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Tanstaafl (There Ain't No Such Thing as a Free Lunch) - A Libertarian Perspective on Environmental Policy Paperback – September 15, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Searching Finance Ltd (September 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 190772026X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1907720260
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,687,390 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 8 customer reviews
Dolan nails these ideas like few others.
Gernot Wagner
Anyone interested in the environment (science, policy, economics, life) should read it -- and then go out and tell some emperors that they are naked!
David Zetland
Being an ardent fan of Robert Heinlein, the title of this book intrigued me immediately.
Glen

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By David Zetland on December 8, 2011
Format: Paperback
It's generally true that writing gets better with each draft, but at some point a writer must stop, as his cost of re-drafting exceeds his benefit (the benefit to readers is a different story).

But sometimes we get the chance to re-write an earlier work, not just to finesse the original perspective but to add wisdom and highlight important points.

Edwin G. Dolan has taken this second path with his "Version 40.0" 2011 update of his 1971 book, TANSTAAFL (There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch) - A Libertarian Perspective on Environmental Policy.*

Now some readers may be tempted to stop reading this review, since they are not interested in a "libertarian" book on environmental policy. Don't libertarians, after all, think that money should determine who gets what, in some kind of Darwinist struggle to allocate rainforest to the richest?

Not really, and definitely not in this book.

That said, Dolan doesn't shy away from highlighting the dangers of government failure and command and control myopia. In fact, he does an excellent job of exploring the tradeoffs between individual liberty and government guidance when it comes to managing our environment -- saying things I've said in the past, but adding more discussion that I wish I had and explaining more clearly than I ever did.

In other words, I like this book. I like it in the same way as I like "Economics in One Lesson: 50th Anniversary Edition", which I assigned to my Environmental Economics and Policy class at UC Berkeley, and I'd definitely assign this book to ANY class with "environment" in the title.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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.
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By Janie on March 26, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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.
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By Glen on January 11, 2012
Format: Paperback
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.
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