Years ago, when I was first teaching environmental policy, my students correctly pointed out that I was serving a neoclassical theory of it with externalities, Pigovian taxes, and all that good stuff, and they wanted to know the “radical” theory. Fair enough; I asked my most lefty colleagues to tell me the Marxist theory of environment. I got:
- “I don’t know but there are people who do. I don’t actually know who they are. “
- “After the revolution, pollution will be impossible because the people will own the means of production.”
- “[what was just coming out about] environmental disaster in the Soviet orbit is irrelevant, because that’s not real socialism. You should look at China.”
Somehow this didn’t make me feel ready for class. I tried an easier question: “After the revolution, what should the fare on the subway be, and why?” I didn’t get much further with that one; still waiting for it.
This all flashed back to me when I read Stephen Bainbridge’s very elliptical response to Keith’s DMV story. OK, I’ve got the Kool-Aid poured out: when Keith and I show up at the Libertarian temple ready to learn, what will the priests tell us about the DMV?
- Automobiles and drivers should not require licensing at all. Anyone who can afford a car has the right to drive it on the public ways [are there public ways in Libertaria?] and if he hurts someone, it’s a matter for litigation. And no job-destroying regulations about speed limits and working taillights, either.
- Licenses (both kinds) should be provided by private firms free of job-destroying regulation, competing for business. “Our road test is so easy a blind cave man could pass it!” “Our patented license plate font is guaranteed illegible in broad daylight!” “With our operators license, you get a free portfolio of head shots suitable for sending to casting directors!”
- The antidote to regulatory abuse at the DMV, as everywhere, is to defund the agency so its service will be worse.
I’m sort of teasing, but it’s a serious question.