Tuesday, March 28, 2006

My Environment

Oddly enough I find myself agreeing with Al Gore and David Blood. After God-knows how much thinking and writing on the topic, we discover that when he teams up with someone who understands how money works, he can come up with the same answer that everyone else came up with many years ago. Any tax designed to internalize externalities is what the market needs. The concept of a Pigouvian Tax is neither new nor innovative, and if only people like Al Gore would start off advocating for things like this instead of wasting years spouting boring boiler plate nonesense the world would be a better place.

The basic idea which seems so American, it is amazing that we can't get it to work, is that there are some resources, like air, water, and stuff we take out of the ground, that belong to everyone. The air is my air, as much as it is anyone else's. So when you destroy it, like when you pollute, you are in part destroying MY air. So, when you destroy MY air, you pay me a little. Sounds reasonable? Sounds American, no? So for some reason Democrats wasted years telling us that the only solution is to have bigger governments and more regulation, and on and on. If we make people pay for pollution they have to make a chioce, is it worth it or not? So people have a strong disincentive to pollute, and it only happens when it is really worth it.

Democrats (and liberals in general) spent so much time thinking of the environment not as MINE and YOURS, but rather as the domain of governments and the world (and not the people in it), that they spent way too much time trying to figure out what treaty to sign instead of how to find a workable solution to the problem. It is about time that Gore saw that big government approaches to these problems are never going to work in this town.

That was also one of the big disapointments of the early Bush era. I did not shed any tears when the US did not sign the Kyoto Protocols on climate change because the whole thing seemed pretty useless to me. However, I did expect to see the administration to come up with something better, which they failed to do. There was no small-government solution or anything of the sort.


Anonymous said...

hmmm...I actually think that would work. It's america. Money talks. You're only going to part with it if it's worth it. Polluting for no reason isn't worth it. This would *so* never work in Canada.

Karl said...

All real problems in a capitalist society start when there is a good that is treated like no one owns it. Like whales. No one owned them, and so they were just hunted almost to extinction. When we treat air, water and other natural resources as if they are unlimited and unowned, we will run in to problems.