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Environment: Public Intervention or Private Rights?
Abstract disponibile solo in lingua inglese
The gravity of the environmental crisis hitting the countries of the former communist bloc emphasises the degree to which the abolition of property rights and the market in favour of a system of centralised planning destroys not only the economy but also the environment. In liberal countries the predominant opinion and – to a large extent – practice favours the resolution of environmental problems essentially through regulation. The author uses a number of examples to demonstrate that, ostensibly with the best intentions, nationalisation policies ultimately damage the environment at increasingly high financial and also social costs, especially in terms of their restriction of individual freedom. Public authority has better to do than to try to replace the forces of the free market and the efforts of millions of property owners. The daunting top priority of governments is to provide for: (a) non-dissuasive taxes, (b) effective reviews of laws, policies, plans and programmes, (c) environment-oriented checks on bureaucracies, (d) free access of justice against polluters, even if the latter authorised by public authority, (e) extension of property rights to environmental assets as a whole through a restrictive definition of pure public goods.