One reason a person becomes a Libertarian is that they recognize how government has enabled the destruction of the environment through cronyism. Governments are the biggest polluters of the environment world wide. From war, their militaries and the creation of the corporation. The invention of the corporation was to politically protect individuals from legal action for their neglectful decisions towards the environment along with other issues. This creates a moral hazard when individuals are not held accountable but a mythical creature called the corporation is. In the end the fine is paid for by the employees through less or lowered compensation. The executives are not hurt and the corporation will do all it can not to pass these costs onto the customer so it is the employees who bare this cost. Projected fines and penalties are actually apart of the cost analysis for many companies. Excessive pollution is actually a part of the plan. Thus companies are not incentivized to improve but instead they stagnate as long as the profits are protected by government intervention.

Why, how and when did all this get started? In very short this change in the protection of private property rights transitioned from the individual to the public good sometime from 1830's - 1890's. Individuals where able to bring lawsuits against polluting companies and the vast majority won those cases and were given compensation for damages and injunctions against these polluting behaviors. Eventually the courts starting citing that it was for the public good to allow companies to pollute and the courts started siding with companies.

Solutions would be as follows but not limited to:

  • Recognizing and respecting private property rights again.
  • End corporate hood and the political protections it provides irresponsible people.
  • Free the market. Example – End government protections such as caps on liability if a disaster happens. If oil rig cannot get insured to drill on the free market then that activity does not happen. If a pipeline cannot be laid by the company negotiating with private property owners then it does not get laid. Governments using imminent domain for financial gains is a coercive behavior to enrich the politically favored groups at the expense of private property owners and potentially the environment. The Great Northern Railroad is a great example of free market solutions to issues like these.
  • Eliminate or reform the patent system. The patent system has become a system of corporate protection against competition as patents are bought by the rich and locked away. As patents can be worded so vaguely that years of lawsuits and or threat of lawsuit from patent trolls stifles new businesses, new innovations and the economy.
  • There where will be times when externalities come into the equation and property rights just cannot solve the issue. It is in these cases government intervention maybe appropriate. The more local the government intervention the better.

What are Libertarian Solutions to Environmental Problems?

How Free Markets Will Beat Climate Change

Are We Running Out of Resources?

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