By <a class="post-author" href="/about#aepstein">Alex Epstein</a> -- December 22, 2011
In yesterday’s post
, I discussed how the (near-) universal protection of property rights made possible “industry at the speed of thought” in the 19th century. Unfortunately, in the 20th century, property rights became gradually and then completely subordinate to a supposedly “higher” concern: government’s protection of “the environment.”
Now, if the human environment is one’s concern, then the way to protect it is through private property rights. Property rights enable each individual to optimize his own environment, developing and preserving as best promotes his well-being. Twentieth- and twenty-first century concern with “the environment” amounted to placing the non-human environment–untouched nature–over property rights and the human environment.
Instead of “industry at the speed of thought,” we have “industry at the speed allowed by environmentalists.” And as the story of the Trans Alaskan Pipeline delay in the 1970s illustrates, that can be a deadly slow speed.