Thursday, 11 February 2016

Saving a beach

The picture taken around the Awaroa Inlet that sparked Duane Major to start a campaign to buy back a private beach there for public use.

Economics Joke #l: Two economists walked past a Porsche
showroom. One of them pointed at a shiny car in the window
and said, "I want that." "Obviously not," the other replied.

The story of the saving of that Awaroa Beach above is a fascinating one.

A piece of Abel Tasman National Park enjoying beachfront riparian rights over the Awaroa Inlet – called by environmental campaigners “a gap in the Queen’s Chain” – is on the market.

It now has the added delight of seeing the savers rejecting the advances of would-be helpmate Gareth Morgan (perhaps because they’ve notived that at least one party on either side of his deals generally gets a dog).

But despite that stiff competition, the biggest delight is surely, for once, seeing environmental campaigners putting their own money where their mouths generally demand other peoople’s should be.

Instead of running off immediately to government when they recognised a beach needing to be “saved” (saved from what we wonder?) supporters instead started a Give A Little page calling for donors to help buy it.

There is a pristine piece of beach and bush in the heart of the Abel Tasman up for private sale [they say]. Together we can buy it and gift it to NZ.

Good for them!

Their target is $2 million, and they are currently only $250,000 from that number—pleasing anyone who would like to enjoy a pristine beach without the sight of Gareth Morgan breaking your horizon.

The wonder however is that such things are a rarity.

Austrian economists have a concept they call “demonstrated preference,” arguing that what people actually do matter shows their real preferences far more accurately than what they say.

That’s the very punchline of the joke at the head of the post. That if the economist actually did actually value the Porsche enough, he would have already demonstrated his preference for it in the choices he made.


And yet, despite environmentalists saying repeatedly they value a “pristine” environment, they so rarely demonstrate that preference in action.

So I say “Bravo!” to those brave campaigners. And may we see much more of it.

Perhaps campaigners could begin by buying a certain kauri-clad property in Titirangi they say they value so much . . .

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