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No. of Recommendations: 5
Quack!

I also was very impressed with the Stossel book. I bought it at Costco because I had always been AMAZED when I would see what his specials were on. More or less the only "thinker" on network television that ever pierced my radar screen. So I bought his book.

I liked the idea that here was a libertarian with a good haircut and a beautiful wife. While I am a fan of libertarian ideology, I am an anti-fan of ideologuism. I DO believe the proper role of political parties is to participate in government, and it seems plausible to me that a significant fraction of third parties is dominated by people who would rather keep their ideology passing purity tests than to ever govern. Getting a network TV success story on the deck of the ship sure as heck made me consider the possiblity that this party might be relevant.

Stossel's book pushed me over the edge, at least to the extent of coming over to this board. I still need to mull over the relative benefits of voting the party of Reagan vs. the actual Libertarian party. Can my miniscule influence on things be better spent moving one of the actual elected parties incrementally in the directions of policy that help the country? Or is the world better served by my hanging out in the corner with the party of Stern (as in Howard, google if you don't know the story)?

But Stossel left me believing that yoiu could put a radical libertarian in the white house and it would be 20 years before you had to worry that he had possibly gone too far! We are THAT far away from getting ENOUGH free market and market-based solutions in this country. To paraphrase Churchill, we suck, but we are still (approximately) the best game in town, although you will find a bunch of libertarian theorists touting New Zealand and Ireland and other countries which are to the U.S. in importance as the Libertarians are to the Republicans.

Which brings me, ever so slowly, to the questions you ask. Where or where not is the market in pollution? Where is government? Must it regulate?

The answer for at least some of us is: yes, the government must regulate in pollution, but not all regulations are created equal. Simply stating "the government must regulate in pollution" is FAR from stating that ANY regulations they pass in the name of pollution have a net benefit to society, or that the net benefit might not be drastically increased with a very different approach to regulation.

http://www.epa.gov/airmarkets/trading/basics/ talks about some aspects of regulation where the regulation itself creates a market. The theory is: if the government's goal is to reduce pollution, and industry/business is pretty much expert at trading off the various tradeoffs they have to make, then why not regulate into a market? So pollution allowances are created, and issued to the players who are polluting. But those allowances can be bought and sold. So one industry is building a new plant, they can more efficiently reduce emissions tremendously when building a plant than by retrofitting an old plant, so they DO that and get a plant that emits much less than they are "allowed" to by the allowances they have been issued. They can then use the excess allowances to either 1) keep an older dirtier plant alive a little longer OR 2) SELL that allowance to another company which is keeping its older investment alive a little longer.

The upshot of this market type sollution is that the government doesn't have to "guess right" about the optimal way to achieve reduced emissions. They simply issue allowances for some total amount of allowable emissions, and the market moves the capital around to meet those goals. Since the essence of the failure of communism and even socialism was that government's SUCK at guessing right the details of how to run businesses. This seems like it would be a much better way to achieve the stated goal: reduce emissions.

Anyway, don't let my participation here scare you away from the ideas of libertarianism, or the other ideas expressed in Stossel's book. You will see a lot of us cranky types over here. But don't darn the ideas because of the nerdiness of their proponents. Just remember John Stossel has a beautiful house in the Hamptons, and ignore the guy wearing the bowtie who forgot to wash his hair this month.

R:)ph
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