most people have about the government,” Rogan said.
Schiff, an ardent libertarian, said the government did have a vested interest in helping certain companies rather than others because politicians were corrupted by campaign donations. Even if campaign donations from big companies were restricted, the wealthy would still find other ways to influence the government. The only solution, Schiff said, was to limit the power of the government.
“Yeah, but someone has got to keep these corrupt evil f*cks that have billions of dollars from running amok,” Rogan replied.
“Well, who is going to run amok?” Schiff shot back.
“Who is going to run amok? Who is going to run amok? How did this financial crisis happen in the first place?” Rogan remarked.
Schiff said big banks ran amok because they were confident the government would protect them from their own risky behavior. Rogan countered that the big banks appeared to have “acted in hubris” and that humans were naturally inclined to be greedy “a**sholes” who do “wild wacky sh*t.”
But Schiff insisted that a truly free marketplace wouldn’t allow bad actors to rise to the top.
“They’re going to ultimately get weeded out. You don’t build a great lasting business being a scumbag. I mean, maybe you can succeed in the short-run, but eventually you’re going to go away. The free market is going to purge itself of the bad operators.”
The conversation then turned to the natural gas mining technique called hydraulic fracturing or “fracking.” Rogan doubted that the energy industry would actually self-regulate if given the chance.
“I don’t think they would. I think if they were in a situation where they are making billions of dollars and they have some sort of catastrophic oil spill or chemical spill or some sort of disaster, they would cover it up, just like it has been proven it has been done with fracking.”
Schiff said he owned fracking operations in North Dakota and doubted there were any environmental hazards.
“I think you have a lot of people on the left who — they are really socialists, but they don’t want to come out and — or communists or whatever — but so they want to clothe everything in environmentalist language. They really want to take away private property but they don’t want to come out and say it.”
Rogan was unconvinced. He said fracking had polluted drinking water to the extent that it was flammable.
“This is some sick sh*t and they are ruining parts of the country.”
Schiff claimed that more regulations wouldn’t prevent disasters. They would only hurt the economy.
“I’m not saying more regulations,” Rogan replied. “I’m saying, should you do it at all? Just because of the fact that you can do it and make wealth out of it, if you are causing massive environmental disaster should that be OK just because you’re making money?”
He added that Schiff seemed to automatically favor profits over protecting the environment. Rogan said such arguments made “people really nervous about people who are really into the market” and were “callous.”
Schiff said companies that polluted should be held accountable on a case-by-case basis. He said the biggest problem that farmers faced was the government, not pollution.
“I think the dangers are way overblown,” he continued. “I think that maybe you’ve read some things and you’ve seen some of this stuff and I think it is distorting the reality of fracking.”
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