Thursday, February 23, 2017

John Quiggin — Bastiat anticipates climate science denialism

… on Googling Bastiat + pollution, I came across a remarkable package in which Bastiat anticipates the climate change debate and takes the denialist side in advance.…
What’s striking, though, is [Bastiat's] a priori faith that everything will be OK because of Divine Providence [compare with "spontaneous natural order"], which ensures that human activity tends towards harmony. If that fails, and a laissez-faire economy does in fact produce unsustainable pollution, his whole case collapses.
Of course, it’s possible to salvage a version of laissez-faire in the way suggested by Coase, using newly created property rights. But this requires the admission that property rights are a socially constructed set of rules, enforced by coercion, rather than a category inherent in the natural relationship between people and things. It’s precisely this admission that propertarians have been unwilling/unable to make, and why they still rely on magical thinking like that displayed by Bastiat.
John Quiggin's Blog
Bastiat anticipates climate science denialism
John Quiggin | Professor and an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow at the University of Queensland, and a member of the Board of the Climate Change Authority of the Australian Government


Bob Roddis said...

There's no magical thinking. Property rights are easily understood. My house, my dog, my car, my room, my bank account. my body. Everyone understands these concepts and acts on these concepts in their personal lives. Except criminals.

Pollution is simply an obvious violation of well understood property rights justified by statists in order "to produce jobs". Just like theft of purchasing power by fiat money is justified in order "to produce jobs".

Bob Roddis said...

A late comer pig farmer builds a CAFO (confined animal feeding operation) near pre-existing homes. The smell and flies are overwhelming.

Walter Block says:

In my view, which, I presume, is in accord with Murray’s, there are no “negative externalities” here. That is just mainstream clap-trap. Rather, this is here a rather clear case of property rights violations, emanating from trespassing smells. I assume you were there before the pig farm started up. Hopefully, if you launch a law-suit against these people, you can rely on the Rothbardian analysis.

Predicted outcome: Property rights will take a back seat to JOBS JOBS JOBS but which will be blamed by the left upon property rights.

Tom Hickey said...

I have some friends that found themselves in that situation in Iowa. Their property became uninhabitable when the pig farm was up and running. No legal recourse available.