Friday, April 23, 2010

Economic Growth + Trade = Cleaner Environment

Thoughts on Earth Day from the American Enterprise Institute:

Steven Hayward: One thing that should be clear from the experience of the last 40 years is that the most significant environmental problems are in the developing world, and that economic growth is the key—not the enemy—of environmental improvement. For example, not a single American or European city ranks among the World Bank’s top 50 most polluted cities in the world.

Kenneth Green: If you care about the environment, you should observe this special day with a joyful spree of consumption, especially buying goods from people in poor countries. By engaging in trade with other countries, we help them grow wealthier, helping them to afford environmental protection, while we help ourselves by gaining access to goods and services that it might be impossible, or ruinously expensive, for us to manufacture ourselves.

The sooner people grow wealthy, the sooner the environment will benefit. Now, get shopping!

18 Comments:

At 4/23/2010 9:26 AM, Blogger juandos said...

Thoughts on Earth Day?

How about the Earth Day as a demonstration of the politics of progressive/socialist BS or did cleaning up our collective act cost more than necessary?

 
At 4/23/2010 10:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Such as Texas?

 
At 4/23/2010 11:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think there is any doubt that cleaning up our collective act has cost more than necessary. Market based environmental controls would help prevent that.

But market based environmental controls are going to have to depend on trading property which no one owns, at present (or everyone owns if you don't regard environmental pretection as progressive/socialist BS).

Rather than lambasting earth protectionists as socialists we would do better to move in the direction of creating new tradeable property rights, and providing more protection to property owned.

If we divide up ownership of the atmosphere equally, each of us would own around 7 million kilograms of air. We would also own an "allowance" of new air based on our collective ownership of public forest land.

Some of us use more air than others, and some of us care about clean air more than others. Big users such as power plants would have to buy air rights from those that have them, and if enough people care about clean air, they won't sell their rights, which would drive the price up.

Naturally those evil socialist governments would have to have a hand in setting up such a market, but the secondary effect would b to show the socialist/environmentalist that there is a bounding limit on the value of cleaning up our collective act.

 
At 4/23/2010 2:24 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"Naturally those evil socialist governments would have to have a hand in setting up such a market, but the secondary effect would b to show the socialist/environmentalist that there is a bounding limit on the value of cleaning up our collective act"...

Geez anon, I have to wonder about the government and like minded people actually understand the phrase, "bounding limit" or even care?

I wonder how many jobs/industries the EPA has driven to offshore facilities?

 
At 4/23/2010 3:07 PM, Blogger misterjosh said...

One of the popular progressive rants seems to be that the income of low to middle income people has stagnated over the last 30-40 years.

I reckon that is true based on the figures I've seen, but what that doesn't take into account is how much better our lives are overall than they were in the 70s/80s. One facet of that is cleaner air and water.

One of the reasons for the stagnation of the lower to middle income people has been the high regulations on negative environmental externalities largely forced on us by progressive bureaucrats. The cost of complying with the regulations has been passed on to the customers in the form of high prices & lower wages.

I'm happy for the cleaner environment, but sad that there was a lot of bad freedom-limiting regulation and law passed along with the good.

 
At 4/23/2010 3:13 PM, Anonymous Lyle said...

There is the alternative that is rejected Pigovian taxes. This would be the carbon tax, and the like, where the cost of using the commons is charged back to those that use it. No other influence on the market the behavior is now more expensive and the market then works around the charge. Since the gov needs more revenue a Carbon tax for example makes a lot more sense than the enrich Goldman and friends cap and trade system. Cap and Trade is Wall Streets dream so that they can extract more vigorsh from everyone else.

 
At 4/23/2010 4:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to wonder about the government and like minded people actually understand the phrase, "bounding limit" or even care?

Some do, some don't. What is important is for us as conservatives to make reasoned, provable, and passioned arguments as to how to go about it.

It turns out that the highest environmental quality consistent with the lowest price is exactly equal to the highest level of personal freedom consistent with not harming our neighbors any more than they are harming us.

Driving American businesses offshore is another example of failure to consider the "system" costs correctly. But it might no be all bad as suggested in Greens comment that we help ourselves by gaining access to goods and services that it might be impossible, or ruinously expensive, for us to manufacture ourselves.

As those people become more wealthy, it will increasingly become ruinously expensive for them to produce the goods and ultimately they will come to the same level of regulation we have as a result of similar cost and benefit results.

Where we (conservatives) have failed is that we have allowed environmental and other interest to claim ownership of shared resources and place what amounts to an infinite price on them. This amounts to claiming superior property rights, which of course is nonsense in the context of equal liberty and equal protection.

Another failur was in allowing the concept of polluter pays to take hold. this is as silly as corporate taxes, which we know are paid by the consumer anyway. As long as we make it clear that we are the ones who will have to pay for what we want in environmental protection, then it is less likely that people will want "excess" environmental protection or wish to spend "too much" on it.

It is not going to be an easy task because of our (peculiarly American and widely) differing concept of risk. Those who think they want a risk free society are the same ones proposing a more socialist society.

Strangely enough they have written into laws which they supported the seed of ideas which could assure the proper balance with neither too much environmental protection or too little. The idea is precisely analogous to the idea that lowest total cost is achieved when cost equals benefits or supply equals demand.

The Environmental justice policy says that no group or person should bear undue burdens due the the enactment, enforcement or lack of enforcement of any environmental statues or regulations.

Theoretically, then, the written policy does not allow for rules that cost more than the value they provide. The problem is that we have not adequately provided for market discovery of what those values and prices are.

As a result we have allowed what amounts to regulatory takings to become rampant. The way to do it is insist on stronger property rights and additional property rights to new kinds of property.

We object to socialism because we think it amounts to stealing from us, or reducing our Liberty, which amounts to the same thing. But sometimes we shoot ourselves in the foot by dogmatically refusing to protect what is socially ours as much as theirs.

 
At 4/23/2010 4:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is the alternative that is rejected Pigovian taxes. This would be the carbon tax, and the like, where the cost of using the commons is charged back to those that use it. No other influence on the market the behavior is now more expensive and the market then works around the charge. Since the gov needs more revenue a Carbon tax for example makes a lot more sense than the enrich Goldman and friends cap and trade system.

At the root carbon tax and cap and trade amount to the same thing. The carbon tax is less efficient because it is administered by government, and there is little or no market evidentce that the "right" price has been reached and no incentive to allow for new developments.

Suppose you have a stream with a known amount of carrying capacity for biological oxygen demand. You have three factories dumping stuff in the river that consumes that carrying capacity.

With trading agreements in effect the company that can produce the most valuable goods for the lowest release to the stream will win out on bidding rights to stream carrying capacity. he will provide the most profits and the most taxes to the local community.

Later, that business may be displaced by another one which is more pollution (and production) eficient and produces goods of higher value.

But, if you merely tax them and the tax is too low, all will pay the tax and the stream carrying capacity will be overused. Taxes will then have to be raised against much cry and hubbub, with no guarantee you will get any closer next time.

If you beleive that lowest prices is discovered through the market, you have to believe it applies to the market in egulations, too.

 
At 4/23/2010 4:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of the popular progressive rants seems to be that the income of low to middle income people has stagnated over the last 30-40 years.

I don't believe it. We are all richer.

A hundred years ago the master in the big house was huddled around the fire same as his tenants in the tenant house or caretakers cottage. The difference being the master might have a book to read.

It is true (or seems to be) that the rich have become more rich faster, even after taxes. So today the master has several cars, TV's, phones and all kind of other comforts. The tenant or farm manager FEELS poorer, even if living better than ever, because there is a lot wider range of stuff he cannot afford.

The other issue is that the same people who were middle income are not the ones middle income today. Middle income people of 40 years ago have largely moved up to higher brackets.

Just because income levels have stagnated does not mean that opportunity has.

 
At 4/23/2010 4:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem with pigovian taxes is that they are too easly converted to "sin" taxes. It is one thing to have a tax that (just barely) alleviates soem externality or market failure. It is something else to use it for social engineering, or outright stealing.

I don't mind paying a fair price for a reasonable amount of cleanliness reasonably associated with my own level of activity. but I hate being sold at an Acura price and find out later that I only got a Honda.

We are as likey to get a higher than necessary price with too little protection as too much. That's why we need markets to discover the correct price. That's not going to happen as long as we let progressives get away with stealing.

I like spotted owls as much as the next guy. I also like the guy who planned to put his daughter through school with that timber sale. i ought to know when I go to the lumber yard, ow much I'm paying for the lumber, and how much for renting space for my spotted owl from the guy who could not sell his timber.

 
At 4/23/2010 4:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm happy for the cleaner environment, but sad that there was a lot of bad freedom-limiting regulation and law passed along with the good.

That is it in a nutshell. Suppose happy and sad were quantifiable and ownable.

How much would you be willing to pay for the amount of happy you got?

How much do you think someone else should pay for the amount of sad you got stuck with?

 
At 4/24/2010 1:07 AM, Anonymous Lyle said...

Sooner or later the issues will collide when reducing CO2 means letting some animals die. Just like the issue that will hit Ca sometime when the next drought hits of water for the cities or the smelt. Actually there is a defined super group to work those issues but no one has ever raised a conflict to that level.
Of course the CA save the Tortise means more wind power in Tx and in Eastern NM where they run cattle now, a turbine does not bother the cows to much. (Possibly also thermal solar, especially on private land). (This is why Tx has so much wind a rancher says free money if I let you put a tower up here and there, where do I sign.)

 
At 4/24/2010 9:23 AM, Blogger juandos said...

anon @ 4/23/2010 4:12 PM says: "Where we (conservatives) have failed is that we have allowed environmental and other interest to claim ownership of shared resources and place what amounts to an infinite price on them. This amounts to claiming superior property rights, which of course is nonsense in the context of equal liberty and equal protection"...

Well for me that was an enlightening comment and I thank you...

I'm still trying to figure out why our fellow citizens are allowing the politicos to push fraud called Anthropomorphic Global Warming in order to extort more tax dollars from the productive in order prop up the parasitic...

 
At 4/24/2010 10:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anthropogenically, we wiped out the passenger pigeons and the heath hens. I see no reason why anthropogenic global warming isn't probable,even if other factors may be at work.

What I don't beleive is that we can reduce combustion of fossil fuels by 80% without causing harm (most probably war) which will be nearly as great as global warming itself.

A lot of people don't have 1% extra in their energy budget, let alone 50%. I haven't heard anyone suggest that I can reduce fuel use on the farm by 80% without reducing production that much or more.

Anthropogenic global warming is probably over-hyped, but it probably isn't a fraud either.

Fixing it, and a lot of other environmental problemsis going to come down to who gets to live and who doesn't.

It is the primary constitutional and ethical dilemma that most environmentalists refuse to admit.

 
At 4/24/2010 10:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

(This is why Tx has so much wind a rancher says free money if I let you put a tower up here and there, where do I sign.)

Good example of the property rights conundrums and inequalities we face. If you are lucky enough to get a cell tower or wind turbineson your land, you will get a nice, ongoing, rent.

But if you get struck with a string of towers for a power line, they will take an easement on your property with eminet domain. You will get a onetime payment Based on the value of the previous use of the land. You will still own the land and pay taxes on it, but youwill be precluded from using it, and the value of anything near it declines: even including your neighbors house, who got nothing out of the "deal".

If I'm going to get a percentage of the income produced by a turbine on my property, why shouldn't I be able to get a percentage of income from distributing the power across my land?

This is an example of rural areas subsidizing urban ones, in my opinion.

 
At 4/24/2010 10:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well for me that was an enlightening comment and I thank you...

Thank you. You would not believe how hard that simple idea is to sell to my environmentalist friends. Find and environmental blog and try to spread the word.

It ook me a long time and bitter persoanl experience to figure it out. I worked in environmental remediation for eight years, before I figured out what was actually happening, in terms of economic and environmental waste.

It turned my stomach, and I left for "greener" pastures in the sense that my later carrer paid a lot more.

 
At 4/24/2010 4:51 PM, Anonymous Lyle said...

Re the power line question. Note that due to the delays of the power regulated power line sighting process Florida Power build a line with no eminent domain from the San Angelo area to the San Antonio area in Texas. They just paid a little more. Some of the objections could be cleared up by saying the land owners get more in exchange for everyone paying a higher electric bill. Note that its not exactly true that you can't use land under a power line, you can run cattle, and grow crops just not build any structures.

 
At 4/27/2010 10:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Note that its not exactly true that you can't use land under a power line, you can run cattle, and grow crops just not build any structures.


Right. Now flash forwrd 50 years. all your neighbors have cashed in by developing their property. Maybe they have rentals that return good cash flow, or virtually anything other than grazing.

Meanwhile, you are stillstuck with a one time payment for th eeasement, Oh yeah, and you can raise cattle.

Until the neighbors complain.

There is no way you convince me that the guy stuck with a power line gets a fair deal, compared to waht he would get for a cell tower, which supplies continuous income, for example.


he gets paid once, based on the previous use, but he gets nothing for th eloss of future uses.

 

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