11 May 2012

Do the right thing

After ten years of careful consideration of the costs and benefits of various actions to save the environment, I have come up with a rule of thumb for recycling and other "environmental best practices:"
Ignore them and do what the fuck you want.
Regulations that tell you what to do "because that's what you're supposed to do" are not worth following if you can't see WHY you should do them.

This form of "citizen invalidation" will free you from onerous burdens without giving you the excuse to pollute when it's legal yet wrong. It also allows businesses to continue to pass regulatory costs, direct taxes, and other costs related to bad behavior or scarcity through to consumers, via higher prices.

Your thoughts?


Anonymous said...

Hi, new reader to the blog and have been enjoying it. Can you give an example of how the pricing would work? How would consumers not following regulation (for instance recycling glass) result in businesses pass through higher costs to the consumer for consuming glass bottles?

Jay said...

I mostly agree.

Negative externalities are typically addressed very poorly by the political and regulatory process. The examples I can think of add costs and burdens to daily life that seem in excess of the external costs. I'm thinking of deposits on bottles and containers as an example. These extra costs make compliance very low and counter to the interests of each individual.

"Simple Rules for a Complex World", by Richard Epstein is the best reatment I know of regarding regulations and laws.

David Zetland said...

@anon -- consumers who did NOT recycle glass would reduce feedstock for new glass, so prices would be higher. If glass recycling made sense, businesses would find ways to pay consumers for their own glass.

@Jay -- Not sure how you can claim that deposits cannot make "compliance" lower if there's a recycling program since people can recycle for free OR for money...

Mr. Kurtz said...

This would take away all the fun for many of the big wheels in the environmental justice industry. They gain great satisfaction form exercising the same blind moral authority that TSA agents demonstrate. They tell, we do. Only a terrorist would object.
What you are suggesting is putting a price on something as precious as life itself, or Nature. Think of The Children!

Turing Test said...

I agree with Kurtz's comment -- many groups (environmentalists, feminists, etc) gain a lot of satisfaction from imposing their moral views on the rest of society -- I call this type of behavior "ideological rent-seeking"

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