Re: Gov't Loves Gov't

James Rogers (
Fri, 23 Jan 1998 14:27:43 -0800

At 11:37 AM 1/23/98 +0000, Charlie Stross wrote:
>A pure market system doesn't recognize most commons because they don't
>have any component that's amenable to trade. If you introduce something
>that can be traded -- say, air polution permits that lets you emit CO2 --
>well, you can apply market economics to a commons problem (in this case,
>air polution). But to do so you've had to dilute the purity of essence
>of your market by essentially imposing a control on polution (that forces
>people to buy polution permits before they can emit CO2). Ergo, a
>big problem. Markets can't work in a vacuum ...

I just had a thought with regards to your CO2 example.

What if companies were required to clean up their waste (in this case CO2)
by purchasing/creating forested land that can convert their equivalent CO2
output into clean air? Granted it would be more expensive than just
polluting, but it would be an interesting way to handle industrial
pollutants. This is already done to some extent in the timber industry
through reforestation. A system like this could be applied to a great many
industries and would go a long way towards protecting "public goods" by
enforcing a zero-sum usage policy.

I already see some obvious flaws in this, but it could be a step in the
right direction in some industries. Instead of purchasing the "right" to
pollute from the government, many people would be better off if industry
returned public goods in the condition they obtained them in.

-James Rogers