Liberty, Markets, and Environmental Values

Mark Pennington is a professor at University of London and worked for many years at the Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA) which was able to give a theoretical basis to the policy of Margaret Thatcher. This long essay transfers management of environmental proposals of Pennington in urban planning (including Liberating the Land, 2002)… Critical of the role of governments , he published with Elinor Ostrom “The future of the Commons: beyond market failure and government regulation” (IEA, 2012)

In his essay, Liberty, Markets, and Environmental Values: A Hayekian Defense of Free-Market Environmentalism, Pennington noted that if in terms of concept Free Market Environment has demonstrated consistency it did not really changed environmental policies because it has failed to settle on the side of morality and the common good, the ideology of militant ecology.

He devotes the first part of his trial to criticism of Free Market Environmentalism analysis by “communitarianism.” In fact most market failures open many possibility of intervention for “environmental entrepreneurs” who internalize externalities. The political system, in contrast, tends by nature to outsource costs via the binding of the collective decision-making mechanisms.

In a second part he demonstrates that criticism of liberal ecology is not based on its effectiveness, but the refusal of the ontonlogy which is based namely on the theory of rational choices developed by Hayek. The individuals and not the community are at the heart of the rationnal decision and spontaneous order is the best way to discover the common good.

Finally the essential merit of property rights on environmental resources is that it allows to oppose the constraints imposed by the changing preferences created by bureaucrats.

Pennington concludes “insofar as the extension of the system of private property is limited by nature, these limits should be identified in terms of their opportunities for implementation and not by opposing misreported the virtues of citizenship to the supposed defects of consumer choices guided by market forces”

Max Falque.