Archive for the ‘state’ Category

Does responding to climate change risks REQUIRE government?

September 30th, 2009 No 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.]

Categories: Bob Murphy, Coal, rent-seeking, state Tags:

A few simple thoughts on the evolution of moral codes, and why we fight over them (and religion, liberty and the state)

August 30th, 2009 No comments

A recent post on the Mises Daily pages on the “Religious Roots of Liberty” by the late Congregationalist minister Rev. Edmund Optiz (1914-2006) (originally published in The Freeman, February 1955) provides an opportunity to restate and discuss some of the thoughts I’ve been working though on evolution, group dynamics, religion and on the assertions of some that there is an “objective moral order”.

It seems like quite a bit to chew, I know, but I dared (with the modesty and boldness of the inexpert, of course) to venture a few thoughts.

[And since I’m having problems with formatting here, I am linking to the archived version of this post.]

Legal resources on state-created limited liability for shareholders, consequences and reform

December 15th, 2008 No comments

Hare are some legal resources on state-created limited liability for shareholders, consequences and reform:


Christopher D. Stone, The Place of Enterprise Liability in the Control of Corporate Conduct, 90 YALE L.J. 1 (1980).

Paul Halpern; Michael Trebilcock; Stuart Turnbull, An Economic Analysis of Limited Liability in Corporation Law, 30 U. TORONTO L.J. 117, 149-50 (1980).


Easterbrook, Frank H. and Fischel, Daniel R, Limited Liability and the Corporation, 52 U. Chi. L. Rev., 89  (1985).*

David W. Leebron, Limited Liability, Tort Victims, and Creditors, 91 COLUM. L. REV. 1565 (1991).*

Henry Hansmann & Reinier Kraakman, Toward Unlimited Shareholder Liability for Corporate Torts, 100 YALE L.J. 1879 (1991) (advocating pro rata shareholder liability for corporate torts);

Hansmann, H and Krackman, R, Do the Capital Markets Compel Limited Liability?, 102 Yale L.J. 427 (1992).

Ben Pettet, “Limited Liability — A Principle for the 21st Century?” (1995), 48 Current Legal Problems (II), 125, (M. D. Freeman, R. Halson. Eds.)

Reinier H. Kraakman , Vicarious & Corporate Civil Liability (1999), in ENCYCLOPEDIA OF LAW & ECONOMICS 3400 (B. Bouckaert & G De Geest, eds.).

Nina A. Mendelson, A Control-Based Approach to Shareholder Liability for Corporate Torts, 102 COLUM. L. REV. 1203, 1205-06 (2002)(attached below).

David Millon, Piercing the Corporate Veil, Financial Responsibility, and the Limits of Limited Liability, Washington & Lee Public Law Research Paper No. 03-13 (2003).

Timothy P. Glynn, Beyond “Unlimiting” Shareholder Liability: Vicarious Tort Liability for Corporate Officers, 57 Vanderbilt L. Rev. 330 (2004).


*I can email to interested persons .pdfs of the Easterbrook & Fischel, and  Leebron pieces.

Categories: corporations, limited liability, state, torts Tags:

Jared Diamond: Those in stateless societies "enjoy" lives that are murderous and short

April 30th, 2008 2 comments

Jared Diamond has an interesting essay at the current issue of New Yorker, “Vengeance Is Ours“, that is worth considering.  

In the essay, Diamond not only describes the moral and political economy of cycles of personal and inter-tribal vengeance in one of the relatively stateless area of the Papua New Guinean Highlands – cycles of violence that very likely represent typical human dynamics throughout the course of our evolution –  but also, via a contrast with a family story regarding personal vengeance not taken, he presents various thoughts on:

• the evolution of the state,
• the mechanisms by which those who live in states repress and channel our latent tendencies towards violence, and
• the personal satisfactions of taking vengeance, and the personal costs incurred when the right to seek vengeance is surrendered to the state.

Diamond appears to assume the legitimacy of the state, and focusses in the latter part of his essay on the personal costs that each of us incurs by being forced to surrender our “thirst for vengeance” when we are injured or offended and to rely on an impersonal state for “justice”. 

This is interesting, but rather shallow, as it fails to discuss how our state-run justice systems themselves seem to be rather out of control, especially in the US.

Further, Diamond skates too quickly past important issues when he concludes that the evolution of states has been a good deal generally for those who find themselves in them.  Here are a few key quotes:

“State government is now so nearly universal around the globe that we forget how recent an innovation it is; the first states are thought to have arisen only about fifty-five hundred years ago, in the Fertile Crescent. Before there were states, Daniel’s method of resolving major disputes—either violently or by payment of compensation—was the worldwide norm. Papua New Guinea is not the only place where those traditional methods of dispute resolution still coexist uneasily with the methods of state government. For example, Daniel’s methods might seem quite familiar to members of urban gangs in America, and also to Somalis, Afghans, Kenyans, and peoples of other countries where tribal ties remain strong and state control weak. As I eventually came to realize, Daniel’s thirst for vengeance and his hostility to rival clans are really not so far from our own habits of mind as we might like to think.  …

Nearly all human societies today have given up the personal pursuit of justice in favor of impersonal systems operated by state governments—at least, on paper. Without state government, war between local groups is chronic; coöperation between local groups on projects bringing benefits to everyone—such as large-scale irrigation systems, free rights of travel, and long-distance trade—becomes much more difficult; and even the frequency of murder within a local group is higher. It’s true, of course, that twentieth-century state societies, having developed potent technologies of mass killing, have broken all historical records for violent deaths. But this is because they enjoy the advantage of having by far the largest populations of potential victims in human history; the actual percentage of the population that died violently was on the average higher in traditional pre-state societies than it was even in Poland during the Second World War or Cambodia under Pol Pot.

While I think Diamond’s observations here are largely fair, Diamond makes no effort to analyze the failings of modern states, and these failures are significant and cannot be ignored.  Neither, however, can the implications of Diamond’s observations for those who think we would be better off in stateless societies.  However, Diamond is primarily an ornithologist and anthropologist, so perhaps he can be forgiven for not examining more closely the problems of states in a rather short essay that is more concerned about cycles of violence and our modern repression of personal vengeance.

Further, Diamond’s essay only tangentially addresses, but is nonetheless seems a good jumping-off point for considering further, our evolved human nature and the heritage that such evolution has left us in terms of a cognitive system that is prone to suspicion of others, black and white views, self-justification and other characteristics that tended to reinforce our important tribal identities.  These are matters that I think affect each of us and are very much in evidence in the modern, “civilized” world – the world of impassioned disagreements between factions, racial divides, hostility towards “others” (those evil “Islamofascists,” gays, immigrants, liberals, envirofascists, etc.) and our fabulous ability to identify the mistakes and inconsistencies of others while ignoring our own.  As hjmaiere pointed out in a recent forum post (“Hermann Goering on Anthropogenic Global Warming” – naturally I disagreed with him in relevant parts), it is the powerful effects of our tribal nature that rent-seekers (and their political handlers) are so good at identifying and manipulating.

Almost levelled, West Virginia: Crooked justice allows mountain-top removal practices to freely injure homes and health

March 3rd, 2008 3 comments

… with the federal government, state and union all firmly
in the pocket of coal firms.

This seems to be a classic case, on a huge scale, of the difficulties individual property owners and communities face when confronting clearly wrongful acts by large
corporations with deep pockets
– and how easily our
governments and courts are suborned from their duties to enforce property rights or other
laws protecting lives, health and property.

The influence and corruption goes all the way up, as this discussion of recusals and non-recusals by W. Va. Supreme Court  justices illustrates:

[Note: desnarked in light of fair comment.]



Here is a partial list  – just scratching the surface – of resources on this topic: – this site has great Google Earth links



Not Climate Change Welfare, But Capitalism and Free Markets

January 21st, 2008 No comments

… is what poor countries need.  So corrrectly argues Keith Lockitch of the Ayn Rand Institute, in a new article that responds to the agreement, by the delegates of industrialized nations at the December climate change conference in Bali, to activate an “adaptation fund” that would help undeveloped nations cope with projected climate change threats (such as disruptions to agriculture and decreased water availability).

But while thought-provoking, Lockitch fails to explore his chief premises and wastes his insights by falling into enviro-bashing – suggesting that failed development is all enviros’ fault, and that these do-gooders want to waste our tax dollars while keeping the poor in their place.  This might gratify his emotions but generates considerably more heat than light.

Lockitch correctly observes that:

  • The world’s poorest can barely cope with day-to-day survival, let alone with unproven threats projected to occur over decades. Imagine having no electricity or access to clean drinking water. Imagine having to cook your meals over an open fire, breathing smoke and ash every day. Billions around the world survive at a subsistence level because they lack the elements of industrial capitalism that we in the developed world take for granted: power plants, factories, modern roads and hospitals, cars, refrigerators, and countless time- and labor-saving devices.
  • What poor countries need is not climate adaptation welfare … ; what poor countries need is to become rich countries. They need to embrace free markets and private property rights and attract the investment of profit-seeking entrepreneurs to create wealth and drive economic growth.”

This last point is Lockitch’s most powerful, as it is clear that it has been corrupt, kleptocratic governance and the lack of clear and enforceable property rights that has hamstrung development in the third world.

However, Lockitch’s analysis is disappointing in several regards:

1.  He fails to explain that “climate change welfare”, in the form of transfer payments to developing nations and funding of particular “adaptation” projects, is just as likely to be wasted and diverted to the pockets of local elites and First World contractors as have been the past several decades of “development aid”.  Clearly, simply throwing good money after bad is no solution.  It is puzzling that Lockitch fails to affirmatively make his strongest case.

2.  He falls prey to “Enviro Derangement Syndrome” and unfairly lays the suggestion of “climate change welfare” at the feet of enviros, even though it has long been a part of the mainstream discussion that developing nations, while being least prepared to cope with climate change and having made only minor contributions to it, are likely to bear the greatest brunt of climate changes. 

Says Lockitch:  

“If environmentalists were really concerned about people in undeveloped countries, they would be helping them to bring about what they really need: industrial development. … Yet, it is precisely the adoption of industrial capitalism by undeveloped countries that environmentalists reject. Not only do they not want poor countries to become rich, they are trying hard to force rich countries to become poor by capping carbon emissions and abandoning industrialization. Despite their feigned concern for the world’s poor, the measures proposed by environmentalists pose a far greater threat than any possible changes to the earth’s climate.”

The charge of pushing “climate change welfare” as a means of keeping developing nations down is a rather grotesque one to lay at the feet of environmentalists, many of who for decades have been working at helping local groups to protect their property rights against governments and powerful elites.

While Lockitch is certainly correct to note the ambivalence that some enviros express regarding to further development in the poorer nations, such ambivalence reflects real problems, as noted below.  But obviously it is governments, and not enviros, who are running the international climate discussions.  “Environmentalists” are certainly players, but that there are plenty of others with agendas of their own surely can’t escape the thinking man’s attention, can it?

Further, “conservative” and “skeptical” analysts like Bjorn Lomborg ( and Indur Goklany ( have also prominently argued that the wealthy world, in lieu of establishing carbon prices at home, should be making investments in helping the third world to adapt and develop.  Even further, libertarian analysts like Jonathan Adler (law prof. at Case U. and blogger at the Volokh Conspiracy) have argued that since the developed nations are chiefly responsible for climate change, they owe an obligation to compensate the developing world for damages (  Adler’s conclusion flows directly from Lockean property rights principles.

In addition, Lockitch’s assertion that “the measures proposed by environmentalists pose a far greater threat than any possible changes to the earth’s climate” is unexplained and unsupported – what measures?  How are they a threat to the world’s poor?  The general shape of the international discussion (and certainly under Kyoto) is that the developed nations will act first, to be followed by developing nations as their wealth (and climate contributions) grow.  How are unilateral actions by wealthy nations to address climate change hamstringing the poor?  The chief policy tool discussed so far – pricing carbon emissions in the developed world – should dampen demand for fossil fuels in the wealthier countries, thereby dampening price pressure and resulting in a net price subsidy to developing nations.  In response to such measures, industry in wealthy nations will develop more efficient energy technologies and reduce the costs of such technologies, for the indirect benefit of the developing nations, which will not shoulder any burdens for their growing carbon emissions until later.  Aren’t these net subsidies to poorer nations?

And far from “forc[ing] rich countries to become poor”, figuring out how to manage a global commons like the atmosphere, while it may have the effect of imposing a cost on the release of carbon, is basically aimed at privatising externalities, with the intention of increasing the efficiency of private transactions and net wealth.  Climate change is, of course, just one of a broad range of pervasive problems that occur when markets encounter resources that are not clearly or effectively owned or managed.

3.  Most importantly, while Lockitch correctly diagnoses the illness – poor countries need to “embrace free markets and private property rights and attract the investment of profit-seeking entrepreneurs to create wealth and drive economic growth” – he simply fails to address what wealthy nations SHOULD be doing, if anything, to assist the cure.  This, of course, is the main dodge, because Lockitch fails to own up to the true difficulties involved in trying to help the developing nations. 

Trying to build “soft” infrastructure in the form of rule of law and property rights (ending kleptocracy and theft of “public” resources) is tremendously difficult – perhaps a problem that is even more difficult than the wealthy nations deciding how to share the pain of GHG reductions (as I noted in comments to a post on Amazonian deforestation here:, the wealthy nations have a hard enough time doing the easiest things to speed development of poorer nations, which is simply to open import markets by removing domestic tariffs, import restrictions and subsidies.  Rather, it seems that the richer nations have to feed their more powerful elites first, while hamstringing competition from poorer nations in products for which they should be able to exploit a comparative advantage.  If Lockitch was truly interested in helping the poor of developing nations, you’d think he’d note how enduring rent-seeking at home serves to keep the poorer nations down.

And if the wealthy nations should do something to help poorer nations, which seems implicit in Lockitch’s analysis (if not conventional aid, then aid to build soft, governance infrastructure), then can’t some of those efforts easily dovetail with efforts to establish carbon pricing in the wealthy countries?  Why couldn’t aid budgets be funded by carbon taxes at home, for example?  And can’t demand for “carbon credits” help to establish incentives to improve governance infrastructure in poorer nations?  In other words, “mitigation” (efforts to limit climate change) in developed nations need not conflict with any efforts to help poorer nations “adapt” to climate change or otherwise become wealthier.

4.  Lockitch asserts that the concern of enviros for the world’s poor is “feigned”, but this is a cheap and unproductive ad hominem – and one that can easily be turned around.  While some enviros may not understand the institutional sicknesses that hinder development, this illness has been fed much more by governments and corporations at home than by enviros, many of who have been involved in the long, hard effort to build local infrastructure and to protect traditional private and community property rights. 

On the other hand, just what is it that evidences that Lockitch himself – or other skeptics – have any “real” concern for the world’s poor?  Does the wheel of this concern ever hit the road, or is it simply spinning noisily, to welcoming nods from  domestic special interests who benefit from the continuation of climate externalities?

A key insight of Austrian economics relating to the environment is that man does not harm the environment per se, but that social welfare or efficiency problems arise because of interpersonal conflict associated with irresolvable inefficiencies – inefficiencies that cannot find a solution in the entrepreneurial workings of the market process because of institutional defects associated with the lack of clearly defined or well enforced property rights.  (See Roy Cordato,  It is both ironic and disappointing that many Austrians and others similarly minded, rather than focussing on the difficult task of conflict resolution in the case of the climate, seem to prefer the emotional rush of conflict itself over analysis and bridge- and consensus-building.  But this is nothing new (and is certainly tempting, given our tribal nature)( 

No one owns the world’s atmosphere, so all are entitled to their opinions about managing it.  And clearly the world continues to struggle with the rapid exploitation of other unowned, “public” or poorly defined or protected physical resources, in the face of growing populations, growing markets and technological advances that lower the costs of access to the commons.  I suggest that rather than ad hominems, we would be better served by frankly acknowledging problems of this nature and starting to build shared understandings.  The writings of Elinor Ostrom are a good place to start:

In honestly engaging on these issues, it is perfectly appropriate – nay, essential – to be aware of the self-interests of various participants and to caution against the problems of rent-seeking, “rent-farming” by politicians, and frequently unaligned incentives of bureaucracies.

5.  Finally, this is a quibble, but Lockitch is wrong to assert thay developing nations need to “industrialize”.  What they need to do is to better govern themselves by protecting investments, markets and human rights, and then getting out of the way of their people.  What results will be these countries’ own path, which will naturally differ from Western industrialization (leapfrogging it in some ways).

Harold Bloom: "The Fall of America"

January 18th, 2008 3 comments

There’s a short but good interview here of Harold Bloom, Yale literature professor and cultural critic (update: NOT to be confused with the long late Allan Bloom, author of Closing of the American Mind; my bad!):

Categories: Harold Bloom, state, war Tags:

Goering and Madison on War

December 10th, 2007 No comments

Having just stumbled across places where Lew Rockwell and others have done me the honor of posting three of my favorite quotes on war, I’d like to repeat those quotes here in the hope of increasing the likelihood that others might see them.

My favorite quotes on war are from Hermann Goering and James Madison:

Hermann Göring (dialog with interviewer Gustave Gilbert while the Nuremberg Trials were pending):

“‘Why, of course, the people don’t want war …. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece. Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.’

“‘There is one difference,’ I pointed out. ‘In a democracy the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.’

“‘Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.'”

Gustave M. Gilbert, The Nuremberg Diary, 1947.


James Madison:

A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defence agst. foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people.”
—James Madison, Constitutional Convention [June 29, 1787]

Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be
dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War
is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and
armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the
many under the domination of the few.
In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manner and of morals, engendered in both.  No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.” 

–James Madison, from “Political Observations,” April 20, 1795 in Letters and Other Writings of James Madison, Volume IV, page 491.

I first mentioned these on a Mises blog thread (in reaction to Lew Rockwell’s “Blood on Their Hands” piece,; he separately posted these quotes on his website (

Categories: demagoguery, goering, Madison, president, quotes, state, war Tags:

War-profiteering and "Parasitic Imperialism"

November 22nd, 2007 2 comments

I posted the following comment in response to a piece by Glenn Greenwald:


War-profiteering is simply more Treasury-raiding by elites – at our cost and our children’s.  An economics professor at Drake (Ismael Hossein-zadeh, an ethnic Kurd from Iran, by the way) has some interesting and relevant thoughts in a well-reviewed book that came out last year called “The Political Economy of U.S. Militarism”, His web page, with links to recent writings, is here:

In a recent article at Counterpunch,Parasitic Imperialism, Hossein-zadeh concludes (emphasis added):

“Although immoral, external military operations of past empires often proved profitable, and therefore justifiable on economic grounds. Military actions abroad usually brought economic benefits not only to the imperial ruling classes, but also (through “trickle-down” effects) to their citizens. Thus, for example, imperialism paid significant dividends to Britain, France, the Dutch, and other European powers of the seventeenth, eighteenth, nineteenth, and early twentieth centuries. As the imperial economic gains helped develop their economies, they also helped improve the living conditions of their working people and elevate the standards of living of their citizens.

“This pattern of economic gains flowing from imperial military operations, however, seems to have somewhat changed in the context of the recent U.S. imperial wars of choice, especially in the post-Cold War period. Moralities aside, U.S. military expeditions and operations of late are not justifiable even on economic grounds. Indeed, escalating U.S. military expansions and aggressions have become ever more wasteful, cost-inefficient, and burdensome to the overwhelming majority of its citizens.

“Therefore, recent imperial policies of the United States can be called parasitic imperialism because such policies of aggression are often prompted not so much by a desire to expand the empire’s wealth beyond the existing levels, as did the imperial powers of the past, but by a desire to appropriate the lion’s share of the existing wealth and treasure for the military establishment, especially for the war-profiteering Pentagon contractors. It can also be called dual imperialism because not only does it exploit the conquered and the occupied abroad but also the overwhelming majority of U.S. citizens and their resources at home.

“Since imperial policies abroad are widely discussed by others, I will focus here on parasitic military imperialism at home, that is, on what might be called domestic or internal imperialism. Specifically, I will argue that parasitic imperialism (1) redistributes national income or resources in favor of the wealthy; (2) undermines the formation of public capital (both physical and human); (3) weakens national defenses against natural disasters; (4) accumulates national debt and threatens economic/financial stability; (5) spoils external or foreign markets for non-military U.S. transnational capital; (6) undermines civil liberties and democratic values; and (7) fosters a dependence on or addiction to military spending and, therefore, leads to an spiraling vicious circle of war and militarism.

The vast amounts flowing to huge defense contractors in all states is the chief reason that the Dems refuse to stand up to Bush, and politics in Washington has generally become simply a fight over the spoils of the federal budget and other government largess. Because the Dems are not that much different, they have a tough time pretending that they are more responsible. And as the media is itself owned by large conglomerates, they have little interest in rocking the boat by standing up to either politicians, the military establishment or the corporate or Israel lobby, but are content to feed Americans pap, and individual reporters of course have more to gain from sucking up to the power brokers than in offending them.

Increasingly, elites are running the country for their own selfish interests. Wars and the fear they stir up better allows elites to further squeeze and control all of us (via the PATRIOT Act, domestic spying, data mining, a “Real ID” and citizen chipping, etc.).

By the way, Hossein-zadeh also specifically analyzed these factors with respect to Iran last year: “Behind the plan to bomb Iran” (8/31/06),


Greenwald’s piece is here:; my initial posting is here:

Categories: Greenwald, parasitism, state, war Tags:

Can a Free Society Solve Global Warming?

November 5th, 2007 No comments

Gene Callahan has an interesting post, entitled “How a Free Society Could Solve Global Warming”, in the October 2007 issue of The Freeman: Ideas on Liberty, at the website of The Foundation for Economic Education (FEE):

I will revist this and post comments later.

Thanks to Fundamentalist, who brought this to our attention on the Malthus and Mein Kampf thread.

[Update:]  It seems to me that one particularly interesting takeaway from Callahan’s article is the following:

One way negative externalities can be addressed without turning to state coercion is public censure of individuals or groups widely perceived to be flouting core moral principles or trampling the common good, even if their actions are not technically illegal. Large, private companies and prominent, wealthy individuals are generally quite sensitive to public pressure campaigns.

To cite just one recent, significant example, Temple Grandin, a notable advocate for the humane treatment of livestock, asserts that McDonald’s is the world leader in improving slaughterhouse conditions. While many executives at the fast-food giant genuinely may be concerned with the welfare of cattle, pigs, and chickens, undoubtedly a strong element of self-interest is also at work here, as the company realizes that corporate image affects consumers’ buying decisions.

But that self-interest does not negate the laudable outcome of the pressure McDonald’s has applied to its suppliers to meet the stringent standards it has set for animal-handling facilities. Similarly, to the degree that the broad public regards manmade global warming as a serious problem, companies will strive to be seen as “good corporate citizens” that are addressing the matter. And this isn’t ivory-tower speculation on my part—I can see the “green friendly” ads already.

(emphasis added)

Categories: Callahan, climate, Malthus, state Tags: