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Re: [VAC] June 9 - August 30 [UPDATE]

On Tue, Jul 01, 2003 at 01:09:22PM -0500, Branden Robinson wrote:
> What you describe has already happened.  The "right" to pollute the air
> that people breathe is already bought and sold like a commodity in the
> U.S.
> http://www.bizjournals.com/sacramento/stories/2003/04/21/story8.html

We actually discussed this (pollution permits in general, not the
article to which you refer) in the introductory economics class I'm
taking now. Basically, that allows the government to cause a reduction
in pollution relative to pre-permit levels at the least economic cost
possible, using free-market principles to allocate the permits
efficiently. In other words, those people who can reduce pollution
cheaply will sell the permits to those who have a harder time reducing
pollution, using the profits to offset the cost to their business of
reducing pollution. If the total amount of pollution allowed by all the
permits is less than the pollution before, this will be an environmental
gain at minimal cost. If they built in some way for the allowed
quantities to be adjusted (e.g., variable-value or finite-duration
permits), they can do further reductions using the same
free-market-based system.

I think it's pretty clever, actually, and it's a good thing for the
environment rather than a bad one. You're not going to get rid of all
pollution, because that would shut down too much business/industry, and
this solution allows for reduction to desired levels in the most
economically efficient manner possible. You and I often have the same
knee-jerk reaction to things, and the first time I heard about these (a
few years ago) I had the same negative reaction you did. Now that I have
learned about it, my reaction in this case has changed.

- Jimmy Kaplowitz

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