Paul Krugman on Gary Johnson, libertarianism, and pollution

Paul Krugman is upset that many Millennials are toying with the idea of voting for Gary Johnson rather than Hillary Clinton.  He offers a number of arguments, here is one of them:

What really struck me, however, was what the [Libertarian Party] platform says about the environment. It opposes any kind of regulation; instead, it argues that we can rely on the courts. Is a giant corporation poisoning the air you breathe or the water you drink? Just sue: “Where damages can be proven and quantified in a court of law, restitution to the injured parties must be required.” Ordinary citizens against teams of high-priced corporate lawyers — what could go wrong?

That is the opposite of the correct criticism.  The main problem with classical libertarianism is that it doesn’t allow enough pollution.  Under libertarian theory, pollution is a form of violent aggression that should be banned, as Murray Rothbard insisted numerous times.  OK, but what about actual practice, once all those special interest groups start having their say?  Historically, under the more limited government of the 19th century, it was big business that wanted to move away from unpredictable local and litigation-driven methods of control, and toward a more systematic regulatory approach at the national level.  There is a significant literature on this development, starting with Morton Horwitz’s The Transformation of American Common Law.

If you think about it, this accords with standard industrial organization intuitions.  Established incumbents prefer regulations that take the form of predictable, upfront high fixed costs, if only to limit entry.  And to some extent they can pass those costs along to consumers and workers.  The “maybe you can sue me, maybe you can’t” regime is more the favorite of thinly capitalized upstarts that have little to lose.

So under the pure libertarian regime, big business would come running to the federal government asking for systematic regulation in return for protection against the uncertain depredations of the lower-level courts.  It is fine to argue the court-heavy libertarian regime would be unworkable for this reason, or perhaps it would collapse into a version of the status quo.

That would be a much more fun column: “Libertarian view untenable, implies too high a burden on polluters.”  I’m not sure that would sway the Bernie Brothers however.

Some of the criticisms of libertarianism strike me as under-argued:

And if parents don’t want their children educated, or want them indoctrinated in a cult…Not our problem.

Rates of high school completion were below 70% for decades, until recently, in spite of compulsory education.  Parents rescuing children from the neglect of the state seems at least as common to me as vice versa.

And what is the status quo policy on taking children away from parents who belong to “cults”?  Unusual religions can be a factor in contested child custody cases (pdf), but in the absence of evidence of concrete harm, such as beatings or sexual abuse, the American government does not generally take children away from their parents, cult or not.  Germany and Norway differ on this a bit, for the most part this is, for better or worse, the American way.  That’s without electing Gary Johnson.

By the way, Gary Johnson slightly helps Hillary Clinton.  Although probably not with New York Times readers.

Comments

What about pot? Krugman never brought it up, but it's a major thing for these millennials. It would be hilarious if Trump ends up winning because millennials, who would otherwise vote for the PC pro-ZOG candidate, prefer the stoner to the senior citizen.

I'm using the phrase "ZOG" poetically here. I'm not a stormfronter.

How does one use 'Zionist Occupation Government' when being poetic?

Being: black, muslim, feminist, eurocentric, or leftist. ZOG is hot among HRC voters like Joy Karega, BLM, and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Really? Here I was, thinking that people using ZOG were clearly identifying themselves as devoted fans of things like the Turner Diaries (though just for the poetry, undoubtedly).

There is a nasty anti-Semitic virus in the comments at the moment. But if you lie with iSteve, you get fleas.

I blame Hillary, for kicking it all off with the "deplorables" thing.

Sailer's current host is the Unz Review, Philip Giraldi is the Unz contributor who has it in for the Jews, not Sailer. Most of Sailer's comment board is occupied by slush, albeit more intelligent slush than Jared Taylor attracts.

I went over the Unz, read a few smart things, but the anti-semitic posts in the comments was such that I stopped reading.

They compared our wars ro a Bog,

Figured it was started to help out the ZOG,

but a candidate named Gary

Figured these conspiracies quite hairy,

and exposed the other two as a dog.

????? Trying to be poetic. Doesn't really scan.

I only read that stuff for the articles!

Of course you're not.

Huh? Trump is older than any of the other candidates on the ballot. He would be the oldest to hold office if he could win.

Gary Johnson, not Trump

this is very interesting, i'm going to read those references, thanks. and that's my reaction even before getting to the comments about kids and cults, making it doubly interesting. i was born and raised in a cult. i'm very much against that style of raising kids, and yet i still think the flip side of handing too much power to society to control such things is very dangerous too and on balance perhaps too much freedom for diversity in parenting is better than too little. (but i have nothing to back that up.) i'm interesting in whether you have given that question much consideration. for example, how any major politician or wealthy person raises their kids seems pretty culty too from where i'm standing. profitable for the kids long term outlook on average, sure, but not clearly beneficial to anyone but the in group?

I alert when I hear somebody use the word "cult". If it's mine, it's a religion, and if it's yours it's a cult. I've heard of Mormons and even Catholics being called a cult. It's like a slur that escapes being called a slur.

I suspect that Krugman considers both to be cults, although he wouldn't say as much in the pages of the NYT until the Overton window shifts a bit.

Yes. It's a perspective thing. My point in other words. In-group out-group subculture tribe schism. I think of cult as defined by in-group identifying an out-group using one or more fixations or prescriptive behavior of either side. But it's far from a comprehensive definition, for example the fixations themselves are usually important in some way to the parties using "cult" as a slur, i.e similar to no true scotsman problem :)

Speaking of no true scotsman: no true libertarian?

As such I was hoping to trigger a deeper response from Tyler because otherwise his statement is problematic. Cult used here is a straw man. To be more clear, I propose that Tyler (a) cannot objectively identify a cult or (b) cannot objectively disavow that true scotsmen ---er, libertarians, are not a cult. Who identifies whether they are or not? How do they do so objectively? How would one identify the fitness of those identified to raise their children?

(In my own case it was one of those 60's separatist commune things. A Judeo-Christian out-group. It was terrible, abusive, stockholm-syndrome inducing for a time, and utterly sincere. It sucked. But I doubt there is a priori justification for restriction.)

Like redneck? And whitebread?

Seriously? Trump vs. Hillary? I'd vote Gary Johnson too even though his foreign policy knowledge is scary and he thinks it's alright, I'm sure federal agencies can cover that.

I can't possibly see how Johnson's foreign policy is any scarier than what we have been doing for the last 15, no, 25 years.

+1
Of course I sometimes question myself. How could all those intelligent people in presidential administrations they all see things so different from me?

Bush ran on a humble foreign policy and Obama on getting out of the Middle-East, yet Bush invades Afghanistan with little reason and Iraq with no reason, and Obama bombs Libya and sends arms to Syria. Bush and Obama are both fairly intelligent and have very intelligent advisors. Am I missing something?

Yes, you are.

Al-Qaeda were (was?) well entrenched, such that even huge numbers of Special Forces could never dislodge them from Afghanistan. Even when some of AQ's leaders were in the caves of Tora Bora, it proved impossible to capture them, let alone hit them with cruise missiles or the like.

The invasion of Afghanistan was also an expedition to see what the true level of civil society was like there. I.e., would it ever be possible to improve matters in that country? (Could aid ever be directed non-corruptly to the right people etc.?) Or would the tribalism and lawlessness keep it so undeveloped that it could be coopted again for radical groups using it for training camps etc.

yet Bush invades Afghanistan with little reason

Except for the 2,900 dead civilians, little reason.

Al Qaeda did that not the Afgan government and he could sent troops in to get Al Qaeda without deposing the government.

You are making large assumptions there that are not true.

AQ foreign units were fighting with the Taliban.

They weren't "separate" anymore than Waffen SS units were "separate" from Wermacht units.

Yeah, the Afganistan campaign had plenty of justification.

For that matter, the Iraq campaign had plenty of justification that later turned out to be incorrect, which is kind of different from "no reason."

I am surprised that Paul Krugman thinks Hillary Clinton is far left of the mainstream and is the antithesis of the Bill Clinton DLC-type Democrat: "Mrs. Clinton has staked out the most progressive policy positions ever advocated by a presidential candidate. There’s no reason to believe that these positions are insincere, that she would revert to 1990s policies in office"

So, Hillary Clinton is more liberal than George McGovern, Walter Mondale, Jimmy Carter, and Barack Obama? That sounds like something Republicans would say.

Clintin will start wars, carve out special interest spending, and retire as a multi-billionaire. But, at least she'll hammer blue collar workers.

Her pay-to-play State Department/Clinton Foundation took hundreds of millions from states that execute gays and treat women as chattel. Would she go against big-donor polluters?

Hillary is a weak and totally dishonest candidate. Here comes her nineteenth nervous breakdown . . .

After she loses to President Trump, I'll be interested in knowing which Too Big to Fail Banks will pay Hillary $200,0000 for 20 minute fluff talks.

Clear cognitive error, to oppose someone you are told "will start wars," and to vote for someone who promises to "give generals 30 days to destroy ISIS."

If you can't see the internal contradiction in that, your brains are not turned on. Try to find the switch.

Maybe he supports Gary Johnson, who is both opposed to our current state of endless wars and is the actual subject of the OP.

You can support Gary Johnson. Heck, I support Gary Johnson.

But in any close election I would not vote for him.

As a historical note, I once voted for George H.W. Bush and against a Clinton, because GHWB seemed the underrated but competent candidate. Today I stand with GHWB, as he chooses Clinton for I think the same reasons. Combined with the great danger of course of Trump.

BTW, you kind of missed the point of the "OP" if you did not get that this was about choices in a close race.

My point was that Heorogar never said he was voting for Trump, or if he did, i missed it. You just assumed that anyone who doesnt like Hillary must like/vote for Trump. This wouldnt be so bad except that A) The OP was specifically about Johnson and B) you were really snotty about it.

You can hate Hillary and hate Trump as well, some of us even consider not voting for either.

I don't take Heorogar seriously. If I did though, yes he does effectively campaign for Trump.

Seriously though, has one thing Heorogar has said on this page been factually true? Not that I see, in fact it is such a perfect inflammatory list of falsehood that it must be created by someone who knows the flip side, the truth, and is just trolling.

"Her pay-to-play State Department/Clinton Foundation took hundreds of millions from states that execute gays and treat women as chattel"

To be fair it might be under $100 Million, and I don't think it's $200 Million

That would be a lie. The Clinton Foundation has never paid to the Clinton family, and has a Charity Watch rating of A.

Perhaps you should be honest with us now Cliff. Do you know that and troll, or are you one of the dupes?

I don't follow these things so this is the first I am hearing of it, but my initial thought is that 30 days is at least a finite amount of time.

I like GHW Bush, and I doubt very much he supports or will vote for Clinton. Keep in mind Kathleen Kennedy Townsend is so incredibly stupid that even Maryland Democrats found her unfit for office. She is incapable of articulating a rational thought on her own, let alone truthfully conveying something said by someone else. If Bush supported Clinton, he would say so clearly.

"There’s no reason to believe that these positions are insincere, that she would revert to 1990s policies in office"

Oh, it was a comic column. Well played Krugman.

I'm an expert on law, as a law school dropout. In American common law, there were many doctrines that helped polluters, such as the doctrine of "coming to the nuisance", which means, if an area is already polluted, like Love Creek, NY or parts of New Jersey (both of these have been litigated), then it's OK for further polluters to come there, and anybody who does not like pollution who also comes there later cannot sue, because they are "on notice" of the pollution, and thus are "coming to the nuisance". These folks who don't like pollution cannot later complain that their neighborhood is polluted and they can't stand it. So, in a way, Krugman is right and TC is wrong. That said, I'm in favor of a 'cap-and-trade' system for pollution rather than a blanket ban (the EPA favors the latter). But the net effect of more pollution regulation in the USA is that it pushes the polluters to China, and that's a problem that's not addressed today. This causes both de-industrialization, which is bad for the USA (argues economist Vacil Smil). Perhaps--in a perfect world--there would be a 'pollution tariff' that can be placed on imported goods for the pollution they do to the world, chiefly, CO2 (creenhouse gasses). But this 'pollution tariff' would likely be abused. It's a tough question.

On the bright side, think of the money Pres. Clinton could earn selling pollution credits. Maybe Krugman could negotiate the sales and get a 20,000 sq foot mansion like Al Gore? The left's leaders are all shams.

Fair points, but don't confuse the person with the argument made by the person. The Right also has "Limousine Conservatives" who profit from their association with government. I'm reading a good book now on the Bechtel corporation, the 4th biggest US private company after Cargill, Koch (Mercatus!) and Dell (Denton, Sally. The Profiteers: Bechtel and the Men Who Built the World, Simon & Schuster) and you see that Bechtel got its break from connections ("The Wattis brothers [Mormons, 1906] wielded extraordinary political power in Utah. David Eccles, patriarch of the single largest Mormon fortune, leading tither to the church, and the father of Marriner Eccles, who would later become chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, supplied most of their capital. (The Eccleses’ formidable Utah Corporation was an international conglomerate of mining, shipping, and construction involved in the production of iron, coal, and uranium ore on three continents.) The Wattises gave Bechtel his most lucrative jobs to date: three large contracts for railroad lines in Northern California and central Utah. His work with the Northwestern Pacific Railroad required more sophisticated construction techniques, and he became the first contractor in the country to replace the horse- and mule-drawn freight teams with chain-driven, gasoline-powered dump trucks."). Now Bechtel is part of the "Corporate West" which talks about individualism and free markets but ironically or otherwise makes most of its money from government contracts.

Paul Krugman is who Jonathan Gruber wants to be is who Barkley Rosser wants to be is who every loser leftist posting on this website wants to be. A lying, hateful, arrogant, conceited, would-be billionaire thief like Hillary Clinton is who Paul Krugman wants to be.

Who cares what Paul Krugman says? He is a corrupt political buffoon who trades writing for party invites and appointments. Every time he puts pen to paper for the NYT is a violation of the spirit of campaign finance law. He doesn't care, just like the champion of inequality reform who holds a billion dollar annuity as the result of a decade of influence trading.

To be a progressive liberal when Jesus Sanders owns 3 homes, Hillary Clinton is billionaire, and Hrod's IT team gets obstruction of justice advice from Reddit.

He always spoke well of you, Thomas.

"Who cares what Paul Krugman says?"

Well, apparently you and all the other Krugman-haters who visit forums like this and write spittle-flecked diatribes about how nobody reads or pays attention to Krugman. Indeed.

Paul Krugman's blog is titled, "Conscience of a Liberal", and it is filled with hate, double standards, and inaccuracies. Sounds about right. He used to at least be fun to mock, but now it's like shooting fish in a barrel. No more sport left in it.

Except that the good prof far too often references the intellectual idiot him and the all lies all the time NY Times, I wouldn't know either exists.

“If you don't read the newspaper, you're uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you're mis-informed.” Mark Twain

Sadly, the same largely is true concerning education. Much of it is indoctrination not education.

"Heorogar" has to be the best parody account on the interwebs.

"anon" has to be the best parody account on the interwebs

Sadly, Cliff is too uncreative and unfunny to be a parody account.

"“anon” has to be the best parody account on the interwebs"

Meh, I've seen better.

The "I don't know anything so I'll just say shit" comments are what drove me to take a break. I might do again.

If you haven't got anything, and just want to complain that facts are mean, what's the point? For you or for me.

Do you see red whenever someone posts anything that sounds vaguely liberal?

I'm confused by this post. I'm familiar with the argument that federal regulation was a pro-big business historical development. But it seems that the argument Tyler makes is this: because 19th c courts gave an advantage to small polluters vs.large pollluters, today if we again allow courts to favor small polluters over large ones, this will limit the "violent aggression" of pollution...because contemporary corporate law and environmental law are just like they were in the 19th C? and because more smaller polluters are better than several large ones? Or because pollution-be-damned, let's be anti-big business?

Maybe this could be cleared up if Tyler frankly stated which industries should be increasing their "violent agression", and how the benefits will exceed the costs and for whom?

Granted the libertarian argument (in the form that I comprehend it -again, I'm confused by this post) appears to be (unfairly?) undermined by the dramatic successes that First World states have claimed in reducing industrial pollution. Lead, smog, CFC's, mercury and heavy metals, radioactive waste, and many others, perhaps all save for CO2 and methane, have each been dealt with by statist solutions that appear to have worked (without libertarian solutions given their chance).

For Krugman's part, his argument should not only be that, in contemporary litigation, financial resources unjustly benefit corporate defendants against citizen plaintiffs and that environmental laws and regulatory agencies address this imbalance of power, but also relatedly that proving individual harm from pollution in court can be impossible in events wherein it is established that harmful pollution is released to greater public cost than benefit, thus rendering the libertarian solution-by-litigation ineffectual.

Doctrine wise libertarians try to reduce everything to property rights. Since the electric company doesn't own the air that is over your house, they have zero right to pollute it unless you agree to allow them to do so. If you refuse or set a price that is insanely high, it doesn't matter, if you refuse to agree they either don't burn an ounce of coal or they have to somehow capture and divert all pollution from impacting on your property rights.

A regulation based approach, though, would attempt to balance your interests against the electric company and almost certainly recognize your demand that not even a single molecule of CO2 or other pollution ever touch the air on your property would be unreasonable and unbalanced.

In reality in the absence of regulation courts do try to impose their own attempt to balance property rights versus economic interests and property rights changes over time. For example, you used to have sunshine rights to your property. You could sue and stop someone from building a multi-story building next door if it would block out a sizeable portion of the sunlight that would normally hit your property. Needless to say this was as good as any regulation to inhibit real estate development near cities but it seemed as sensible as ever to a community based on agriculture and before electricity.

Boonton,

There are plenty of consequentialist libertarians. See Miron's notes for instance: http://isites.harvard.edu/icb/icb.do?keyword=k45102&pageid=icb.page205644

Not sure if this is his argument or not but my take is that:
1) big business that pollutes has deeper pockets
2) big business that pollutes is operating in more markets (localities)
3) operating in many markets (localities) without a uniform regulatory environment drive up operation and management costs and introduce more uncertainty about the overall costs of polluting.
4) small startup don't have much cash to sue for so while litigation might halt the pollution that's really the only incentive -- no recovery of damages or legal fees.
5) small startup will tend to be local so more aware of the local custom and tolerances as well as the local "regulators"

Since the alternative regime will suppress the operations of the big players they will produce less pollution but we'd also lose their output which other want so we end up in a (theoretically) suboptimal situation where more pollution would be better for "society". I think that's only going to be true if you can also make the case that the payoff from consumers to those suffering the pollution actually happens and is sufficient to pay the damages. Without a market in those transfer payments though it's not clear that we have the same knowledge about pollution preferences and costs born (thinking of the view of options to buy sufficient land for roads versus eminent domain solutions)

"The main problem with classical libertarianism is that it doesn’t allow enough pollution"

Its not April 1st, is it?

But, TC, your punch line kills: 'Under libertarian theory..'

I laughed.

Btw, George Mason is a state funded university, correct? Ah, ah, ah - biting the hand that feeds!

Hypocrite.

The problem is that in such a rabidly capitalist country as the United States, many libertarians are really just businessmen who a libertarian regime would suit very nicely. They would campaign against both pollution laws and lawsuits against pollution.

many libertarians are really just businessmen who a libertarian regime would suit very nicely.

There are also many libertarian-leaners who are really social conservatives but gave up on trying to influence social norms and just want to protect their rights to think and educate as they see appropriate within their own communities.

AKA Bigots.

AKA Bigots.

An epithet favored by dolts who fancy their hatreds are more elegant than ordinary people's aversions.

I would have thought incubents, with their money and well-connected owners, would be in a better position to deal with activist courts and avoid crippling "uncertain depredations of the lower-level courts". In fact, isn't it a libertarian chestnut, institutional stability, predictability being essential to foster entrepreneuership and not smother innovation in is craddle?

"The main problem with classical libertarianism is that it doesn’t allow enough pollution. Under libertarian theory, pollution is a form of violent aggression that should be banned, as Murray Rothbard insisted numerous times."

There are a non-trivial number of libertarians with law degrees. How many have personally participated in lawsuits seeking to stop pollution or punish polluters? Talk is cheap.

Moreover, Rothbard himself complicates this narrative that "classical libertarianism" is inherently anti-pollution: "Among conservatives — in contrast to libertarians — there are two ultimately similar responses to the problem of air pollution. One response, by Ayn Rand and Robert Moses among others, is to deny that the problem exists, and to attribute the entire agitation to leftists who want to destroy capitalism and technology on behalf of a tribal form of socialism." Now, Rothbard denies Rand is a libertarian but reasonable people can disagree. There are many libertarians of various hyphenated sorts who embrace the Randian rhetoric Rothbard describes.

We don't need the lawsuits because we have the regulation. Actually, most lawsuits are probably preempted by the regulations.

Why not quote Rand directly?

"There are a non-trivial number of libertarians with law degrees. How many have personally participated in lawsuits seeking to stop pollution or punish polluters? Talk is cheap."
Probably a non-trivial number. Legacy lawsuits can be very lucrative.

"as Murray Rothbard insisted numerous times."

There's Murray Rothbard, and then there's the guys who put "Don't Tread on Me" stickers on their cars. Not really the same thing...

The literature on common-law processes for dealing with conflicting uses of property is quite extensive - as were those common-law processes. They were not perfect (of course), and none arose to deal with globe-spanning conflicts such as are involved with emissions that are believed to contribute to global warming, but they were surprisingly nuanced and effective. For just one example, see this 1992 article in Constitutional Political Economy by Roger Meiners and Bruce Yandle ("Constitutional Choice for the Control of Water Pollution"):
http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF02393141

'and none arose to deal with globe-spanning conflicts'

Yet here we are, where this is happening - 'On the days with the strongest Westerlies—which occur most often during the spring—between 12 and 24 percent of the sulfate-based air pollution over the Western U.S. was originally generated in China. That was also true for four to six percent of carbon monoxide and two to five percent of ground-level ozone. As a result, they estimated, in 2006 the Los Angeles area experienced one extra day of ozone levels that exceeded EPA standards for air quality.

But this isn't the whole picture. A significant portion of the goods made in China end up in the U.S. As the researchers note, we've outsourced our manufacturing to China, for a variety of reasons. Many of these involve the global labor market and the costs of production, but others are related to China's overall weaker environmental regulations that allow companies to produce goods more cheaply.' http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/air-pollution-china-is-spreading-across-pacific-us-180949395/?no-ist

But who knows, maybe a libertarian would support suing Walmart et al for making air quality worse in the U.S.

Take a look at air pollution trend levels pre and post Clean Air Act. You may start to question a few of your beliefs about its necessity.

"Vote for Hillary or all your children will end up in cults" is a very appropriately-nuanced argument for a typical Krugman reader.

I know some of what we now call "adult survivors of home schooling." Not pretty, and that's their opinion. They consider their cultish upbringing to have been child abuse. So maybe fault Krugman for suggesting that such things could become vary common, but acknowledge that they have become more common in the last generation.

I know many of what we now call “adult survivors of public schooling.” Not pretty, and that’s their opinion and mine as well.

You should have gone with "Catholic Schooling"

I know many of what w

The last time I encountered a testimonial like this, it was a self-described faculty member at a supposed British university who insisted to me that he'd 'known many' WWII vets who vociferously loathed John Wayne.

There's a reason these testimonials are seldom credible.

You can Krugman act like you have never seen a school. Invariably, the physically stronger inmates attack the smaller and weaker ones. But I suppose you would rather maintain willful blindness than acknowledge that behaviors consistently considered torture by the UN are publicly funded as a required in state constitutions.

At best, it is a horrible way to lean, without being able to concentrate on something for more than 45min, unnecessary transportation (which wastes a lot of polluting motor fuel), and students being forced to do things they hate, have no talent for, and will never do once they leave school.

Clueless Krugman is a victim (or perpetrator?) of leftist ahistoricalism.

"The main problem with classical libertarianism is that it doesn’t allow enough pollution."

An herein lies the intellectual dishonesty I've come to expect from conservatives regarding pollution. Just compare pollution before and after the EPA. You may disagree with the methods but not the results.

This post is embarrassing. If you actually think courts effectively restrained polluters in the 19th century, I have a bridge I'd like to sell you. Same-wise, if you think there is even an iota of a chance that Gary Johnson could so reform our legal and political system and culture that we could have an efficient tort based regulation of pollution. And what about the unintended consequences of such a system? Constant strike suits, a hugely engorged and empowered plaintiffs' bar, hellacious nimbyism, etc. Given your ostensible grasp of public choice, I'm sure you recognize that any so-called libertarian reforms to our current system is likely to result in more pollution.

Seriously. Read Craig Colten's work on East St. Louis or Chicagoland for a taste of what 19th century regulatory regimes accomplished with regard to pollution control. Yikes.

One of the saddest aspects of libertarian economists is how their ideology has completely eroded any sense of right and wrong they may have once had.

So Gary Johnsn is embracing classical liberalism by proposing to make it illegal to emit any pollution anywhere, any time? Do you have a source for this?

Its right next to the source that says that Gary Johnson wants to abolish the EPA and send your kids into cults.

It's weird that Tyler responds to a Krugman article about Libertarian Party position by conflating the 2016 Libertarian Party with traditional libertarian philosophy. The two may have some things in common, but they're by no means perfectly correlated.

The problem with the Krugman article is not how he attacks the Libertarian platform. (he may or may not be right on that front). But he misses the fact that Gary Johnson's policy proposals for good or bad don't track the Libertarian platform.

This is directly from his website.

"The environment is a precious gift and must be protected. Governors Johnson and Weld believe strongly that the first responsibility of government is to protect citizens from those who would do them harm, whether it be a foreign aggressor, a criminal — or a bad actor who harms the environment upon which we all depend.

We need to stand firm to protect our environment for our future generations, especially those designated areas of protection like our National Parks. Consistent with that responsibility, the proper role of government is to enforce reasonable environmental protections. Governor Johnson did that as Governor, and would do so as President.

Governor Johnson believes the Environmental Protection Agency, when focused on its true mission, plays an important role in keeping the environment and citizens safe.

Johnson does not, however, believe the government should be engaging in social and economic engineering for the purpose of creating winners and losers in what should be a robust free market. Preventing a polluter from harming our water or air is one thing. Having politicians in Washington, D.C., acting on behalf of high powered lobbyists, determine the future of clean energy innovation is another.

In a healthy economy that allows the market to function unimpeded, consumers, innovators, and personal choices will do more to bring about environmental protection and restoration than will government regulations driven by special interests. Too often, when Washington, D.C. gets involved, the winners are those with the political clout to write the rules of the game, and the losers are the people and businesses actually trying to innovate.

When it comes to global climate change, Johnson and Weld believe that the politicians in Washington, D.C. are having the wrong debate.

Is the climate changing? Probably so.

Is man contributing to that change? Probably so.

But the critical question is whether the politicians’ efforts to regulate, tax and manipulate the private sector are cost-effective – or effective at all. The debate should be about how we can protect our resources and environment for future generations. Governors Johnson and Weld strongly believe that the federal government should prevent future harm by focusing on regulations that protect us from real harm, rather than needlessly costing American jobs and freedom in order to pursue a political agenda."

And here he is on Education

"Governor Gary Johnson worked tirelessly as governor to have a more substantive discussion about the best way to provide a good education for our children.

He did so while working with an overwhelmingly Democratic legislature and despite fierce opposition from powerful special interests. Knowing full well that the establishment would resist calls for change, he nevertheless advocated a universally available program for school choice. Competition, he believes, will make our public and private educational institutions better.

Most importantly, Governor Johnson believes that state and local governments should have more control over education policy. Decisions that affect our children should be made closer to home, not by bureaucrats and politicians in Washington, D.C. That is why he believes we should eliminate the federal Department of Education. Common Core and other attempts to impose national standards and requirements on local schools are costly, overly bureaucratic, and actually compromise our ability to provide our children with a good education.

Johnson and Weld believe that the key to restoring education excellence in the U.S. lies in innovation, freedom, and flexibility that Washington, D.C. cannot provide.

Keep Resources Close to Home. Innovate. And Educate Our Future Generations. "

Gary Johnson is a good guy, but you highlight an interesting difference. (One as you say that Krugman and Cowen seem to miss.)

I wonder why pollution can be nationally monitored, but education cannot?

I believe the argument would be that pollution often crosses state lines and there are clear externalities. I am sure someone could make the argument that education policy in PA has an aefect on NY, but the link is much weaker than the argument that pollution in PA makes its way to NY.

I accept enough of conventional developmental economics to think that human capital matters, and that national standards along those lines are justified.

No reason that has to be complex or heavy handed though, just mandate one of the tests taken across competing countries, and then let districts decide if they want their students to be globally competitive.

Common core has created a de facto national standard, done by the states (and mostly untouched by the Obama administration, despite what some conservatives say).

@anon:

I wonder why pollution can be nationally monitored, but education cannot?

Why should we treat pollution and education the same way? One is a negative externality, the other a private good (albeit currently provided by public institutions).

(Education is excludable; I suppose you could argue it is non-rivalrous.)

The teacher's union will tell you it's rivalrous if you start talking about increasing classroom size.

If we want the government to grow public goods for education, they could create significant amounts of IP-less material for textbooks. Publishers could then incorporate whatever parts they want.

Bringing up What Johnson actually believes is definitely not cricket. We have constructed a straw man, now please attack or defend it and keep your facts out of it.

"he misses the fact that Gary Johnson’s policy proposals for good or bad don’t track the Libertarian platform."

Johnson and Weld are not libertarians so why should one expect them to follow a platform they did not write.

Johnson is a centrist republican and Weld is a liberal one.

+1

The little R and D and L symbols don't track any of the candidates well this year.

the critical question is whether the politicians’ efforts to regulate, tax and manipulate the private sector are cost-effective – or effective at all. The debate should be about how we can protect our resources and environment for future generations. Governors Johnson and Weld strongly believe that the federal government should prevent future harm by focusing on regulations that protect us from real harm, rather than needlessly costing American jobs and freedom in order to pursue a political agenda.

In other words, a bunch of hot air. Everyone wants effective regulations as opposed to ineffective ones. The critical question is what kinds of rules Johnson actually thinks will work. If he doesn't give us some idea about that then he's really not saying anything.

So, yeah, the Hillary 9/11 out on her feet at 9:30 AM video. Just a touch of mild pneumonia, often called walking pneumonia. No biggie.

If that footage were recorded the day after Hillary won the Presidency, most people woulda shit a brick. But they can't right now, cuz Trump. So basically every person I know right now looks me straight in the face, says "pneumonia" and carries on. An impressive display of what people will permit themselves to think about in various situations.

Anyway, I shit a brick when I saw it. Instinctively. Becuase, you know, she might be President soon. But then...

The House looks pretty solidly GOP, maybe the Senate too, even. A weak Democratic President in these circumstances (Hillary or Kaine)... Trump is definitely a wild card. And while the people most scared to shit of Trump are people whose status I wouldn't mean seeing lowered (no, of course I'm not talking about women or minorities or any of the claptrap from the campaign trail), it's not worth the risk on balance. The Overton Window has been moved quite a bit on immigration already. Mission accomplished.

Four more years.

I agree with the buried lede. Trump is not worth the risk on balance.

That's not the lede. I'm more impressed with how people, like a school of fish, all land on the same bald-faced lie about Hillary's recent collapse. A sly critique of the whole democratic process, actually.

Anyway, contrary to what most Internet scribblers think: Que sera sera.

All I'm saying is that the 'sera' unfolding recently is one I can make my peace with much more easily than a "Hillary landslide/mandate, Dems grab Senate" scenario. I think I prefer a "Trump wild card" scenario to the latter.

Hillary's collapse was very bad, but "pneumonia and dehydration" was cynically speaking a "good answer." By that I mean it is not automatically dismissible as a bald-faced lie. It is medically consistent with our public observation, even if some other hypothetical illnesses might also be medically consistent with our public observation.

If you are going to make fun of anything why not the explosion of "body double" claims a couple hours later?

I don't waste my time on fringe views, which mainly serve to support opposing fringe views. I'm talking about talking points being instantly, effortlessly disseminated to tens of millions of foot soldiers. You can't have a real, honest conversation with anyone on the subject of the 2016 presidential race right now. Everybody is a friggin' spin doctor/ press secretary nowadays.

The woman was basically unconscious. At 9:30 in the morning. Move along.

Medically healthy old ladies do faint. My mother did while watching her grandson ski. She got the full ski patrol mobilization and evacuation. She was mortified. Good thing there wasn't national video, eh? She's had a good, strong 10 years, since.

Of course she is a Maddow fan now. Perhaps some would claim that as evidence of lingering brain damage. Because *that* really is the subtext of this election. Liberal views are brain damaged, therefore Hillary has brain damage.

BTW, if you want to change the law so that Presidents are between 40 and 60, I'm down with that.

Stop wasting your time chasing fringe butterflies. It's almost too painfully obvious to me to point out the mirror image "Conservative views are brain damaged..." fringe is saying the same shite.

Anyway, feeble Hillary is my favorite Hillary.

Are you trolling me? Or do you really thing that conspiracy theories of Hillary's health are the mainstream?

"Anyway, feeble Hillary is my favorite Hillary."

Did you see the video in the plane commenting Friday after the bomb in Chelsea? It looked like she had not slept since September 11.

Despite my very strong criticisms of Clinton this year, I did defend her against the crazy accusations that she had a stroke or Parkinson's or some other secret health problem.

Now, I find out that there was a problem, and Clinton let me be out there defending Clinton despite knowing that the truth would make me look like a fool.

That last sentence, word for word, is also something I could have written in the 1990s.

It's like a relationship. I think we had a good run with the Clintons in the 1990s, and we could do so again, but there were a lot of accusations about lying at the end of the last relationship, and trust was frayed, and needs to be rebuilt. Yet every time I bring up trust, I'm gaslighted as being misled by shadowy forces, despite my very real lived experience. Or telling me to think about how awful Trump is.

As usual, Clinton's #1 enemy is Clinton,

The accusations are not well-substantiated. They're not 'crazy'. There's a reason this woman's in a protective bubble, doesn't answer aught but scripted questions anymore; suffers debilitating dehydration when it's 79 degrees out, 10 am in the morning, and she's next to a shade tree; and has handlers who show up at the podium and whisper prompts in her ear when she gets confused at the lectern. We do not know what the reason is.

"Did you see the video in the plane commenting Friday after the bomb in Chelsea? It looked like she had not slept since September 11."

I did. She looked and sounded like death warmed over. The first Presidential debate is Monday. If she's not distinctly healthier by then, her campaign is in trouble.

https://youtu.be/K8TR61QFpoA

That link was self-defeating. Calm, cogent, steady. Free from tremors or bizarre digressions.

Are you so out of it that IQ is bad for a President?

(i hope you don't think bed head hair is a disqualification.)

I was noting more the slow speech, pauses before answering, pale rings around the eyes and the eyes looking down constantly.

She might just be the victim of a pneumonia, age and a hectic work schedule. But whatever the reason, if she doesn't look a better on Monday night the campaign will be in crisis mode.

I think she is a high IQ person trying to help people pause, and understand the meaning of her words.

Clearly that failed.

I mean you have no beef with the content of those words, right? You just want to fault the look while saying them.

BTW, the slow pacing might be some analyst's idea of what allowed Thatcher to break through.

Hillary is probably over-coached on official speaking style.

I think she is a high IQ person trying to help people pause, and understand the meaning of her words.

Is that your self-concept too? Or is the 'anon' who lobs insults some other 'anon'?

She looked and sounded like death warmed over.

I'd say more along the lines of 'just got out of bed' or 'ready for bed'.

I think most high IQ comments at MR are left alone, and unfortunately many low IQ ones as well, for entirely different reasons.

"I’d say more along the lines of ‘just got out of bed’ or ‘ready for bed’."

I'd put $100 on "Had already taken her Ambien when she got the news."

"So basically every person I know right now looks me straight in the face, says “pneumonia” and carries on. An impressive display of what people will permit themselves to think about in various situations."

Do you really believe it's pneumonia? She has a reputation as a liar. Her lying is a major campaign issue. She lied about pneumonia until it became impossible to keep up that lie anymore because she's seizing on camera. What makes you think this explanation is the true one? There's no credible reason to believe it. Lying about pneumonia doesn't make any sense.

There are several clues in my comment that imply I view the pneumonia explanation as complete nonsense, yet swallowed whole by millions, like a multi-vitamin, to help us all Power Through!

Okay, thank you. I wasn't quite sure.

See, this is the problem right here. "She has a reputation as a liar." has been repeated 1000 and 1 times, and now you don't trust her.

Did you cover anything of marketing or propaganda in your education?

(And sure, when everyone is already making a big deal of your health, trying to power through pneumonia and put it behind you is not human nature at all. Or is it?)

...in which anon, self-proclaimed moderate, parenthetically swallows multi-vitamin whole. Yummy!

Sure, I am a moderate, and my moderate opinion is that Hillary is in the normal range for human honesty.

If you know anything of human nature, you know that the normal range for human honesty is not exemplary. Neither is it super terrible. Dan Ariely has written extensively on these norms, and how they change in social situations. Recommended.

I think it is clear though, and also accepted political/psychological theory, that if you take a normal range human and repeat "Crooked Brian" for a year, people WILL start to think Brian is crooked. That too is human nature.

Do you dispute some part of this?

BTW, I bet you know and reject the fact-check tallies on the two candidates, am I right?

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/lists/people/comparing-hillary-clinton-donald-trump-truth-o-met/

I won't be drawn away from my point into your dumb frame. Speak to me of interest, sir.

Hillary and Donald are very much interested in winning the Presidency. I suspect there is a great deal people who are very much interested in winning the Presidency would sacrifice to that ambition, regardless of where they would fall in terms of overall honesty. And I don't think either of these two is at the median in terms of honesty anyway.

For this reason, I pretty much discount ANYTHING said by ANY CANDIDATE in such a situation. Fortunately, candidates have track records, histories, personalities, characters, from which one might make reasonable inferences as to the course their Administration would take.

I do enjoy you putting your world-weary cynicism to one side when Hillary's medical team is passing out vitamins though.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QyyV0ejKNrc

I don't think it is a "dumb frame" to ask if you can take the truth-o-meter straight up?

In fact, if you can't, AFTER making dishonesty YOUR theme, you may not be as distanced and impartial as you think you are.

One of these candidates is indeed not like the other. One of these probably is far from the human norm on honesty. That candidate is Trump, the guy who did a big birther back-flip last week. And then asked us what our problem was.

If you read that one of these candidates used $258,000 from her or his charity to settle legal problems on the for-profit side, who would you deep down expect that to be?

my moderate opinion is that Hillary is in the normal range for human honesty.

I think the 'anon' I usually cross swords with is a lawyer. Very disconcerting.

Come on man, she was caught in an lie about her health and had to say something. You don't really believe the pneumonia story, do you?

I mean, I'm sitting here in a very liberal office in arguably the most liberal state in the union and the coffee room chatter is that we all know this is a lie, we accept that there's a more serious problem with her health, but that it's important to keep up the lie because Trump.

I recommend Dan Ariely to you too. I can step back and answer this half-cynically and half-subjectively.

Hillary's story works because it works as a story. "She got sick, and being Hillary, and knowing that she was being criticized on her health, she just decided to power through, and take on too much."

That is a perfectly acceptable scenario because it fits with human nature and the nature she wishes to sell.

"“She has a reputation as a liar.” has been repeated 1000 and 1 times, and now you don’t trust her."

Correct. This is why it is important not to develop a reputation as a liar.

Surely, if you are a rational observer, you are flummoxed as I that the fact check winner is the liar.

Clinton's rep as a liar far preceded the invention of politifact. So what you have is politifact saying, "this person who you thought was a liar? She's really not." There are two potential responses to that statement: (1) ok, so this means Clinton is not a liar. (2) ok, so this means politifact is full of shit. Are people more likely to go with the one that accords with their priors, or the one that bucks their priors?

Which brings us back to, it is important not to develop a reputation as a liar.

Do I take it you are a physician who examined Clinton after the incident, and thus know what really happened?

I'm impressed. I guess you can't tell us the facts without violating physician-patient confidentiality, but your statements are interesting anyway.

OTOH, if you are just C+BS'ing based on a short video clip then your opinion is utterly worthless, I'd say.

I don't know what it is, I just know what it isn't.

But everyone else is crystal clear about what it is. Astonishing. Nothing to see here.

Before the video came out, the story was "dehydration". They changed the story in real time, as facts emerged to force their hand. I attach little credibility to whatever comes out of the Clinton camp here, but tribal vitamin-slurpers gonna slurp, especially cuz Trump.

I understand what is going on here, I just think it's kind of marvelous (not in a good way.)

Tyler, you're on fire lately, this is fantastic! Please tell us, did the NYT impose restrictions on the content of your blog? I feel like since you switched over to Bloomberg, you've been a lot more direct, honest, and frankly more interesting.

I agree that it's nice to see Tyler doing economics. He's good at it.

I'd also note we've got more Krugman references here, despite a lack of any financial connection. Every time this came up when Tyler was at his former employer, his motives were impugned.

Agreed, the Bloomberg pieces have been great.

When was the last time the Krugtron 9000 argued something from a position of logic and sound argument, rather than with doctrinaire sound bites?

Probably sometime in the 90s.

The general problem I see with "let the courts handle it" is that it is not obvious that this is a more libertarian solution. Allowing courts to handle every case of pollution, or determining the "right to pollute," just seems like a huge waste of resources. It would probably be less costly to just have the government ensure a a minimum standard pollution, one that balances the rights of both the interests of society and the business.

However, I think the Krugman is wrong in his criticism about how letting the courts handle it just pits ordinary citizens against corporate lawyers. If this were true then no lawyer should every win a class action lawsuit, but this happens all the time. Or what about something like the McDonald's coffee case? Again, it's not that uncommon for an ordinary to prevail against corporations.

I find the idea that having "fancy corporate lawyers" some guarantee of success to be quaint, even charming. Many pollution lawsuits are brought in rural courts where the judges and juries have less than a boundless love for New Yorkers in suits.

Workers compensation comes to mind as an example of that. Turn of the 19th/20th century, it was being pushed by big business as an alternative to mounting lawsuits over loss of life and injury in the course of work (which was quite extensive - just look up injuries in the Timber and Mining sectors).

There are cogent criticisms of libertarianism, and there are boomerang criticisms. The latter consist of scary descriptions of what might happen under libertarian government that ironically happen to be fairly accurate descriptions of the status quo, or at least descriptions that the critic would likely agree with. "The rich would get richer and the poor get poorer", "Large corporations would dominate markets", "the wealthy would control politicians", etc. Krugman is no less guilty of falling into this trap than others.

That's like saying Chicago is like Rio because both have lots of murders. Extent matters. It is a pure rhetorical gimmick to discuss things like inequality and corruption without referencing any actual data or cross-country comparisons.

Under libertarian theory, pollution is a form of violent aggression that should be banned, as Murray Rothbard insisted numerous times.

Who cares? Is there a single libertarian today who takes this position? You're criticizing Krugman because he ignores what the crackpot Rothbard wrote that no one agrees with?

In fact, one often hears from libertarians today that tort law is an adequate substitute for regulation. The Libertarian platform itself says:

Private landowners and conservation groups have a vested interest in maintaining natural resources. Governments are unaccountable for damage done to our environment and have a terrible track record when it comes to environmental protection. Protecting the environment requires a clear definition and enforcement of individual rights and responsibilities regarding resources like land, water, air, and wildlife. Where damages can be proven and quantified in a court of law, restitution to the injured parties must be required.

I'd say that's pretty close to Krugman's description, and pretty stupid.

Sorry Tyler. Your criticism of Krugman is just inaccurate. Call it partisanship or "mood affiliation," or whatever you want. It's a mistake.

Except that isnt what Johnson believes either which is the much bigger point. You are right that Tyler's criticism is inaccurate, but that doesnt make Krugman's nonsense any more reasonable.

So Johnson renounces his party platform? OK. But there is no denying that many libertarians place strong reliance on tort law as a substitute for regulation, which is really a bad idea.

I agree, but Krugman is asking people to not vote for Johnson based on things that Johnson does not believe, which is the criticism that Tyler should have lodged.

I'm not sure how it is stupid. Everyone knows the US military is the world's biggest polluter, Clinton would increase said military pollution, and only the libertarians or greens would cut it enough to offset any private pollution. Other governments aren't much better, the Soviets weren't big on the environment.

Since all libertarians want to be self-sufficient, that effectively requires renewable energy. Utility bills are too much like a tax and building our own coal plants requires a supply chain. It's clear we would be much better in dealing with pollution than Clinton. It's not like environmentalists are in love with Obama's results. You could make a case for Dr. Stein, but Krugman argues the opposite.

Was he equally upset about effect that the third party candidate Ross Perot had on the election???

He was not a political partisan prior to 2001, nor did he make polemical attacks on anyone bar some sideswipes at a few economists (e.g. Lester Thurow, Steve Hanke). The smart money says his ghastly wife has written the column the last 15 years.

Very few academic economists have bothered to slap him publicly for his bad behavior, which should lower the status of academic economists.

Tyler referencing Rothbard! But you link to Bleeding Heart Libertarians. How funny. Take the gloves off and quit treating your readers like Krugman.

Even if it were true that classical liberalism would have slowed the industrial revolution, so what? Why do you assume that the rate of development we experienced was ideal?

It's not obvious that the rate of development was a function of limited liability for corporations. The Industrial Revolution began prior to the shift in common law away from liability for corporations and towards government regulation. Upholding liability would probably have not slowed the Industrial Revolution, just the pollution and damage to property that certain developments caused.

Historically, under the more limited government of the 19th century, it was big business that wanted to move away from unpredictable local and litigation-driven methods of control, and toward a more systematic regulatory approach at the national level.

I can see that, in certain cases, though far from all, big business prefers national level regulation to varying local and state rules. (There's a reason so many big companies are incorporated in Delaware). But this is not the 19th century, and I doubt that big business today prefers regulation to tort liability. Yes, there may be a big judgment or two, but the point Krugman makes about lawsuits by ordinary citizens against big business is surely sound.

Rates of high school completion were below 70% for decades, until recently, in spite of compulsory education. Parents rescuing children from the neglect of the state seems at least as common to me as vice versa.

What does this have to do with anything? Compulsory education often ends at age 16, before normal high school graduation rates. Perhaps Tyler would care to make a more thoughtful argument that takes earlier education into account.

The Krugman-hate is showing.

Krugtron? Is that you?

"Rates of high school completion were below 70% for decades, until recently, in spite of compulsory education."

I'm surprised a statement like this was made without even just briefly mentioning the decline in quality of high school education through the decades. More kids graduate these days (arguably) because the material has been watered down so dramatically, lest we might leave a child behind.

I hear people say this a lot but I've never seen any hard evidence for it. What specifically in mathematics was required 35 years ago but is no longer required?

All kinds of clever approximation and estimation techniques have fallen by the wayside.

I started working on pensions in 1987. Valuing a pension promise for a single individual requires (a) demographic data (age, service, pay, sex), (b) a legal document describing the promised benefits under various contingencies, and (c) a raft of economic and demographic assumptions. There are literally thousands of calculations, depending on how sophisticated the assumption set is.

Now imagine a company with 50,000 employees.

I worked with an older gentleman at the time who employed a wide array of clever techniques for valuing a pension plan in a tractable manner, given these constraints.

Coming up with a proper valuation used to be an art. Today, everything is fed into a computer.

Amortizing a pension was never a requirement for graduating high school.

Guess what. It's not the 19th century any more. Nowadays, Libertarians are so in love with pollution that the most famous Libertarians are Charles and David Koch.

Before accepting Krugman's prescription shouldn't we check his facts? Doesn't he have to show that trend lines in pollution levels improved dramatically after we nationalized pollution legislation with the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts? Admittedly, there was legislation before those acts, but I think it was predominantly state and local. Nevertheless, I'm not sure the trend lines changed after these acts were passed.

"Before accepting Krugman’s prescription shouldn’t we check his facts? Doesn’t he have to show that trend lines in pollution levels improved dramatically after we nationalized pollution legislation with the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts? Admittedly, there was legislation before those acts, but I think it was predominantly state and local. Nevertheless, I’m not sure the trend lines changed after these acts were passed."

Indur Goklany wrote a book dealing with this issue: Clearing the Air

It's difficult to draw clear conclusions, because changes in wealth and technology can play such big roles. For example, natural gas from fracking has made electrical generation from natural gas very competitive with coal. And even more recently, photovoltaics are becoming competitive with all forms of electrical generation, particularly in sunny areas such as the Southwest. Looking into the future, batteries may displace natural gas "peaker" plants. In fact, the CEO of NextEra Energy stated in 2015: "Post-2020, there may never be another peaker built in the United States -- very likely you'll be just building energy storage instead."

Thanks. That's a great link. I found something like it from the American Enterprise Institute. I'd like to find something similar on water pollution.

Seems to me that Tyler's response misses the point here. Just because you can sue someone for a tort/nuisance doesn't mean that he offensive g activity will stop. Remember that the vast majority of civil suits settle, and there are strong incentives for class action plaintiffs lawyers (who presumably, under a regulation by litigation regime, would take the place of the regulators) have very strong incentive to reach settlements where they get paid more and the class members get less. Tyler is stopping at step 1 of the Coasian process: (1) define rights, (2) bargain, (3) reach socially optimal levels of whatever activity you can think of. The real problem with the hardcore libertarian position is that it assumes away the incentive problems with class counsel, the huge transaction costs associated with litigation (trust me, I'm a lawyer so I *am* one of those transaction costs), and not to mention the decidedly unlibertarian process of litigation itself. (Remember that any lawyer who can write out a complaint alleging a plausible suit can drag anyone through hugely expensive discovery, conduct discovery on third parties, and, if they find a scintilla of evidence to support those claims, can literally use the courts to use force to compel at least 12 jurors to sit around and listen to a boring trial for days.)

Not that I dont think Krugman deserves to get taken to task for his ignorant views. As usual, he's tilting at a caricature of what he thinks the worst version of a libertarian would believe, and he hasn't noticed that Johnson's whole MO, which I think deserves a lot of credit, is to try to make libertarianism a more politically palatable movement by watering down exactly the ideological excesses of the party like the one Tyler discusses above. Here's what Johnson's website says about the environment:

"The environment is a precious gift and must be protected. Governors Johnson and Weld believe strongly that the first responsibility of government is to protect citizens from those who would do them harm, whether it be a foreign aggressor, a criminal — or a bad actor who harms the environment upon which we all depend....

"Governor Johnson believes the Environmental Protection Agency, when focused on its true mission, plays an important role in keeping the environment and citizens safe."

"Just because you can sue someone for a tort/nuisance doesn’t mean that he offensive g activity will stop"

It's called an injunction. Courts used to issue them frequently against polluters. Being a lawyer, you should know that.

The fact that businesses preferred a centralized national system of rules doesn't imply that there wouldn't also be greater pollution in the decentralized system.

A major reason businesses prefer the centralized system is that it allows the to replicate their business model in different geographic regions with less risk and uncertainty and more uniformity. Without substantial international competition in the 19th century the total cost of pollution control was essentially a wash for businesses (the low polluting ones would benefit and the high polluting ones would suffer with the net cost passed along to the consumer) while regulation differences essentially amounted to trade barriers and transaction costs. So the fact that big corporations want national regulation in the 19th century doesn't at all suggest it is laxer or easier on the corporations.

The problem is that it is actively unconstitutional for states to regulate pollution emitted entierly in another state. In Healy v. The Beer Inst. SCOTUS held "First, the ‘Commerce Clause . . . precludes the application of a state statute to commerce that takes place wholly outside of the State’s borders, whether or not the commerce has effects within the State." Constitutionally the only choices are federal regulation or falling back on some kind of federal common law.

Worse, this approach utterly fails to handle the international aspect as it precludes and meaningful treaty negotiation (and states can't reach their own agreements with foreign powers).

Comments for this post are closed