[TAG] The Public Domain: Here Today, Gone Tomorrow
mso at oz.net
Sat Sep 3 10:24:15 MSD 2005
Benjamin A. Okopnik wrote:
>On Fri, Sep 02, 2005 at 11:36:13AM -0700, Mike Orr wrote:
>>Jimmy O'Regan wrote:
>>>"There is no doubt that piracy is an important problem?it's just not
>>>the only problem. Our leaders have lost this sense of balance. They
>>>have been seduced by a vision of culture that measures beauty in
>>It's more than piracy. Our whole economic indicators are screwed up. Why
>>is economic health measured in how much people spend rather than how much
>That's some of that complicated ecominominomical stuff, ain't it? How
>do you expect reg'lar people to understand it? Besides, our politicians
>haven't told us to think about it, so it obviously ain't worth thinking
>about. You collitch-eddicated eggheads, I *swear*.
This from somebody who *teaches* college-level courses? Whose Perl and
sysadmin sandals I am not worthy to untie?
>>Another thing, pointed out in my favorite book _Natural
>>Capitalism_ (http://www.natcap.org/, entire text online), is that
>>environmental impact is ignored because doesn't appear on corporate
>>balance sheets or tax forms, so the cost is treated as zero even though
>>it's enormous. Trees are cut down because they're in the way, but is the
>>$2 million benefit of a shopping center really more than the long-term
>>benefit of oxygen, ecosystem nutrition, wood production, and carbon
>>sequestering, none of which we can produce by artificial means?
>Err, well - to the company receiving the $2M benefit, it certainly is.
>They're stealing the immeasurable benefit of the trees from the public at
>large, and putting the $2M into their own pockets; both the cost and the
>loss to them personally is minimal - and the public doesn't get to say
>anything about it. So, why wouldn't they steal it? There's no law
>against it - at least nothing enforcible.
>>polluting rivers, etc.
>>Another thing is measuring everything in terms of "sales". Many things
>>are sold which might be better leased. (Again from _Natural Capitalism_.)
>It *might* be - the idea sounded good to me - but it doesn't seem to be
>working yet, at least not on a large scale. Essentially, you're talking
>about a method that's supposed to be more effective, in business terms,
>than the current sales-based system - *but*, and this is a big one, it
>presumes accounting that includes the cost of the natural resources.
>Which is not what's done now, and which is why the leasing arrangements
>of that type haven't sprung up all over the place and supplanted the
>current system. I'm a big fan of Lovins and Hawken (thanks to you), but
>the penetration of their ideas has been very, very slow. Dammit.
These are both the same problem, of which you speak. "Externalizing" the
environmental cost, as Hawken puts it. Externalizing it onto everybody,
in fact, while the polluter laughs all the way to the bank. It's
difficult to change the paradigm, but if we remember the goal we might
have a chance. If we forget it or give up, we definitely won't. Many
things have been accomplished in this world that seemed impossible. It
only takes one person at the right place and right time: MLK, Gandhi,
Rosa Parks, St Francis. None of them thought they were anyone special.
The more you speak up about this, the more people will realize
"something ought to be done", and they'll pressure the politicians. I
don't know how to put a dollar amount on pollution or habitat
destruction, but the cost to restore it is a start. If the mining
companies in Montana had to pay the full cost of restoration up front,
or Hanford's nuclear waste in my own backyard, maybe they'd think twice
about doing their project at all. Especially if they could find no
insurance company willing to write a bond for the amount. No more
companies declaring bankrupcy and getting of scot-free. The cost would
be passed on to the public, of course, and they would make their
purchasing decisions accordingly. Maybe a PC would cost $100,000 for all
the metal in it. Maybe that's not necessarily a bad thing. Organic
farmers were laughed at for thirty years, but now there are organic
supermarkets doing a very good business.
Mike Orr <mso at oz.net>
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