Re: Near-Term Scenarios

Warrl kyree Tale'sedrin (
Tue, 19 May 1998 00:58:05 -0700

From: Paul Hughes <>

> Actually, I think there are free market incentives for organizations accounting
> for their waste.

The history of the economic development of the world can be described as a
process of internalizing costs and benefits. (An internalized cost is one that
must be paid by the entity making the decision; an internalized benefit is one
that is received by the entity making the decision. The alternative is an
externalized cost/benefit, which goes to some person who doesn't make the
decision. As an example, if the smoke from my fire makes it hard to breathe in
my home, the cost of that smoke is internalized; but if it flows instead into your
home, that's externalized. Guess when I'll be most interested in controlling the

We had just seriously begun internalizing the costs of pollution through
common law and the market, when the government stepped in to protect
polluters from having to reimburse their neighbors for pollution-caused damage.
So instead we have internalized the cost of following government-imposed
pollution regulations, which are (at best) only loosely correlated with pollution.

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