To The Daily Sun,
Pollution means socializing costs. If you produce something that fouls the water and don't pay to clean it up, you are making everyone else but your company pay the costs of clean-up — not to mention any permanent damage. When the Cuyahoga River caught fire in 1969, the companies that dumped the flammable chemicals that polluted it did not put the fire out. The Cleveland Fire Department did. Taxpayers had to pay the cost while the polluters profited.
The Environmental Protection Agency was created shortly after this fire was put out and the Clean Water Act was passed shortly after. The act raised the cost of production for anyone who was making things and polluting water by requiring that they include the cost of preventing that pollution in the cost of their products. Thus, they had to pay the true cost of the product, rather than making the rest of the society ante up for some portion of that true cost. Yes, either their profits took a hit, or the costs were passed on to customers who bought the product.
Clearly, however, the costs associated with the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act and other pollution-control laws did not wreck our economy. Making companies pay the true cost of production is the right thing to do, and since the rules applied to everybody no one had an advantage. In addition, entrepreneurs also saw an opportunity to get rich by making pollution control equipment and by inventing non-polluting production methods.
"Creative Destruction" is the essence of capitalism. It is a term for long-term economic growth that is initiated by innovators who make something new out of the scraps of the old. Think of how transistors rose on top of the vacuum tube industry and computer chips from transistors. Are we better off without tubes and transistors? You bet!
CO2 is said to be a pollutant because of the costs of the extreme climate change it is causing when released into the atmosphere. These costs are socialized instead of being paid by the producers of the gas — taxpayers are and will be paying them. It will work just like the Clean Water Act did if new rules to control CO2 emissions are applied to every producer and product (including those imported from other countries). Entrepreneurs will create whole new industries and get rich, and we will all be better off in the long run.
Those who don't want to protect polluters and who are in favor of making them bear the real costs of their products are not the enemies of capitalism. They are the true believers in free enterprise.
- Category: Letters
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