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Old 07-30-2014, 02:00 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by FUEGO View Post
Missing from the question posited by OP is the flip side of externalized costs. Additional benefits bequeathed unto society by the profit seeking corporations above the sales price of their goods and services (the "consumer surplus" in economics).

When us rational actors purchase something, we get at least as much utility as the purchase price (otherwise we wouldn't buy it).

When Ford makes a car and sells it to me for $16,000, I might value the benefits of the car at $20,000 because I can drive all over, it has a sweet mp3 player, and the sleek styling makes me feel good.

Assuming companies aren't able to implement perfect price discrimination, thereby sucking up all the consumer surplus (the benefits I'm talking about above the purchase price), there will be a net positive benefit to society from commerce. Some of that benefit will be offset by the negatives of externalities.

As for the externalities themselves, I'd say every company is guilty to some degree. Carbon emissions, pollution, consumption of non-renewables, etc.
I'd say that the flip side of negative externalities is positive externalities - the company that funds a free fireworks display for goodwill with potential customers, but that show is also enjoyed by many people who will never be customers.

The flip side of consumer surplus is producer surplus - the fact that I can sell something at a market price which is currently more than my all-in cost of production.
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Old 07-30-2014, 02:20 PM   #22
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I'd say that the flip side of negative externalities is positive externalities - the company that funds a free fireworks display for goodwill with potential customers, but that show is also enjoyed by many people who will never be customers.

The flip side of consumer surplus is producer surplus - the fact that I can sell something at a market price which is currently more than my all-in cost of production.
Unless it irradicates and compensates all negative externalities all we have are net negative externalities. Free fireworks and "Everything Must Go" sales are not adequate or fair market compensation for deaths and injuries caused by things like mining coal, unusable ground water etc etc.
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Old 07-30-2014, 04:18 PM   #23
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Isn't it a LOT more complex than that? Isn't the #2 polluter also representing many more people than those other countries?

Yes, they may also have higher per capita rates in some cases, but then we also need to look at per capita contributions - as I said, it is complex.

-ERD50
I agree! Also to your second point about per capita figures - while I'm too lazy to look up the numbers right now, I would bet that the US lead China in all or most per capita categories by a hefty margin, be it energy consumption, waste production, or whatever.

But my post was not at all about wacking a developed nation, or comparing it to a developing country. All I really wanted to say is, if the US want a cleaner environment, they are in a great position to work towards that goal. It is the only superpower left, and still the richest nation in the world. And, it's a democracy! If you the people don't want overfishing of your coastal waters, or pollution of the Gulf of Mexico, or 86% of your energy coming from fossil fuels, you are able to change that. OTOH, if you feel that this is all just hippie bullsh*t that is endangering your dividends, then so be it.

Yes, it's complex. That's why it's too easy to point at China and Mexico and Brazil and say "it's all helpless, so screw this planet". I want to get rich AND leave my children a world that's worth living in. And I'm convinced that's possible.
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Old 07-31-2014, 11:33 AM   #24
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But my post was not at all about wacking a developed nation, or comparing it to a developing country.
Actually, you are and you know it. [mod edit] Notably, your post did not address my point.
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Old 08-01-2014, 08:22 AM   #25
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