Re: [OPE-L] Primary bads: pollution and smoke puff over your face.

From: Paul Cockshott (wpc@DCS.GLA.AC.UK)
Date: Fri May 18 2007 - 08:18:45 EDT

Cockshott on 05/17/2007: A similar situation exists with fossil fuels, individual choice, guided by the law of value, is causing excessive consumption of them. Restrictions expressed  in-natura  on the production of these products are necessary.
 Alejandro Aganfonow
Two things have to be distinguished here. One is the pollution caused by an overuse of fossil fuels, something that also rest in the terrain of negative externalities and it only could be aggravated in the scenario of low relative scarcity fuels. The other thing is that in a scenario of high relative scarcity fossil fuels, prices would act automatically as a rationing devise discouraging its overuse.
The last thing was part of Ludwig von Mises' criticism back to the 20's. Labour accounting couldn't ration non-reproducible resources, i.e., goods that labour has not produced. You and Allin have accepted it cleverly building a solution: "[.] the planning authority could make it a principle that whenever it employs technologies that consume non-reproducible resources, it invests in research into the production of substitutes." (pp. 10) Cottrell, Allin y Paul Cockshott (1993) "Calculation, Complexity and Planning: The Socialist Calculation Debate Once Again", Review of Political Economy, Vol. 5, Nš 1, pp. 73-112.
You are right von Mises did say that, but it is only via differential groundrent that natural
resource scarcity has an effect under capitalism. I think that a socialist economy has
to take into account differential ground rent effects measured in labour time, but that
the land being publicly owned, would result in the rent revenue going to the state as
with Henry George.

The reason why I would advocate in-natura constraints to meet the issue of fossil fuels
is that the Kyoto protocol sets in-natura goals here. Attempting to meet these via setting
taxes is very difficult. Far better to set physical limits to the amount of coal and oil
mined or pumped and then use Kantorovich's linear programming, or the Harmony Algorithm,
 to determine what effect this has on the final output of goods. This way you are sure
you can meet the targets on emissions.

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