Home > Bob Murphy, cognition, rent-seeking, tribalism > More on self-deception, mirror positions and libertarian reticence on climate policy

More on self-deception, mirror positions and libertarian reticence on climate policy

I copy below (with minor changes for clarity) a further comment I made on the piece by Bob Murphy (“I’m Starting With the Man in the Mirror”) to which I referred in my prior post.  The comment on which I remarking is addressed by one commenter to Silas Barta:

cotterdan: I think the error in his view is that he will simply
dismiss everyone on the other side of the issue as some shill for the
oil companies. He doesn’t see the fact that it is the political elite
pushing for his ideas.

Can you see that you and your friends
have mirror positions and each think the other is wrong, when in fact
it is pretty clear that you are BOTH right – and that there are
rent-seekers behind each position?

Of course the firms and
investors that have been able to use the atmosphere as a free GHG dump
don`t want to start paying for the privilege (to the extent that they
have invested very heavily in protecting their current position), and
of course there are others who think that this poses risks to them and
what they value (and some who want government to make markets for them).

… I don’t mind what ideas you have on saving the planet. I just don’t want to pay for them.

think we all share your reluctance to see government do anything
coercive, and we share your reasons. Most commons problems are actually
much more susceptible to local solutions that would occur if
governments got out of the way and just let resource users come to
terms on them, but given that that the atmosphere is shared globally
AND there are countless other state actors that we just can`t force
from the table, there is simply no possibility of entirely voluntary
approaches arising (even though one could imagine them). Further, even
while each government will act by force of law at home, make no doubt
that any global agreements on climate change policy are in effect
large-scale Coasean bargains.

While libertarians may be entirely
unwilling to accept any state action, unfortunately the rest of the
country (and the world) does not share their compunctions. As a result,
it seems to me that the effect of a libertarian NO! is not simply to
defend the status quo ante (which in my view wrongly allows once group
of powerful rent-seekers to shift costs to the rest of society; YMMV),
but to enable the adoption of overly-costly (and heavy-handed) approaches; viz.,
cap-and-trade w/ vast pork, versus rebated carbon taxes w/immediate
capital write-offs, etc.

August 27, 2009 11:42 PM


  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.