31) Interview with Judge Jim Gray

LA CityBeat
    by Dean Kuipers

"Judge Jim Gray will be the first to tell you that libertarians, and
the Libertarian Party, don't have all the answers. Not yet. But what
they do have are principles -- the Goldwater principles of less
government, fewer taxes, and less infringements upon the Bill of
Rights -- and in a Senate race loaded with compromises and cynicism
regarding corporate and special interest power in government, Newport
Beach Superior Court Judge Gray believes that will matter. A Gov.
Deukmejian appointee, he left the Republican Party when the
GOP-controlled Congress passed the USA Patriot Act, incensed at the
further erosion of Americans' privacy and civil rights." (06/10/04)

http://www.lacitybeat.com/article.php?id=978&IssueNum=53

Jim Gray said in the interview "Just last week we were in Atlanta [for] the
Libertarian convention. Carl Pope, head of the Sierra Club, addressed us.
Very well received. He brought up one area: What if you have a pond, and the
pond is a stop for migratory birds? And you pour DDT into your pond. Is it
your pond to mess up if you want to? Yes, under libertarian thought. But all
of the birds that stop there die. So, who owns the migratory birds? That's
one that I cannot answer."

Jim, like Aaron Russo, recognizes that traditional anarcho-libertarianism
cannot deal effectively with negative externalities. However, they are not a
problem for minarchist libertarianism.

Migratory animal are a natural resource. In economics, a natural resource is
defined as any rival non-excludable good, examples of which are listed at
http://marketliberal.org/Lesson.html#Rivalry . Because natural resources are
not excludable but still rival, they are subject to negative externalities
that cannot be efficiently managed by either unregulated markets or even by
torts.

Polluting a natural resource is aggression, and libertarians believe that
policing aggression is a duty of the state. The smart way to police
aggression involving natural resources is to place a cost on the release of
pollutants. This will internalize the externalities into the decision making
process, and allow a given pollution target to be met for lower overall cost
than traditional command-and-control regulations. Also, taxing negative
externalities creates a permanent incentive for environmental improvement.
When pollution has a price attached to it, any profit-maximizing entity has
an ongoing incentive to make further reductions over time.

For more details, see http://marketliberal.org/Lesson.html#Externality

Brian Holtz
LP candidate for Congress, CA14 (Silicon Valley)
http://marketliberal.org

Is it
your pond to mess up if you want to?

If you believe in private property, then the answer is "yes." (BTW,
who sets the criteria for "mess up," the state or the pond owner?)

who owns the migratory birds? That's
one that I cannot answer."

Whomever homesteaded them. If no one has, then they are unowned,
similar to unowned (unhomesteaded) land.

Jim, like Aaron Russo, recognizes that traditional

anarcho-libertarianism

cannot deal effectively with negative externalities.

Please read anarcho-libertarian writings on negative externalities. (I
refer you to David Friedman, Walter Block, Jeffrey Rogers Hummel,
Murray N. Rothbard, for example.)

The main points are: a) negative externalities are a problem for free
markets, but not an insurmountable one and, b) the state is not the
solution since it does not eliminate negative externalities, but
rather creates them. (Consider that 98% of the pollution in the U.S.
exists on govt-owned property.)

Best, Michael

Michael R. Edelstein wrote:

Please read anarcho-libertarian writings on
negative externalities. (I refer you to David Friedman,
Walter Block, Jeffrey Rogers Hummel, Murray N. Rothbard

Please give a specific citation. Friedman's Machinery of Freedom has only
one index entry for externalities, on p106. In a discussion of airfare
pricing, he mentions negative externalities only in passing, and admits that
"this, as the opponents of capitalism correctly argue, is an imperfection in
the functioning of a capitalist economy".

The main points are: a) negative externalities
are a problem for free markets,
but not an insurmountable one

If they are better surmounted by a policy other than the one I described,
I'm going to need more than just your word for it. :slight_smile:

b) the state is not the solution since
it does not eliminate negative externalities,

That the state never mitigates negative externalities is manifestly false.

but rather creates them.
(Consider that 98% of the pollution in the
U.S. exists on govt-owned property.)

Even if your unsourced and implausible statistic were true, presence on
government property doesn't necessarily imply government causation. The
relevant datum is source of pollution, not destination. For example,
according to the EPA's Toxic Release Inventory, half the 7.77 billion pounds
of toxic chemicals annually released to the environment come from the mining
industry.

Brian Holtz
LP candidate for Congress, CA14 (Silicon Valley)
http://marketliberal.org