[ExI] External costs (was Re: are all cultures equivalent?)

Rafal Smigrodzki rafal.smigrodzki at gmail.com
Sun Apr 19 21:46:17 UTC 2009

On Sun, Apr 19, 2009 at 10:18 AM, Brent Neal <brentn at freeshell.org> wrote:
> On 19 Apr, 2009, at 1:07, Rafal Smigrodzki wrote:
>> Present owners of an object, such as a cheeseburger, an Escher
>> drawing, or a lake, may elect to permanently destroy their property -
>> this is implicit in their rights of ownership. They may conclude that
>> they are better off if they transform the lake into a nuclear waste
>> repository and collect payments (let's assume here they invented a
>> method for keeping the waste there, in safe containers, similar to the
>> cooling pools currently used to store waste in nuclear power plants).
>> Their economic calculations are nobody's business.
> Fortunately, there is another remedy. If we're going to postulate the
> "libertopia" that you are suggesting here, then I and my like-minded friends
> can resolve this by evicting you from your property by force of arms in
> order to prevent you from destroying that value. This will make sense when
> the cost of the police action is less than our economic valuation of the
> destruction you and the other property owners are causing.

### Ah, so you reject the legitimacy of the notion of individual
property rights. Fine, since this implies you cannot make an ownership
claim to your house and body (remember, you just rejected this type of
right), I and my friends will help ourselves to whatever we like. Only
cunning and ruthlessness will decide who survives, just like in the
old days in the jungle.

I hope you understand that once you give yourself the license to
trample over the lives of others, and you build the social
infrastructure (stormtroopers, the IRS, the Gestapo, the EPA), you are
opening more cans of worms than you want to deal with. Are you sure
you would applaud a SWAT team sent to impose your notions of water
purity on other people? That same SWAT team could be used to deal with
your own notions of e.g. religious freedom, should the team's actual
political sponsors have a grudge against you.

> Now, economics also tells us that there is such a thing as competitive
> advantage. In general, governments have a competitive advantage in military
> matters, because of the need for pooled purchasing power in order to fund
> police forces. I and my like-minded friends would thus be well-advised to
> choose to delegate that power and responsibility to a government that we
> elect for that purpose.  Some government officials, realizing that there are
> a lot of people out there who would choose to engage in aggressive
> externalization of costs in the environmental arena due to ignorance or
> malevolence, would likely establish a standing committee to understand when
> an externality is being imposed and to ensure that the participating members
> have their economic interests protected.
> Last I heard, we called that the EPA.
### But we already established that the owners are not externalizing
anything. If they did, you could sue them for damaging your property
and obtain just restitution for actual losses suffered which is the
proper and honest way of dealing with externalities. But they dump in
their own lake. And you are still ready to kill them for that. Are you
sure you are on the right side here?


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