Glenn Reynolds and the brown acid

In which Glenn Reynolds provides evidence for the Darwinian hypothesis that humans, or at least right-wing law professors, are related to baboons.

Glenn Reynolds says he’s “confused.” Well, that’s something we can agree on! I might even use a stronger word than “confused.”

After Reynolds has gotten over his concerns about my sanity (he politely suggests that I avoid “the brown acid”) I’d still like to hear his answer to my challenge: if in fact the pesticide industry among others has been flooding the planet with de-masculinizing chemicals, what should be done about it? As far as I can see, the set of candidate solutions consists of regulation, taxation, and litigation, all of which glibertarians hate.

On the parallel problem of global warming, which merely concerns the fate of the planet, Glenn and his playmates have simply agreed to pretend the problem doesn’t exist. That requires them to invent a massive conspiracy theory about how the left-leaning climate scientists invented the whole global-warming problem as an excuse to force socialism on an unwilling world, and foisted it on all the reviewers for scientific journals. But when the threat is to his own gonads, Glenn seems to be willing to admit that scientists often know what they’re talking about.

So now what? It’s hard to deny that damage is being done, and equally hard to imagine whose “property rights” are being violated, or what “property rights” could be created to deal with the problem.

Should the chemical companies be financially liable for the damage they’ve already done, and any damage they might do in the future, though class-action tort suits? (But of course it’s impossible to establish the link between any particular firm’s pollution and any particular injury, and the “tort reform” crowd hates sensible approaches such as apportioning the damages according to market share.)

Should we slap a per-unit tax on the chemicals in question, or impose some sort of command-and-control regulation? More socialism!

In any case, since the problem seems to involve the oceans, a solution would have to be world-wide; how do we deal with that without involving the dreaded United Nations?

Yes, all things considered it’s easy to see why Reynolds prefers questioning my sanity to answering my question.

Footnote Did I hear you say that any claim about gonadal damage made on Reynolds’s behalf would be barred under the maxim De minimus non curat lex? You should be ashamed of yourself!

Update Reynolds has now updated with something about his archive links having been fouled up. Okay, that explains his mistake. Fine. Natually, he offers no apology for suggesting I was hallucinating, and never bothers to answer the substance of the challenge. That raises an interesting question: Is Reynolds ever ashamed of himself?

Second update Cosma Shalizi at Carnegie Mellon has been thinking about the problem:

I think you are both missing the true glibertarian response to this development. This is to see it as a business opportunity: end all restrictions on producing and consuming human sex hormones and their metabolic precursors, and let the pharmaceutical industry sort it out. True, it would mean that biological masculinity would become an expensive luxury, but what good is a poor man anyway?

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com