Only 7% Of Respondents On Poll Favor The “Fair Tax”

The following was posted on April 12th:

posted by Staff on Apr 12, 2013

In response to the poll question posted at the web site on March 14, 2013 which asks, “Is there any circumstance where proposing a new tax is justified?” 81 percent of those who rendered an opinion (excluding those who selected “I have a different view”) reject revenue-neutral tax proposals and insist that total tax revenue must always go down. They chose one of the options stating, “We should NEVER help to raise or create a new tax,” or the option, “Only if it’s to trade one tax for another, such as the income tax for a sales tax, but only if total taxes go down.”

A 62 percent majority said there is never a reason to raise a tax, under any circumstance, including in a trade for relaxing marijuana prohibition. Half of this group asserts that taxes are at least 90 percent higher than they should be.

Only 7 percent of respondents selected the option for a tax exchange, the essence of the so-called “Fair Tax,” which proposes to substitute the federal income tax with a national sales tax and which gives the federal government the same level of tax revenue.

One voter had this to say about the poll:

“There were several options, but none of them represented the libertarian position, namely that taxation is theft and that no tax is ever justified at any time for any reason because it’s money taken by force. So I had to choose the last option, ‘I have a different view.’

“For heaven’s sake, how low has the LP sunk? What good does it do to even have such a poll put out by the LP where the LP’s longstanding position on the matter is not even an option?”

Poll results as of 3:00 p.m. on April 10, 2013, in response to the question, “Is there any circumstance when proposing a new tax is justified?”

Votes %
Taxes are at least 90% higher than they should be. We should NEVER help to raise or create a new tax. Cut spending! 980 25%
Taxes are at least 50% higher than they should be. We should NEVER help to raise or create a new tax. Cut spending! 370 9%
Taxes are already too high. We should NEVER help to raise or create a new tax. Cut spending! 822 21%
Only if it’s a trade to end marijuana prohibition. Better not to propose it. Make tax hikers fight for every increase. 192 5%
Only if it’s to trade one tax for another, such as the income tax for a sales tax, but only if total taxes go down. 655 16%
Only if it’s to trade one tax for another, but only if total taxes go down or stay the same. 278 7%
Only if we need it to pay for a government service. 186 5%
I have a different view. 487 12%
Total votes cast: 3,970

102 thoughts on “Only 7% Of Respondents On Poll Favor The “Fair Tax”

  1. Brian Holtz

    Revenue neutrality is not actually the “essence” of the so-called Fair Tax. A Libertarian Fair Tax would cut revenue in proportion to Libertarian cuts in spending. At least 28% of responses are compatible with such a reform.

    The headline is misleading and tendentious. IPR should do better.

  2. Steve Scheetz

    Somehow “fair THEFT” is just not something that I would want to promote as a Libertarian…. If government wants to have a fee for service format, I would be down with that provided that Government would have to COMPETE with the private sector.

    Sorry, there is no way anyone could sell me on the idea that any TAX is “fair”

    If you try, I will point out the thug in the street holding a gun to my head stating “I will only steal what is fair…….”

    It is just an absurd non-starter.


    Steve Scheetz

  3. Steve Scheetz

    BTW, if ONLY 28% are thinking about a “fair” tax, then there is hope for the other 72% Call me tragically optimistic…


    Steve Scheetz

  4. Thane Eichenauer

    “libertarian position, namely that taxation is theft”

    This is a very popular position here among Libertarian Party officers and members here in Phoenix, Arizona but I don’t see but a modest mention of the term on the web site or as a predominant position among Libertarians in general.

    As far as @1 goes above revenue neutrality may not be the “essence” of the Fair Tax but it sure is a point stressed by the founders and supporters of that proposal. I haven’t ever heard of a Libertarian Fair Tax. Given that nobody who isn’t a Libertarian would presume to advocate for such a term or proposal I would assert that there is no such thing. If there were it should be given its own distinct name.

    As for the headline being misleading and tendentious if one looks at the original article it has a subtitle “Only 7% support “Fair Tax” proposal” so perhaps “Staff” at the LP should be blamed if indeed blame in needed.

    I am happy that Staff at did a poll and posted an article as it related to the Fair Tax.

  5. Robert Capozzi

    KL: A 62 percent majority said there is never a reason to raise a tax, under any circumstance, including in a trade for relaxing marijuana prohibition.

    me: Yes, my guess is there’d be a high correlation between this 62% also believing that there IS a “cult of the omnipotent state.”

    In a trance, perhaps, this is precisely the sort of thinking that ensures the fringe asterisk for the LP.

    Abre los ojos.

  6. Robert Capozzi


    There’s nothing “wrong” with being a fringe asterisk, btw, just as there’s nothing “wrong” with sleepwalking, per se.

    Being in denial, however, is never attractive.

  7. Eric Sundwall

    Every third party in America has an asterisk next to it.

    I’m happy with the fringe that declares taxation is theft.

    Government “revenue” can never be neutral.

  8. Be Rational

    There were many choices, they are not all mutually exclusive, so individuals taking the poll may have agreed with more than one of the choices. The assertion that “Only 7% Of Respondents On Poll Favor The ‘Fair Tax’ ” is not valid.

    To make such an assertion, there should have been just one question asking, “Do you favor adopting the ‘Fair Tax’ (a king of national sales tax) along with repeal of the income tax, knowing that the total amount of taxes would remain about the sams.

  9. Brian Holtz

    Taxation is not theft when it is a fine on aggression. Undo all subsidies, end all taxes, and fine all aggression.

    Keep all you make or toil, pay for all you take or spoil.

  10. Starchild

    Brian @9 – A “fine on aggression”, is properly classified as a penalty, not a tax.

    That being said, I’m glad if you agree that taxation is theft in cases where it is not a fine on aggression, and I support your overall prescription, with the caveat that I don’t think government officials should be allowed to initiate punitive proceedings against people in cases where aggression is alleged.

    Only victims of the aggression should be allowed to trigger such government action except in cases where the alleged victim(s) cannot do so (e.g. murder victims) or where it can be shown that the alleged victim(s) have been intimidated against doing so, or have the desire to do so but face practical limitations.

    This safeguard is essential to avoiding the conflict of interest that arises when the entity engaging in prosecution and fine collection (government) stands to benefit from fines collected or an increased workload that may be used to justify continued employment or new hires, higher salaries, increased funding, etc.

  11. Be Rational

    Fines on agression should be paid to the victims of aggression. It should not be treated as a tax and none of the money should go to the government.

    When government collects and keeps the “fines” they become taxes and create a new class of victims.

    Finally, we must remember that the greatest damage to the prosperity of the people, the greatest damage to the environment and the greatest damage to the economy comes from government taxation, ownership and regulation of land, property, natural resources and the environment and the government provision of infrastructure.

    The damage caused -the cost to undo that damage – by governmental malinvestment in infrastructure, taxing land and other resources and regulating land, property and the environment exceeds $100 trillion in the US alone.

  12. robert capozzi

    Actually, Eric, the GOP was a third party, so they are not an “asterisk” any longer.

    It’s cool that you are OK with being on the fringe, but I am curious what you get out of the “declarations” you are making. Does it give you satisfaction in some way? Share what it does for you, if you’d be so kind.

    Now, I might “declare” that MULHOLLAND DRIVE is the greatest film of all time, knowing that many/most will disagree with me. I might do so because a few others may hear about MD from me, and derive the same sort of pleasure from it that I do. Still, I know that it’s virtually impossible that it will displace GONE WITH THE WIND or CITIZEN KANE as widely considered “greatest” film ever for the multitudes.

  13. Andy

    How about a poll on LP.or that says, “Do you support the Fair Tax plan?”

    The poll ought to provide a link which explains exactly what the Fair Tax is.

  14. Andy

    I’d hope that most Libertarian Party members would reject the Fair Tax plan, and I think that the majority of party members do not support it.

  15. Be Rational

    Fortunately, free markets, ending socialism, privatizing the infrastructure and privatizing the Earth’s natural resources can eliminate externalities.

  16. Robert Capozzi

    17 bh, yes, good luck, indeed. You’ve made this point before, and somehow others seem to read it and can’t come up with plausible, smell-test-passing responses, and yet they keep denying that aspects of the universe are non-excludable.

    This denial doesn’t seem to stem from a lack of intelligence, so the only other explanations I can think of are emotional reasons (the desperate desire to remain “correct” and yet “consistent” with long-held beliefs) or brainwashing.

    It’s of a piece, as no one has shown me blind worshippers of an all-powerful state, either. Not even ONE, actually.

    This sort of denial reminds me of Dick Cheney. For ex., from Wolf Blitzer, who interviewd Cheney in 2011:

    “I pointed out to the former vice president that everyone makes mistakes, and there’s nothing wrong with admitting mistakes. We are, after all, only human. No one is perfect.

    But he refused to budge. “I’m proud of the policies we put in place. I think they did the job we intended for them to do. And I’m not inclined to make any mea culpas,” Cheney said. Just as in his new best-seller “In My Time,” Cheney defended every controversial decision he made.”

    Confession actually is good for the soul. And it adds to credibility and attractiveness. It’s the opposite of weakness…for adults, not children who happen to have lived more than 2 decades. Like Cheney.

  17. Be Rational

    @19 It’s very easy to privatize resources and the environment. Take a lake … many are already privately owned … if the lake is not privately owned, then it belongs to the government (Fed, State or local). The hard decision is who should be the owner and how to transfer title. Decide. Do it.

    These things are physically easy to difine and transfer. It’s only the politics of decision making that’s difficult – but that’s true in the US today on every issue, even seemingly obvious and simple things.

  18. robert capozzi

    BR, you deflect. Yes, “lakes” are private sometimes. Picking an easy one is, well, easy.

    Let’s pick the obvious one that cannot be privatized…the air.

  19. dave terry

    Eric @ #7 wrote:
    “Government “revenue” can never be neutral”

    I was just getting ready to state how misleading the above poll is, when Eric expresses the exact reason why many libertarians aren’t as informed
    as they should be and the selection of ‘answers’
    plays to that weakness.

    Government revenue, as Brian points out NEED not be exploitive or expropriative. I ALSO add that it need NOT be punative.

    The ‘anarchist’ wing of the LP are deft at making suggestions on how the ‘private sector’ can provide many of the services current performed
    by government; and in many case they are right.

    On the other hand they don’t consider that the
    gov’t is the ONLY agency that can perform some service. Nor do they allow for the possibility that
    gov’t, like any private enterprise, can CHARGE a
    fee for these services.

    This element is totally ignored in the wording of the poll and it plays into the scenario that ALL government spending MUST be coersive.

    Thus the misleading and distorted results.

  20. Be Rational

    @21 Air is also easy to privatize. The landowner owns the air above his land. Since the air moves about, they have to keep it clean so as to not pollute the neighbor’s airspace when the air moves into it. If your neighbor sends polluted air into your airspace that is a tresspass violation of property rights.

    All environmental assets and the infrastructure are easy to privatize. You merely have to think about each one and do them one by one or at least one category at a time.

    There is time to do it right. It needs to be done right so we can end pollution, end the waste of energy resources from the malinvestment in totally wrongheaded and backwards infrastructure, and end the socialism that causes these things (among others).

    It’s not deflection to give you a simple example. It’s necessary so that those who can’t wrap their minds around this concept learn to comprehend. Usually they don’t like the idea, they are kneejerk socialists, but they can understand things they’ve actually seen before.

    Then, you make the example a bit bigger, showing that something a bit larger than what they’ve seen before is also possible. Then, move on down the road with even bigger and more complicated examples.

    Small children have to learn the concepts of addition, turning gears, gravity … later they can become engineers and build things like the space shuttle.

    Never stop asking questions Bob.

    But it would be good of you, when someone is giving you legitimate examples, to stop accusing them of deflection. If you understand step one, ask another question.

    But don’t expect me to write a whole book for you on IPR.

  21. Brian Holtz

    It’s very easy to privatize resources and the environment.

    No, there is no magic wand that can turn a common (i.e. non-excludable but rivalrous) good into a private (i.e. excludable and rivalrous) good. That’s what non-excludable means.

    BR doesn’t seem to understand how economics textbooks define private, public, common, and club goods.

    Bob, debating the existence of common goods with BR is like debating the existence of orbits with a flat-earther.

  22. Dave Terry

    BR (23)
    ” The landowner owns the air above his land. Since the air moves about, they have to keep it clean so as to not pollute the neighbor’s airspace when the air moves into it.

    WRONG! If I “own” the air above my land, I should be able to use it in any way I see fit. If the air move onto someones else’s land, it is not my problem. It is up to him to return it to me, OR sue Mother Nature.

    If this isn’t correct, than the folk who own beach front property in CA, OR, WA, BC & AK should be able to sue those folks in Japan who negligently allowed to escape during the 2012 sunami.

    Clearly, the fact that no one has control over the air or sea, therefore it MUST be “public property”

    If your neighbor sends polluted air into your airspace that is a tresspass violation of property rights.

  23. Robert Capozzi

    23 br: Air is also easy to privatize.

    me: Are you kidding me?

    br: The landowner owns the air above his land. Since the air moves about, they have to keep it clean so as to not pollute the neighbor’s airspace when the air moves into it.

    me: You MUST be kidding me. Right?

  24. Starchild

    Brian @15 – You quote from a line of my previous response to you @10, but I’m not quite sure how your observation about torts and negative externalities relates to what I wrote. Perhaps you can clarify, if you meant your comment @15 to be a response to what I said.

  25. Brian Holtz

    The article I linked is all about the “practical limitations” that I agree with you can prevent private enforcement of rights in common goods (i.e. non-excludable rivalrous goods). In economics textbooks, it’s included in the very definition of a common-pool resource that it’s impractical for private parties to monitor/prevent uncompensated rivalrous consumption of the resource.

  26. Brian Holtz

    If you can still fill a scuba tank, then I guess there’s no aggression in this picture:

    And if you can still buy bottled water, then I guess there’s no aggression in this picture:

  27. Be Rational

    @26 No, RC I’m not kidding you at all.

    When you own a piece of land, no one has the right to build a pipeline and dump sewage onto your land, or to drive up truck loads of garbage and dump it onto your land.

    When you own the air above your land – as would be the case in a free market – no one has the right to put up a pipeline or smokestack and dump pollution into your air. The fact that air moves about means the pollution becomes defacto illegal and will not occur in a free market. Procucers must learn to produce without pollution.

    The owners of roads and highways must make sure that the users of their transportation corridors do not pollute the adjacent landowners’ air.

    Libertarianism is a very green concept.

    There are four types of pollution:
    1) natural – caused by nature, volcanoes and things out of human control
    2) accidental – true accidents which cannot be predicted for which tort remedies apply
    3) criminal – violating established property rights, subject to prosecution and tort penalties
    4) socialistic – comprising nearly all human generated pollution whereby the government doesn’t allow evironmental property rights. This is the pollution created and caused by all of the various geo-earth-nazi-fascists and other environmental socialists.

    With environmental property rights people would, defend and protect their property against all aggressors.

    The fascist-socialist, geo-earth-nazis need to give up their backward worship of their flat-earth-brained, earth-nazi hero Henry George. There are few writers from the past who knew less about economics and are still followed by anyone. George cannot be considered an economist by any stretch of the imagination. He wanted the government to own nearly everything – the failed system we have now.

    The “flat earthers” as a modern term are people who believe in an old idea with their heads stuck up their old geo-earth-nazi textbooks – ignorant, unable to learn new things, unable to assimilate and apply new technologies to solve existing problems with new knowledge .

    It’s already established in property rights that you cannot allow something to escape from your property and damage a neighbor. This does not prevent you from the freedom and right to control and use you property the way you wish, but it does make you responsible.

    So, you can build a large swimming pool or small lake on your land if you wish and have the space. You have the responsibility and duty to keep the water on your land, you cannot let it escape and damage your neighbor’s property. You can shoot your rifle at a target on your own land, as long as you contain the bullets and do not allow them to leave your property and enter your neighbor’s land, house etc.

    Likewise, you have the right, in a free market, to use the air above your land. You do not have the right to allow any pollution you put into your air to escape and pollute your neighbor’s air. If that prevents you from polluting your air, because you cannnot contain your pollution – good – then you’ll have to not pollute.

    You also cannot allow pollution to flow by way of groundwater into your neighbor’s groundwater.

    Environmental property rights are easy to establish one category or one asset at a time (in the case of particular rivers, lakes, parks etc). They will end pollution without government, outside of the police and court functions.

  28. Be Rational

    @32 Holtz is clueless, unable to apply technology nor to understand Knapp’s comment. The pictures he shows are what happens when we apply the logic of the Georgist geo-earth-nazis to the environment. Government ownership and stewardship, as demonstrated in his photos, has failed.

    The scuba tank reference would require the polluters above to contain their pollution – they could hold it in tanks as referenced by Knapp – so air pollution would not occur when their neighbors are allowed to own their air, if we had a free market and environmental property rights.

    Likewise, those who intend to build and maintain housing, factories, power plants and other structures in zones prone to flooding, earthquakes, typhoons, tsunamies would have to protect their structures from these known dangers or relocate them. Not only should government not reward them by helping them rebuild (government flood insurance or storm damage compensation) the identifiable property owners should be required to pay for damage from anything that escaped from their property during the storm.

  29. Robert Capozzi

    34 BR: The scuba tank reference would require the polluters above to contain their pollution….

    me: OK, I guess you aren’t kidding, but what entity would “require” what “standards” of tolerance of emissions of which substances under what circumstances? How could there remotely/possibly be actionable discovery when a substance is emitted into the air? Where DID that toxic level of, say, methane come from? How could an aggrieved party possibly make a case?

    IOW, if BR and I both methane methane and TK wants to sue someone, how can he prove that it was your methane and not mine?

    Sorry, this notion is non-serious, and you HAVE TO realize it.

  30. Brian Holtz

    Bob, if BR had an answer to the problem of non-excludability, he’d have opened with it.

    But he doesn’t, so he hand-waves and name-calls.

    Here is the conclusion from EconLib’s article on Free-Market Environmentalism:

    When many polluters and those who receive the pollution are involved, how can property rights force accountability? The nearest receivers may be hurt the most, and may be able to sue polluters—but not always. Consider an extreme case: the potential global warming impact of carbon dioxide produced by the burning of wood or fossil fuels. If climate change results, the effects are worldwide. Nearly everyone uses the energy from such fuels, and if the threat of global warming from a buildup of carbon dioxide turns out to be as serious as some claim, then those harmed by global warming will be hard-pressed to assert their property rights against all the energy producers or users of the world. The same is true for those exposed to pollutants produced by autos and industries in the Los Angeles air basin. Private, enforceable, and tradable property rights can work wonders, but they are not a cure-all. […] Advances in technology may yet allow the establishment of enforceable rights to schools of whales in the oceans, migratory birds in the air, and—who knows?—even the presence of an atmosphere that clearly does not promote damaging climate change. Such is the hope of free-market environmentalism.

  31. Thomas L. Knapp


    It was a joke, dammit.


    It was a joke, dammit.

    Political government may (in my opinion, is) be a piss-poor way to deal with goods that currently exist in a seemingly immutable “natural commons” (atmosphere, etc.), but that doesn’t change the fact that those goods do currently exist in a seemingly immutable “natural commons.”

    I’m unaware of any technologically feasible instrument for determining that this or that particle of smog came from my backyard grill versus Holtz’s factory smoke stack versus your car’s tail pipe. It seems likely that any such instrument, even if formally feasible, would entail a very expensive and very intrusive surveillance regime.

    To put it a different way, if you think that the atmosphere can be privatized and that pollution of it can be settled through tort litigation as we know it, you probably have a tort claim of that very kind yourself, because you’re obviously breathing crack smoke.

  32. George Phillies

    Let us consider the Los Angeles Basin. There are 6,000,000 people all breathing the air that the rest of them polluted leading to a nominal 3.6 x 10^13 lawsuits. Even by American standards, this is a perfectly respectable number of lawsuits.

    Now, you might propose that the suits could be unified, etc., and this is why a legislative solution is imposed.

  33. Brian Holtz

    Libertarians should distinguish between government and governance.

    The existence of a common-pool natural resource throughout a geographic extent X doesn’t mean that all of X should have a centralized government. It just means that the various polities and property owners comprising X need to federate in their regulation of that resource.

    If you decentralize enough, then “government” will be more like homeowners’ associations, and “laws” will be more like covenants and treaties.

    Dilution is the solution not only to pollution, but also to tyranny. Divide and liberate. Decentralize governance not only geographically but functionally.

    If this is done right, the anarchists and minarchists will stop debating, because they won’t be able to tell each other apart.

  34. Mike Kane

    The fundamental question here it seems to me is that who has the right to do what.

    That’s the problem with Coase’s therom , is that the property rights have to be well defined.

  35. Brian Holtz

    The hard part about property rights in common goods is not their definition, but their defense. As the EconLib article linked above says: “For markets to work in the environmental field, as in any other, rights to each important resource must be clearly defined, easily defended against invasion, and divestible (transferable) by owners on terms agreeable to buyer and seller.”

    Since common goods are (by definition) non-excludable, they’re not practical to defend.

    See for definitions and examples of the four kinds of goods.

  36. Mike Kane

    Brian I’m well aware of public vs private goods. You remind me of my college professors

  37. Be Rational

    Every situation has a specific answer. For example, there is no need to pinpoint the emissions from any particular vehicle in regard to auto emissions.

    First of all, there is no reason that large groups of landowners or renters could not pool their interests in compliance measurement and legal action against air polluters. In fact, we can be sure that they would.

    Second, there is no need to determine, find or sue any particular vehicle or vehicle owner. It would only be necessary to measure the emissions from the roads and highways themselves and sue the owner of the polluting transportation corridors.

    It would be up to the owners of the transportation corridors to ensure compliance by individual vehicles., which they would be fully capable of managing on site and motivated by financial interest to undertake.

    Third, since most business owners tend to avoid legal action by not violating legally established rights – for example, the use of slaves decreased dramatically in the US following the end of legal slavery – there will be few large actors who are out of compliance.

    The number of legal cases in the Los Angeles basin would now be reduced to a very small handful.

    It is even more important to remember, that when property rights are established, cities will be constructed in a manner far different than they are today. The use of transportation energy for commuting to work, school, shopping and recreation can be reduced by 80% or more in such a free market, eliminating the pollution that comes from the no longer needed transportation by 100% even before torts need be considered for the limited number of scofflaws among the remaining 20%.

  38. Be Rational

    One of the major problems in this arena is people have accepted old, worn out ideas that are logically wrong and have been proven wrong.

    Another example: government production of so called “common goods” causes massive overproduction, overconsumption, waste and pollution generated by these goods. In fact, in some cases the misallocation of resources in the wrong infrastructure is nearly 100% of the money spent, plus all of the waste in the related private misallocation of resources based on the use of the public infrastructure plus all of the onging pollution day after day, week after week year after year, century after century, that was caused by the malinvestment that would not exist in a free market infrastructure.

    The basic and completely wrongheaded argument can be summarized:
    “If government didn’t build the roads, who would?”

    The correct answer is:
    “If the free market won’t build it, we don’t need it.” … and environmental property rights will ensure that the correct infrastructure, without pollution, is built.

    The only reason you need a car to get around is because government used the wrong model and built the entirely wrong infrastructure that requires some kind of large vehicle to move relatively small human beings over distances that are sometimes hundreds of times farther than need be because construction of the wrong infrastructure caused the mislocation of both the origins and the destinations as well as the means of travel.

    If the same lack of intellectual competence had been applied to the computing industry, we’d still be using large guage copper wiring and tubes with room sized machines to add and subtract small numbers.

  39. Be Rational

    @38 A lot of truth is contained in humor, often unintentionally.

    In this case, the pollution could be contained in large tanks and not released into the atmosphere. That might be expensive, but if the item being produced is so valuable and the polluting gas cannot be avoided, it could be contained at some cost that would be added to the cost of the product and could be produced in a free market, pollution free.

    Second, it is honest of you to admit that you are not aware of any way to determine where certain forms of pollution eminate from. However, when the amount is significant and the need is great, the science exists to make it possible.

    You must be aware that explosives are traced back to their manufacturer. Fertilizers can be traced to their manufacturers. Ash can be analyzed to determine not only what type of fuel was burned, but which coal mine or oil well it came from.

    Most pollution can be prevented at the outset by eliminating the production of government goods and government infrastructure.

    There is no such thing as a natural monopoly and there is no such thing as a club good that need be produced by the government. These things are overproduced by the government. The free market will produce the correct amount, even if it’s less than what you somehow “felt” should be produced.

    The common complaint that we don’t have enough roads, highways, bridges, tunnels etc. is exactly backwards. Truth is, we have far too many.

    If the government of the US hadn’t gone nuts building the wrong infrastructure, then the rest of the world wouldn’t have gone nuts following this wrongheaded government created infrastructure and the concept of human generated global warming or climate change would not even exist.

  40. Be Rational

    There are no nonexcludable common goods.

    There are people who know how to privatize these resources …
    There are people who lack the education or mental ability to understand how to privatize … and
    There are the socialists and geo-earth-nazis who prefer common ownership who claim it can’t be done.

  41. Brian Holtz

    there is no reason that large groups of landowners or renters could not pool their interests in compliance measurement and legal action against air polluters

    This is either 1) hand-waving or 2) agreement with my comments @40.

    BR seems now to admit that the non-excludability of common goods (i.e. natural resources) implies the existence of serious macro-aggression that can accumulate from micro-aggressions that cannot practically be policed or litigated at the level of individuals. BR also admits that the “legal” system will have to deal with such micro-aggression in a blunt macro way.

    These admissions concede my central thesis: individual rights in common goods cannot be protected by the tort system (where the default penalty is zero for those who haven’t had their day in court). Instead, you have to have uniform rules across the entire extent of the non-excludable resource in question, that apply a default non-zero price for micro-aggression, even to those who haven’t had their day in court.

    Now that we’ve agreed on that, we’re just arguing over the shape of the anarcholibertarian fig leaf to paste onto these environmental regulations and the quasi-governmental agency that will enforce them. Yawn.

  42. Brian Holtz

    BR @45 confuses common goods and public goods. Look at the list of example common goods at None of them are man-made. (That’s why a synonym for common goods is “natural resources”.)

    BR @46 clicks his heels together and simply wishes that scientists will magically make it possible to police all pollution of the atmosphere, the oceans, aquifers and other groundwater, lakes, rivers, the ozone layer, EM spectrum, orbits, fisheries, migratory game, etc.

    BR @47 resorts to name-calling, for obvious reasons.

  43. Be Rational

    @48 BH ignores reality and the written word and pretends people wrote things different than they did.

    It is quite common to pool efforts in private goods. It does not make them non-excludable, it makes these individuals wise users of legal resources.

    If a manufacturer of some good makes a faulty item, say a refrigerator, the consumer can sue. If the same manufacturer makes thousands of the same faulty item, the consumers can join together and sue.

    BH fails to understand this, proving that he is acting as a either someone incapable of comprehending the issue or economics at all (likely) or someone who has determined that he wants a particular biased outcome, so doesn’t consider the fact that he has been proven completely wrong (also likely, for these are not mutually exclusive possibilities and for BH, both seem to apply).

  44. Be Rational

    Even your chart is wrong BH. Goods and resources are not the same, even if you have confused yourself into thinking so, and even if others wrongly agree with you. Try thinking instead of relying on old, worn out, discredited ideas that are not real economics. You are at least as century behind the times.

  45. Brian Holtz

    BR@50 Class-action lawsuits against pollution only work when there is a return address for the pollution. There is no return address for many insidious kinds of pollution/depletion that affect the atmosphere, the oceans, aquifers and other groundwater, lakes, rivers, the ozone layer, EM spectrum, orbits, fisheries, migratory game, etc.

    Economists refer to non-excludable rivalrous goods by names like “common goods”, “common-pool resources”, “natural resources”, “common-property resource”. See e.g.

    old, worn out, discredited ideas that are not real economics. You are at least as century behind the times.

    BR not only is ignorant of economics, but he is also ignorant of the history of economics. For some history of the modern quadripartite theory of private/public/club/common goods, he should read the links at

  46. Be Rational

    Quacks refer to non-excludable rivalrous goods by names like “common goods”, “common-pool resources”, “natural resources”, “common-property resource”.

    Economists know that these ideas are socialist-georgist ideas, more than a century old, discredited and behind the times, even if some living quacks write nonsense about them.

    You, Holtz, are a living history museum, lost in past ideology.

  47. Dave Terry

    BR (46)
    “In this case, the pollution could be contained in large tanks and not released into the atmosphere. That might be expensive, but if the item being produced is so valuable and the polluting gas cannot be avoided, it could be contained at some cost that would be added to the cost of the product and could be produced in a free market, pollution free.”

    BR is not only NOT being rational, he is stark raving mad! Pollution IS one of few absolutes
    that DEMANDS, “governmental” involvement.

    The “Free Market” is based on the presumption that both producers and consumers are honest.
    Government (qua government) exists to “insure
    the greater probability that this will be the case.

  48. Be Rational

    @56 Non sequitur. You are very confused.

    If free markets require that the overwhelming majority of producers, suppliers, workers, and consumers are honest nearly all of the time (fine so far) then the solution would be to allow those honest people to take control of all environmental property rights as well where their honesty and the free market will ensure that pollution will end.

    Yeah, except for those criminals you worry about, who we can have police and courts for and deal with much easier after the free market has eliminated all of the systemic pollution that we have today.

    If the only polluters we have are the wanton criminals (plus, of course, true accidents and nature which are out of human control) then we will have a very clean world indeed.

    So, you see, you have it backwards. Pollution, like slavery, is an institution of government, created by, caused by, perpetuated by, allowed to exist by and an evil child of government.

  49. Brian Holtz

    More name-calling @55 from BR, who is telling us that for libertarianism to win, people just need to rewrite all the economics textbooks. The good news I bring is: for libertarianism to win, people just need to listen to the economics textbooks.

    Dave, the difference between pollution and ordinary property crimes is that even if everyone were an honest non-aggressor, the optimal amount of pollution would still not be zero. We all have a right to use common goods to a certain extent. But even if we didn’t, there is no possible assignment of property rights over common goods that can satisfy the Coase Theorem, because the non-excludable nature of common goods means that the Coasian bargaining over them is impossible.

    Coasian bargaining can’t happen if the counterparties have no return address.

  50. Be Rational

    What BH is telling us is that for Libertarianism to win, we all have to become geo-fascist-earth-nazi socialists, adopt old discarded, discredited ideas, and forget what liberty and libertarianism really means.

  51. robert capozzi

    57 br, “honest”? “Honest” people don’t pollute?

    If this is your assumption, then all drivers are “dishonest” in BR World.

  52. Dave Terry

    You are the one who is confused OR you live in a frozen reality. ex: “the solution would be to allow those honest people to take control of all environmental property rights as well where their honesty and the free market will ensure that pollution will end.

    Your obvious ceteris paribus argument is the non sequitur. The fact is “ceteris very RARELY
    remains paribus”

    “Honesty” is as much a function of opportunity as it is a matter of personal character. The very moment those few “honest people take control
    of all environmental property rights” the “free
    market will evaporate”

    “Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts ABSOLUTELY!

    Pollution is a ‘condition’, “Slavery is an ‘institution’. They have no essential common

  53. Dave Terry

    BR (59) “we all have to become geo-fascist-earth-nazi socialists,”

    Didn’t you mean to say “quazi-neo-geo-fascist-earth-nazi-socialist-egalitarian-vegetarians?

    Was your mother frightened by a dictionary while carrying you?

  54. Be Rational

    @60 No, RC, in a world of environmental property rights, there would be few drivers of cars, and none of the polluting vehicles of today would be produced.

    In today’s world of institutionalized pollution, it is legal and not perceived as dishonest in any way to be a polluter.

    But we already live in a world where the government controls the environment, and we’ve already seen that such a system fails – in every nation – the more socialistic they are the more pollution they have.

    The geo-earth-nazi model has failed in practice as predicted in theory.

  55. robert capozzi

    BR, all models fail or are never truly tested. It’s sloppy place, this earth thing. Throw in the human condition, and it is a wonder that we muddle through. And yet we do.

    Go figure.

  56. Dave Terry

    BR (64) “The geo-earth-nazi model has failed in practice as predicted in theory.”

    I did a google search for “geo-earth-nazi model” but came up empty handed. Imagine THAT!

    Can you ‘be rational’ for just one more minute and define for us exactly WHAT this “geo-earth-
    nazi model entails? Can you tell us who its prime
    proponent or spokesperson is or was?

    When and where was this model put into practice?

    Can you also inform us as to who proposed the theory that “predicted” its failure? When did this occur?

  57. Robert Capozzi

    br 64: in a world of environmental property rights, there would be few drivers of cars, and none of the polluting vehicles of today would be produced.

    me: This, btw, is possibly funnier than Rothbard’s phrase, “in a libertarian society.” I was always amused by how Rothbard seemed to either skip over or reject Hayek’s trenchant point about constructs like this.

    A world of environmental property rights and a libertarian society have not happened and won’t. What MIGHT happen is that L thought could become ascendant and increasingly influential. Straightline dogma doesn’t get adopted and implemented in social orders, or at least not for long. A swirl of black, white and gray marks our history, and I see no reason to believe that that will change.

  58. Eric Sundwall

    @12 – I guess my humors are at any given level for the day. Yes, the GOP was an asterisk. Are you suggesting things could be otherwise since the Civil War.

    @22 Sorry I seem uninformed to you Mr. Terry, and yes gov’t does provide services. It doesn’t mean that I have to stay neutral about it.

    Government is a coercive institution whose revenue is not adequately satisfied by an acceptable moral component in my estimation.

  59. robert capozzi

    ES, why yes, yes I do think that a 3rd party couldcould arise and be competitive. I think the GOP is especially prone to imploding, since their fringe elements have become dominant inrecent decades.

    This COULD be a Libertarian moment, when a party dedicated to maximizing liberty across the board is in my estimation attractive to broad swathes of the electorate. A construct-laden, hyper-fringe party dedicated to challenging a non-existent cult…not so much.

  60. Dave Terry

    br 64: in a world of environmental property rights, there would be few drivers of cars, and none of the polluting vehicles of today would be produced.”

    Undoubtedly, the most eloquent argument AGAINST ‘environmental property rights’!

    Is it your desire to repeal the “Industrial Revolution”

    Do you expect Scotty to beam us whereever we
    desire to go? Or are we to be transported in pods in some massive underground system of tunnels?

    Of course, there are always Rickshaws and/or Pedicabs. We could also reinstate carriages with teams of slaves.

    When you flush your toilet, WHERE do you suppose it goes? Your own back yard?

    Who do you suppose should OWN the sewers?

  61. robert capozzi

    DT, in BR’s world – when the Anarchist Man has evolved – there will be no driving, nor will there be urination and defecation. 😉

  62. Be Rational

    @70 Obviously, you know nothing of how the world works. Do you think that all human waste goes through sewers? Do you think that human beings don’t know enough to arrange to dispose of their waste of government didn’t do it? And there would be no food if government didn’t feed us too.

    Yes, DT, billions of people dispose of their own waste in their own backyards, safely, cleanly and cheaply. Competing sewage removal for high density developments is not only possible, it’s cheaper, more efficient and having multiple providers, adds a layer of protection against accidents and disruptions, making it far better in every way than government.

    The same is true for competing electric service which is cheaper, more efficient and helps prevent the dangers of blackouts that can happen with one provider.

  63. Be Rational

    @71 You lack the ability to see alternatives, but others do not. Do not assume that your own limitations apply to everyone else. Just because you can’t dunk a basketball, create a billion dollar enterprise, speak Mandarin, solve complex mathematical problems in your head in seconds – faster than others on a computer … doesn’t mean that other people can’t.

    Consider the effects, as far as you are able, of the massive subsidization of horozontal transportation, horozontal development, with a free to the user, inefficient, polluting horozontal infrastructure, while taxing clean, efficient, safe, vertical transportation and vertical development (that doesn’t require moving large, heavy expensive, polluting automoblies, and not only not providing, but discouraging vertical infrastructure, on urban, regional and national development over the course of a century and a half.

  64. Robert Capozzi

    73 BR, there are places like that…Manhattan and Hong Kong come to mind. I know for a fact there are highly polluting cars in Manhattan.

    Government policies have to some extent encouraged some pollution.

    But you seem incapable of discerning propensities and ambiguities. You may be suffering from “absolutiasis,” a condition afflicts many who’ve read Rothbard and Rand.

    Take one Tao and one Hayek and call me in the morning. 😉

  65. Mike Kane

    The unfortunate thing about regulating car emissions is that it’s unfair to poor folks.

    Poor folks tend to have older less efficient cars that produce more emissions, in addition, their catalytic converters are older and may need replaced. Getting a replacement catalytic converter is very expensive too.

  66. Robert Capozzi

    MK, “unfair” seems off to me. Laws against stealing property might be viewed as “unfair” to the poor, too.

    If we view pollution as aggression, then – yes – that would likely fall disproportionately on the less-well-off, but if it’s aggression, allowing spewing is not something to be tolerated.

    On the other hand, it’s impractical to suggest a zero-tolerance policy. Engaging in the discussion about bending the curve away from aggression requires some judgment, taking into account several considerations, including the one you raise.

  67. Be Rational

    @74 Manhattan and Hong Kong are good examples of bad development based on the city providing massively subsidized horozontal transport whle taxing and discouraging vertical transport … and still these cities have tall buildings and elevators, but what you’re looking at is only the beginning of what is possible and what would have been developed without the government.

    Compare the abacus to modern computers. The government subsidies and regs have left us with an abacus. You may lack the ability to see what could have been, but there are others who have that ability.

    Come on Bob, you can do it, we’ve seen this in other places. Free market supermarkets in the US brimming with food and stuff … and at the same time, on the same planet, empty shelves in stores where the government provided for and took care of the people in the USSR.

    The whole world has copied the American system of screwing up the transportation and energy systems … but the same principles apply, and even if you can’t do the analysis, others can. We are all living in a system worse than the Soviet supermarkets when it comes to cities, infrastructure and the environment.

    Only private owners can develop these things properly, in an economically and environmentally wise, efficent, safe, green, clean manner beneficial to all.

    If we had had a free market and environmental property rights, communities would be mostly vertical, walking would be the primary form of transport followed by elevators, moving sidewalks, people movers, escalators … and other systems that do not waste energy and do not pollute by moving big heavy cars.

    Roads and the use of cars would be reduced by at least 90%. Free market infrastructure would be green, cheap and efficient.

    Individuals are willing to invest a great deal in property that they own to make it better, more comfortable, more livable … when people own the infrastructure and the environment they will provide themselves with the best in fast, convenient, cheap ways to get around; better private schools they can walk to; massive green parks they they actually live in and don’t have to travel visit.

    People are driven by incentives. The problems we have today are a result of government distorting and overriding the free market thereby giving the wrong signals and incentives causing a massive malinvestment that wouldn’t have happened in a free market. Everything has been designed and built wrong as a result. Hundereds of trillions of dollars wasted, pollution and climate change are the result.

  68. Robert Capozzi

    br: People are driven by incentives.

    me: Right, at least among other things. Since the air is unowned, non-excludable, and ubiquitous, policing what gets dumped in it and establishing property rights in it like other, discrete materials is daunting at best, impossible most likely. You ask me to “imagine” this, and the truth is, I’ve tried, and I find it impossible, actually. Nor have you even bothered to sketch out how it might work.

    (This I’m used to among the nonarchist set, who still have not offered a model for what to do with all the nukes stateless societies. I assume y’all just assume the problem away, waving your hands saying something like, “the market will take care of it.!) Oy!

    Honestly, I don’t see how you are not getting this. Or do you get this, but you refuse to acknowledge that “the free market” is not a panacea for everything, especially air pollution? Or is it that you have the most pronounced case of absolutiasis I’ve encountered? 😉

    Acknowledging this doesn’t diminish the attractiveness of liberty, in my estimation. If anything, it makes liberty MORE attractive (“moral” if you prefer).

  69. Brian Holtz

    BR: … computers … supermarkets … basketball … Mandarin …

    I can’t keep count of how many failed analogies BR has thrown up against the wall. None of them stick, because precisely none of them involve non-excludability, and so precisely none of them involve tragedies of the commons.

    The only thing common to his analogies is the hand-waving and the simplistic faith that someday in the future some unimaginable technological changes will rewrite all the economics textbooks, and make the concept of non-excludability obsolete.

    BR really should read Foldvary. Geolibertarianism makes the same diagnosis that BR makes: government subsidies to landholders have encouraged sprawl and pollution and and other forms of inefficient resource use.

    But unlike BR, geolibertarianism offers a straightforward and practical prescription for the problem: replace central government taxation of income and production with resource-use fees collected by decentralized federations of those who occupy land within the extent of the resource. Markets will then drive resources toward their most efficient uses, resulting in infill, mass transit, mixed use, reduced sprawl, and more open space.

  70. Be Rational

    The air can be privatized because it is fungible. It does not need to be excludable. Only the space it occupies needs to be excludable – and obviously, it is. This is why the airtank example was so apt.

    My position on nukes is not the same as your fallback strawman.

  71. Be Rational

    Taxation of land is the worst of all taxes. It causes the most distortion of the types I have refered to. It causes land to be developed when it should be left empty. It prevents the creation of private green space. It causes urban sprawl and pollution.

    Also, the biggest problem in terms of subsidies is subsidies provided to transportation users and energy users … and the creation, development, construction and maintenance of the wrong infrastructure.

    These are all caused by the current, failed geo-fascisct-socialist-earth nazi model.

    There is no point in following and trying to salvage the failed ideas of Henry George. He was wrong when he was alive, and economics has moved away from him ever since.

  72. Brian Holtz

    The atmosphere cannot be privatized because you cannot exclude people from the primary rivalrous service it provides: as a sink for emissions. The scuba tank example utterly fails to address this. BR simply hand-waves when he claims that class-action suits will be able to protect non-excludable resources like the atmosphere, the oceans, aquifers and other groundwater, lakes, rivers, the ozone layer, EM spectrum, orbits, fisheries, migratory game, etc.

    taxation of land causes land to be developed when it should be left empty

    Government causes sprawl by not taxing land value. Government subsidizes sprawl by providing services that increase the value of land, and financing those services by taxing income and production and property improvements. This encourages people to hold/own/occupy more land than they actually use/need, in order to capture those subsidies. If the subsidies to land were financed by tapping the ground rent that those subsidies create, then landholders and land speculators could no longer afford to keep land in/near cities idle or underdeveloped. The standard argument for LVT is that it will replace suburban sprawl with urban infill.

  73. Be Rational

    See how you miss the truth:

    Government provides services that REDUCE the value of land. They have negative value. They cause the land to be misdeveloped and to not be employed at its highest use. This causes people to flee to suburbs and rural areas – as is evident in the urban, suburban and rural sprawl.

    OTOH, holding vacant land in cities in an area that is currently misdeveloped so as to acquire a larger parcel that can be developed properly without government services or by waiting until such time as the government gets out of the way is a useful function of landholders. Taxation of land causes land to be develped too soon, to be put into a lower use and therefore it increase the misdevelopment and increases sprawl.

    Vacant land is a sign of healthy change, especially when the market keeps trying to escape from the costs and inefficiencies imposed by government taxes, bad infrastructure, and wrong development.

    Infilling land inefficiently is one of the many costs that contribute to the over hundreds of trillions of dollars in malinvestment in development and infrastructure in America today.

  74. Dave Terry

    BR (72) ” Do you think that all human waste goes through sewers? Do you think that human beings don’t know enough to arrange to dispose of their waste of government didn’t do it? And there would be no food if government didn’t feed us too.

    Gee B, you are as adept at strawman building as you are at sarcasm.

    Yes I DO know that much of the world doesn’t have sewers; in fact those areas are those that have the highest incidents of disease caused by contamination from human feces.

    Have you never wondered why most Chinese never eat uncooked vegetables.

    BR>” Competing sewage removal for high density developments is not only possible, it’s cheaper, more efficient”

    Are you suggesting that motorized ‘honeypots’ drive through our neighborhoods, pumping out our sewage tanks on a weekly or monthly basis?

    If you are suggesting sewer lines, HOW do these competing lines gain right-of-way through at least thousands of private properties?
    And WHERE do they dispose of it? Bury it in the
    ground? in the river, the ocean? burn it?

    Even your comment about “competing electric service’ demonstrates your lack of knowledge on the subject.
    The Northeast blackout of Nov. 9, 1965 was a significant disruption in the supply of electricity, affecting parts of New York state, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont and Ontario Canada. Over 30 million people and 80,000 square miles were left without any electricity for up to 12 hours.

    The cause of the failure was human error that happened days before the blackout, however
    a relatively small error that would have effected only a few thousand customers, through a series of interconnections on the “GRID” system had the collective result of leaving millions in the dark. Fortunately for most it was a relative mild winter night in New England.

    One MIGHT argue that since the “GRID” was responsible for the major outage, it should not have been created, but not when one realizes that the interconnectivity of the grid prevented hundreds of local power failures in the interim.

    The point of all this is that this “GRID” included over a dozen different power companies.

  75. Be Rational

    The air can be privatized because you can privatize the space it occupies, just as you can privatize land – Land is space about the Earth’s surface that happens to have a solid surface of dirt and rock, lakes and rivers are land that contain a layer of water above the solid surface – all can and should be privatized.

    The air contained in the space above your land is fungible. There is a natural state of the air that is the norm and landowners who spread air from their own space into a neighboring space that has been adulterated with pollutants beyond the natural levels can be ordered by the courts to stop polluting.

    Therefore polluters can be excluded from polluting the space that you own. Just as a polluter cannot legally build a pipeline that dumps trash or sewage onto your land, a polluter cannot legally build a vertical pipeline that dumps polluted air or particulate matter into your airspace.

    Your airspace is definable, excludable and defendable.

    We have air and water pollution because these are socialist geo-nazi goods.

    It is time to privatize the environment.

  76. Robert Capozzi

    BR, you are apparently in denial about your absolutiasis. It appears you argue that because SOME air can be excludable, therefore all of it can. You have to ask yourself whether this is true, for to this hombre, I’m seeing an epic fail in your logic. (But I am as ever open-minded to your novel theory…but I need to actually hear one from you, not vague statements and deflections.)

    IF all the air CAN be excludable, sketch it out for us, please. How can that POSSIBLY work?

    Dogma needs to be tested back against reality for it to be serviceable. Otherwise, we’re on Fantasy Island.

    Or will you deflect YET AGAIN?

    You say my position on nukes is a “strawman,” and yet it seems obvious to me that States have them and they do so for rather obvious reasons: they help them maintain the State and the State’s power. If you advocate statelessness, then it seems straightforward to me that the primary example of its power needs to be safely wrested from those who have the power.

    How do you propose doing so…safely? I note that much of the devastation a nuke causes is via the air, so this comes full circle. Would your nonarchic model involve everyone with air tanks strapped to their backs?

    Is this your idea of being “rational”?

  77. Be Rational

    84 Your electric grid failed because it is a series of connected government monopolies. We need competing electric companies in every major metropolitan area. If we developed on a rational model (without a grid of streets and postage stamp land parcels) there would be no problem with corridors for mulitple lines of service for electric, sewer and any other utility serving the very large, the high density land parcels that would be developed. These large volume consumers representing hundreds or thousands of housholds could connect to multiple providers – and would prefer to do so – allowing them to secure lower rates, to switch when pricing changes warrented and to switch from one provider to another when there were service delays or failures.

    In the US millions of homes have their own composting toilets, septic systems, and separated grey water and black water sanitation systems that are among the least polluting and most efficient.

    It is the government, municipal sewage systems that overflow and cause the most pollution and disease.

    If the sewage treatment were privatized, they would have access to the same technology and engineering professionals that are alive today, but they would have both the legal responsibility, pride of ownership and profit motives to compete and do a better job. The treatment of sewage would be modernized, grey water, black water and runoff separated, and pollution ended.

    In China and other poor nations where sanitation is a problem it is a combination of government making the people poor, the total lack of wealth in the nation – again a result of socialism, and government corruption and ineptitude causing it to once again misallocate resources and misdevelop the nation. Another socialist failure. Why do the geo-earth-nazis think this is desireable?

  78. Brian Holtz

    BR: Government provides services that REDUCE the value of land.

    If that were true, then land would tend to be most valuable where there are the least amount of government services. That’s obviously false.

    BR’s problem is that he’s comparing the real world to his fantasy world in which elevators have replaced cars and all pollution molecules have a return address.

    In the real world, you get more of what you subsidize and less of what you tax.

    In the real world, government services (police, fire, streets, pipes, wires, parks, schools) increase the value of land compared to land with no such services.

    That’s a subsidy.

    When you subsidize landholding, people hold more land than they would otherwise.

    And when you finance those services by taxing income, sales, and improvements, then you get less income/sales/improvements than you would otherwise.

    If we shifted taxes from income/sales/improvements to landholding, then there would be more income/sales/improvements, and less landholding (i.e. more density).

  79. Brian Holtz

    P.S. Look at the places that are geoist poster children for deriving relatively more public revenue from land taxation: Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan. All dense and prosperous places.

    Compare them to the poster child for deriving relatively less public revenue from land taxation: California (home of Prop 13). California is plagued by urban sprawl.

    Enough news from the Real World. We now return you to BR’s fantasy show about converting Manhattan to septic tanks, already in progress.

  80. Robert Capozzi

    BR: The air contained in the space above your land is fungible.

    me: Nope, not in any meaningful sense. “Fungibility is the property of a good or a commodity whose individual units are capable of mutual substitution.” The air is in constant motion and is not isolatable in order to be substituted. You can’t substitute something that has no real mass and no real discrete boundaries.

    I s’pose we could build tanks that reach to the ionosphere, but do you really want to point to such an absurd notion? Really?

  81. Be Rational

    Your nuke attack, RC, is based on the assumption that I advoce private ownership of nukes. I don’t. That is YOUR strawman. Since nukes cannot be used without harming neighbors, I believe that neither individuals or states have a right to have or use them.

    Of course the reality is that a small number of states have nukes. It is also a reality that a number of states torture their citizens. The fact that some do it does not make it OK. The fact that we cannot abolish or change these states at the present time does not make it OK. Someday we will, hopefully, able to reduce the state, and all of the states, to the point where they can give up their nukes. The fact that some states have nukes does not justify their acquision by additional states nor by individuals.

  82. Be Rational

    90 Air has no mass RC? You have gone off the scientific deep end into babble?

    Air has a great deal of mass – look it up. And air is one of the most fungible things there is – look up the chemical components of air – molecules: O2 is O2, CO2 is CO2, H2O is H2O – these elements in the air, floating about the atmosphere are all the same. Fungibility also has nothing to do with being in motion or at rest.

    Yes. The space is excludable. The air is fungible. Pollution is stoppable. The environment can and must be privatized.

    You have nothing left to argue except babble.

  83. Robert Capozzi

    BR, then, by definition, you are not a nonarchist in any meaningful sense. A nonarchist advocates no-State, and since nukes exist, the stockpiles would fall into someone’s hands.

    You might be a TAAAL-ist (theoretical asymptotic anarchist/applied lessarchist).

    Actual “anarchists” have to, by definition, support private nukes. Conditional anarchism based on some indescribable, unfathomable future event fails the smell test. If you call yourself an actual anarchist, you have to be willing to push the stateless button…today. No conditions.

  84. Brian Holtz

    The air can be privatized because you can privatize the space it occupies, just as you can privatize land

    You can put a fence around land, but you can’t put a bubble over it, or check impinging pollution molecules for their return address.

  85. Robert Capozzi

    BR: Air has no mass

    me: What I ACTUALLY said: “You can’t substitute something that has no real mass and no real discrete boundaries.”

    BR: Fungibility also has nothing to do with being in motion or at rest.

    me: Aside from the air tanks except, you are – I’m sorry – just being ridiculous. I think this has crossed over to a colossal waste of time.

    OTOH, you provide an excellent example of absolutiasis. For those who are still afflicted, your absurd argumentation and filibustering could be useful for those who have lesser forms of the disease.

    It IS cureable. Changing one’s mind can be done, especially when you so plainly won’t address the matters at hand. Because, it appears, you can’t.

    Good luck.

  86. Be Rational

    @88 You’ve got it backwards. Places with dense populations can be more efficient for many forms of economic activity, cultural exchange and human relationships. So, people want to group together in urban areas. The large popluation and its benefits increase the value of living in these areas, however, the government services decrease the value – to the point in the US that people flee to suburbs etc. The fact that there is still a higher value in many metro areas than in the suburbs (not always true) is because the increased value of a large proximal population is greater than the negative value of the government services.

    The government services provided in the cities decrease the value of living there.

    As for the real world, you, like RC, seem to have no knowledge of it:

    Hong Kong is densely populated because it is full. There are no suburbs, there is no more land to flee to. The people living there have no where to go, and they have historically been running from a much worse, truly evil Chinese mainland government.

    Likewise Singapore is tiny and densely populated for the same reasons.

    Taiwan is an island nation, also with nowhere else for the people to go, the size of a small US state (half the size of West Va with a California sized population. Still there are rural areas, farms, mountains, a variety of cities and towns etc. Perhaps you want to get a map or a geography book, study a bit, and select a city within Taiwan.

  87. Brian Holtz

    BR, it’s pretty convenient that all your evidence for the negative value of urban government services is perfectly masked by the positive value of population density. Unfortunately for your thesis, there is plenty of data about how land value is affected by being on the wrong side of service boundaries for water, sewage, schools, etc.

    Sorry, BR, but we’re not going to demolish our cities and roads and pipes, erase our property lines, and rebuild civilization as skyscrapers adjacent to “utility corridors”, just to live out your fantasy of having redundant parallel physical networks of pipes and wires and elevator shafts.

    The fact that Taiwan is not an island of equal-density sprawl is evidence for my case, not against it.

    Hong Kong and Singapore aren’t densely populated because people can’t get out. They’re densely populated because people have been moving in.

    Taxing land value correlates with higher density, for obvious reasons.

    When you tore the pages about non-excludability out of your economics textbook, did you also tear out the pages about supply and demand?

  88. Be Rational

    BH and RC live in a world of blissful ignorance – which is what it takes to follow the thoroughly discredited Henry George – where air has no “real” mass, the people of Hong Kong love communist China, but they move to HK for the sewers, and Taiwan is a city until it is pointed out otherwise.

    By the way, the Earth’s air has a “real” mass of about 5×10^18 kg. I looked it up for you …

    You just have to deny reality and you too can be a geo-nonsense, earth-nazi bible thumper.

  89. Seebeck

    How many libertarians can dance on the head of a pin?

    That’s the gist of this pollution conversation which went very far afield from the original Fair Tax post.

    Will you be re-fighting the War of the Roses next? 🙄

  90. Robert Capozzi

    BR, if you really need to be right, yes, from a technical perspective, air has mass.

    When I wrote that sentence, I was referring to the fact that virtually all of humanity recognizes that we don’t hold the air like a solid or a liquid. The air is forever swirling about, yes with some technical “mass,” but from a practical perspective, we commonly use terms like “lighter than air” for a reason.

    You may feel somehow validated by your technical point-score, and perhaps you can’t be bothered by practical considerations that get in the way of your dogma.

    If you’re an inventor, perhaps you can come up with a ground-to-ionosphere personal dome, further “proving” your point that air CAN BE excludable.

    That could indeed be the Gateway to Libertopia, where humanity is literally walled off from one another.


  91. Dave Terry

    (BR-83) “See how you miss the truth:”

    Obviously, the “TRUTH” that BR misses is that he see with one eye and is blind in the other.

    BR> ” Government provides services that REDUCE the value of land. They have negative value. They cause the land to be misdeveloped and to not be employed at its highest use.”

    Have you never heard of “irrigation” I grew up in the Central Valley of California, an area almost twice the size of Massachusetts where farmers raise more than 200 different crops, including apricots, asparagus, cotton, and grapes—is one of the largest irrigated regions in the world. Every year, several cubic kilometers of water are supplied to the Central Valley’s fields, about 60% of it from river flow diverted into the region and the rest from wells.

    As a result of this irrigation, this 1 percent of the nation’s cropland produces 8 percent of our national agricultural output (by value) and about 25 percent of the nation’s table food

    In addition, a newly published study fleshes this out with a computer model, and finds that irrigation in the Central Valley of California not only adds water to the local environment but also alters the regional climate across the Colorado River Basin, increasing summer precipitation by 15 percent and Colorado River flow by nearly 30 percent. Those are big numbers and important ones, given the water needs of some 35 million people from Las Vegas to Phoenix to L.A.

    That is double the bang for the buck. What’s not to like?

    BR> ” This causes people to flee to suburbs and rural areas – as is evident in the urban, suburban and rural sprawl.”

    Clearly, this is not universal OR necessary, seeing as without the advent of irrigation, the Central Valley wouldn’t have been able to support 15% of the population that it does today.

  92. Brian Holtz

    BR@98: Yes, air has mass. Yes, air is fungible. Neither fact makes the atmosphere an excludable resource. It remains the case that serious macro-aggression involving the atmosphere can accumulate from micro-aggressions that cannot practically be policed or litigated by the tort system.

    The same is true for the oceans, aquifers and other groundwater, lakes, rivers, the ozone layer, EM spectrum, orbits, fisheries, migratory game, etc.

    Seebeck @99: Yes, there are angels dancing on pin(head)s when BR talks about starting civilization over with different infrastructure and different property lines, just to realize his dream of redundant parallel pipes.

    But the issue of how to reconcile libertarianism and environmentalism is absolutely central to the project of appealing to the upcoming generation that is being indoctrinated to be green.

    The good news is that modern textbook economics is on our side. The last few decades have seen — with no thanks to the LP — increased interest in market-oriented responses to the problems of common goods. Auctions for sulfur dioxide emission, auctions for electromagnetic spectrum, transferrable fishing quotas, permit trading, Pigovian taxes/fees — these ideas have been spreading from economic textbooks to legislative hearings to policy success stories.

    The future of freedom is green.

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