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A piece of work

I just did something I hardly ever do and that is read a think tank report or newsletter from cover to cover. That is an awesome piece of work you just put out (PERC Reports, Summer 2010). It was A ++++ in every department from the writing and editing through the layout and use of graphics. You must enter it for some awards of your own.

—John Blundell
Institute of Economic Affairs

Economics as calories

In the latest issue of PERC Reports Dr. Hill wrote “…pre-Columbian Indians understood the tragedy of the commons well and created rules and order to protect their resources.” I have written extensively on aboriginal influences and the original state of nature and there is absolutely no evidence that aboriginal people anywhere on Earth had any understanding of “the tragedy of commons,” as that term is commonly used by western science. Moreover, Hardin’s paper really had nothing to do with resources, per se. Whether or not native people practiced what we would call “conservation” depended on if the resource was economical to defend—economics being calories. If it took, say 1,000 kcal to defend a resource but you received less than 1,000 kcal when you consumed that resource, natural selection would soon eliminate that behavior. Certain resources were economical to defend, those that were closest to private property, while others were not and were severely over exploited. Plus, over exploitation of a resource is not necessarily a “bad” thing, as most people assume. Finally, I suggest consulting the book that Randy Simmons and I co-edited on Wilderness and Political Ecology, which deals with these subjects at length. In general, however, conservation and sustainability are two very brain-dead ideas and we should be very glad that our distant African ancestors practiced neither—for if they had, none of us would exist and there would be no “civilization” as we know it.

—Charles Kay
Utah State University


A refreshing read

While Principles Micro had their test last night, I perused the Summer 2010 Issue of PERC Reports. Some great articles, including “Bootleggers, Baptists, and Global Warming in Retrospect,” by Bruce Yandle; “Recycling Redux,” by Daniel Benjamin; and a book review “The Case Against the Hockey Stick,” by Matt Ridley. It was a refreshing read after being nauseated by the amount of talk on “sustainability” (i.e. save the environment, ignore the costs).

—Tim Shaughnessy
Louisiana State University


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