[extropy-chat] Extinctions

Rafal Smigrodzki rafal.smigrodzki at gmail.com
Tue Jun 13 19:22:11 UTC 2006

On 6/11/06, Damien Sullivan <phoenix at ugcs.caltech.edu> wrote:

> Absent any government intervention, what's the incentive for many
> polluters, without specific obvious victims under tort law, to not
> pollute?  Oh wait, there isn't any.  That's even more perverse than
> democratic feedback.
> If taxes don't work, regulation will.  I've seen it.  Breathed it.
> Perfect?  No, but neither is the alternative.

### After harm from pollution is proven, and given class action suits,
the tort law can be used to form a feedback loop between polluters and
their victims. While the court system has its own problems (e.g. the
reliance on juries for decision-making), it is potentially better at
addressing problems, in part because of its partial decentralization
(leading to better truth-finding), possibility of competition between
jurisdictions for polluters or for victims, and other features.

I've seen regulation at work, and it's not pretty. Hundreds of
billions of dollars dumped into the Superfund boondoggle (I hope you
know about it), the estimated 20 000 000 000 dollars spent per life
saved by the EPA on chloroform controls, a panopticum of grotesque
inefficiency. The biggest harm is the one you don't see: the
businesses never founded, the money unearned because of the constant
stream of destructive regulation put out by bureaucrats.

The feedback loops connecting bureaucrats and their constituencies and
victims are so much weaker, or actually perverse, compared to the
strong ties that bind a business and its customers and victims:
inevitably, government regulation makes things worse, because it's
blind and it wouldn't care anyway.


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