Week Ten – 3 – 29
“The American way of life is not negotiable.” President Ronald Regan
“If everyone on the planet lived like the average North American, we would need four more planets!” Sallie McFague
“The success of the system is seen in the inability to imagine any alternative.” Herbert Marcuse
5:30 – 6:00
6:00 – 7:00
Environment – Part II
7:00 – 7:15
7:15 – 8:15
Case #2 Returned & Discussed
8:15 – 8:20
The Environment Part Two
“At the Shrine of Our Lady Fatima Or Why Political Questions Are Not All Economic” in Honest Work pp. 459-466
1. • • • • •
Level of the consumer. Frame of Reference Author is Critiquing There is an environmental problem only when some resource is not allocated in equitable and efficient ways. Consumer values are all that count and the measure of these values is the individual’s willingness to pay. The problem of justice or fairness in society becomes the problem of distributing goods and services so that more people get more of what they want to buy. The only values we have, according to this view, are those that a market can price.
“How much do you value open space, a stand of trees, an “unspoiled” landscape? Fifty dollars? A hundred? A thousand? This is one way to measure value. You could compare the amount consumers would pay for a townhouse or coal or a landfill to the amount they would pay to preserve an area in its “natural” state. If users would pay more for the land with the house, the coalmine, or the landfill, than without – less construction and other costs of development – then the efficient thing to do is to improve the land and thus increase its value. This is why we have so many tract developments, pizza stands, and gas stations. How much did you spend last year to preserve open space? How much for pizza and gas? “In principle, the ultimate measure of environmental quality is the value people place on these . . . services or their willingness to pay.”
Level of the citizen.
“We act as consumers to get what we want for ourselves. We act as citizens to achieve what we think is right or best for the community.” Question: “Are my preferences as a consumer consistent with my judgments as a citizen?”
What is the role of a cost-benefit analysis in evaluating public policy? The problem is this: “An efficiency criterion, as it is used to evaluate public policy, assumes that the goals of our society are contained in the preferences individuals reveal or would reveal in markets. Such an approach may appear attractive, even just, because it treats everyone as equal, at least theoretically, by according to each person’s
preferences the same respect and concern. To treat a person with respect, however, is also to listen and to respond intelligently to his or her views and opinions. This is not the same thing as to ask how much he or she is willing to pay for them. The cost-benefit analyst does not ask economists how much they are will to pay for what they believe, that is, that the workplace and the environment should be made efficient. Why, then, does the analyst ask workers, environmentalist, and others how much they are willing to pay of what they believe is right? Are economists the only ones who can back their ideas with reasons while the rest of us can only pay a price? The cost-benefit approach treats people as of equal worth because it treats them as of no worth, but only as places or channels at which willingness to pay is found.”
“There are some who believe on principle that worker safety and environmental quality ought to be protected only insofar as the benefits of protection balance the costs. On the other hand, people argue – also on principle – that neither worker safety nor environmental quality should be treated merely as a commodity to be traded at the margin for other commodities, but rather each should be valued for its own sake. The conflict...
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