Clean air? There is no such thing and never has been. There is only air with varying degrees of impurities, varying amounts of which can be removed at varying costs. Removing the kinds of things that choke our lungs or otherwise threaten our health is usually not that expensive. But science is becoming capable of detecting ever more minute traces of impurities with ever more insignificant consequences. Yet where is the politician who is going to resist calls for removing more impurities in the name of "clean air"? Who is going to resist calls to "save the environment"? Only an economist is likely to say, "Save it from what or from whom -- and at what price?"
Bumper stickers in and around Redwood City, Calif., long proclaimed: "Save Pete's Harbor." What did that even mean? In practice, it meant letting one set of people use it as a marina and preventing other people from replacing the marina with housing. When the Constitution of the United States says that the government owes "equal protection" to all its citizens, why should the government intervene on behalf of one set of contending citizens against another, much less call that "saving" the environment? People have been bidding against one another for the same resources for centuries. Why replace that process with politicians' control? The 20th century was a virtual laboratory test of political control of economic activities -- and it was
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- Fall '16
- john mull
- History, Government, Economists, SWBAT define scarcity