Eco-capitalism

Excellent post by Richard T. Stuebi at Cleantech Blog on reconciling capitalism with environmentalism. Nut:

It is because energy prices do not currently include their full environmental costs that Aspen Skiing (and other companies) can’t increase their profitability by pursuing as many green initiatives as they would philosophically like to do. If energy prices were to fully reflect all environmental costs, then the capitalist system would be freed to work its magic in motivating capital and behavioral shifts in the economy to significantly reduce emissions.

Alas, here’s the dilemma: many environmentalists have qualms about letting markets work to reduce emissions, and most free-marketer capitalists are leery of policymakers adding environmental externality factors (a euphemism for “taxes”) to energy prices. Unless this bridge can be gapped, we’ve got trouble.

I do have some reservations about what follows, though:

Oh, yes, customers in Denmark and Finland face much higher energy prices (especially for transportation fuels), including much higher energy taxes, than we do here in the U.S. While Danes and Finns don’t perhaps live la vida loca like Americans do, neither do they seem to be collapsing in existential angst or economic depression. The question for us Americans is: do we have the courage to elect leaders that would put us on a deliberate/planned march towards higher energy prices?

I don’t think this is a winner. For one thing, the Finns do collapse in existential angst, committing suicide at the highest rates in the world (or close to it, depending on your source). For another — no, we probably don’t have that courage, to elect leaders who promise higher energy prices in isolation. Paired with cuts to taxes on productivity, though, as advocates of green-oriented tax-shifting propose, though, higher energy prices might sell.

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3 responses to “Eco-capitalism

  1. The Danes, I believe, are richer than the Americans, when you take into account the ridiculously short hours they work. The Finnish GDP constantly grows faster than that of the USA or Canada.

    The suicide rates in Finland have rapidly decreased since the great depression in the early 9os to a pretty standard European level, similar to France, much lower than in certain American states. Besides, the statistics are “too” exact in Finland, the estimate is that the Finnish (and Scandinavian) authorities report 20% more suicides than the rest of the west on average because of this “exactness error” .

    Usually libertarians twist all facts to suit their bizarre ideas. I have to give you credit for adding the Wikipedia link regarding suicides, though. Not that you drew any conclusions but still, you’re clearly not the worst among equals, not a man enough to admit that your libertarian folklore is wrong but not among the worst.

    Did you know that according to several studies the Scandinavians are among the very happiest in the world? Strange for those suicidal paupers.

    As to energy prices, electricity in particular, they are cheap in Scandinavia compared to rest of the EU. Higher than in the free-riding world, though, naturally. A lot more reusable energy too, naturally. Perhaps our economies are among the strongest just because of that.

    “Libertarian eco-capitalism” is an oxymoron, because in order to make it work you should internalize all externalities which can be done only in your wildest dreams.

    But, yes, I know you guys can’t accept any of this. Successful welfare states would ruin your world view. So, Scandinavia sucks, never mind facts. Hey, that almost rhymes.

  2. Did you know that according to several studies the Scandinavians are among the very happiest in the world? Strange for those suicidal paupers.
    Some studies show the Nigerians are the very happiest. I’m not willing to follow Nigeria’s social model in hopes of finding bliss, though.
    “Libertarian eco-capitalism” is an oxymoron, because in order to make it work you should internalize all externalities which can be done only in your wildest dreams.
    This is the second time in a week or so that I’ve run into this type of criticism, which seems to be based on a sort of self-parodying version of libertarianism that I don’t think you’d see expressed anywhere on this site.

    I don’t have it in for Scandinavia — after all, I live in Canada, where we know something about welfare states and ours works more or less OK most of the time. I just don’t think advocating the idea that “hey, we’ll have to do with less just ’cause” is a winning environmental argument in North America.

  3. Hey… Just so you know, Finland is not part of scandinavia but it is part of the nordic countries along with the Faroe islands, iceland, greenland etc.

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