Yaron Answers: Capitalism and the Environment



that's a big question but let me start by asking you to think about what you mean by the environment what is the environment that we talk about whose environment and the environment is there is no thing that is the environment there's nature there's the earth there's people but when we talk about environment which we should talk about somebody's environment are we talking about human environment are we talking about spotted owls environment are we talking about the trees environment so let me tell you what I talk about because I don't know what other people talk about you know I I have my suspicions I talk about the human environment and the question is how do we protect the human environment and what are the threats the human environment in in in modern times well most of the threats that we knew 200 years ago 300 years ago technology industrialization have cured us from so we actually today live in the best human environment from a health and well-being perspective in all of human history there is never in human history being a time where we are being healthier where we have breathe cleaner air where we have drunk better water where we have eaten better food never in the history of mankind and we've got 6 plus billion people on the planet so you know give zillion times more people than they were hundreds of years ago certainly thousands of tens of thousands of years ago the air we'd be this much better than it was in the cave it's much better than it was around a bonfire it was certainly much better than it was in in the subsistence farm where there was manure everywhere and there were rats everywhere and it was it was just a disgusting place to live it's even better than London in 19th century way instead of exhaust from automobiles which he had was piles of horse manure and you know it wasn't like Disneyland where the horses walked by and they too when somebody comes up with a little boom and sweeps it up no it just sat day and you know there were no sewage systems because no there's no wealth of technology to create sewage system so human sewage ran through the streets as well so look first we have to set the context human environment is unbelievably good right now so I assume what you're concerned about and what I think people should be concerned about is how do we make sure that people don't put stuff into the air that puts us that that really damages our health how do we make sure people don't put stuff into the water that makes us sick so clean air clean water those are the real issues that I take as legitimate concerns about the human environment in a laissez-faire capitalist economy so let's start with this I think that the number one thing that we have to do or that I think serves to protect us a property right properly defining property rights so if you have properly defined property rights for example over water and if we privatize all the water right we privatize the lakes and we privatize the rivers and we privatize the ocean and we privatize the waterfront now you have people who have who can claim damages if somebody you know pollutes upstream now you have an issue of rights now you have an issue of people being able to make a claim against somebody somebody responsible and you know and not only it's not only about the quality of the water but for example if we had proper property rights over fishing rights over a river now you could argue about how we're gonna use the water we're gonna use the water for the fish so we're gonna use the water to irrigate agriculture the standard then becomes contracts and property right law it doesn't because the government doesn't have a wall other than its setting up these these foundations and at that point what its gonna be look what is gonna be clean because you're not gonna pollute my water I'm gonna make sure that you don't and if you do I'm gonna sue you I'm gonna take you to court and I'm gonna do and retribution but well before that we're gonna have a contract we're gonna we're gonna deal with this this is how it was in the 19th century where cattle ranches and and and towns and and farmers had to resolve disputes that had to do with property rights over water flows in those days this was all privatized and the courts handled this and that's how it was resolved it gets a little trickier with a and and one has to be I think creative about thinking about property rights and how they relate to air and I don't have the answer about how you do that I don't have the answer in the detail about how you doing what I just know what it's being done before is a little trickier but I think this is the principle if you can show that the activities of person X or company Y or person or company x y&z actually cause you physical harm actually causing you to be sick then you have legal retribution against them you have a legal Avenue to go after the matiee but the burden of proof is on you to show that it's harmful to you if there is a common action that all let's say industries are performing that is clearly unequivocally hood and human life and that restricting it is not going to end industry as we know it then I can imagine the government having a role in saying you know what you're hurting the lives of all these people you can't spew cyanide into the air beyond XML right so so you could imagine a scenario but but again the boon of proof is gonna be very very high for these kind of things it's not gonna be the kind of burden of proof that I think exists today so government can have a role but it's a much much smaller role and the burden of proof is gonna be fall different then then exist day however and and if the activity is such that eliminating it is actually going to stop an industrialization though actually going to be such that progress is made possible then there's no way government could step in and there's no way the courts can step in I'll give you an example of this imaginary Knight mid 19th century London and the factory is a spewing out coal dust this cold destiny and I think it's I think I'm not conserve this but I'm pretty certain that when you breathe that stuff in it does harm to your health it's not good for you and actually damages you imagine stopping it at that point imagine telling everybody they couldn't use coal anymore look the technologies for filtering did not exist the costs were impossible the only way to stop this home was to stop using coal that would have been the end of the Deaf's Industrial Revolution and everybody's lives would be worse off so your health is a little hood by the fact that humanity is progressing including you your life in toto is going to be better off that's in a sense a price that is being paid you live in Los Angeles and everybody's driving cars and they're spewing out whatever comes comes out of cause and I'm willing to acknowledge that it's not pleasant and may be harmful to your health I live somewhere else you know you don't have to live in Los Angeles that is the price of living in LA just like it was the price of lemon London to bleed that stood in for the government to step in and say no you know we're gonna regulate every last chemical that comes out of that exhaust because the quality of life of Los Angeles is being reduced that's ridiculous if your quality of life is lower go live in Wyoming that's why Wyoming exists it exists for Californians and don't like you know call call exhaust pollution so that plenty of places around the world where you can breathe better and in Los Angeles make that choice but you don't have the right to stop all the automobiles in LA to stop you know everybody also driving because it doesn't suit your quality of life it's a choice that you then have to make so to summarize I think most issues of pollution and and real issues of human environment get dealt with to the issue of property rights and and I'm not saying it's easy now I'm not saying I have all the answers to how we do it through property rights this is an issue that philosophers of law and courts and individuals and contracts are gonna have to evolve and have to deal with under laissez-faire capitalism second the government might have a wall when there is a specific risk it's well identified the risks unknown the damage is known and making a change is not destructive is not hugely destructive and third you have a choice you can choose to not going to the restaurant where people are smoking to not live in Oh in a city where people are driving a lot of cause to not be in a city where there's a lot of where there's a lot of coal in the air you have a choice to change your life lifestyle and to go somewhere else so that's how I think issues of human environment get dealt with let me just say one quick word about spotted owls if you care about spotted owls buy some and create the environment by you the environment under under capitalism you'll be able to do this by a would by a forest and raise your spotted owls day I don't care about the spotted owls environment it doesn't all I care about is the human environment so you know if you care about the environment of other species then you know you should you should have the ability to take care of it without interfering with my rights to live the kind of life I want to live




Comments
  1. One massive flaw with the stance that 'privatisation will solve everything' is that it only works for those with buying power. Poor people cannot 'vote with their wallets'. Extensive privatisation results in a stagnation of classes and prevents the growth of the productive middle class. Are you going to privatise welfare?

    Also, privatisation can create a lot of inertia for action on large scale, trans-industry projects, as companies only act to maximise their own profits, compared to governments, which (in theory) act to maximise national economic growth beyond a single-person's lifetime. I know, government often fail to act in such a way, however, sometimes they do act in the interests of the whole country's future, and this is something that privatisation cannot achieve as companies do not have an incentive to do so.

  2. This argument lacks logic. Cars aren’t necessity. There are cities sized LA that have much less traffic and car pollution and stil work fine. Cars arent equal how they pollute.

  3. Wow….libertarians are equally as utopian as communists…they all need perfect actors for these systems to work

  4. Asshole …we do not live in a clean world, it’s the dirtiest it’s ever been. Everything from the water you drink to the farmed fish you eat is contaminated with micro plastic, toxic human-made chemicals that do not naturally disintegrate. Privatization does not promise clean water for everyone, it just takes natural resources that are necessary for life and allows someone to monetize and control it as a commodity, creating artificial scarcity …limiting survival to those who can pay. At present moment these natural resources ARE own, by all of us and through proxy our government should be protecting these rights and properties; suing companies that trash and dump. Why this is not happening is the reason people keep doing it, not because it doesn’t have an owner

  5. Honestly, one of the stupidest things I've ever heard. He shows a complete lack of understanding about the environment and how pollution affects the whole world and how human survival actually depends on other species. "You don't like the air in Los Angeles, go live in Wyoming" , "Buy a forest" …Really?

  6. I like idea that system would naturally find way how to deal with pollution problems, however that is very loose interpretation.
    Privatization of everything, how? and then part abount its okay to have black lungs for technological development is not quite heartwarming. But i must say that regulation by state isnt reliable tool either.

  7. Some people think that capitalism is the answer to everything. No matter what you say they cannot be convinced otherwize. The have already decided that you are wrong if you say anything that don’t fit their idea of capitalism being the one true answer. I got news for you: There is no such thing as a single one answer that solves every problem – and if someone tell you there is they are lying.

  8. Some people think that capitalism is the answer to everything. No matter what you say they cannot be convinced otherwize. The have already decided that you are wrong if you say anything that don’t fit their idea of capitalism being the one true answer. I got news for you: There is no such thing as a single one answer that solves every problem – and if someone tell you there is they are lying.

  9. People in this comments section who think Yaron is an ideological fool need to look at how we are currently addressing environmental harm. The current system sucks.

  10. If there where property right to the water the polluting companies would just buy these right and pollute as much as they wanted,

  11. I usually agree with Yaron, but what he’s saying here doesn’t make any sense. So if people smoke in my city I can “choose” to go live in Wyoming. Ok, say I move and next year I get a couple new neighbors that start smoking in their back yard and the wind moves the smoke to me. I should move again? What if there are no cities where people don’t smoke? I have to buy a forest where I can live? Ridiculous.

  12. Actually this is one of the issues you can't deal with by implementing a free market and capitalism because to make sure oceans (for example) are clean, the one who privatized one of them needs to profit from the fact they are clean or nobody will give a shit and the oceans will go to hell.

  13. I'm in favour of progress and capitalism but literally nothing was said here. Just a load of waffle and no addressing of the elephant in the room of co2 emissions. This guy is so ideological he can't give a rational answer as reality no longer fits this extreme philosophy.

  14. this is actually reasonable, he admitted that there are certain extreme scenarios where the government could intervene in regards to pollution, to me this sounds like a truly libertarian ideology and not entire anarchy as some more extreme libertarians seem to preach

  15. This is another one of the areas where this guy's philosophy really falls short.

    I know Libertarians don't like the idea of a commons but it doesn't matter, because the atmosphere is one. There is no way to privatize the atmosphere, short of putting up giant domes everywhere. This means that we must treat it like a commons. And in order to avoid a tragedy of the commons the government must step in and prevent destructive behavior like increased carbon emissions.

    Global warming negatively effects everyone and will cause things like mass extinction of species (especially in the oceans due to acidification) and rising sea levels that will destroy the property of people who live by the oceans, as well of a slew of additional and unpredictable problems.

    Why should we have to wait for the damage to be done and then allow those who where negatively impacted (which eventually would be pretty much everyone) to sue those who caused the problem?

    It makes much more sense to proactively prevent it from happening in the first place.

  16. This is what happens when an economist starts talking out of his ass about ecology because he his trying to defend a system which he is profiting from. He simply disregards all of the ecological problems we are facing such as plastics in the ocean, climate change, top soil degradation, loss of biodiversity ect, as "non-human environment." All of these are necessary for the earth to maintain homeostasis, which human or not we need for survival. What a dope.

  17. I'm really trying to reason along with Yaron here, but this over-simplified drivel sounds like a highly educated but whiney infant. He could be character on Family Guy. How many actualities does have to throw out in order to align with this? Billions, apparently.

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