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Bootleggers, Baptists, and Global Warming

  • Bruce Yandle

    As nations argue over global warming policies, PERC economist Bruce Yandle brings fresh insights to the discussion. In “Bootleggers, Baptists, and Global Warming,” a new paper from PERC, Yandle sheds light on puzzling features of the international negotiations over climate change.

    Yandle looks at the post-Kyoto negotiations in the light of a theory that he has coined as the “bootleggers and Baptists” theory of regulation. Yandle points out that in the South, Sunday closing laws make it illegal to sell alcohol on Sunday. These laws are maintained by an inadvertent coalition of bootleggers and Baptists. The Baptists (and other religious denominations) provide the public outcry against liquor on Sunday, while the bootleggers (who actually sell liquor on Sunday) quietly persuade legislatures and town councils to maintain the closing laws.

    “Bootleggers, Baptists, and Global Warming” explains that something similar is happening with the treaty negotiations over climate change. Baptists are the environmental groups, and bootleggers are the companies, trade associations, and nations that are seeking favors through the global warming negotiations.

    Bruce Yandle is Alumni Professor of Economics and BB&T Scholar at Clemson University, as well as a Senior Associate of PERC (the Political Economy Research Center). He is author or editor of twelve books, the most recent of which is Common Sense and Common Law for the Environment (Rowman & Littlefield).

    In addition to academic knowledge of political economy, Yandle has practical knowledge from serving as a senior economist on the Council on Wage and Price Stability and as executive director of the Federal Trade Commission.

    Download the full report, including endnotes and references.

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