Tragedy of the commons

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Re: Tragedy of the commons

Postby Paul » Thu Jul 16, 2009 9:21 pm

Jasper wrote:Before pollution regulation companies mostly polluted however was handy.


Really now...pollution regulation existed long before companies did.

Jasper wrote:So that way the market has decided the price on pollution.
Paul wrote:As opposed to StatistWorld, where your neighbour has a license from the government to spew radioactive waste into the air, and you can't even sue him afterwards?
Presumption of incompetence of government, not saying anything. (Maybe my mention is also a little lame though..)


But I'm not presuming the government is incompetent­—any government, no matter how competent, must either licence pollution or not involve itself in the issue at all (and no government would ever do the latter).
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Re: Tragedy of the commons

Postby findinglisp » Fri Jul 17, 2009 9:29 am

TheGZeus wrote:I love cigarettes. I'd wait a while, as the FSC bills passing countrywide will probably cause stock to drop for a while now. Of course, you could start dollar-cost-averaging and slow down when they start to come back when a petroleum-allergic person dies at the first puff, and the laws get voided.

Not a smoker myself, and generally wouldn't invest in a tobacco company anyway because of that, but I have no moral problem if others do.

I would have voted for Ron Paul, I speak out VEHEMENTLY against smoking bans, vice taxes, blue laws, and the like.
Neo-cons and the far left are the exact same thing to me. Two flavours of "I know better than you what's good for you."


Okay, we're more similar than different then. I was not fully in the Ron Paul camp, but I'm pretty close.

I think education on how a corporation works, and 'voting with your wallet' should be in every school's curriculum.That would solve problems without ruining the country with regulation.


Amen.

I'm for regulation of alot of things, but only small limits. I WANT a limit on the yearly income of execs, because it would be better for the companies.However, I know it would probably do as much harm as good...


Can't agree with you on this one. The problem, as I think you're suggesting, is that it's hard to know when to stop. I agree that many CEOs making wads of money aren't worth it. But the market will figure that out. Just because *I* wouldn't pay a CEO that much doesn't mean that somebody else shouldn't be able to run their company that way.


I'd improve the educational system


I'd do away with government funded education completely, both college and K-12. We homeschool our kids and it was the best decision my wife and I ever made. Most people don't know, but government funded universal education was actually an invention at the time of the industrial revolution, put in place by the robber barrons to create a basic skilled workforce to feed the corporations. IMO, it has become an "indoctrination factory" for every special interest group that wants to influence impressionable young minds without their parents around. I'd suggest reading Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gatto as a good piece on the subject.

call a spade a spade and put lobbyists in jail for bribery(not for long, though),


Can't agree with you on this one. If we're going to have a representative democracy, we need to be able to lobby our congress. More than taking lobbyists out of the system, I'd focus on taking the money out of the system. If the government is stripped of its power to tax, the professional lobbyists will go elsewhere, as there is nothing to lobby for. For instance, you don't typically see large numbers of professional lobbyists at the local level (some, sure, particularly in places like Chicago where the stakes are higher, but none in BFE Oklahoma, for instance).

one bill per issue,


Fully agree.

no televised, printed, or audio broadcast political advertising,

Can't agree with you on that. We need free speech to discuss the issues, and that includes political advertising. McCain-Feingold in the USA is blatantly unconstitutional. I'm hopeful it will get overturned here in another few years. Ditto with limits on campaign contributions.

and add a constitutional amendment that for each jurisdiction every 20 years; for a period of 5-10 years, every new law 2 must be repealed(it's illegal to sleep in your boots on some state/town. Eating snake on a sunday is illegal in Kansas... Those would be the first to go, what would come next would be interesting).

I'm not sure I'd do it that way, but I'm with you. I would like to see laws with universal sunset periods of 10 years, for instance. That goes double for any tax laws. If it's really a good law, it should be easy to justify it and people will easily vote for it again. If not, you clear out the obsolete laws of which you speak. In other words, build the system naturally such that we're always being forced to ask, "Does this still apply? Do we still feel the same way about it now?" Further, this whole process would help keep the legislature focused on the really important stuff, because their time would be drawn to re-approving the queue of good laws about to expire, rather than leaving them spare time to figure out how to take away my rights.

I've considered making public office a matter of lottery, but the infrastructure changes needed would be too great.

I would agree with you that the outcome couldn't be much worse. :) Still, I think I would keep a representative democracy. A few changes I would make, however, are that the legislature would have a much lower salary and would meet far less often. There is really not a lot of reason to have a full-time legislature, with huge staffs, etc. That, coupled with no term limits, and you quickly get career politicians, which is really the root of many problems. As soon as you have somebody with basically no experience in "real life," with power, close to a lot of money, well, then you start to get some problems. No man is safe. I would force politicians to have another primary job, with being a politician as their second job. If there is no way to get rich and powerful being a politician, the corruption will largely disappear on its own.

I've never generalised corporations as evil, and the only leftist-sounding thing I've actually said was that I thought transfats should be banned. I was then convinced to the contrary. I do think a warning label would be nice, though. Teaching it in schools would work, too, though.


Well, that's what I get for trying to read between the lines and extrapolate. Apologies. :D We differ far less than I would have surmised.
Cheers, Dave
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Re: Tragedy of the commons

Postby duncan » Tue Jul 21, 2009 1:41 am

Jasper wrote:Are you presuming a corrupt system and starting from there?


Yes, of course. I made that clear earlier. Now, if you want to compare an ideal regulatory regime with a perfect market, go ahead. But if you want to compare regulatory regimes with market mechanisms in the real world then you have to assume corrupt regulatory regimes. In the real world all markets are imperfect and all regulatory regimes are corrupt. If you want to compare a corruption-free regulatory regime with a market you should compare that regime with a perfect market When it comes to real regulatory systems I don't necessarily assume that briefcases full of money are changing hands (though that is clearly a lot more common than is realized, based on the number intercepted.) I just assume that regulators, anhd the lawmakers who influence them, put their own interests ahead of the ostensible aims of their agencies.

I'll give you a great example of this. No matter what you think about global warming, burning corn as fuel is a tremendously bad idea. It is such a bad idea that it can be used as a litmus test, IMHO. Any lawmaker or regulator who proposes burning corn for fuel should be considered entirely corrupt. Note that our regulatory system subsidizes corn as fuel. Note that Iowa's caucus is disproportionately influential in US presidential races. Note that Archer-Daniels-Midland has made a lot of money from this, while food riots have occurred in less affluent parts of the world. You argue that pollution is not priced- well, I'll address that in a moment. But I want to ask- how is the cost of regulation priced? When regulatory actions produce catastrophic outcomes all I see from the pro-reg crowd is a stalwart refusal to take responsibility for the results of the problems that occur when you try to put their ideals into action.

As for the price of pollution- I agree that markets do not, and probably cannot, properly price certain externalities. I am not a radical, nor am I an anarchist. So I am not advocating throwing tort law over, entirely. Our tort system seems to price pollution a lot higher than it should be priced, in some cases. Take the famous "Erin Brokovich" case, for instance. A close look at the evidence shows that the incidence of serious disease in the community that sued PG & E was pretty normal for a community that size. PG & E wound up on the hook for damages for every sick person in that community. But no one has ever shown that PG & E caused anyone to become ill. Of course it's pretty easy to see how the PG & E verdict led directly to the Enron debacle. It is basically illegal to generate electricity in California these days.. as long as Californians continue to use electricity this is going to be a problem. Of course that's assuming that there is a California- if California were a corporation we would sell it off for parts at this point. An excellent example of how excessive state intervention can turn what was the most successful state in the Union into a garbage heap in a few short years.

Proponents of regulation tend to make a number of unsupported claims. One is that the "clean air and water" acts have lessened pollution in the US. It's interesting to note that levels of water pollution (air pollution is a mostly local phenomenon in the US, and thus a red herring) were falling well before the passage of those acts. In fact, by every important measure, it is impossible to discern the effect of environmental legislation in terms of pollution levels. Levels of air and water pollution started dropping well before they were regulated, and regulation doesn't seem to have affected the general trend. For a good discussion of this see "Two Cheers for the Affluent Society" by Wilfred Beckerman. It's a few years old now, but Beckerman's main points are as true today as they were then.

Here's the thing: it's not enough to point out that things aren't perfect- few people are surprised by that observation. You must also demonstrate that your proposed solutions will be more perfect than what exists now. That means that you must deal with reality, and part of that reality is that regulatory regimes are always corrupt. If you don't get that then you should stay away from policy discussions just as people who think that perfect markets exist should.

EDIT: And I should also add that I think that the damage done by/the economic benefit of corn subsidies based on biofuel legislation is probably greater than the damage done by all pollution in the history of the human race, if you measure it by adverse effects on humans.
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Re: Tragedy of the commons

Postby Paul » Tue Jul 21, 2009 4:15 am

duncan wrote:As for the price of pollution- I agree that markets do not, and probably cannot, properly price certain externalities. I am not a radical, nor am I an anarchist. So I am not advocating throwing tort law over, entirely.


Here's a good article on the subject (by an anarchist who is also not advocating throwing tort law over...)
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Re: Tragedy of the commons

Postby duncan » Tue Jul 21, 2009 4:47 am

Paul wrote:
duncan wrote:As for the price of pollution- I agree that markets do not, and probably cannot, properly price certain externalities. I am not a radical, nor am I an anarchist. So I am not advocating throwing tort law over, entirely.


Here's a good article on the subject (by an anarchist who is also not advocating throwing tort law over...)


Sure- but as I said, I am not a radical. The article you cite asks basic questions about justice. I don't, really- or rather, I don't require custom to exactly mirror what I consider just. This is why I consider myself basically a conservative. Even if I agree with you about what is just I will probably disagree with you about what should be done about that. .. It's not enough to ask what society you want. You must also ask what society is likely to come of your attempt to make the society you want. The truth is that I mistrust all reformers, whether they are commies or libertarians.

EDIT: Good lord, Ron Paul. Look- RP is a moron. IQ < 85 maybe, It is just really sad that he is a symbol of- well, whatever he symbolizes. I'm what you might call a very humble technocrat. I'm just like a technocrat in that I have a lot of plans for society, but- I'm humble because I am pretty convinced none of them will catch on. But I'm pretty sanguine about it. And I've never even thought about making people do it..
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Re: Tragedy of the commons

Postby findinglisp » Tue Jul 21, 2009 9:34 am

duncan wrote:I'll give you a great example of this. No matter what you think about global warming, burning corn as fuel is a tremendously bad idea. It is such a bad idea that it can be used as a litmus test, IMHO. Any lawmaker or regulator who proposes burning corn for fuel should be considered entirely corrupt. Note that our regulatory system subsidizes corn as fuel. Note that Iowa's caucus is disproportionately influential in US presidential races. Note that Archer-Daniels-Midland has made a lot of money from this, while food riots have occurred in less affluent parts of the world. You argue that pollution is not priced- well, I'll address that in a moment. But I want to ask- how is the cost of regulation priced? When regulatory actions produce catastrophic outcomes all I see from the pro-reg crowd is a stalwart refusal to take responsibility for the results of the problems that occur when you try to put their ideals into action.

...

Here's the thing: it's not enough to point out that things aren't perfect- few people are surprised by that observation. You must also demonstrate that your proposed solutions will be more perfect than what exists now. That means that you must deal with reality, and part of that reality is that regulatory regimes are always corrupt. If you don't get that then you should stay away from policy discussions just as people who think that perfect markets exist should.

EDIT: And I should also add that I think that the damage done by/the economic benefit of corn subsidies based on biofuel legislation is probably greater than the damage done by all pollution in the history of the human race, if you measure it by adverse effects on humans.


Amen. Well said. I agree with you fully that burning corn is a bad idea however you slice it. I had never thought about that being a good example highlighting the price of regulation.
Cheers, Dave
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Re: Tragedy of the commons

Postby findinglisp » Tue Jul 21, 2009 10:00 am

duncan wrote:Sure- but as I said, I am not a radical. The article you cite asks basic questions about justice. I don't, really- or rather, I don't require custom to exactly mirror what I consider just. This is why I consider myself basically a conservative. Even if I agree with you about what is just I will probably disagree with you about what should be done about that. .. It's not enough to ask what society you want. You must also ask what society is likely to come of your attempt to make the society you want. The truth is that I mistrust all reformers, whether they are commies or libertarians.


I got into another discussion with somebody at work a few months ago (the same guy who says he's a leftie libertarian yet thinks it's okay to ban transfats). We were discussing poverty and taxes and such. He's generally of the "I'd tax people and pay welfare, but I'd make the recipient work for it," sort of persuasion. My response is that I don't think we should pay any welfare at all. IMO, there are other institutions better suited to provide charitable services (charities, churches, other civic groups, etc.). IMO, it's not the government's job to be charitable. The government's job is to enforce contract and property law, provide for the common defense, and generally get the hell out of the way. His response was he feared that people wouldn't be as charitable as would be required. My response was twofold:
  • First, if people aren't charitable enough, then perhaps we really, as a society just aren't that charitable and perhaps the number of welfare recipients would decrease once they realize that. In other words, either we are charitable or we aren't. If we aren't, why are some of us trying to coerce (force!) the rest of us to be, particularly at threat of jail time?
  • Second, I asked him why he was trying to legislate his morality? In the USA, the liberals are constantly trying to paint the conservatives as a bunch of heartless buffoons and homophobes, trying to legislate "the word of God" and Old Testament morality into our legal code ( :roll: ). I basically pointed out the opposite. Generally, the left is constantly trying to turn government into a perpetual charity, to which everybody must give at threat of jail time. At which point, it ceases to be charity and in reality becomes a Chicago-style system for paying off cronies and generally wielding political power through various special-interest groups.

If I have 1,000 different charities that I can give my money to, I'll find my favorites and donate what I can (and in fact I donate double-digit percentages of my income every year to charities). Before and after giving, I can demand and get audited fiscal reports from them. If one of them is corrupt and starts to waste my money, I can choose another one to give to next year. Each year, a charity has to "earn" my "business" by proving that it can be responsible with the funding that I provide for it. In lean times, charities do not have a "right" to my money. If I get in a bad economic situation myself, I can stop donating. In other words, the sum total of charitable contributions really represents what people think they are able to give at any one time.

Government has not such obligations to me. Now that government has gotten into the charity business, it coerces all the people that politicians designate as "bad" (e.g. "the rich!" the definition of which is morphed to suit whatever need arises, but always to make the majority feel that they won't feel the pain) to hand over their money to the government. The politicians then take a bunch of it for themselves and give the rest to whatever political special-interest group needs a pay-off right now (unions, ACORN, etc.). If I don't like this, I cannot "vote with my feet" and simply tell the government that I find their behavior reprehensible. If I take a pay reduction at work or something else in my life changes, I cannot stop paying my taxes. Though the amount I pay would presumably be less, the government still controls the tax tables and tells me what I must pay, rather than what I feel I can pay. In response to all this, the best I can do is vote every year. But if the majority of the population is on the receiving end (and in the USA, we're rapidly approaching 50% of people not paying taxes), then it's easy for the receivers to tyrannize the producers.

If a private citizen did this, we'd call it extortion. When the government does it, we call it taxes. In other words, the government has a near-monopoly on coercive tools. It can do things to private citizens that citizens can't do to each other.

So, I'm a firm believer that we should strip as much money out of government. Take the money out and you'll see most, if not all, the other problems evaporate.
Cheers, Dave
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Re: Tragedy of the commons

Postby Paul » Tue Jul 21, 2009 6:59 pm

duncan wrote:EDIT: Good lord, Ron Paul. Look- RP is a moron


Eh? I never mentioned Ron Paul.
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Re: Tragedy of the commons

Postby TheGZeus » Tue Jul 21, 2009 7:22 pm

findinglisp wrote:
  • First, if people aren't charitable enough, then perhaps we really, as a society just aren't that charitable and perhaps the number of welfare recipients would decrease once they realize that. In other words, either we are charitable or we aren't. If we aren't, why are some of us trying to coerce (force!) the rest of us to be, particularly at threat of jail time?

How far would you take that, though?
What of those born with disabilities? At a certain point poor people with disabilities become a burden on their families, and if the family can't afford it, things get ugly fast.
At the least, the financial/time burden can hold back those who might be capable of greater things.
If you go too small in governmental/regulatory power you're back to robber barons, sharecropping, surfdom and boom/bubble and bust economics.

Incentivising certain behaviours is an option, but there are problems with that as well.

The important thing is balance and moderation. Right now we have people who seem to want extremes, and rather than call for lessening of the opposing bill, they seek another, equally or worse, bill in the other camp to make it 'fair'.
It's like a child demanding that the other childrens' toys should be broken because theirs were. That's not fair, it's stupid.

What I'm saying is too little is just as bad as too much.
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Re: Tragedy of the commons

Postby Paul » Tue Jul 21, 2009 10:37 pm

TheGZeus wrote:If you go too small in governmental/regulatory power you're back to robber barons, sharecropping, surfdom and boom/bubble and bust economics.


You have that backwards...those things you list are/were caused by government; if you "go too small in governmental/regulatory power", you solve those problems!
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