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Does responding to climate change risks REQUIRE government?

September 30th, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

A reader of Bob Murphy`s recent post on climate science – “TokyoTom Moving the Goalposts?” – queried my views on whether perceptions of climate change problems themselves justified a need to establish government.  I copy below my response (with a few typo and editorial changes):

“Do you believe that averting climate catastrophe is, by itself, justification for establishing a government?”

Taylor, I don`t see that a looming climate catastrophe (or other
apparent catastrophe) by itself would justify the formation of a state.
Absent governments, other voluntary responses would no doubt arise, and
more quickly than when hampered by governments and rent-seeking.

am curious if you seek to use the government to solve this problem
because it already exists and thus you see it as expedient and
practical to do so”

My view is quite a bit more subtle.
First, the fact of the matter is that we HAVE a government; even if we
didn`t, we`d have to deal with the governments of other peoples on an
issue such as this. Theoretically, in negotiations with others around
the world regarding the atmosphere and climate, we might very well end
up creating forms of government. Be that as it may, we cannot ignore
that states exist; the question is in part whether we can put them to
any good use, and in part how do we avoid making them worse.

again, our government has already helped screw up the issue in any number
of ways. In my view, the focus should be as much on UNDOING what has
been counterproductive and what libertarians have never supported.
Those who don`t want to see MORE government should not be closing their
minds to the fact of the status quo, and ought to see in concerns about
climate change and resources issues (irrespective if the concerns are justified or not) an OPPORTUNITY to undo existing
and damaging state actions.

See my point?

But in all this, libertarians rarely strive to be positive change agents, but instead have been almost
wholly co-opted by rent-seekers who benefit from rights to pollute for
free and barriers to entry under the status quo.

[A few lists of my many posts related to this subject can be found here, here and here.]

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