A Conservative Policy Solution to Slow Down Climate Change?

Intended for constructive conversations. Exhibits of polarizing tribalism will be deleted.
jacob
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Re: A Conservative Policy Solution to Slow Down Climate Change?

Post by jacob »

Hristo Botev wrote:
Fri Oct 16, 2020 12:59 pm
I should add that this workshop I'm doing is through my local Catholic parish. We've got a South American Pope who believes so strongly about our care for our common home that he made it the subject of his second encyclical (http://www.vatican.va/content/francesco ... to-si.html). If we (as a church) can actually get some agreement on a single, universal policy proposal, well, you've got a billion people who've been trained since birth to believe that sometimes when the Pope talks, it's God talking. There's an influencer for you.
Since you brought up Laudato Si and since you're discussing this in a Catholic workshop, I'd be interested in knowing how it was received and how many actually read and follow these declarations as opposed to pursuing more of a cafeteria philosophy when it comes to their beliefs. IIRC, when it came out, it received some push back from American bishops who did not appreciate the critique of consumerism and the global growth economy/free market beliefs.

slsdly
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Re: A Conservative Policy Solution to Slow Down Climate Change?

Post by slsdly »

Canada implemented a carbon tax. It was actually a market based idea bandied about by the Progressive Conservatives back in the day. As soon as the Liberals ran with it, well, the current generation had to oppose it on principle.

But the tax is very low, and estimates suggest it needs to be more than an order of magnitude more to achieve its policy goals. Thus the lack of tangible government action strikes me as exactly what we (collectively) have asked for. Democracy is working a little too well perhaps :).

There is no "policy" that will give people, left or right, what they want. Because what they want is the Star Trek future where energy is infinite and free, and all material desires can be created by a computer on a whim.

The question we need to be asking is cultural. What constitutes a good life? And find a definition that fits within our parameters. I fear nobody will embrace whatever that answer is.

I remember the climate protests when Greta Thrunberg was touring North America. All of a sudden, urbanites were all serious environmentalists. They made signs about Big Oil, and skipped off work. Politically speaking, they probably vote left, and certainly accept climate change is caused by humanity's actions.

Yet what would they be willing to change about their own lives? Would they give up travel? Meat? Some degree of general consumerism? Smaller house? Only car? Second car? Fewer children? No children? In the scope of the change we need, this is just the beginning, not the end.

Ultimately most people aren't even willing to make more than a token effort. Even if they believe it is a problem, they ascribe moral imperatives to their lifestyles (e.g. "travel makes you a better person!") to justify doing whatever they want.

So for myself, I find I only have one question left: to what degree do I feel I am culpable and must change? On one hand, I am unlikely to change the world. On the other, divesting myself of any responsibility feels unfair. But no matter what, I think it boils down to an exercise in personal satisfaction, and nothing more than that.

7Wannabe5
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Re: A Conservative Policy Solution to Slow Down Climate Change?

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

You might go with a simple forecast for your region, how households can prepare for this combined with notion of being a good neighbor. IOW, the concept of “Stewardship” is pretty old school conservative.

IMO, just shifting thinking from inhabiting political jurisdiction to inhabiting watershed can be transformative. IOW, moving thinking from abstract stocks to concrete flows will naturally lend itself to more global considerations. IOW, it almost doesn’t make sense to talk about global climate change with a group of people who have not yet achieved knowledge of how water and waste moves through their community.

Hristo Botev
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Re: A Conservative Policy Solution to Slow Down Climate Change?

Post by Hristo Botev »

Thanks again Jacob. You (and others here) have given me way more in the way of answers than I could have hoped for when I posed the question. I'm significantly more informed on this issue than I was a few days ago. That said, I'm trying to remain somewhat optimistic about all of this, but, honestly, as a Catholic (with its Old Testament understanding of human nature) and as someone who reads history, it seems like this scenario below is most likely where all of this is headed, to the extent it hasn't already:
jacob wrote:
Sun Oct 18, 2020 12:02 pm
I have no doubt that many will seek a realpolitik solution to this zero/negative-sum game fighting for their own tribe and in turn killing others either directly or by starving them out rather than changing their own values.
On one level, at least, there's something a bit comforting about the fact that this is just in many ways the same old conflicts over limited resources humans have been having since they started forming into tribes. But on the other hand, these particular series of conflicts are going to get really, really ugly--as you said, it's now a "negative"-sum game we'll be playing, with the winners being defined as just losing less. E.g., I was listening to this Brave New Planet podcast this morning on my walk to work (https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/a ... 0495257862), and though I haven't finished it, even techno-optimists have to recognize that injecting sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere can't be viewed as some sort of panacea, because even if it all works as theorized, it'll pretty significantly create winners and losers.

ETA: Interesting Lander picked the name "Brave New Planet" for this podcast; assuming that's meant to invoke Huxley. But it's an interesting name choice for what appears to be for the most part a techno-optimist take (with some criticism) on emergent technologies--especially given Lander's own work on the genome project.

Riggerjack
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Re: A Conservative Policy Solution to Slow Down Climate Change?

Post by Riggerjack »

Hristo,

There is no policy solution for CC.

I say that not as someone who has explored every possible avenue of policy, but as someone who has watched others explore that space.

Dragline was fond of pointing out the streetlight effect. The drunk looking under a streetlight for his keys, not because that's where he lost them, but because the light is better.

But for over 50 years, environmental science and policy have been intertwined in our political system. And a tireless mob of enthusiastic, righteous, motivated people have been over this ground, many, many times. If the keys were here, we would have found them by now.

Which isn't to deny that the keys can't be here, but if so, they aren't on the surface, and mining techniques are probably the relevant methodology going forward...

But it does mean that going over the same ground, in the same way, is likely to produce the same results. And those results seem strongly related to anger and depression, from all accounts.

Myself, I am very hopeful about the future, and the ways to deal with the upcoming changes. I am not lost in this depression. But I don't have faith that the processes that created this problem (however one classifies them) are going to be effective in reversing their own results. And I don't believe those processes are natural, or right, just because I grew up with them. (This, in itself is enough to make me different from "conservatives". So my fix probably won't be useful to you. Sorry.)

Rather, I just believe that if something cannot continue the way it is, it won't.

Now, if one believes that we are at a pinnacle of human achievement, this can be disconcerting. OMG, if we can't keep climbing, surely we must all just fail together.

Maybe. But since we don't do anything else together, this seems unlikely.

Myself, I tend to think that problems we can't solve by scaling up, probably shouldn't be scaled up. This is some form of freakish apostasy of my own, I don't recommend you try it. Nobody will be happy to hear anything apostates say on the subject. There is a reason we burn heretics.

But if you are looking for solutions, let me at least recommend you try something new, or different. Or prepare yourself to deal with getting the same results others found in a healthier way.

IIRC, you were just reading Kazinski. He had much to say about this sort of issue. And he was clearly brilliant. His observations were spot on. His conclusions obviously less so. But imagine how much different things in his life would be, if somebody had talked with him about the difference between the complex and the merely complicated.

There is no appealing complicated solution. So we have to choose a complex solution (which is inherently not a policy solution, and not under this streetlight), or choose between competing, unappealing complicated solutions.

This is why there is so little hope in this space. It's full of people who don't understand the problem, or the solutions, (or either) but want to signal their support for the snipe hunt; or people who do understand, and have moved on to making sure the sacrifices are made in the domain of others. It doesn't seem like a fun place to be.

Good luck. I'll be looking for what you come up with.

Hristo Botev
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Re: A Conservative Policy Solution to Slow Down Climate Change?

Post by Hristo Botev »

Thanks RJ.

I don't think there really is anything for me to come up with at this point. I'm powerless to do anything other than try and live in a manner that prepares me for the inevitable, and to train my kids to do the same. Whereas in years past I was smug about riding my bike to work, etc., instead of driving, as if it had anything to do with the environment (it didn't, I hated paying $100 for parking at the office); now, seems as if it's not even worth being smug about whatever "green" activities I engage in--because it doesn't really matter anyway.

All that's to say, after 45 posts on this topic, I've just come full circle back to "we're all screwed, and there's nothing I or you or anyone else can do about it, except to save ourselves!" And perhaps that is the conservative "policy" solution after all: Conservatives have the inclination to be skeptical of any big government, centralized authority solution to any problem, real or imagined--i.e., the inclination towards subsidiarity. And if the hard science, when combined with the political and social sciences, is really telling us that there's not much we can expect to do but perhaps delay things for a bit, then the subsidiarity principle tells me that the smallest, lowest, least centralized competent authority to do anything about climate change is in fact me--and my family, and my church and community. And I'm going to be reluctant to give up too much in the way of personal autonomy in the name of a package of policy solutions that aren't going to do anything. Rather, I'm going to continue to live my (sort of) anti-consumerist lifestyle, working my way slowly up the WLs, so that my kids (and as many folks in my community as I can benefit) will be well prepared for a world in which regress, and not progress, is the norm, in light of climate change and resource depletion.

But, what's sad is that this is very tribalistic. I just can't burden myself with things that are happening in some other country, or even in a neighboring town; because there's just nothing I can do to help without sacrificing the limited resources I need to try and ensure the survival of those nearest and dearest. This is what is depressing about a world in which perpetual progress is no longer a realistic worldview--a rising tide in fact does NOT lift all boats; we're dealing with a negative-sum game now.

Miss Lonelyhearts
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Re: A Conservative Policy Solution to Slow Down Climate Change?

Post by Miss Lonelyhearts »

I am not (politically) conservative.

It was hard (impossible?) to envision a politician gaining a passionate national following promoting a social democratic overhaul of the US federal government. Then Bernie Sanders happened. It was hard (impossible?) to envision George Will, Mitt Romney, and John Kasich supporting the impeachment of a sitting Republican president. Then Trump happened. It was hard (impossible?) to envision a 29-year-old politician gaining a passionate national following promoting a whole-of-country* response to climate change that would reshape the US economy. Then AOC happened.

New majorities emerge quickly in crises. What was inconceivable, farfetched, and wingnut to John Sununu in 1989 is basically taken for granted by everyone born since then.

What AOC is (and FDR was) selling, national unity in the face of existential crisis, seems pretty conservative to me. What better to promote conservative values like orderliness, thrift, and hard work than cooperation in the fight against such a bleak forecast? I think William James would approve.

*still less than Jacob's prescription for global cooperation, but it's a start ;)

jacob
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Re: A Conservative Policy Solution to Slow Down Climate Change?

Post by jacob »

Indeed, there are enough known technical solutions to at least prevent the world from exceeding 3C at the current time. However, it requires the whole world to pull in the same direction and THAT is a political and/or economical problem, not a technical one. The problem right now (and since the late 1970s when the problem became clear) is that everybody is pulling in either the wrong and/or opposing directions.

This is what I meant by humanity lacking the brain space to agree on a global effort. The average human's horizon of concern goes not much further than "friends & family" and "a few of weeks from now". This makes a comprehensive solution that covers 8 billion humans over the next 300 years somewhat ... unpossible. The only institutions which have managed such feats includes religions under which I include mass-consumerism, and worldwide faith in the market and technology gods since at least the end of the cold war. The problem being of course that the mass of humans currently believe in the wrong institutions from the perspective of solving the problem. It's not that the mass of humanity can't shift their entire belief system. The problem with this predicament is that consequences get locked in decades before it's obvious to everyone that they're already committed. Humans are really bad at things where the pay-off happens 30+ years later. The mass of humans can't even figure out COVID where the pay-off of mass-action happens some 14 days later---that is too long to grok.

The solution is definitely not "intellectual". Reason, logic, and facts are not going to make enough people change---the fraction of people who have changed course due to such is tiny. Some other type of mentating is required. It's fitting that scientists are perhaps uniquely unqualified to figure out what that method is.

Riggerjack
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Re: A Conservative Policy Solution to Slow Down Climate Change?

Post by Riggerjack »

And if the hard science, when combined with the political and social sciences, is really telling us that there's not much we can expect to do but perhaps delay things for a bit, then the subsidiarity principle tells me that the smallest, lowest, least centralized competent authority to do anything about climate change is in fact me--and my family, and my church and community.
And it is easy to reach this conclusion, see jacob's post above. As a coordination problem, this seems unsolvable. As a policy problem, this seems unsolvable.

And I agree with every point jacob raises. Except his point about this not being a technical problem. Though I probably agree in the way he meant. :roll:

The difference, I think, is that I just look at other ways to solve the problem. Without trying to coordinate, lead, herd, or rule over people. Not that I am above such tactics, but because that ground has been covered.

Maybe the simplest way to think of this is as a story, illustrating the situation.

3 degrees C. We have seen this before. About 20k years ago, the world was 3 degrees cooler. My place, on an island in the Puget Sound, was under about a mile of ice. Today, I rarely see snow that isn't on a mountain. Soon, people won't remember snow around here.

But there were people here then. (Not on this island, but in the general area) there are people here now. I'm sure there were unsustainable practices then, and we still have them now.

That's the kind of change we are talking about. Massive changes in where water condenses, freezes, evaporates and falls. But no real changes in what water does, or why. So the climate will change. The only difference is how fast this change is happening. Decades and centuries, not millennia.

Trying to adapt cities to that kind of change seems pretty hopeless. And shocker, the same people who are depressed and angry seem to also be an urbane crowd.

But I don't need to save a city. I only need to take care of myself and mine. So my conclusion seems similar to yours. But this is still something I am working on, and I may work it out. But I might not.

So my recommendation would be to take what you know, and what you believe, and work out the best way to deal with upcoming changes. This is what we all need to do.

Because as 2020 has made very clear, we need more redundancy in all our systems. If we depend on a system, and put no effort in a backup, well, we get a definite result. But if ones primary system fails, the capability of the backup is suddenly very important. Our current choice to choose a primary, hyperefficient (by our chosen metric) system may not be the choice we make in the future.

I'm trying to suggest, that many and varied paths are better than a paved road after cars aren't working... And making those paths is easier, now.

But it's your life. You get to use it as you choose.

7Wannabe5
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Re: A Conservative Policy Solution to Slow Down Climate Change?

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

In the meanwhile, somebody has designed elderly day care centers in Japan based on casinos in Vegas. They are very popular.

Hristo Botev
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Re: A Conservative Policy Solution to Slow Down Climate Change?

Post by Hristo Botev »

Call it an offshoot of ERE's serendipity effect, perhaps, but this podcast popped up for my walk home yesterday: http://podcast.strongtowns.org/e/what-a ... 603125553/, and I honestly clicked on it because I was looking to hear about something other than climate change, for a change, given how down I was feeling yesterday when I left work. Well, of course this uban planning podcast was all about CC, and what we can and should be doing to respond to CC. But, it turns out it was exactly what I needed to hear.

I'm new to the Strong Towns thing, and I don't know much about the organization or its founder, but I've liked the handful of things I've seen/heard thus far. Anyway, in the podcast the founder, Chuck Marohn, kind of takes to task Gov. Gavin Newsom for standing on the wreckage of the California wildfires and using it as an opportunity to blame the federal government (i.e., Trump) for not doing more to combat CC--when, according to Marohn, there's a pretty long list of stuff that is actually within the control and purview of Newsom (and/or the State of Calif.) that would have helped militate the wildfires. Marohn's not saying that we shouldn't advocate for bigger, more federal and global solutions to existential threats like CC that really are outside the scope of of any one person's (or town's, or state's, etc.) ability to have a significant impact on, at a more global level. But his point is that there is nevertheless A LOT that we, as individuals, communities, and towns can do, and we shouldn't wait for top-down solutions to problems that can at least be partly addressed closer to home.

I.e., no one is coming to save us, and if they do, it may not be the help we need.

7Wannabe5
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Re: A Conservative Policy Solution to Slow Down Climate Change?

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

I am actually coming around to placing more chips on the high-green-tech bet even though the low-tech bet is in some ways more appealing to my clean-up-as-you-go ethics. The fact that, for instance, chip manufacturing plants are currently powered by fossil fuels and supplied with materials that are shipped from all corners of the Earth making use of fossil fuels, is in my current opinion a significant yet insufficient argument against this bet.

If you blindly count on “them” to solve your problems, that’s childish, but if you strive to gain knowledge about what experts in various fields are currently attempting, you might find yourself becoming somewhat more optimistic or at least surprised.

Maybe 80/20 barbell applies.

Riggerjack
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Re: A Conservative Policy Solution to Slow Down Climate Change?

Post by Riggerjack »

@ hristo

Strong towns has come up here before. Search ERE for granola shotgun.

I have had some harsh things to say about them in the past, and haven't changed my mind. No need to repeat myself here.

Though I have started to wonder if they are intentionally lying, or if it's just good business when dealing with public funds.

tonyedgecombe
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Re: A Conservative Policy Solution to Slow Down Climate Change?

Post by tonyedgecombe »

Riggerjack wrote:
Tue Oct 20, 2020 7:42 pm
Because as 2020 has made very clear, we need more redundancy in all our systems. If we depend on a system, and put no effort in a backup, well, we get a definite result. But if ones primary system fails, the capability of the backup is suddenly very important. Our current choice to choose a primary, hyperefficient (by our chosen metric) system may not be the choice we make in the future.
The market will always squeeze out any redundancy because it is inefficient. The only entity that can force change there is the government but I'm pretty sure I know what you think about that.

I have some sympathy for the libertarian view point but there is a gaping hole in that ideology and that is the tragedy of the commons.

7Wannabe5
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Re: A Conservative Policy Solution to Slow Down Climate Change?

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

As with a good many naive ecological analogies that conceive of humans as akin to rabbits or deer, “tragedy of the commons” is not so simple or inevitable. It also can’t be assigned uniformly to either libertarian or communist or any other style of enterprises.

For instance, children in schoolyards would not be able to maintain play of pick-up games if “tragedy of the commons” was inevitable.

Hristo Botev
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Re: A Conservative Policy Solution to Slow Down Climate Change?

Post by Hristo Botev »

tonyedgecombe wrote:
Wed Oct 21, 2020 9:59 am
I have some sympathy for the libertarian view point but there is a gaping hole in that ideology and that is the tragedy of the commons.
Just to be clear as to my own personal political leanings, as I posed the "Conservative Policy Solution" question; I'm no libertarian.

My concerns as a conservative more in the mode of a Russell Kirk or Edmund Burke are more along the lines of skepticism over Green New Deal-type initiatives that (to some extent) might seek to use CC as a Trojan Horse to centralize more decision-making authority in the hands of federal government, even over things that really don't have anything to do with CC (or, at best, are only tangentially related to CC)--e.g., leaving it up to the federal government (and thereby taking out of the hands of more local governments and community institutions/businesses) to make subjective judgment calls as to what constitutes (and how to resolve) "systemic injustices," "economic security," "high quality health care," "affordable, safe, and adequate housing," and promotion of "justice and equity"; not to mention "guaranteeing a job with a family--sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave, paid vacations, and retirement security to all people of the United States."

I'm sure I'd be fine with whatever federal-level carbon taxes or subsidies or infrastructure projects or whatever that can be proven will actually have some real impact on slowing CC, such that the sacrifice of personal/local autonomy and subsidiarity is worth it. But, I'm very concerned about the overreach.

I mean, you need only look to recent history to see how a "War on Climate Change" could be as counter-productive to its stated objectives as was the "War on Poverty"--at a significant and long-lasting and seemingly irreversible sacrifice of local autonomy.
Riggerjack wrote:
Wed Oct 21, 2020 9:32 am
@ hristo

Strong towns has come up here before. Search ERE for granola shotgun.
Funny, I also have recently started really enjoying the Granola Shotgun website (I'm SUPER envious of his pantry!).

As I said, I've liked what I've seen/heard from Strong Towns so far, as someone who lives in a walkable in-town neighborhood (if you don't count how many pedestrians regularly get hit and maimed by cars here, including me) that is having a whole lot of heated debates right now as to how to address affordable housing, historic injustices, homelessness, those pesky Confederate monuments, bike lanes, downtown parking, school overcrowding, traffic, etc. etc. (and all the NIMBYs and virtue signaling that goes along with it). So it's been a good resource for me to see what other "in-town" folks throughout the country have done to deal with the numerous balancing acts that are involved with living in/working in/worshiping in/running a business in/developing/managing/governing/etc. these sorts of in-town/urban neighborhoods.

However, my point in mentioning the Strong Towns podcast was just that it was comforting to have someone remind me to, borrowing from MMM's blogpost on the topic, limit my circle of concern to my circle of control--BUT, to actually act upon those things that are in my circle of control, as opposed to just throwing my hands up in the air because I'm overwhelmed by all those things that I can't control.

7Wannabe5
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Re: A Conservative Policy Solution to Slow Down Climate Change?

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

To be fair, over-extension of central government powers would also hold true for the War on Drugs and the War on Terrorism. Also at smaller scale, such as if/when your spouse says something like “I am declaring a War on Clutter * in this household!”

*or a Sexual New Deal!

Mister Imperceptible
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Re: A Conservative Policy Solution to Slow Down Climate Change?

Post by Mister Imperceptible »

The problem with saying we need a Technocracy is that the people who hold the power are still playing Game A/Finite Games. The people playing Game B/Infinite Game just become the slaves/livestock for those who sit atop the Technocracy. I would rather 6.5 billion die and strive to be one of the survivors than acquiesce to letting the Han Chinese dominate the Earth and have my organs harvested.

Are the Chinese and the Indians going to give up their aspirations? I still see all that coal being pumped into the air. Makes the decision to go without a car and hamstring my life seem pretty silly to me.

Putin on Greta Thunberg: https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-europe-49922779

It probably also does not bode well that it is the intelligent people self-selecting out of the gene pool.
Last edited by Mister Imperceptible on Wed Oct 21, 2020 12:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Hristo Botev
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Re: A Conservative Policy Solution to Slow Down Climate Change?

Post by Hristo Botev »

7Wannabe5 wrote:
Wed Oct 21, 2020 11:46 am
To be fair, over-extension of central government powers would also hold true for the War on Drugs and the War on Terrorism.
100% agree. Seems problematic when our country declares "War" on anything that doesn't actually involve defending against empire building. You can probably throw in the "War on Communism" as well.
7Wannabe5 wrote:
Wed Oct 21, 2020 11:46 am
Also at smaller scale, such as if/when your spouse says something like “I am declaring a War on Clutter * in this household!”
My kids would definitely agree with you there--each weekend DW and I declare exactly such a war, and they know that means they've lost their personal autonomy to go play with the neighborhood kids for the next few hours.
7Wannabe5 wrote:
Wed Oct 21, 2020 11:46 am
*or a Sexual New Deal!
As long as this declaration extends no further than beyond your four walls, then this social conservative has absolutely 0 objection.

Riggerjack
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Re: A Conservative Policy Solution to Slow Down Climate Change?

Post by Riggerjack »

The market will always squeeze out any redundancy because it is inefficient. The only entity that can force change there is the government but I'm pretty sure I know what you think about that.

I have some sympathy for the libertarian view point but there is a gaping hole in that ideology and that is the tragedy of the commons.
Yeah, I hear you. But No.

The "tragedy of the commons" is a term coined back in the 1800's, talking about a specific problem arising out of a specific example. It was a great example, and the problem is real.

But markets are not a force of nature. They weren't formed in the big bang. They are human creations, subject to change. They are really just a nice amalgamation of human behaviors.

And, surprisingly, economics has advanced over the last 200 years. Though it's hard to tell from the way people talk about it. In fact, there was a nobel prize awarded to an economist who wrote a whole book on only this subject, cataloging all the ways around this issue that have worked. (Sorry, I forgot her name or the title, and my link died.)

But yes, if one believes
The only entity that can force change there is the government
That would clearly limit one's options.

I think that where I differ from everyone else, is I believe that markets are very efficient at tuning market actors to conform to the rules of the market. But I also consider the rules of markets to be malleable.

If we depend on government to set those rules, we introduce a separate set of perverse incentives. But when we introduce new products, we have some influence on the market we just changed.

I do find it odd how rarely this rewrite command is used or talked about.

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