Did I ruffle a few feathers? :)

Chris M. Sciabarra sciabrrc at is2.NYU.EDU
Thu Sep 21 16:19:35 MDT 1995

On Thu, 21 Sep 1995, Doug Henwood wrote:

> At 1:42 PM 9/21/95, Chris M. Sciabarra wrote:
> >If corporations have to PAY for their pollution, and pay
> >dearly, they will be compelled to try other means for either cleaning up
> >their pollution, or, for non-polluting methods of production.
> But the price system doesn't signal this; it's rational, planning humans
> collectively forcing the price system to say something it wouldn't have on
> its own. Prices aren't just signals, they also denominate workers' and
> firms' incomes, and so there's a tremendous incentive within the price
> system to shift costs, especially long-term semi-visible ones like assuring
> breathable air in 2050. As Keynes said, the average man discounts the
> future at a very high rate.

	Oh, but the price system WOULD signal it if resources were
privately owned; I know this anathema to a Marxist.  But the "tragedy of
the commons" is precisely a tragedy of the COMMONS.  As long as public
property exists, and is used and abused by private individuals who don't
have to bear the costs of abuse, they will do whatever they can to get
away with it.  Will there still be some selfish bastards who tear down
trees in privately owned forests?  Sure.  But other selfish bastards
might see profit in planting new trees on their property for future
production purposes.  The commons are ravaged because they are one huge
externality with loads of free riders having the time of their lives.  It
is time to privatize and make the free riders pay.
				- Chris
Dr. Chris M. Sciabarra
Visiting Scholar, NYU Department of Politics
INTERNET:  sciabrrc at is2.nyu.edu

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