Monday, September 6, 2010

Gulf Diaster and Free Market Solutions

Walter Block writes:

The BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion of April 20, 2010 was a disaster for people located in or near the Gulf of Mexico. It outright killed 11 platform workers and seriously injured 17 others. It played havoc with the economic welfare of people in states stretching from Texas to Florida (none of which apart from Florida voted for Obama). But it was a great boon for socialists who like nothing more than to bash the free enterprise system...

What suggestion emanates from market fundamentalists such as me? Why, to privatize the entire Gulf of Mexico, of course. Why? Because with private ownership, external costs would be internalized. Any owner of the Gulf would have been much more careful than the MMS, because he would have lost, wait for it, profits! Had the Mississippi river been in private hands, the corporate owner would have gone broke, and this property turned over to more capable hands in the advent of the Katrina tragedy. Instead, those responsible for killing some 1500 of our neighbors, FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers, are still in existence. This is in sharp contrast to BP, which of course, is (partially) responsible for this disaster. But, happily, based on free enterprise principles, that firm will suffer losses and even risk bankruptcy, unlike these statist institutions.

Ideally, users of the Gulf, its homesteaders, would become its owners. As a second best policy all those living within say, five miles of its coast, plus intensive users of its waters, would become stockholders in a new Gulf of Mexico Corporation. Take that, pinkos. If we learn anything from the study of economics, it is that private property rights systems, while far from perfect, function markedly better than their alternative, nonownership or government ownership.

read the entire essay

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