July 21, 2010

Ecological disasters and the non-existence of property rights

By Ecological disasters and the non-existence of property rights

Author: Brandon Middleton

Via Instapundit, Reason's Ronald Bailey criticizes this Foreign Policy article and explains how government policies are behind many of the world's worst environmental disasters:

Foreign Policy largely missed one of the central
features of all of the ecological catastrophes it highlighted:
defective or non-existence property rights. In the case of the BP
and Nigerian oil spills, the resource is owned by the government
which sets up the rules for how resources are managed. The Chinese
coal seam fires and the draining of the Aral Sea took place under
communist regimes where private property was outlawed. In the sad
case of Haiti, lack of secure property rights means that few have
any incentive to reforest land. And the absence of property rights
in the ocean results in it being treated as a global dump. The
lesson is that establishing clear property rights encourages
resource exploiters to behave responsibly. And if they don’t,
property rights enable rest of us to hold resource exploiters
responsible for the damage they do.

What to read next