on March 26, 2015
I read the first edition of this book when I was a young instructor in a cow college in west Texas and found Dolan's libertarian approach to addressing environmental problems a refreshing change from the heavy-handed, top-down governmental regulatory programs of that period. In the years that have followed, I saw some of Dolan's suggestions (under different names) put into place with greater and lesser degrees of success. This update, presented as appendices to previous chapters, updates the reader of what has changed and what remains the same since 1971. Overall, the author succeeds in this approach. This reader was positively impressed with both Dolan's accessibility and his objectivity. It is only in his final discussion, the relatively new issue of global warming, that I found problems. First, his overall analysis is more tentative than earlier discussions, even though he indicates a high level of confidence in the theory's prognoses. Second, he stops short of proposing many of the libertarian solutions he argued so successfully for in earlier sections. Overall, however, if the reader is interested in an accessible discussion of a freedom-oriented proposal to maintain the health of our world's ecology, I highly recommend this book.
on January 2, 2014
Many of the solutions to environmental problems take money from polluters and give it to the government; while Dolan recognises these schemes are those most likely to get broad acceptance, he also makes the point that the true Libertarian approach is that pollution is an infringement issue, and can be handled through tort law -- yes, the polluters must pay, but they should pay to those affected by the pollution (not the government).
Many conservatives oppose action on climate change as it goes against the status quo, and unfortunately some of that attitude can be seen in areas of Libertarian thought; this book is good because it does not debate science (leave that to the scientists), but focusses on the various policy alternatives and approaches that fit the Libertarian philosophy.
on March 20, 2015
I read the original, not this edition, when Dolan was my freshman econ prof in 1971. He was a bright guy and good teacher. I was sold immediately on full-cost pricing, but could never see how its determination and application would require less bureaucracy than the environmental protection model we have used since the seventies, flawed as it is.
on January 11, 2012
Being an ardent fan of Robert Heinlein, the title of this book intrigued me immediately. I was not disappointed. This discussion of real-world costs of doing business and who ultimately bears those costs, is a great translation of Heinlein's description of life on the closed-system of the moon.
This notion of earth as a closed system is the basis of much of the book's discussion. The explanation of economics was accessible and didn't leave me with my eyes glazed over. There are many great ideas of how to redistribute the cost of doing business so that those who are paying also receive the benefits to which they are entitled. And for those to whom the word "entitlement" is considered profanity, the biggest receivers of those entitlements are the businesses who do not pay for the true costs of extraction and depletion of non-renewable resources.
This is a must-read for everyone. It is important to understand the underbelly of "business as usual" if anything is going to change. My only disappointment with this book is the lack of how to effect those changes. And sooner than later as the second maxim after "No Free Lunch" is "Pay Me Now or Pay Me Later" where "Later" is ALWAYS more expensive.
on January 14, 2012
When this book was first published, the author of it and I were young men, together. Now, that can no longer be said. But, we are still together.
I greatly admired TANSTAAFL then, and even more so now.
This book, in a word, has passed the test of time, and then some. TANSTAAFL ought to be made compulsory reading for all adherents of left wing environmentalism; it is only fair that they be forced in such a way, as they have been for so long attempting to compel the rest of us to do things, and refrain from doing others; and with no rationality or coherence behind their demands. As for all others, we, too, ought to read this book, in order to better understand what economics can teach us about environmental issues. Consider for a moment those windmills now being foisted upon us by the government, at the behest of the watermelons (green on the outside, but red on the inside). The trouble is, even from their point of view, that these clean energy sources kill birds. So, what is to be done?
The lesson of all economics, as brilliantly pointed out by TANSTAAFL, is that we need comparative prices that indicate real costs. But this can only emanate in a regime of private property rights.
Read Dolan. Again and again.
Walter E. Block
on February 9, 2012
It's the single best prescription to save the planet in light of overwhelming market forces pushing us over the edge: realign those forces to work for -- not against -- us. Don't ban flights, or coal for that matter. Make sure that travelers don't get push off the pollution cost onto everyone else, or that coal doesn't cause more in unaccounted damages than it adds value to GDP. Dolan nails these ideas like few others. If you call yourself libertarian and you breathe on a regular basis, this is your go-to guide.