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It is a veritable religious belief that people look at “pollution” and identify its existence as “bad.” Never mind me lecturing you on the economics of pollution – which would start with a study of property rights and how weak or non-existence property rights are the only way “pollution” can even exist in the first place. We would then explore the idea that zero pollution is not an option, since it is not costless to reduce. We would then explore the idea, therefore, that there is an optimal level of pollution. In other words, the existence of pollution itself tells us no more about whether an outcome is desirable or undesirable than the existence of a firm’s labor costs tells us about whether it is being optimal or not.

With that in mind, I find it hard to reconcile folks’ religious belief about physical, observable, pollution (that there should be none!) with the way they live in their personal lives. Does everyone who is “anti-pollution” wash their car every day? Are their beds made each and every morning? Do they ever leave dishes in the sink? Do they … [you can ask your own favorite question here, such as always brush their teeth?] You might, at your next dinner party, ask folks why they ever allow these horrible “pollutants” to damage their lives. And then ask them what they think about carbon emissions.

But just don’t plan on being invited back for the Christmas holiday party.

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One Response to “Sunday Morning Ponderance”

  1. Harry says:

    Do they spread manure in places to minimize runoff when the ground is frozen, or do they dump it all into the creek? Do they plow it down in the spring? I am referring to the hipsters.

    Your colleague professor posted a hilarious piece in Slate about hipsters taking up hunting. Part of the argument for it was that it was better to kill a deer than eat a [steer] that was fed grain or hay harvested by tractors. (Tractors powered by fuel, not electric tractors, I assume.) (They think meat comes from cows, which may be somewhat correct if one eats only fast food burgers, or, if you are on Social Security, dog food).

    So this evening I did the dishes and let the water out of the sink to drain down a pipe in my cellar down to…the world. My kitchen sink is not hooked up to my sanitary drain. Just for the record, I do not stuff my garbage down the sink through a garbage disposer, but I would not drink my dishwater. It drains into a field.

    Were I to be sitting next to WC at a posh dinner party, attempting to illustrate the implications of his observations, no doubt I would be stricken from the A list, too.

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