What the US looked like before the EPA

Jason Kottke (happy 20th!) has a post today about what America would look like without the EPA. It has links to the interesting series about the EPA on Popular Science.

I share the Ron Swanson view on government ("as little as possible"), with a few key exceptions. One of those is the natural environment. It's actually a truly "conservative" cause and it baffles me that the GOP doesn't seem on board with that.

We haven't yet found a good way to give common goods real costs. It feels like that could be a blockchain application (though before government adopts something like that... look at the mess that is carbon credits). 

Anyway, some of these pictures of the US in the 70s are incredible. I am very thankful to the environmental movement of the 80s.

The George Washington Bridge in Heavy Smog. View toward the New Jersey Side of the Hudson River, 1973 (Chester Higgins / EPA)

Detroit Lake the Dam, 09/1973 (David Falconer / EPA)

International Paper Company Mill at Jay on the Androscoggin River, 06/1973 (Charles Steinhacker / EPA)

3 responses
I swear the last image is from the original Twin Peaks opening credits! Curious where else you see government intervention as necessary? And who doesn't love Ron Swanson (except that mustache)?
Starting from the point that I believe capitalism is the only ethical association of individuals, there are clear instances in which markets fail. Here it is that public/common goods don't have a price and this causes negative externalities (I hate that word - it's like collateral damage for civilian fatalities). But there are other market failures, like natural monopolies, collusion/using market power for unethical behavior, preventing competition in other ways, making price discovery difficult, etc. I do think government has a very clear role as "the monopolist on violence", i.e. in the enforcement of the rules for everyone, if necessary at gunpoint.
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