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Author Topic: Negative Externalities  (Read 11012 times)
benjamindees
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April 12, 2011, 03:23:03 PM
 #1

First of all, like many of you, I am a Libertarian.  I believe that force is the sole and ultimate societal ill, and that identification and elimination of force is the key to creating a more just and productive world.  Along those lines, I think it's consistent to say that the economic manifestation of force is the concept of "negative externality".  A negative externality is simply a cost or harm that is imposed on others without their consent.  Furthermore, and just as a technicality, since I do not think it is consistent to attribute any inherent value to goodwill (goodwill is just as much force as ill-will) I ignore positive externalities and do not believe that they are capable of offsetting the cost of negative externalities also without explicit consent.

I'd like to perform a little exercise in this thread.  I'd like to crowdsource a list of all of the negative externalities that exist in the world, in order of global impact.

For a refresher or for those new to the subject, some discussion of externalities:
http://www.auburn.edu/~johnspm/gloss/externality
http://economics.fundamentalfinance.com/negative-externality.php

So, please, help add to the list.  You can 1) add an item to the list, 2) separate an existing item into two or more items, or 3) re-order items in the list.  Please provide justification for your addition or change.


  • air pollution
    • farts
  • water pollution
  • traffic
  • noise pollution
  • monetary inflation
  • regulatory transaction costs
  • taxes
  • infectious diseases
  • littering
  • corporate liability shields


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tomcollins
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April 12, 2011, 03:29:01 PM
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First of all, like many of you, I am a Libertarian.  I believe that force is the sole and ultimate societal ill, and that identification and elimination of force is the key to creating a more just and productive world.  Along those lines, I think it's consistent to say that the economic manifestation of force is the concept of "negative externality".  A negative externality is simply a cost or harm that is imposed on others without their consent.  Furthermore, and just as a technicality, since I do not think it is consistent to attribute any inherent value to goodwill (goodwill is just as much force as ill-will) I ignore positive externalities and do not believe that they are capable of offsetting the cost of negative externalities also without explicit consent.

I'd like to perform a little exercise in this thread.  I'd like to crowdsource a list of all of the negative externalities that exist in the world, in order of global impact.

For a refresher or for those new to the subject, some discussion of externalities:
http://www.auburn.edu/~johnspm/gloss/externality
http://economics.fundamentalfinance.com/negative-externality.php

So, please, help add to the list.  You can 1) add an item to the list, 2) separate an existing item into two or more items, or 3) re-order items in the list.  Please provide justification for your addition or change.  I will start off with some simple examples:


  • air pollution
  • water pollution



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benjamindees
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April 12, 2011, 03:38:27 PM
 #3

Looking at ugly houses

Please justify this.  Who is forcing you to look at ugly houses?  Do you have a right to be surrounded by rainbows as far as the eye can see?

Quote from: Atlas
Centralized fiat currencies.

Please justify this.  How are you forced to use fiat currency?

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April 12, 2011, 03:42:19 PM
 #4

A negative externality is simply a cost or harm that is imposed on others without their consent.
What do you call it when someone imposes a harm on someone else with consent?

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benjamindees
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April 12, 2011, 03:45:30 PM
 #5

What do you call it when someone imposes a harm on someone else with consent?

Trade

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April 12, 2011, 03:47:59 PM
 #6

noise pollution

deadlizard
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April 12, 2011, 03:53:48 PM
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A negative externality is simply a cost or harm that is imposed on others without their consent.
What do you call it when someone imposes a harm on someone else with consent?
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April 12, 2011, 04:14:12 PM
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I believe that non-aggression, although prevalent, wouldn't be an absolute in a free market based law. Laws would be rules that people are generally ready to enforce by pointing guns at others (at their own cost), like prohibition of stealing or murder. People might be forcefully prevented from building a nuclear waste station in a residential area or organizing outdoor raves without compensation for noise. Or people might not be punished for preventing someone from committing a suicide, for example. People generally find these kinds of things perfectly reasonable and just.

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April 12, 2011, 04:20:19 PM
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Please justify this.  How are you forced to use fiat currency?

Well, we essentially are. Have you every tried to live without using fiat currency? Additionally, I would argue that inflationary policies are the end result of central banking, and it causes a transfer of wealth from those who get the new money last to those who get it first.
benjamindees
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April 12, 2011, 04:23:17 PM
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Well, we essentially are. Have you every tried to live without using fiat currency?

I'm not saying you aren't.  Just tell me how exactly.

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FatherMcGruder
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April 12, 2011, 04:27:01 PM
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Trade
Well, I'll agree that sometimes consensual trade is harmful, as in the case of blackmail and extortion, but these modes depend on threats of force. Regardless, I take it that you mean that negative externalities do not exist in the presence of consent. That brings us to how we value consent though. I mean, we can choose not to drink, breath, or drive. Cannot a polluter rightfully ignore the complaints of the dysenteric and asthmatic on the premise that they consented to drink and breath? If they try to shut him down, aren't they just Indian givers, after a fashion?

S&M  Cheesy
Perhaps, although good practitioners use safe-words with no threat of force against their use.

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April 12, 2011, 04:27:30 PM
 #12

The state restricts the generation and use of private tangible currencies.
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April 12, 2011, 04:29:33 PM
 #13

Trade
Well, I'll agree that sometimes consensual trade is harmful, as in the case of blackmail and extortion, but these modes depend on threats of force. Regardless, I take it that you mean that negative externalities do not exist in the presence of consent. That brings us to how we value consent though. I mean, we can choose not to drink, breath, or drive. Cannot a polluter rightfully ignore the complaints of the dysenteric and asthmatic on the premise that they consented to drink and breath? If they try to shut him down, aren't they just Indian givers, after a fashion?
You're degrading this argument down to the point that we consent to live, that living is a negotiable choice. Which can be a fair argument if you advocate that if you are coerced into a system, you still have freedom because you can kill yourself.
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April 12, 2011, 04:30:42 PM
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Laws are negative externalities, or at least some laws. The politicians/lobbyists that draft/pass laws don't pay the full cost of their decisions.
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April 12, 2011, 04:54:03 PM
 #15

You're degrading this argument down to the point that we consent to live, that living is a negotiable choice. Which can be a fair argument if you advocate that if you are coerced into a system, you still have freedom because you can kill yourself.
I'm not degrading anything. My point is that consent isn't necessarily the best factor, or even a good factor, by which to judge an outcome.

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benjamindees
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April 12, 2011, 05:29:57 PM
 #16

I mean, we can choose not to drink, breath, or drive. Cannot a polluter rightfully ignore the complaints of the dysenteric and asthmatic on the premise that they consented to drink and breath?

If they consent to drink and breathe pollution you mean?

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April 12, 2011, 05:37:46 PM
 #17

Looking at ugly houses

Please justify this.  Who is forcing you to look at ugly houses?  Do you have a right to be surrounded by rainbows as far as the eye can see?

If someone builds an ugly house next to mine, I had a nice view of a mountain before, and now I don't.  No one said anything about having a right to a good view.  It is a cost imposed on me, nonetheless.

If someone farts near me, that's a negative externality too.

Quote from: Atlas
Centralized fiat currencies.

Please justify this.  How are you forced to use fiat currency?
When the government forces you to pay him in it.  Still, not sure it's a negative externality.
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April 12, 2011, 05:52:08 PM
 #18

If they consent to drink and breathe pollution you mean?
I suppose that adding that qualifier brings the total to three choices: stop drinking and breathing, find unpolluted water and air to drink and breath, or drink and breath pollution. Of course, the second premise depends on the availability of clean water and air. If clean water and air is unavailable, then one cannot consent to drinking and breathing without also consenting to drinking and breathing pollution.

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April 12, 2011, 05:54:03 PM
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i do not consent to anyone quoting this post

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April 12, 2011, 06:01:28 PM
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i do not consent to anyone quoting this post


Too bad!

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