Paul Krugman is much amused by the realization that the origin of Pigouvian taxes(i.e. the idea that the temptation to dump your pollution into the community water supply might be tempered by a tax on such behavior) never actually mentions pollution but rather only mentions the problem where in one landowner’s enthusiasm for hunting causes a surplus of rabbits to spill out damaging his neighbor’s gardens.
Here’s another fun example of an externality. Apparently landscape designers have a preference for male plants over female. The female plants drop more litter, i.e. seed pods and fruit. Somebody has to sweep up the mess, the clients complain, the landscape designers respond. While the male plants just pump out vast clouds of pollen. Which triggers more allergic reactions from the general public. But the general public isn’t paying the landscape designers, now are they?
I guess there are alternative schemes to address this.
- Ignore it.
- Follow well worn path laid out by the tobacco industry, fast food, and anti-enviromental forces; and mount a disinformation campaign. (Hint: Be sure to mention freedom, choice and unintended consequences.)
- Campaign to change the behavior of landscaping profession.
- Tax Pollen
- Pollen cap and trade.
I’m totally in love with the idea of pollen cap and trade, and I look forward to the fraudulent pollen credit story.
hat tip: Heebie-Geebie, and see also Bee Hive.
Reminds me of the unintended geopolitical consequences of china’s “one child” policy.
Can you add a “pollen offsets” approach as well? For every male planted in an urban garden there will be one female planted in some rural nursery.
Edward – possibly. Of course a female plant does no good to reduce the pollen count along the avenue, in fact more females only reduce the pollen count in so much as they displace male plants. If the policy goal is to reduce pollen then I guess pollen offsets don’t help. But possibly we could use bees instead!
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