Politics & Law

Ron Paul: The most anti-environmental candidate ever

Dan Farber

In a field in which all the candidates are weak in terms of protecting the environment, Ron Paul is unquestionably the worst.  Here is his position (taken directly from his website):

Eliminate the ineffective EPA. Polluters should answer directly to property owners in court for the damages they create – not to Washington.

OK, what’s wrong with this proposal?  Here are a few things:

  1. Why just property owners? Why not other people with health effects? Is there some reason why a tenant with asthma can’t sue, but a company with paint damage can go to court? Because property values matter, but not human health?
  2. Who would be the defendants? If you live in a big city, how do you sue all of the polluters for damage? Do you sue everyone who has a car or truck for contributing to air pollution? How do you pay for the expert witnesses and legal fees?
  3. Why only damages?  If he truly believed in property rights, he’d allow injunctions to stop the harm from continuing.
  4. How would courts handle the immense body of litigation?  The pollution suits would be the world’s biggest class actions, with millions of plaintiffs, swarms of defendants, huge fees for expert witnesses, etc.  Is that really what conservatives want?

We’ve already tried this approach, and it didn’t work. This is more or less where the law stood fifty years ago. We didn’t pass modern environmental laws because we loved regulation; we passed them because the old system led to massive air and water pollution.

This isn’t a policy proposal.  It’s a libertarian fantasy. And a callous one at that.

Cross-posted from the environmental law and policy blog Legal Planet.

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Comments to "Ron Paul: The most anti-environmental candidate ever":
    • Levon Spradlin

      Wow. What a scathing indictment of nothing. Taken out of context, anyone’s words can paint them in a poor light. Given that Paul was a student of Rothbard, I’d say that his position on property rights is based on a very firm platform. Given the fact that today’s heightened regulation of environmental issues has also seen a greater abuse and level of exploitation of the environment, I’d say it’s time to support those like Paul who see the reality of the inability to regulate the environment into health (just as the state is unable to inflate the economy into health), shutter the EPA, and shift to a system which is based on property rights, not fiat.

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    • vegangsterARNP

      I think many of the people commenting don’t realize that when the libertarians take control, (I am actually beginning to hope this happens, as it may force people to come to their senses because the few rights they have now will be obliterated completely) that the monopoly they so despise is going to come to fruition.

      We already live in a free market economy, and the effects of that are in plain sight for all to see who will only look. Corporation eats corporation eats corporation eats corporation and then we have ONE big corporation. This is what you call a “free” market? Without regulation it is only psychopathic corporation. Nothing more. The government is diseased and full of corruption, but the libertarian ideal of free market saving the world is the most idiotic thing I have heard. But, let the idiocracy get what they deserve.

      Living a simple life as I do, I will sit back and watch the sheeple show from my window, as I have no television and am UNbrainwashed.

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    • Spike_dawg

      The Libertarians and Ron Paul have little in common. Ron Paul has distorted the Libertarian Platform to showcase his agenda of racism, antisemitism and white supremacy.
      Ron Paul has a pitiful record of having accomplished ZERO as a congressman. He sponsored 671 bills, 420 being about carrying concealed weapons, allowing the purchase of machine guns or eliminating the Fed Gun Free School Zone Act. 8 Bills were to allow racially segregated schools and give them tax exempt status. All failed. Only a single Paul bill has passed, giving away Fed Land to a museum.
      This is a dangerous man, supported by the hate groups KKK, Stormfront and A3P. Paul has repeatedly endorsed white supremacist in elections. He is extremely bad on the environment, believes in race war, has a foreign policy that will bring the war back to America, and only has the support of 6% of Americans. Further, polls show that Ron Paul is the most HATED of all candidates. Send him home. He’s bad for America.

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    • Levon Spradlin

      Modern America is closer to state-capitalism or fascism than a free market, which hasn’t existed since the union was formed. Simply maintaining private ownership of resources and production is not enough to qualify as a free market. There must be little or no outside intervention of markets to allow resources to find natural balance, with unmolested reallocation being necessary. Regulation and even taxation creates inefficiencies in the market, which have numerous negative effects that would not exist in a free market. Everything from minimum wage laws to price controls and even taxation lead to decreases of availability of goods and services, or even to higher unemployment. Think about dead weight loss and then apply that to those situations that the state intervenes to correct what it sees as a misallocation, and then look at the results.

      Whatever the government says it’s doing for your benefit will undoubtedly end in the opposite result. Whatever the government says you should do, you can, as a rule of thumb, trust that the opposite is true.

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    • Joshua Jacob Albert Freeman

      When you are the victim of pollution – when it is YOUR lungs that can not longer function at full capacity, when it is YOUR body that has been burned, when it is the brain of somebody YOU love that has been damaged, you don’t care about semantics. Whether your lungs or skin or son’s brain are considered “property” is irrelevant. What IS relevant is that you have suffered an injury.

      Under the current statist system, you might be able to get some closure if you have money, or political connections, but nothing is more painful than the moment you stop indulging in the fantasy that the state cares about justice – it doesn’t.

      The United States Federal Government is the single largest polluter on the planet – it produce more greenhouse gases than any other institution in history (with China quickly catching up), and has proven itself to be completely ineffective at solving serious environmental problems such as the BP oil spill, and such incompetence is DIRECTLY correlated with its collusion with big business – the corporations it CHARTERS, and which lobbies said government to such an extant that the LAWYERS HIRED BY THESE POLLUTERS ACTUALLY WRITE THE GOD DAMN LAWS!!!

      The solution is NOT to have these lobbyists write more laws. The solution is complex and scary and requires a lot of hard work and dedication and sacrifice – specifically, the sacrifice of placing your ideology on the alter or REASON and burning it.

      Stop pretending that the solution to the problems created by people who have no respect on the environmental impact of their actions will come from the SAME ORGANIZATION THAT LITERALLY DROPS RADIOACTIVE BOMBS ON ENVIRONMENTS DENSELY POPULATED WITH PEOPLE.

      I’m not a Ron Paul guy – I don’t think of this man as some magical savior of humanity that so many do – he’s a religious fundamentalist, irrational statist. However, he’s got this one (and a lot of other issues) absolutely right.

      The government doesn’t solve the problem of pollution – it just uses that problem to convince suckers like the author of this piece to use violence against peaceful people who have harmed no one, and simultaneously support the most murderous, thieving, and polluting institution on the face of the earth – the United States Federal Government.

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    • Brad Spangler

      The writer is just plain ignorant. Your lungs ARE your property, for example (in regard to the first point). The EPA and the entire top-down regulatory approach are a de facto licensing scheme for pollution that protects polluters from liability for the damage they cause.

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    • Enrico

      Thank you Dan Farber. Although obvious. One would think that it is easy to see how Ron Paul policies regarding EPA elimination would result in a devastating effect.

      Without law and enforcement businesses and individuals would not be able to effectively mediate the problems that arise. Many issues are already difficult enough for many people who are victims even with the current system. If you dont know anyone who is has had such a problem then talk to someone who has ASAP.

      Ron Paul supports handing tax cuts to oil companies and promulgating coal and oil exploitation, one must be aware that the Clean Air Act along with most other ‘Federal Regulation’ would very quickly disappear.

      If Ron Paul did win I would pity every American still living in the US.

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    • Joe

      Ron Paul is a firm believer in Free Market environmentalism which worked great before the industrial period — then the government started ignoring private property rights “in the name of progress”. Our government is one of the greatest polluters!! and our corporatism economy does not protect private property (which protects against pollution, etc.)

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    • Sam

      The point is, the government shouldn’t be responsible for pollution. It is up to each and every person individually. You can’t go blaming politicians for the environment. It’s your fault, it’s my fault, and everyone else on this planets fault. Quit pointing fingers Mr. Farber.

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    • Justin

      Virtually every single defense of Ron Paul here refers to the fact that in our current system, all polluters have to do is lobby a government representative to legislate on their behalf (or some permutation therein – using money to influence).

      Ron Paul supporters are levying a criticism of certain aspects of the current system and blaming the system itself. Those aspects can be remedied without dismantling the EPA:

      Establish a public fund for campaigns and remove monetary donations of any sort from private parties, whether it’s citizens or corporations, to government officials, along with a complete restriction of all forms of lobbying.

      Take the money out – don’t throw the government out.

      Justice Ginsburg has already said that the courts do not have the expertise necessary to make decisions on these kind of issues. Where will that expert opinion come from? Private for-profit or non-profit companies? Who’s going to pay them to monitor pollution or offer opinion? Citizens? Each individual state?

      What if the poorest states in our union can’t afford to fund effective environmental regulatory bodies?

      We are talking about the potential collapse of the livable environment and the extinction of life as we know it, gentlemen. If you disagree with that assertion, I recommend you read this article and follow some of the links therein (among others on the site): http://thinkprogress.org/romm/2011/09/28/330109/science-of-global-warming-impacts/

      If we turn these matters over to the court system, we are gambling with the very ability of this planet to support carbon based life.

      We needed decreases in carbon pollution 5 years ago. The only body that can accomplish what is absolutely needed is the EPA alongside strong federal enforcement. The court system will cause nothing but indefinite delay as opinions, disinformation, and dissent flood from all directions into every single case.

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    • Bundle of Sticks

      The mechanism is there. What classes do you teach? How could a law professor be so unsure about how to enforce environmental policy through property rights? Tsk. TSk. Ron Paul is actually the most environmentally friendly candidate out there and when you research and understand the mechanism you will see why.

      First Let me address your 4 enumerated points.

      1. “Property owners” in the legal context includes renters. Many people don’t know this, but if you rent you actually buy and own an interest in the property for a period of time. The landlord has only a remainder interest, which gives the him right to take possession of the property after the time has expired. As a renter you have all the rights to sue someone for environmental contamination of you property as the owner would.

      2. The defendants are the those that polluted your property causing harm to it and/or you. You should know you can add as many defendants to a lawsuit as you want. The fees and everything are the same as any lawsuit.

      3. Professor Dan Farber,you didn’t read the quote you pulled. It says “Polluters should answer directly to property owners in court for the damages they create.” That means polluters are responsible for the damages they create. It doesn’t say anything about what remedy a Plaintiff could get. The remedy a property owner could get could be an injunction or monetary damages.

      4.Courts could handle this body of litigation similarly to toxic tort cases and class actions.

      You must know the EPA is a third party, disinterested bureaucracy, incredibly inefficient and can’t be everywhere at once. It’s more efficient to do environmental policy through property law.

      The causes of action for enforcement of environmental policy in a Property Context are: the law of trespass, the law of nuisance, the law of negligence, and various surface water doctrines.

      I challenge you Professor Dan Farber to get out of your comfort zone and research and learn about property law! Once you do, you will realize how ingenious this mechanism really is.

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    • Dan-o

      R. Paul is a principled man, but he doesn’t seem to live in the real world.

      Unfortunately, in this world, transacting is not costless and information is not always as complete as we need it to be to take care of ourselves and one another. We do not always have the resources we need to truly protect our property (including our own bodies), let alone our unowned, common-pool resources. There are toxic limitations to common-law solutions to environmental problems.

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    • Anthony

      Ron Paul belongs to a school of economics that challenges that Coasian nonsense anyway. It STILL finds in favour fo free market envrionmental protection. Stop perpetuating this silly strawman. No one said information or transacting is “costless”, whatever that means. Hence why it is important to have markets in information too. The rest sounds like catchy one liners.

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    • Eric

      hmmmm. Free market solves all, does it? Ah yes, it solved the banking crises, no wait, it CAUSED the banking crises. Oh, I know, corporations will be so afraid of causing pollution or driving people into poverty that they won’t do any harm…. right, right, OR we’ll sue them. Yea, because all those people in San Bruno whose homes were blow-torched have the financial wherewithall to go after PG&E by themselves, or this one: the State will help it’s citizens because they care more than the Feds?!? Because the state government ISN’T corrupt and in bed with corporate interests!? Because the power of the People, freed from ANY regulation is so great and benevolent that corporations will be shaking in thier boots!?! Are you ALL mad?!?!
      This is the Libertarian fantasy at best.
      ——
      Griping about the government is the most true of American pasttimes. We LOVE to bash those corrupt, evil, “Wesley Mooch” type shills in federal government. If only we could eliminate government all together, life would be all rainbows and unicorns flying through the sky, pooping cotton candy…. swoon.
      The truth is that SOME of what Ron Paul says is true, SOME Federal legislation IS good and necessary, SOME class action lawsuits are needed, and SOME personal responsibility is required of all of us. Yes, we need to be taxed – in the libertarian view, you have to admit that we can’t have something for free, no? No taxes means no police, no fire (or my house is saved while my neighbor’s burns because he didn’t have the money to pay for fire protection), no military.
      I know thats not “black & white” and requires us to actually use that thing in our heads for something besides keeping our ears apart, but until we get past these “all or nothing” philosophical notions about government we’re doomed to keep running in circles.

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    • Anthony

      Please be quiet if you don’t know what you are talking about. You are just ranting. Ron Paul has explicitly outlined how the government caused the banking crisis.

      “Yea, because all those people in San Bruno whose homes were blow-torched have the financial wherewithall to go after PG&E by themselves”

      No win no fee. Next?

      “Because the state government ISN’T corrupt and in bed with corporate interests!? ”

      As a matter of degree, no, there is no comparison. All forms of statism are corruptive and vile. Yet competing, smaller govt’s are superior to centralised behemoths.

      “Yes, we need to be taxed – in the libertarian view, you have to admit that we can’t have something for free, no?”

      No, we don’t. Nor do “we” want all the “goods” provided for by taxes. They should be goods available for voluntary sale or on a not-for-profit basis, but again VOLUNTARY.

      “No taxes means no police, no fire (or my house is saved while my neighbor’s burns because he didn’t have the money to pay for fire protection), no military.”

      Histrionics/strawman. Rothbard’s For a New Liberty pretty much has demolished this garbage. As have countless other libertarian works. Go read them. The Myth of National Defence and Anarchy and the Law, for instance, demolish the myth of the same name. A smaller military would be welcomed.

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    • Pat

      This is for “Eric” who published on December 13. He wrote “Ah yes, it solved the banking crises, no wait, it CAUSED the banking crises.”

      Wrong, it was GREENSPAN that caused the housing bubble. Who does GREENSPAN work for? The Fed.

      GREENSPAN and the Fed are NOT free market.

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    • parker

      It would be helpful for a someone who intends to attack a philosophy to educate himself first on that philosophy before attacking straw men as Prof Farber does.

      He states, “Why just property owners? Why not other people with health effects? … Because property values matter, but not human health?”

      Libertarians believe that your body *is* your property. Any harm that someone inflicts on your body should be treated as a criminal offense. This is why no matter where a person goes, in a libertarian society he has legal protection against personal harm unless he gives his express informed consent otherwise.

      “Who would be the defendants? … Do you sue everyone who has a car or truck for contributing to air pollution?”

      It’s not hard to find emitters of particulate pollution. And it would be the gov’t in the case of cars/trucks since it’s the gov’t facilities the pollution is emitted from. But it needs to be measurable. Once identified, it wouldn’t be a civil trial but a criminal trial. If a polluter can be proven to cause physical harm to someone in a libertarian society that would be a criminal offense.

      “We’ve already tried this approach, and it didn’t work.”

      No we haven’t.

      The truth is the regulatory state not only *permits* pollution, it *encourages* it. All a politically well-connected industry with lots of money needs to do is get their preferred regulations enacted; like cap-and-trade. Do you really think cap-and-trade would reduce CO2 emissions? It’ll simply raise rates on energy consumers. The alleged pollution would continue but special interests and lobbyists (like Al Gore) would get richer and everyone else depending on energy would get poorer.

      Libertarians through enforcement of property rights (which also includes your mind and body) have zero tolerance for pollution. In that regard, libertarians make far better stewards of the natural environment than greenies do.

      BTW – If not for gov’t intervention, there’d be no urban sprawl today. Only through zoning and eminent domain do we have sprawl. Gov’t is not your friend if you value the natural environment… let alone your freedom.

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    • bisky

      Answer to Dan Farber’s points:

      1. Property owners would sue only in the case of property damage, non property owners could sue for other damages

      2. Some class action suits would take place but in general accepted standards set by a few cases would become the norm. For example UL listings, a private stamp of approval has become a norm in court protection against damages

      3. Not sure what is meant by injunctions. But with libertarians your rights end only when they harm others so if a court proved in a fair way you were hurting someone there could be injuctions, or possibly even while a case is pending, as long as it’s not a back door for control freak ninnies.

      4. Regardless of opinions on regulations law suits against polluters are still a reality. Hopefully with a few major cases as examples some will avoid future one.

      Finally, it’s only recently freedom has been abandoned it used to be the norm. The opposite has failed in the Soviet Union. Don’t be afraid of the lack of a central king, he rarely has your interests in mind.

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    • Clif

      He is speaking about the federal EPA. He would allow states to have their own EPA. If the community feels like it needs to deal with pollution it can do it locally with the local and/or state governments. I know Ron Paul has often praised Pittsburgh for cleaning up their mess without the need for a federal EPA. He did not condemn them.

      I think we forget that the united part of the United States of America was lower case in the Declaration of Independence. We are united by the desire to be free people, not by a federal EPA. If we know how the structure of our governments work then we would not be frightened by this nonsense. These days people believe education will disappear if we get rid of that federal department. They may even think that Ron Paul will want to end all public education. These accusations like the one made here where suddenly people have no local government to deal with pollution problems is just ridiculous and complete nonsense. It does not even seem like the EPA has a good environmental rating.

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    • Bob Vondruska

      You guys are just being stupid with this article. If you actually think that government bureaucrats (of any type) can do a better job of protecting the environment than can be achieved in the private sector, you are too dumb to deserve the salary that I pay as a taxpayer. Let me explain it to you since you do not appear to understand simple logic: If I own a parcel of land with a stream running through it and you own a Mining company a mile upstream, you will not want to pollute that stream because not only would I sue you but every other land owner downstream of you would do the same. It creates an incentive to not pollute something that is shared by others. With the government plan, it takes years just for these bureaucrats to take action, and nothing ever gets done until it is already too late.

      Ron Paul in 2012!!

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    • Ivor Thomas

      These analogies like the ‘stream won’t get polluted because of downstream damage’ are so over simplistic that they get us no where even close to a workable solution. How does acceptable risk work in the Paulian Universe? Some degree of pollution is going to be necessary in a technological society. Do we then have micro lawsuits for marginal pollution? How do you control exemptions from litigation that lobbyists are so good at providing? The powerplant that spews particulates and mercury so you don’t freeze in winter could easily force you to exempt it from lawsuits as a condition of receiving your electricity. There are a million ways for this grand plan to fail spectacularly.

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      • Anthony

        “The powerplant that spews particulates and mercury so you don’t freeze in winter could easily force you to exempt it from lawsuits as a condition of receiving your electricity. ”

        And its competitors could simply fill the gap and do so without such provisos.

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    • Ross

      Though it would be a myth to say all pollution is fabricated or exaggerated, people are waking up to the fact that anthropogenic global warming, specifically, is largely a convenient tool and perhaps flat out invention of a super-class elite, composed of corporatists, statists, obsessive advocates of transnational regulation and weird new age flakes just to name a few. Through Public/Private partnerships between industry and sovereign governments, NGOs and international bodies like the U.N, the owners of larger corporations are able to craft regulations designed to strangle their smaller competitors all under the guise of, supposedly well meaning, environmental protection laws. The control these corporate interests exact on academia and the media has, for sometime now, been sufficient enough to bamboozle the public with Chicken Little fantasies and gross exaggerations, designed to support Malthusian prognostications and Orwellian Solutions. Frankly I’d rather risk my chances with the deregulators than with the likes of lunatics like John P. Holdren who flirt with the idea of state mandated sterilizations and abortions, all for the (alleged) good of Mother Earth.

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    • Chris Beliveau

      I disagree, and yes for disclosure I am a huge Ron Paul supporter, but also very much so concerned about the environment as a geology student. While I disagree with some of the libertarian stance on environmentalism (really my only significant point of disagreement with Ron Paul)I know he has said (and laid out in his plan) he will cut EPA funding I believe 30% but not eliminate the EPA regardless of the website stance. I believe that rhetoric is for a quick hitting effect for his base which yes to be honest the environment is not their #1. He has railed against corporate subsidies to oil, voted for tax credits for green initiatives, correctly identified the government as being the #1 polluter through military adventurism and it not being held accountable for its actions, and he is against yucca mountain. Instead, advocating companies held responsible for their waste and therefore at the end of the day probably having a higher overhead cost for nuclear energy, which in a free-market sense pushes investors towards green solutions.

      To be honest and objective, he is not the best candidate on the environment but not the worst at alllll. I would argue he is one of the best Republicans on the environment. I do wish he was a bit more for environmental protection but when he is right on every other issue IMO I can afford to over look that. Certain libertarian proposals actually make a lot of sense when it comes to the environment, some as you put it are a fantasy. Certainly as a law professor you know more on the legal aspect of your argument. Point number 2 is the most obvious and valid which is part of the reason I can not be a full free market environmentalist. I wish you would have mentioned some stances he has taken that I pointed out off the top of my head. While you can make a legitimate argument with cuts to the EPA or some conservative philosophy towards the environment, certainly starting with Reagan, to say he is the worst is a false generalization.

      I hope to see libertarians come together with progressives on the host of issues the agree with and ideally sort out their obvious disagreements such as the environment. If you are a liberal/independent reading take a good look at your opinion on some of our biggest issues. You may find yourself in agreement with a “Republican”.

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    • Daniel T.

      “Why just property owners? Why not other people with health effects? Is there some reason why a tenant with asthma can’t sue, but a company with paint damage can go to court? Because property values matter, but not human health?”

      Come on, really? Your body is your property, too. That’s the libertarian standard position. Only Statists think they own your body and therefore have the right to tell you what to do with it.

      Here’s an interview where Ron Paul outlines pretty much all his views on the environment: http://www.grist.org/article/paul1

      Government is corrupt and free from liability. You give them the monopoly over the environment, they will use it for profit, selling it to corporate cronies and raising property value, so no one else can buy land if they just want to protect it. If the government wasn’t involved, all these people who feel so strongly about protecting forests and all that could simply BUY the forests and hire private security to take care of them. Or do you think every environmentalist in the world would vanish in a libertarian presidency?

      When you say that “we changed the rules because it wasn’t working” are you implying that it is working NOW? I mean, if it’s working so swell how come everyone’s still complaining about it?

      You may say it’s because we don’t have enough regulations yet, but we never will. The more regulation powers you give the government over the environment, the more you put it in harm’s way.

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    • Eric Taneda

      The idea may not come naturally to anti-capitalism people, but people who seriously favor capitalism (and liberty generally) consider one’s own body to be one’s inalienable property, something that the government has the obligation to protect in the courts if violated.

      It is reasonable, I supppose if one comes into the issue with the assumption that everything (including individuals) are owned by the government (a totalitarian premise to be sure), it follows if said government fails to regulate it, it will run amuck and cause destruction.

      But as the 20th century showed, uncritical accceptance of totalitarian assumptions caused actual mass devastation.

      So if one’s desire is to prevent horrible disasters, it is perhaps not fruitful to be putting forth political conclusions based on totalitarian assumptions.

      Consider this a humble suggestion, one I fully realize is in all probability futile (for the author of this article who appears fully committed to this totalitarian approach). But perhaps not as futile for others who are reading the article.

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    • Alexis Kasperavicius

      Mr Farber, that’s what class action law suits are for!

      Consider that environmental polluters don’t play by the rules. All they have to do now is pay a lobbyist to ensure laws are in their favor. In the event of a transgression – it will be ignored or they’ll get a token fine – and others with grievances or even actual damage will be prohibited from suing – as the government is “taking care of it.” (and worse, having taxpayers routinely cover clean up costs)

      As a polluter I would be much more wary of an unpredictable populace and profit motivated attorneys than any government regulator. This reality is reflected in the status quo.

      I have a question for you as a law professional: Imagine that the EPA were eliminated. Consider how gross polluters could be stopped using private means and changes to current law. The palette is yours. Consider wholesale changes to law (e.g. An easier to pierce corporate veil, etc.) that could take advantage of the wonderful advances in information technology.

      As someone committed to the cause, you may have a new career with a Paul win!

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    • bfkeane

      Why do you assume regulation must be done in Washington? In our constitution each state is sovereign. California, for instance, has its own laws on environmental protection which are stricter than federal laws – indeed almost all EPA laws were derived from California laws. If you want more (or less) government you’re free to do so – but work at the state and local level because giving more power to Washington only produces more wars and corruption.

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    • Nathan Zachary

      This article speaks to the current lack of understand our society has about strong property rights because we’ve been denied them so long. Many of Ron Paul’s positions that at first glance sound out of the norm. Actually are quite sensible after you take a closer look. You’re not going to understand his position on the best way to protect the environment and our health with sound bits it’s a bit deeper than that. A different approach is needed the EPA doesn’t take good care of us. Most of the national laws are written for the benefit of corporations. Isn’t cap and trade in principle legalizing pollution? The status quo has worked.

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    • edward

      “Why just property owners? Why not other people with health effects? ”

      You clearly do not understand Libertarian Political Philosophy. In Libertarianism, the body is owned by the respective person. It is property in a real sense. Therefore, a person who suffers from asthma due to pollution can seek retribution based upon their right to property in themselves. I recommend Murray Rothbard’s “For a New Liberty” to those of you interested in learning more about Lib. Philosophy. It is available at this link for free.

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    • Chad

      Bottom line is this: the USA has spent all its resources in the pursuit of being the biggest, baddest, most powerful nation in the world – and it’s not sustainable. We are in need of MAJOR course corrections if we want to live in a clean and sustainable environment with abundant wildlife – and we cannot continue to endlessly increase population without major environmental conseqences. We need major systemic approaches to move forward in liberty into the future, not more “feel-good patches” by self-engrandizing political/legal hacks.

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    • russ

      You fail to mention who is put in the positions on the EPA to write the regulations. They are appointments based on connections and campaign contributions to the White House administration of the day. Environmental regulations are written by the people in whose best interest it is to favour the corporations. They constrict the ability of citizens to litigate against the corporations and to suppress small business’s ability to compete. Civil litigation had a much greater effect on W.R. Grace and P.G.&E. than the EPA ‘watchdogs’. Companies will think twice about polluting the environment due to these settlements, not due to their fear of EPA sanctions, which are toothless. Make a list of all the EPA appointees, note their previous affiliations and follow the money trail ‘professor’.

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    • Chad

      > 1. Why just property owners? Why not other people with health effects? Is there some reason why a tenant with asthma can’t sue, but a company with paint damage can go to court? Because property values matter, but not human health?

      Your body is your property dodo bird.

      > 2. Who would be the defendants? If you live in a big city, how do you sue all of the polluters for damage? Do you sue everyone who has a car or truck for contributing to air pollution? How do you pay for the expert witnesses and legal fees?

      Big Cities and States have their own authority to make codes concerning pollution. Ron Pauls position is that it is not Constitutional (eg, UNLAWFUL) for the federal govt to be in the pollution regulation business. And you talk as if the federal govt has actually stopped pollution – NOT!

      > 3. Why only damages? If he truly believed in property rights, he’d allow injunctions to stop the harm from continuing.

      I am sure his little statement was not meant to be a legal treatise. Ron Paul did not say he was going to sign an executive order eliminating injunctions, did he?

      > 4. How would courts handle the immense body of litigation?

      With plenty of corruption, as usual.

      > The pollution suits would be the world’s biggest class actions, with millions of plaintiffs, swarms of defendants, huge fees for expert witnesses, etc. Is that really what conservatives want?

      Yes, then industry will be very careful not to pollute. It will work itself out over time. I lived in St. Louis for 8 years, under the yellow skies of Monsanto. Every night, if you could see the moon, it was ORANGE. And the air stunk like chemical crap. EPA wasn’t helping at all. Every body of water in the USA is poison. EPA hasn’t helped at all.

      > We’ve already tried this approach, and it didn’t work.

      The current approach does not work. Government is NOT THE ANSWER to all problems. Government CANNOT solve all the problems of an irresponsible mass of people. It’s time people start dealing with problems themselves, and start being part of the solutions themselves. It’s time to dilute the concentrations of power that government has promoted. It’s time to follow the Constitution.

      I find much cleaner conditions in many small European countries than the USA. And they don’t have all the regulation and government that the USA has. Rules are made by those that want to make the big bigger (self-interest), and the small smaller (screw the slaves).

      > This is more or less where the law stood fifty years ago. We didn’t pass modern environmental laws because we loved regulation; we passed them because the old system led to massive air and water pollution.

      The air, water, and land was much cleaner 50 years ago compared to today – what are you talking about???

      > This isn’t a policy proposal. It’s a libertarian fantasy. And a callous one at that.

      You are the fantasy, and a callous one at that.

      [Report abuse]

    • Tom

      The alternative is to continue “business as usual”. As it is, the vast majority of business regulations (including environmental and pharmaceutical) are written by the largest companies in those industries, to exclude any smaller competitors.

      I lost my faith in government regulation because of bullshit like the HHS-FDA’s dietary guidelines. Interesting how the rates of diabetes, heart disease, and obesity have sharply risen since initial implementation.

      [Report abuse]

    • Antoine

      Ron Paul would actually be the best President in terms of protecting the environment. The EPA was responsible for unleashing Gozer the Gozerian on New York City, and the private-sector saved the day.

      [Report abuse]

    • jarrod jacobsen

      1) I would say that if harm has been done, then a tenant is absolutely able to seek reparations in court. Is this different from what we have already?

      2) Is not car and truck pollution handled by state agencies and not at the federal level? Also, what about class action lawsuits and watchdog organizations?

      3) Who said ONLY damages? Our current system allows injunctions does it not? I don’t think anyone is asserting that a one-liner on the energy section of his website is his policy proposal for environmental issues.

      4) I think the your assumption that the EPA is the only thing standing between us and environmental hell, and thus litigation hell, is fallacious. We don’t live in the world of yesteryear, yet people envision the tools of the past when considering what we would have at our disposal when dealing with issues of today.

      I think the fantasy is that the EPA is the only thing keeping us from drowning in our own filth. I care about the environment too and don’t think it is callous to suggest we don’t need federal bureaucrats to save us. Pittsburgh was cleaned up without the EPA.

      [Report abuse]

    • Matt Shelby

      As a law professor, please point to the place in the Constitution where it says “Congress shall make laws protecting the environment,” because I’m not finding it. You and I both know that the decisions that vastly expanded the definition of “interstate commerce” are ridiculous, but will probably be what you hang you hat on. The expansion of “interstate commerce” was the most horrible example of judicial legislation in our nation’s history.

      And I don’t believe Dr. Paul explicitly excluded injunctions, he just failed to state it explicitly. He believes that the courts, and legal remedies available therein, should be used to defend property rights.

      You also ignore the possibility that companies would decide not to pollute to avoid the millions and billions of dollars of legal fees, expenses and damages they’d have to pay.

      As for cars and trucks polluting. No, you don’t sue everyone with a car and truck. And you don’t sue the manufacturers. If people don’t want to pollute, they can buy cars that pollute less. Just like right now. People can buy a Hummer if they want to, or a Volt.

      The bottom line is that there is no legitimate constitutional authority for the EPA to exist. Petition your congressmen to help amend the Constitution to allow for Congress to provide for the protection of the environment, then we can start discussing the above in more detail. Until then, it is all an interesting philosophical discussion, but completely moot. The EPA should go away, because there’s no legitimate authority that allows it to exist.

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    • Katherine

      1. What Ron Paul means by “property owners” is not merely landlords or capitalists in the Marxian terminology of the “propertied classes.” What Ron Paul means is the widest, general common-sense meaning of the term “property.” If you want this rephrased in more academic terms, Ron Paul means that every man has the absolute right of property in his own physical body, and in the previously unowned natural resources that he finds, transforms by his own labor, and then gives to or exchanges with others (Lockean self-ownership and homesteading principle.) There is no space here, or in Ron Paul’s brief posting (which you quote a mere two sentences from before you make sweeping pronouncements of him “the most… ever”!) to elaborate on a theory of justice in property titles. Suffice it to say that the basic axiom of libertarian political theory holds that every man is a self-owner, having absolute jurisdiction over his own body. In effect, this means that no one else may justly invade, or aggress against, another’s person. With this meaning understood, your criticism here is disarmed.

      2. Who will be the defendants? The plaintiffs will be the alleged victims, and the defendants will be the alleged aggressors. Now, of course, Ron Paul knows that cases will not be limited to single aggressors and single victims, that especially pollution cases will often have multiple alleged aggressors and multiple victims. How will you, the inhabitant of a big city, sue all of the polluters? You, as a law professor, should be well aware of the legal concept of joining together cases with significant overlap (e.g. “joinders”), and so it is hard to imagine that you have a hard time understanding that defendants can be compulsorily joined together when all the parties acted in concert in a joint tortious enterprise.

      3. Again, Ron Paul is not writing a scholarly paper here. By “Polluters should answer directly to property owners in court for the damages they create…” Ron Paul is speaking in the widest, common-sense usage of the term “damages,” not the specific legal sense. He means you the aggressor must answer to the victim for the harm you are causing them, in the every sense of this language. Of course he would allow injunctions to stop the harm from continuing. It seems like you are just nitpicking here.

      4. Here you seem to stress the practical difficulties of holding polluters accountable in the courts and making them pay restitution to their victims as an undue burden on the judicial system. You speak of Ron Paul’s position as a “libertarian fantasy.” The ability of the present-day judicial system to handle cases of property invasion
      is not, of course, a theoretical argument against Ron Paul’s viewpoint. Yet there is no theoretical reason why there could not be a judicial system that could settle the lawsuits quickly, for it must be stressed that an increased demand for judicial services on the free market brings about an increased supply of those services. But let us deal with this practical argument in the light of the present-day judicial system. Ron Paul, remember, is running for President here, with all the trappings that that office brings. The President, and politicians in Congress can likely come up with emergency measures, or new legislative solutions, if the demands of stopping polluters and forcing them to pay restitution caused a case-load which overstrained the judicial system. For politicians are eager to search and find problems they can fix. Also the judicial system itself could come up with solutions for this problem.

      All in all, the objections raise here a pretty pedantic and frivolous. For a law professor and scholar such as yourself to make such a sweeping pronouncement of Dr. Paul based on a selective quote of a mere two sentences from a brief explanation on his campaign website without reference to the number of books Ron Paul has presented, or the number of libertarian legal scholars who have written papers on this topic, seems highly questionable.

      [Report abuse]

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