Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Private Property & the Environment

The article "Environmental Economics" by Art Camden of Rhodes College, focuses on government restriction, recycling, and private property rights as they relates to the environment and the economic system. He looks at the effects of each system and compares them different social processes.

He first looks at the effects of private property and the environment. Private property is vital for a social economic system to function and create prices. The private property rights give the owner a chance to make money from creating a product, finding a better way to make a product, or any other competitive advantage because the owner has the responsibility of good stewardship while using resources. The author argues that environmental resources without private property have no price. Without price we can't tell what the specific profit for a forest is, compared a high rise building profit. Overall, we need private property to give us prices for these natural resources.

Land restrictions can effect the prices of land and land use. Land restrictions in certain areas drive up housing prices, driving people to less energy efficient places such as the suburbs. People move to suburbs and drive more to get to work, use more energy, resources, and causing more pollution. Since some of this land is used for farming, the raised housing prices causes the farmers to develop there land for houses.

Recycling is owned by the government and is not very effeicent. Recycled aluminum is 95% cheaper than mined aluminum, according to the author, so why wouldn't people look towards this source to lower costs, because no one owns it. If the recycling system was privately owned, it would be run better because of the profit motivation. With privately owned recycling, and profits being made, there would be competitors that develop more efficient ways of recycling which has positive impacts on the environment.

Altogether, private property, land restrictions, and recycling can all effect the environment. If each of these aspects has good stewardship and becomes privatized, then they according to the author, will become more efficient because of competition and the drive to make profits.

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