Cleaned by Capitalism IV

by Don Boudreaux on August 25, 2009

in Cleaned by Capitalism, Complexity & Emergence, Environment, Everyday Life

This photo, which speaks for itself, is of one of the many countless ways that capitalism makes our lives less polluted — one of the many ways that capitalism affords us today the wonderful privilege of commonly regarding “pollution” as being limited to big ‘macro’ phenomena such as carbon emissions from factories and automobiles — one of the many ways that capitalism affords us today the wonderful privilege of commonly thinking of “environmental problems” as being limited to ‘big’ and relatively distant (in time and space) phenomena such as climate change and species loss.

 

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{ 6 comments }

Anonymous August 25, 2009 at 5:16 pm

All these so called agents that reduce pollution in your vicinity have unintended consequences due to outrageous property rights worldwide.

The pollution just is ‘not in my backyard’.thats all. its probably somewhere in asia or wherever the plastics factory or chemical company is spewing noxious fumes

Name August 25, 2009 at 7:14 pm

dsylexic, your point is an excellent example of why property rights are so crucial in protecting the environment. Noxious fumes end up in the air, which is owned by… nobody. The government regulates emissions, but ultimately there’s no real incentive for the state to ensure that the air is clean (as opposed to simply looking like it’s trying to make the air clean, to win votes). Try dumping toxic waste on someone’s land and see how quickly they slap you with a lawsuit. But the air belong to everybody (i.e. nobody), so no one has a direct incentive to so much as try and keep it clean (except in the vague sense that we all breathe air, but that’s a pretty weak incentive for any one polluter).

placebo August 26, 2009 at 1:50 am

In the spirit of fairness, when will you be presenting the follow-up, “Dirtied by Unfettered Capitalism” be presented?

Mace August 26, 2009 at 3:32 am

“In the spirit of fairness, when will you be presenting the follow-up, “Dirtied by Unfettered Capitalism” be presented?”

To be followed by a follow-up on unfetttered socialism? Lots of examples.

Dom August 26, 2009 at 6:03 pm

Actually, a better follow-up would be “Dirtied by environmental regulations.”

I’m serious about that one. It would, in fact, be interesting to see a comparison of the free market and government regulations — for example, what did more to make the auto safer, Ralph Nader or the market?

Mari September 15, 2009 at 2:18 pm

Vinegar and vodka and a crumpled up newspaper clean just as well.

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