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Necessary Environmentalism?

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It seems that while most, if not all, government interference in business is wrong one environmental protection always seemed to me to be needed. While it is easy enough to assess whose land a business my be polluting the question of the air seems much more complicated. Since air moves and polluting the air can have lasting consequences, though exactly how much is questionable, isn't it necessary to have the government force companies to clean up, or simply not pollute, the air, as air cannot be practically owned.

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I watched a senior's oral examination here at St. John's last year. His paper was on Adam Smith. When asked about this, he did indeed propose that air should be privately owned.

Setting this particular question aside, however, one answer to your question is that laissez-faire capitalism DOES provide environmental protections. If someone pollutes someone else's lake, then that person should be held responsible. If someone can be shown to be killing people with air pollution, he should be held responsible. This would be in accordance with property rights, and is made possible by the fact that the environment would be owned privately.

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I believe Capitalism provides for ground and almost totally water pollution but air pollution is a much more idfficult question because its not one firm that wouild have there pollution reach a dangerous ritical mass its a large number all taken together. Smokers to a very minor extent and car owners to a slightly larger extesnt are resposible for the degridation of the health of others but each person only contributs a very little to it so a small tax on pollution might be nessicary. I am interested in the idea of ownuing air though.

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A Capitalist government does not provide solutions to problems. Under Capitalism, free men solve problems by producing and exchanging goods and services per contracts. The government only guarantees that in all parts of the process, participation shall be voluntary.

Since a tax is, by definition coercive, taxation of any size for any purpose may not be practiced by a Capitalist government. Consequently, taxes, as a solution to a problem, are not an appropriate component of any discussion about Capitalism.

There is no reason why air should not be owned in the same way that minerals in the ground or water in the sea would be. It is not even a new idea. In the 60's, Pan American Airways built its skyscraper offices in leased airspace over Grand Central Station.

Regulation of the introduction of pollutants into the air could easily be achieved by deed control agreements among air rights owners. Those owners would in turn be subject to the normal conrtol (under Capitalism) of the public who would produce and own all the things those owners would need to sustain their own lives.

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