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TANSTAAFL, the Economic Strategy for Environmental Crisis Paperback – 1971

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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Holt, Rinehart and Winston (1971)
  • ASIN: B000M0KE6S
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,048,688 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
TANSTAAFL derives it's unusual title from a science fiction novel by Robert Heinlein. Heinlein imagined a lunar colony facing ecological catastrophe and outlined an old fashioned revolutionary war for independence, once that owed more to Thomas Jefferson than Che Guevara, as the solution. But how did this get to economics?

"The fundamental principle on which this strategy is built may be expressed in a simple slogan--There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch, the "TANSTAAFL principle," for short. The TANSTAAFL principle is closely related to the fundamental theorem of ecological economics, that everything depends on everything else. Everything worthwhile has a cost. Whenever you think you are getting something for nothing, look again--someone, somewhere, somehow is paying for it. Behind every free lunch there is a hidden cost to be accounted for."

"The task of ecological economics is to figure out how to restructure the economic system so that these hidden costs will be brought out into the open, with the ultimate aim that no one who benefits from the use of the environment will be able to escape without paying in full. The rest of this book is devoted to working out specific applications of this general strategy in order to deal with specific problems."

Those quotes are from the author, Professor Edwin Dolan, a leading Austrian school economist. The 'Austrians' are noted for their strong support for free market economics, generally arguing from philosophic and logical grounds, rather than from the more empirical approach favoured by most mainstream neoclassical economists. This book, written way back in 1971, addresses the concerns of the then newly emerging environmentalist movement from a free market perspective.
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