Monday, June 19, 2006


Libertarians 4 ANWR Drilling?

Okay. I'm confused.

Libertarians on this board and the Locker Room support drilling in ANWR. But why?

If this was private land (and transaction costs were low) we could safely assume that the land would eventually be put to its wealth-maximizing use. But that isn't the case. This land is "public" property. So, without the proper institutional structure in place, how can we be sure that drilling for oil is this land's most efficient use? We can't.

So wouldn’t an efficiency-minded libertarian want to privatize the park instead? And how could a rights-minded libertarian demand anything less? Isn’t the entire idea of “public property” an affront to our holy “private property rights"? And doesn't using this land for the financial benefit of a few business men just add insult to injury?

This is indeed a very confusing position you’ve taken. So be honest. You just want to piss off the hippie protesters don’t you?

Touche. Perhaps the best thing I've ever read about this topic was an article that said "we" (the public) should just give the land to the Sierra Club (or some other enviro-hippie group). It was figured somehow that the opportunity cost of not drilling would be too enormous for even the most hardcore hippies to bear. Sort of Coasean.
Upon re-reading this, I want to clarify that I'm on the "privatize it" side--but my standard of efficiency does not require wealth maximization.
Since I was the one who originally linked to the "Support ANWR" site, I'll justify my position here.

Obviously the best choice would be to simply privatize all the land. However, that was not amongst the choices congress was given. Congress was voting between "open for exploration" or "not open for exploration." Given those options, the former is clearly the more libertarian position.
You make a good point, Student. Too often we ally ourselves with Conservatives, without thinking things all the way through. Of course, the environmentalist rhetoric is full of misinformation, so we attack that, fearing socialism. We ought to take equal precaution against fascist trends amongst conservatives as well.
The solution? Surely, to privatize, but how, and to whom? Public auction seems the most reasonable method for assuring resources flow to their most valued uses.
Well... Hippies suck and any opportunity to piss them off is welcomed...

Beyond that, with the inability to have a privately owned resource, what is the optimal mechanism for allocating those scarce resources?
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