18 December 2007

save the environment: protect property rights

i find it odd that the most common recommendation for saving the our natural world is the imposition of grand-scale, far-reaching laws and programs thunk up and implemented by those that are supposedly in the pockets of the same corporations that are destroying our natural world. we couldn't possibly fix all the pollution without bringing to bear the mighty hammer of uncle sam!

nonsense. we've got all we need in the way of laws if we'd only enforce them. stop enabling the bad behavior through tax breaks, ineffective regulation, etc. we are subsidizing pollution when we don't make polluters bear the cost of their pollution. i agree it might take some creative thinking (and vigorous lawyering) to figure out how to bill for it, but making those pay that incur the expense is a fairly simple yet powerful idea.

i think of it this way: coal power becomes more expensive when the true costs of its consumption are known, as reflected by its price. wind or solar power suddenly becomes a better option as their prices fall relative to polluting fuels. communities affected by dirty drinking water get paid to fix the problem. i don't think any company could fail to understand the added cost of polluting.

that said, maybe i should pay some restitution since i drive a polluting vehicle. i just need to figure out who to make my cheques out to. hold us bad guys to account.


  1. I agree with you mostly, but the real question is : To whom should those pollution payments be paid? The boated bureaucracy of our gubmint? I think that's got failure written all over it. Yet enforcement of the law is traditionally the gubmint's duty.

    I think that external costs can only be presided over by external agencies. External in the sense that they aren't involved in any portion of the economic transaction. The reason our gubmint can't currently perform this duty is because they are deeply invested in all kinds of private transactions. Until they stop benefiting from private transactions, they have no basis for mediating pollution costs.

  2. i wouldn't pay the gubmint restitution because they don't own private property. the property owners would receive payments. i'm sure TJ Eckleberg would need to mediate disputes, but he's already supposed to do that.