Re: Polemics for longevity

From: Robert Bradbury (
Date: Sat Jan 22 2000 - 19:17:03 MST

On Sat, 22 Jan 2000, Technotranscendence wrote:

> Ecological disruption is, to a large extent, caused by government
> protections and subsidization of unprofitable economic development.

Huh??? I would say the fundamental cause for ecological disruption
is a failure to account in an economic sense (meaning in the
accounting and tax laws) for "theft" from the global commons.
The solution to this is not "less" government regulation, but "more".

Now, perhaps you are saying this, but it seems indirect. The
government could be *totally* uninvolved and developers might
still develop land in ways that polluted streams and damaged
salmon habitats. Until the developers have to "account" for that
damage in some way (ultimately passing the costs onto the
land/housing purchasers), you will have environmental degradation.

The same applies to the pollution produced by your automobile,
sewer wastes, farm fertilizer runoff, electrical power plant, etc.
If you are in any way "changing" the environment and you do not
have an accounting line item to deal with those "free inputs"
and associated "costs", then you are a bandit. This isn't a
government problem it is an accounting problem.

Now, this is in no way to say that governments don't contribute
to the problem. The decline in fisheries around the globe is
due in large part to the "hands off" approach to regulation as
well as a promotion of the industry through subsidies aimed
at producing more and increasingly efficient sea-produce harvesters.

> Face it, the free market on its own would not invest in the Amazon,
> the American Southwest, or Nigeria. Those places are either unsafe,
> don't provide skilled labor, don't have the infrastructure (roads,
> housing, etc.), or lacking in resources. Also, what resources there are
> are already owned -- in the Lockean sense of the world, even if the local
> governments don't recognize such ownership -- by the locals.

Huh? I'm not sure where this came from, but it depends entirely on
what type of "investment" you are discussing. We are lossing millions
of acres of rain-forest annually because the "land" and clearing costs
are cheap enough and the returns on cattle production profitable enough
to justify that activity in the Amazon. What is missing is an accounting
for the environmental degradation that results from those activities.

Now, with regard to NY, I would agree that you have a messed up
system derived from some collusion between the politicians and the
building industry. Removing rent control would simply result
in creating a highly exclusive enclave in Manhatten. Whether
that is good or bad is IMO a social issue.


This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu Jul 27 2000 - 14:02:31 MDT