Paths To Knowledge (dot Science)

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Posts Tagged ‘Environment’

The case for the free market as the best protector of the environment

Posted by Strategesis on May 13, 2012

1) Risk management

There are two extremes of governmental structure: One is where there is but one universal government, and the other is where each sentient being is a sovereign government unto himself. In the former case, the universal government has full control over the environment on a world-wide basis. In the latter case, each individual makes his own policy decisions regarding whatever part of the planet he owns and rules over as the sovereign (if he does–he may not own any land.)

With one world government, there is a single point of failure. All risk resides with that one policy maker, who could decide on any policy. Worse, the monopoly policy maker can change its policy at any time. If it chooses a really bad policy, and applies it worldwide for a sufficiently long period of time, the results could be extremely disastrous for the human race, perhaps even for all life on Earth.

Consequently, entrusting the environment to the care of a universal government is equivalent to risking everything on the outcome of a single event: all of one’s trading capital on a single trade, or all of one’s gambling stake on a single roll of the dice. Traders and gamblers who do that repeatedly will eventually lose all their capital. You will not win every roll of the dice without limit.

Trusting to the policy decisions of a single government is to repeatedly roll the dice again and again, hoping that you win each time the government reevaluates its policy, for whatever reason.

2) Governmental Failure

It is commonly alleged that the failure to protect innocent bystanders from the collateral damage caused by big corporate/industrial polluters is a failure of the free market. But that assertion is contrary to fact:

We don’t live in a society where the free market has the primary authority or responsibility for protecting rights, property or otherwise. We live in a society where the primary authority and responsibility for that has been socialized and politicized. It is the state and its public (not private or free-market) system of law making, law enforcement and judicial services that our society gives the authority and responsibility to protect lives, health and property. So any failure to do that function effectively and/or satisfactorily cannot possibly be rightly placed anywhere else than on the state, and not on the free market. The state prohibits the existence of a free market in law and/or judicial services. It claims to be the monopoly provider of such services, and enforces that claim with overwhelming force.

The state makes the rules that define what activities will be allowed and which will be prohibited, makes the rules that determine whether, when and to what extent polluters will or will not be forced to pay for damages, and makes the rules that may or may not prohibit pollution-causing activities. The state enforces those rules, judges whether its rules have or have not been followed, and grants immunity from suit or prosecution as it sees fit. And environmentalists are positively furious with the results–but inexplicably blame the free market for this failure of the state.
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