Roberts discussed free-market environmentalism with Terry Anderson, of the Property and Environment Research Center and the Hoover Institution.

FME’s unique combination of free-market principles and environmental stewardship may not be as radical as when it was introduced, yet still is not mainstream. We hope you find the prompts below useful.

Check Your Knowledge:

1. Why does Anderson assert that we should expunge the term “externality” from our vocabulary? To what extent do you agree with him?

Going Deeper:

2. Anderson says that his approach is inspired largely by Ronald Coase’s work on social cost. Roberts suggest the approach integrates some, but not all, of Coase. What elements of Coase are not present in Anderson’s approach?

3. Anderson uses the example of barbed wire to illustrate the role of technology in defining and enforcing property rights. What role does technology play? What are some other examples (relating to the environment or otherwise) that illustrate this relationship?

4. Both Anderson and Roberts note that free-market environmentalism does not argue there is no role for government. So what is the proper role for government from the FME perspective? Does FME allow for too much or too little government?

Extra Credit:

5. In discussing national parks, Roberts admits that he thinks that the government running them isn’t all that bad, though there may be be better alternatives, such as running Yellowstone as a non-profit. Revisit this episode with charity activist Dan Pallotta, who is highly critical of the “culture” of the non-profit world. From Pallotta’s perspective, what would be the advantages and disadvantages of running the park as non-profit (as compared to being state-run)? What sort of “rule book,” in Pallotta’s parlance, should environmental goods be governed by?