Monday, March 13, 2006

Secretary of the Interior

Our new interim Secretary of the Interior, Patricia “Lynn” Scarlett, has some interesting views, some of which you hear from the right, but mostly what you would hear from a hard core Libertarian, not a Republican. 

Back in the 80s she argued for the legalization of drugs.  She has been responsible for many controversial DOI rulings, like Snowmobiles in Yellowstone and more development on federal land.  Her environmental philosophy is dead center Milton Friedman:

      Thus, in our analysis, the fundamental causes of environmental problems can be reduced to two: the tragedy of the commons and the inability of people to defend themselves against pollution harm. This explanation of pollution differs from what is frequently taught in economics courses. There, pollution is an “externality” that constitutes a “market failure.” That is, somebody engages in a lawful activity such as manufacturing a product but allows waste—smoke or chemicals or heavy metals—to enter the air, water, or soil. Because the cost of this pollution is external to (that is, not paid by) the people producing or purchasing the product, it is a “negative externality” that adversely affects third parties (Fullerton and Stavins 1998, 433). The proposed remedy is usually government action that requires the producer to reduce the waste or pay a tax designed to discourage its production.

      The precautionary principle is used to defend efforts to moderate global warming through tough limits on the use of fossil fuels. However, scientific uncertainty about climate change impacts suggests that resilience may be more appropriate. Twenty years ago, some scientists expressed concern that global cooling might be occurring (Schneider 1976). Had we had the same determination to “do something” as we do today about global warming, we might have accelerated burning of fossil fuel to hold off cooling.

      Banning pesticides is likely to increase the costs of food so that lower-income people eat fewer fruits and vegetables. Since eating fruits and vegetables is believed to reduce the risk of cancer, eating fewer of these foods may cause more harm than did the pesticide residues the regulation was designed to eliminate (Ames and Gold 1996, 12, 27).

Hat tip to Instapundit.

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