Sunday, 22 April 2018

He's gonna need a lot of coffee ...

[Hat tip Suzuki Samurai & I Love Fossil Fuels]



  1. The "market" is a wonderful thing...BUT it is not perfect.
    The "tragedy of the commons " comes to mind.
    Individual farmers graze their sheep on the "common land".
    On an individual level, each farmer will maximise his interest by grazing as many sheep as possible.
    On a collective level, the tragedy is that each farmer , operating in their own self interest, collectively end up destroying the ability for the land to sustain any sheep at all.. ie. the natural resource is depleted.

    You dont need to be a brain surgeon to see that the market price of, for example, oil, does not reflect the environmental cost of the resulting pollution.
    Likewise , the market price of a piece of fish does not reflect the true long term cost of overfishing which might result in depleting a fishing resource.

    1. You make an excellent case for the importance, for environmental protection, of the recognition of property rights. Which common law does especially well.

      See for example posts at NOT PC on Common Law.

  2. How does "the recognition of property rights" help with pricing oil to take account of its role in pollution? The cost is not attributed to the producer, the seller or the user, but is borne by everyone. Socialism at its finest.

    1. Because the legal protection of rights in the place being polluted gives standing to sue and, in time, to precedents that strongly protect against pollution on both a narrow and a wide scale. (As you suggest above, all else is socialism).

      And as I suggested above, you can read some of the posts in the 'Common Law' link I posted above, or do a Google search (it's a free download) for Elizabath Brubaker's 'Property Rights In Defence of Nature.' PERC (at also have solid information.

  3. It could help in two respects:

    1. If the environment being polluted belongs to someone specific, the affected party can take legal action against the polluter for the damage caused to their property. When it’s common land that belongs to everyone in general and nobody in particular, its a lot more difficult to hold the polluter to account.

    2. With every right usually comes responsibility. If for instance the right to harvest fish in a certain area of seabed was recognised, that could be conditional on maintaining fish numbers so that neighbouring claims were not unduly effected. And if you didn’t, there’s someone to hold to account. Similarly a right to produce and sell oil could could be conditional on ensuring no objective harm in terms of pollution came from exercising that right.

    Property rights, when properly defined means two things: the freedom to use specific property for your own benefit, but also responsibility for any harm to others that may result. Any harm that comes from *your* property is *your* responsibility.

    A broader application of the concept of property rights (beyond just the exclusive use of land that is common today) would be needed to realise the most environmental benefit. You could for instance have several parties with different property rights over the same piece of land. A tramping club could own the right to hike over it, a farmer could own the right to graze it, and an oil company could own the right to extract oil from it - all parties having to conduct their activities without unduly affecting the others - defined either explicitly by covenant, or implicitly by common law.


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