Give David Friedman a little credit for at least addressing pollution, an extremely difficult issue for Laissez-Faire capitalists. It reminds me of my days as an evangelical Christian. I was comfortable making certain arguments for Christianity. The resurrection of Jesus or the existence of God. One area where I was quite uncomfortable was evolution. The Christian rebuttals didn't sit well. They seemed convoluted. Looking back I can see that I found excuses for avoiding the issue. The same I think is true of conservatives and pollution. What can they possibly say? I found it was usually a quick reference to property rights and then try to change the subject. If you are conservative and trying to understand it you're left scratching your head a bit. I read Bjorn Lomborg's "The Skeptical Environmentalist" which is an enormous book that kind of re-assures the conservative. 600 pages to tell us "Don't worry about it." Sounds great. And now let's move on.
Friedman does offer the old "property rights" defense. "Just sue the polluters for the damages and recoup the costs." Ask the indigenous people of Ecuador how that's working out against Chevron. Enough said.
At the end of the section though Friedman does offer some plausible sounding mitigation. Let the government set a price for pollutants and just charge people. The more destruction the more you pay. Presumably you pay the amount required to reverse the damage. Sounds OK. We do this with cars. Your car causes damage to the roads, but that's not a cost that's reflected in the price you pay. It's an externality. So what do you do? You have a gas tax. Use that to reverse the damage. You know what I found interesting about that though is how similar that sounds to Al Gore and his supposedly evil carbon credits.
When conservatives talk about Al Gore and how he stands to profit from global warming legislation this is the first proof offered for why global warming "alarmism" is misplaced. "Global warming? That's just a scam so Al Gore can make money." Why the sudden skepticism about the pursuit of profits? Is there something wrong with making money?
Watch a BP commercial. They have this little green flower logo. In fact the whole company is associated with the color green. The commercials include lush rolling hills, fresh clean water, and smiling people. They are trying to give you the impression that they are all about helping the environment. Which of course is absurd. But it serves their profit motive. BP works with the American Petroleum Institute and Chamber of Commerce on propaganda campaigns to give you the impression that global warming is a liberal hoax. The reason they do that is obvious. Profits. This is blatant deception and an effort to appeal to your irrational tendencies to maximize profits. Right wingers never object to those efforts to pursue profits. It's only Al Gore. But Gore is offering a market based solution. You're supposed to not care if he's pursuing profits. If he gets a profit that's supposed to be his just reward for providing a service. Why do conservatives suddenly become so skeptical of the profit motive when it comes to helping the environment? This is David Friedman's solution for crying out loud.
It's kind of like the Heritage Foundation's health care solution back in the 90's. It's the foundation for Romney Care. Which is pretty much the same as Obama Care. Right wing solutions are fine. Until they are adopted by the left. Then they are awful.