Ron Pauls miljöpolitik
Han har mycket vettigt att säga, vore jag amerikan så skulle Ron Paul få min röst utan en sekunds tvekan. Att internalisera alla externa kostnader är det bästa sättet att bli av med miljöproblemen. Finns inget som kommer i närheten av att vara lika effektivt.
I called Paul up on the campaign trail in Iowa to get the skinny on how the environment figures into his small-government agenda.
What makes you the strongest candidate on energy and the environment?
On energy, I would say that the reliance on the government to devise a policy is a fallacy. I would advocate that the free market take care of that. The government shouldn't be directing research and development, because they are bound and determined to always misdirect money to political cronies. The government ends up subsidizing things like the corn industry to develop ethanol, and it turns out that it's not economically feasible. So my answer to energy is to let the market work. Let supply and demand make the decision. Let prices make the decision. That is completely different than the bureaucratic and cronyism approach.
On environment, governments don't have a good reputation for doing a good job protecting the environment. If you look at the extreme of socialism or communism, they were very poor environmentalists. Private property owners have a much better record of taking care of the environment. If you look at the common ownership of the lands in the West, they're much more poorly treated than those that are privately owned. In a free-market system, nobody is permitted to pollute their neighbor's private property?water, air, or land. It is very strict.
But there are realms of the environment that, by definition, can't be owned, right? How would you divide the sky or the sea into private parcels?
The air can certainly be identified. If you have a mill next door to me, you don't have a right to pollute my air?that can be properly defined by property rights. Water: If you're on a river you certainly can define it, if you're on a lake you certainly can define it. Even oceans can be defined by international agreements. You can be very strict with it. If it is air that crosses a boundary between Canada and the United States, you would have to have two governments come together, voluntarily solving these problems.
Can you elaborate on when government intervention is and isn't appropriate?
Certainly. Anytime there's injury to another person, another person's land, or another person's environment, there's [legal] recourse with the government.
What do you see as the role of the Environmental Protection Agency?
You wouldn't need it. Environmental protection in the U.S. should function according to the same premise as "prior restraint" in a newspaper. Newspapers can't print anything that's a lie. There has to be recourse. But you don't invite the government in to review every single thing that the print media does with the assumption they might do something wrong. The EPA assumes you might do something wrong; it's a bureaucratic, intrusive approach and it favors those who have political connections.
Would you dissolve the EPA?
It's not high on my agenda. I'm trying to stop the war and bring back a sound economy and solve the financial crises and balance the budget.
Is it appropriate for the government to regulate toxic or dangerous materials, like lead in children's toys?
If a toy company is doing something dangerous, they're liable and they should be held responsible. The government should hold them responsible, but not be the inspector. The government can't inspect every single toy that comes into the country.
So you see it as the legal system that brings about environmental protection?
Right. Some of this stuff can be handled locally with a government. I was raised in the city of Pittsburgh. It was the filthiest city in the country, because it was a steel town. You couldn't even see the sun on a sunny day. Then it was cleaned up?not by the EPA; by local authorities that said you don't have a right to pollute?and it's a beautiful city. You don't need this huge bureaucracy that's remote from the problem. Pittsburgh dealt with it in a local fashion, and it worked out quite well.
What if you're part of a community that's getting dumped on, but you don't have the time or the money to sue the offending polluter?
Imagine that everyone living in one suburb, rather than using regular trash service, was taking their household trash to the next town over and simply tossing it in the yards of those living in the nearby town. Is there any question that legal mechanisms are in place to remedy this action? In principle, your concerns are no different, except that for a good number of years legislatures and courts have failed to enforce the property rights of those being dumped on with respect to certain forms of pollution. This form of government failure has persisted since the Industrial Revolution, when, in the name of so-called progress, certain forms of pollution were legally tolerated or ignored to benefit some popular regional employer or politically popular entity.
When all forms of physical trespass, be that smoke, particulate matter, etc., are legally recognized for what they are?a physical trespass upon the property and rights of another?concerns about difficulty in suing the offending party will be largely diminished. When any such cases are known to be slam-dunk wins for the person whose property is being polluted, those doing the polluting will no longer persist in doing so. Against a backdrop of property rights actually enforced, contingency and class-action cases are additional legal mechanisms that resolve this concern.
You mentioned that you don't support subsidies for the development of energy technologies. If all subsidies were removed from the energy sector, what do you think would happen to alternative-energy industries like solar, wind, and ethanol?
Whoever can offer the best product at the best price, that's what people will use. They just have to do this without damaging the environment. If we're running out of hydrocarbon, the price will go up. If we had a crisis tomorrow [that cut our oil supply in half], people would drive half as much?something would happen immediately. Somebody would come up with alternative fuels rather quickly.
Today, the government decides and they misdirect the investment to their friends in the corn industry or the food industry. Think how many taxpayer dollars have been spent on corn [for ethanol], and there's nobody now really defending that as an efficient way to create biodiesel fuel or ethanol. The money is spent for political reasons and not for economic reasons. It's the worst way in the world to try to develop an alternative fuel.
But often the cheapest energy sources, which the market would naturally select for, are also the most environmentally harmful. How would you address this?
Your question is based on a false premise and a false definition of "market" that is quite understandable under the current legal framework. A true market system would internalize the costs of pollution on the producer. In other words, the "cheapest energy sources," as you call them, are only cheap because currently the costs of the environmental harm you identify are not being included or internalized, as economists would say, into the cheap energy sources.
To the extent property rights are strictly enforced against those who would pollute the land or air of another, the costs of any environmental harm associated with an energy source would be imposed upon the producer of that energy source, and, in so doing, the cheap sources that pollute are not so cheap anymore.
What's your take on global warming? Is it a serious problem and one that's human-caused?
I think some of it is related to human activities, but I don't think there's a conclusion yet. There's a lot of evidence on both sides of that argument. If you study the history, we've had a lot of climate changes. We've had hot spells and cold spells. They come and go. If there are weather changes, we're not going to be very good at regulating the weather.
To assume we have to close down everything in this country and in the world because there's a fear that we're going to have this global warming and that we're going to be swallowed up by the oceans, I think that's extreme. I don't buy into that. Yet I think it's a worthy discussion.
So you don't consider climate change a major problem threatening civilization?
No. [Laughs.] I think war and financial crises and big governments marching into our homes and elimination of habeas corpus?those are immediate threats. We're about to lose our whole country and whole republic! If we can be declared an enemy combatant and put away without a trial, then that's going to affect a lot of us a lot sooner than the temperature going up.
What, if anything, do you think the government should do about global warming?
They should enforce the principles of private property so that we don't emit poisons and contribute to it. And, if other countries are doing it, we should do our best to try to talk them out of doing what might be harmful. We can't use our army to go to China and dictate to China about the pollution that they may be contributing. You can only use persuasion.
You have voiced strong opposition to the Kyoto Protocol. Can you see supporting a different kind of international treaty to address global warming?
It would all depend. I think negotiation and talk and persuasion are worthwhile, but treaties that have law-enforcement agencies that force certain countries to do things-I don't think that would work.
You believe that ultimately private interests will solve global warming?
I think they're more capable of it than politicians.
What's your position on a carbon tax?
I don't like that. That's sort of legalizing pollution. If it's wrong, you can buy these permits, so to speak. It's wrong to do it, it shouldn't be allowed.
Do you think it should be illegal to emit harmful pollutants?
You should be held responsible in a court of law, and you should be able to be closed down if you're damaging your neighbor's property in any way whatsoever.
Who would set the law about what pollutants could and couldn't be emitted? Congress?
Not under my presidency?the Congress wouldn't do it. The people who claim damage would have to say, Look, I'm sitting here and these poisons are coming over and I can prove it and I want it stopped and I want compensation.
You've described your opposition to wars for oil as an example of your support for eco-friendly policies. Can you elaborate?
Generally speaking, war causes pollution?uranium, burning of fuel for no good purpose. The Pentagon burns more fuel than the whole country of Sweden.
Do you support the goal of energy independence in the U.S.?
Sure. But independence does not mean to me that we produce everything. I don't believe governments have to provide every single ounce of energy. I see independence as having no government-mandated policy: If you need oil or energy, you can buy it.
What about being independent from the Middle East, so we're not buying oil from hostile countries?
I think it's irrelevant. We wouldn't be buying it directly; we would be buying it on the world market. I don't think the goal has to be that we produce alternative fuel so that we never buy oil from the Middle East. The goal should be to provide all useful services and goods through a market mechanism instead of central economic planning or world planning. That system doesn't work.
What role do you think coal should play in America's energy future?
Coal is a source of energy, and it should be used, but it has to be used without ever hurting anybody. I think we're smart enough to do it. Technology is improving all the time. If oil goes to $150 a barrel because we've bombed Iran, coal might be something that we can become more independent with. I think technology is super, and we are capable of knowing how to use coal without polluting other people's property.
But coal technology has been proven to harm people?with poisons like mercury and asthma-causing particulates?so should old-style coal plants be allowed to continue operating?
Use of the technology I mentioned to prevent harm to people, even if it costs more for the coal producer, is another example of how costs must be internalized to the energy source. To the extent coal can be efficiently produced in a way that does not pollute another's property or another's physical body, it will be chosen as a viable energy source.
Certainly no producer of energy or anything else has a right to pollute or harm another's property or person. If coal is not competitively priced when all costs to keep production safe are internalized to the producer, then coal will not be purchased or produced. I do not happen to believe this will be the case, but it is for the market to sort out, not politicians in Washington. It may be that, from time to time, as other energy sources become scarce, "safe coal" will be viable even if it is not at some other point in time.
What's your take on nuclear?
I think nuclear is great; I think it's the safest form of energy we have.
I don't think anything's wrong with ethanol?it's just not economically competitive. It's only competitive now because those who produce it get subsidies.
Enkelt att säga svårt att göra...
Det håller jag med om! Men att internalisera de externa kostnaderna vore effektivare i längden än att enbart slänga på en co2 skatt och kohandla
Problemen blir förstås vilka som ska avgöra hur stora de externa kostnaderna är osv. Det blir definitivt en hel del kohandel där också och tungt lobbande från alla industrier. Det hade varit intressant att höra Ron Pauls åsikter om det, men jag misstänker att han nog inte har ett svar på den frågan eftersom han verkar ta lite för lätt på miljöproblemen. Men jag gillar starkt hans grundprinciper.
Vad tycker du föresten? Tror du att utsläppsrätterna är rätt väg att gå? Min magkänsla säger mig bara att det hela kommer bli ett fiasko.
Ron Paul är en naiv libertarian som tror att man kan hantera luftföroreningar genom att stämma folk i domstol. Killen är helt ute och cyklar.
Internalisering av externa kostnader är urmärkt, men det måste göras på en politisk nivå och det verkar ju Ron Paul inte vilja.
Detta visar tydligt att Ron Paul inte har en susning om vad han snackar om:
"What, if anything, do you think the government should do about global warming?
They should enforce the principles of private property so that we don't emit poisons and contribute to it."
Jag skulle inte rösta på Ron Paul.