Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

The Commons

Here is Hayward’s "other" blog The Commons: "The Commons Blog is a collaborative web log dedicated to the principle of promoting environmental quality and human dignity and prosperity through markets and property rights. Put more simply, it’s about free markets protecting the environment." Note the explanation for the name. He also blogs at The Corner, and his better half (Allison) has her own blog, Skeptics Eye where she talks about campaign finance issues. By the way, do note that she is, shall we say...ahem...slightly better looking than Steve.

Discussions - 14 Comments

I didn’t even realize conservatives still care about things like the environment. Kudos to Mr. Hayward and his comrades.

Do they care, really? I don’t buy that It’s not just fluffy talk to peel away a few votes? I’m all for allowing the market to regulate the bulk of the economy, but there are clear cut examples where it needs to be helped along.


New technologies that minimise power consumption are such an example. Clearly such technologies when proven need to have the playing field levelled by government intervention when competing against massive and entrenched interests.


However, the majority of these people are so wedded to the ideology of the free market, that action of the kind noted above is simply anathema. They remain utterly blind to the failures of the free market, most especially it’s social failures.


You hardly need to look further than US "healthcare" to see that.

Hey Schramm--who you callin’ ugly?

I hesitate to correct Brian (because it seems like a hopeless task) but when it comes to his remark "new technologies that minimise power consumption" as an example of necessary government environmental mandates--just consider two words: jet engines. Something like a 300 percent increase in efficiency over the last 30 years. And the government mandate that caused that? Oh, right--there wasn’t one.

The history of CAFE standards in the 1970s will also show that the standards actually chased what was already well under way in the marketplace.

Brian,



The conservative environmentalists will attack the government’s irresponsibility in taking care of environment (maybe more out of a disdain for complex and expanding government than anything else) and the liberal environmentalists will attack the irresponsible businesses (which there seem to be a lot of these days) that treat our environment poorly. Either way, as long as the environment is being preserved, I don’t really see anything wrong with it . . . (that is, just as long as irresponsible industrial practices involving either the government or business are the only thing being changed . . .)

Matt: Fair enough comment. The place where regulation is justified/necessary is where either a) the natural process of efficiency gains does not reach a particular kind of pollution (lead in gasoline is a good example), or b) where large-number problems make a common law/property right solution unworkable as a practical matter (i.e., where transactions costs of regulation are lower than market exchanges or common law adjudication). Smog in LA is a good example of the latter. Otherwise the government often makes things worse. (See: the MTBE mandate.)

Steve:

I was curious if you could tell me if the "market approach" is the manner of regulation that most environmentalists favor? What I mean is would most eco-people consider the market to be an aspirational baseline to aspire towards?

I ask because I just finished environmental law. My adjunct professor is a litigator at NRDC, cared about eco stuff, etc. and yet our first week- two weeks of class discussion presumed the market should only be interfered with if it is not working, and if possible, market like solutions should be sought. This would seem to be a major change from the 30s New Deal and 60s Great Society. When we read about Title IV of the CAA both book and professor stressed it was such a success because of the permits and market oriented structure of the regulation.

I was just curious if this is the general tenure of debate.

I hesitate to correct Brian (because it seems like a hopeless task) but when it comes to his remark "new technologies that minimise power consumption" as an example of necessary government environmental mandates--just consider two words: jet engines. Something like a 300 percent increase in efficiency over the last 30 years. And the government mandate that caused that? Oh, right--there wasn’t one.


Sure, beat up on me! I’m not saying it’s never happened, just that irrational "market force" idelouges fight these kind of moves tooth and nail.


The CAFE is a good example of just that very thing. There is almost zero incentive on the part of consumers to pay more for the already substantial capital outlay a vehicle purchase represents.


Yet CAFE standards where discontinued by conservative governments, a clear cut case of a sensible and simply regulated government intervention, that was not only good for the environment, but reduced US dependence on imports.

Um... just when were CAFE standards "discontinued" by conservative governments? There are these things called "facts," Brian. You might want to look them up some time. We have the same CAFE standards today that we had 15 years ago--Congress (which enacts CAFE rules, not the White House) has not changed them. In fact Congress has voted against raising them; in the last 2 Senate votes, 22 Democrats voted against raising CAFE, including every potential Democratic presidential candidate (Hillary, Feingold, etc). So how’s it the fault of conservative governments again?

Steve Sparks:

Yes indeed, the environmental debate has swung heavily toward markets over the last 10 years, especially among mainline environmental groups. However, I do think the NRDC’s grasp of markets is incomplete. When they say "markets" they really mean "prices," or, in the case of CAA emissions trading, they mean a cartel-like market set up and managed by the government. This can work well (as in the case of the acid rain program), but there are lots of things to criticize in this approach (starting with the lack of real property rights in the emissions permits. LA tried this and the whole thing crashed and burned.)

"slightly" more beautiful....?

Um... just when were CAFE standards "discontinued" by conservative governments?


You are a nit picker for a member of the party of alternative reality:-)


Fifteen year old CAFE standards are meaningless. There should be on ongoing escalator that pushes the standards higher, this has not happened in the last 15 years because your boys have had a stranglehold on the congress.


It’s true though that you aren’t much better off with the Democrats, but they are at least a lighter shade of grey, and they are talking about energy independence in 10 years.

It’s true though that you aren’t much better off with the Democrats, but they are at least a lighter shade of grey, and they are talking about energy independence in 10 years.

Brian, how can the democrats be taken seriously since Steve has just reminded us that over 50% of the Democrats in the Senate plus every serious Democrat candidate for President in the Senate opposed raising CAFE? One could easily conclude that the democrat’s rhetoric about energy independence in 10 years might be less than sincere.

You are a nit picker for a member of the party of alternative reality:-)

Trademark it now before Karl Rove steals it to use against the Democrats this fall.

Brian, how can the democrats be taken seriously since Steve has just reminded us that over 50% of the Democrats in the Senate plus every serious Democrat candidate for President in the Senate opposed raising CAFE? One could easily conclude that the democrat’s rhetoric about energy independence in 10 years might be less than sincere.


No argument there. However, the current incumbents are a disaster on the environmental front, literally!


If you really want a chance at change, these are manifestly not the people to trust with it.

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