Occasional Via Meadia readers will know that we have no love for the incoherent, unworkable global green agenda and the wasteful government programs that support it. More attentive followers will also be aware that we are concerned about the environment and support efforts to protect it, including government funding for basic research in fields that might lead to improved energy efficiency and possibly even a revenue neutral tax on carbon that could finance the abolition or at least the dramatic reduction of the payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare. The Economist‘s Free Exchange blog has a provocative post up that touches on some of these ideas and raises questions about how reasonably effective environmental policy can be made.The article illustrates a range of important points about developing the transportation technology of the future. The public and private sectors may be equally bad at “picking winners” when deciding which firms and projects to fund, but while failed private sector efforts are quickly swept aside, public sector failures are notoriously hard to kill.It’s a thoughtful post that illuminates what much of the environmental literature ignores: the subtle gradations and the complicated tradeoffs that make policy so hard and, frequently, so frustrating. Take a look: the policy arguments over the environment and energy aren’t going away, and if the Global Carbon Treaty is as dead as the dodo, the problems of energy security, pollution and, broadly speaking, the footprint of human industrial activity on the biosphere — including climate — will be with us for many years to come.
The Environment in a “Second Best” World
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