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The Environment in a “Second Best” World

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.

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  • Luke Lea

    “The article illustrates a range of important points about developing the transportation technology of the future . . .”

    I believe the transportation technology of the future may already exist. Here is a picture of it. This technology would be cheaper to buy, finance, insure, maintain, and operate.

    My point being that as an alternative to suburbs smaller communities with shorter distances between work and home and the places where we shop might be the best way to reduce transportation costs and make our society less vulnerable to interruptions in the world oil markets.

  • Jacksonian Libertarian

    Anthropogenic Global Warming is [nonsense]. We know this because there is no Global Warming, temperatures have in fact fallen slightly since 1998, and the fraudulent green Scientists have had to “Hide the Decline”. Only the feedback of competition can determine the best and most efficient use of resources. The Government Monopoly is incompetent at picking winners and losers, because it lacks the feedback of competition. The only way to limit the waste, corruption, and incompetence of the Government Monopoly, is to limit the Government Monopoly. The Government Monopoly is a burden the economy must bear, but for the economy too thrive that burden must be as light as possible. It was a limited Government that allowed this country to grow great, but as the Government has grown, growth has stalled as the burden has become more than the nation can bear.

    There is an urban legend that sometime in the 50’s; Albert Einstein was hanging out on campus with some of his science geek groupies, when one of them asked “What is the most Powerful Force in the Universe?” and too which Albert Einstein, who was intimately familiar with an atomic bomb going super critical, instantly replied “Compounding Growth”. The Government Monopoly by being such a burden and drag on the economy that it cannot grow, is sacrificing the most Powerful Force in the Universe of Compounding Growth.

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