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Blupete's Weekly Commentary

November 8th, 1998.


I think it be an accepted proposition that effluent from chemical processing or other industrial sources kill more people than are killed by drinking water which has been contaminated by human and animal wastes. What is needed is improvement in the local environments in those parts, vast parts of the world, where, a drink of pure water is an impossibility. History tells us that a safe water supply in populated areas comes about as a result of industrialization. It is ironic, but what is needed in these countries, with a view to a net saving of lives, - no question - is an increased amount of "industry." Incidently, this is the moral argument for "free trade" between nations. Poor nations can compete and will compete with their low wages and in the process gradually become industrialized.

Of course we must all keep up the fight and make every effort -- it being that this world, everyday, has less and less pure water, and less and less pure air -- to reduce the level of pollution. The answer is the same answer to most all of our problems, free up and harness the power of the market.

"Most economists agree that a far better way to control pollution than the present method of specific regulation and supervision is to introduce market discipline by imposing effluent charges. For example, instead of requiring firms to erect specific kinds of waste disposal plants or to achieve a specified level of water quality in water discharged into a lake or river, impose a tax of a specified amount per unit of effluent discharged. That way, the firm would have an incentive to use the cheapest way to keep down the effluent. Equally important, that way there would be objective evidence of the costs of reducing pollution." (Friedman, Free To Choose.)

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Peter Landry

November, 1998 (2019)