Huber, Peter W.  Hard Green
New York: 1999. ISBN 0465031129
Pages 144-6 and 184-5

“Efficiency” planners have been around a lot longer than Soft Greens. Socialism, recall, was “Scientific.” It wasn’t just going to make cars or refrigerators efficient, it was going to make whole economies efficient. It was going to wring the waste out of capitalism itself. Yet centrally planned industrialism, for all its desperate pursuit of efficient production, produced far fewer amps and ingots than the honestly efficient capitalists. Everywhere they came to power, central planners laid waste.

Economic waste, and environmental waste, too. They despoiled the environment with gross, arrogant, blundering, callous, stupid savagery almost unimaginable to us capitalists. Murray Feshbach and Alfred Friendly, Jr., set out some of the appalling details in a 1992 book, Ecocide in the USSR. For seventy-five years, the Commies systematically poisoned the air, soil, and water of one-sixth of the Earth’s land mass, stretching from Poland to the Pacific. Draining the Aral Sea in Central Asia to irrigate cotton fields, they precipitated the “greatest single, man-made ecological catastrophe in history.” In Western Siberia they poisoned the Tom River and the Angara River, and hence Lake Baikal, the Enisel, and the waters northward to the Artic Ocean. In European Russia they poisoned the Volga, Dnieper, and Don. In the steel city of Magnitogorsk their open hearth furnaces dumped 870,000 tons of atmospheric pollutants per year into the air. “No other great industrial civilization so systematically and so long poisoned its land, air, water and people.”

Wendell Berry  “The Idea of a Local Economy
Orion Magazine, Winter 2001

The economic theory used to justify the global economy in its "free market" version is again perfectly groundless and sentimental. The idea is that what is good for the corporations will sooner or later - though not of course immediately - be good for everybody.

That sentimentality is based in turn, upon a fantasy: the proposition that the great corporations, in "freely" competing with one another for raw materials, labor, and marketshare, will drive each other indefinitely, not only toward greater "efficiencies" of manufacture, but also toward higher bids for raw materials and labor and lower prices to consumers. As a result, all the world¹s people will be economically secure - in the future. It would be hard to object to such a proposition if only it were true.

Sagoff, Mark.  The Economy of the Earth
New York: ISBN 0521341132
Page 6

In this book, I shall argue against the use of the efficiency criterion in social regulation, and against the idea that workplace, consumer-product, and environmental problems exist largely because “commodities” like environmental pollution, workplace safety, and product safety are not traded in markets. I shall argue, in contrast, that these problems are primarily moral, aesthetic, cultural, and political and that they must be addressed in those terms. The notion of allocatory efficiency and related concepts in the literature of resource economics, as I shall show, have become academic abstractions and serve today primarily to distract attention from the moral, cultural, and political and that they must be addressed in those terms. The notion of allocatory efficiency and related concepts in the literature of resource economics, as I shall show, have become academic abstractions and serve today primarily to distract attention from the moral, cultural, aesthetic, and political purposes on which social regulation is appropriately based.

This is not to say that I oppose markets or that I am insensitive to the many virtues of a free market economy. I do not deny that competition is an important value—it is surely one that Americans cherish—or that economic regulation and deregulation, insofar as they enhance competition, are prima facie good things. Like Dr. Kneese, moreover, I respect private property ownership and the freedom of individual choice.

Heilbroner, Robert L.  Business Civilization in Decline
Norton: 1976 ISBN 039305571X
Page 87

In place of the sprawling and inefficient nation-states that interpose their arbitrary and irregular boundaries over the globe, the multinationals offer the vision of world production organized along "transnational" lines designed to promote efficiency and technical superiority. They appear, therefore, to the archaic nation-state, what the nation-state itself was to the disorganized crazy-quilt of feudal autarchy. Already bigger and more powerful, in financial terms, than any but the largest nations, they suggest that capitalist enterprise, freed from the confines of its cramping national borders, will find in its multinational existence the organizational form required for its survival.

If this contention is true, it would profoundly alter our previous assessment of the survival capacities of a business civilization. But is it true? The impressive reach of multinational power does indeed suggest that some great sea change is underway. But here is where the picture becomes obscure and confusing. Consider, to begin with, the following thumbnail description of the multinational economy whose salient features we have been examining:

Sagoff, Mark. “Environmental Economics
Page 11 and 19

Prosperity, that is, the macroeconomic performance of a society—expressed in measurements of employment, inflation, interest rates, balance of trade, etc. depends on such things as fiscal and monetary policy, the education and skill levels of citizens, their technological progress and prowess, and so on, far more than on the efficiency of resource utilization for consumption....

Pollution control provides a clear example of the opposition between utilitarian and deontological or rule-based conceptions of collective choice. A utilitarian approach regards pollution primarily as an external or social cost of production and therefore may seek to “internalize” this cost in prices paid for goods and services that pollute. A Kantian perspective, in contrast, regards pollution as a form of coercion, invasion, or trespass to be regulated as a violation of the rights of person and property. From this perspective, pollution constitutes a tort or nuisance—like a punch in the nose. Thus, pollution control protects the rights of individuals against trespass, which is not the same thing as—indeed, it may conflict with—satisfying their consumer desires or preferences.

Podgorecki, Adam.  Social Engineering
Canada: 1996. ISBN 0886292700
Pages 51-2

The first methodological stage of the paradigm of efficient social action consists of an examination of the social problem. The question at hand is whether the state of affairs regarded as difficult, creating tension, close to explosion or potentially dangerous, should be sociotechnically investigated, or whether to question the initial perception as being possibly biased.

Reflection on this subject should result in a decision to place this problem under investigation or reject it as spurious, exaggerated or untreatable. (For a more detailed discussion on social problems see Henshel 1976, and Kubin 1979).

The second methodological stage of this paradigm of purposeful social action involves fixing the hierarchical order of social priorities and ideological values deemed appropriate to the means and ends of the sociotechnical activity. in this stage those values seemingly important to the potential activity should be assembled, clarified, set into a hierarchical order, and analyzed for possible vagueness or contradiction.

Shulevitz, Uri.  Toddlecreek Post Office
New York: 1990
Page 1

The postal inspector surveyed the post office for a very long time. Then she entered and walked slowly around, without saying a word. She stopped to scrutinize the barn-dance announcements, and the notices on the bulletin board.

She examined the other books that Sally Boone had left. She looked at Dexter Shuffles and Charlie Ax. Then she glared at Silken and the Mayor.

At long last, she stood before Vernon and said, “A post office is for post-office business only. And it is obvious that a small village like Toddlecreek does not have enough post-office business. Therefore, this post office must be closed.”

Dexter Shuffles and Charlie Ax froze. Vernon was stunned. How could he explain that, to the Toddlecreek villagers, their post office was much more than a post office? Vernon could not explain it, so Vernon did not explain it.

Vernon said nothing.

Shuman, Michael.  Going Local
New York: 1998. ISBN 0684830124
Page 97

A lively debate has ensued in recent years over whether private firms working under government control can deliver public goods more efficiently than public agencies. The jury is still out. Certainly there are government functions that cannot be measured strictly by private-market efficiency considerations.

Efficient health care may mean skimpier services for those who cannot afford to pay for fuller ones. Efficient schooling may produce students who perform well on standardized tests but poorly as community-minded citizens. Efficient policing may result in the triaging of certain neighborhoods with a high density of crack houses and gangs.

Bourne, Randolph S.  War and the Intellectuals
New York: Harper Torchbooks 1964.
Page 138, also Hackett Publishers, 1999 ISBN 0872205010

That is why I can make him understand what I mean by “exploitation.” He thinks of it as something personally brutal. He does not see it inherent in a system, for which no one is “specifically to blame” only because all are equally guilty of short vision and flimsy analysis. And yet as I read his letters and clippings, I wonder if he is not the realist and I the mystic. He punctures my phrases of power and class with a coarse satisfied hunky to whom work and disease and riot are all in the day’s work and who would despise the philosophy which I am so anxiously weaving for him. It seems a long way from my dainty music-bench to the iron range, or the stove-factory. One has to feel exploitation perhaps before one understands it. I console myself with the thought that power is itself mystic, and that my friend will have to get hit with some invisible threat of class-force, as some of his frightened friends

are now getting hit, before he will analyze any deeper that industrial system of which he is so efficient and loyal an officer.

Brown, Lester R. “Crossing the Threshold.”
World-Watch Institute World Watch

March/April 1999
Page 17

More than 300 U.S. cities now have part of their police force on bicycles. Not long ago I found myself standing on a street corner in downtown Washington, D.C., next to a police officer on a bicycle. As we waited for the light to change, I asked him why there were now so many officers on bicycles. He indicated that it was largely a matter of efficiency, since an officer on a bike can respond to some 50 percent more calls in a day than one in a squad car. The fiscal benefits are obvious. He also indicated that the bicycle police make many more arrests, because they are both more mobile and less conspicuous.