What Economic Freedom means to the Environment

2014 marks the 20th anniversary of the Heritage Foundation publishing the Index of Economic Freedom. Economic freedom is the right of the individual to control his or her labor and property. When respected, it allows for greater prosperity. Economic freedom is responsible for lifting more people out of poverty than any government program ever. Healthcare, education, and human development hold positive relationships with economic freedom.

Another outcome of a freer economy is a cleaner environment. Pollution is a side-effect of production. A society that produces will also pollute. The goals of environmental conservation, therefore, cannot be eliminating pollution, but how to minimize its harm as efficiently as possible. Critics of the market see government regulation as the solution. However, countries throughout the world that rely on private property rights more so than government regulation continue to outperform their repressed counterparts on environmental protection. Knowledge of environmental conditions spread across time and place is always subject to change. What the regulators fail to realize is that no single central authority can plan for constantly changing conditions, demands, and efficient uses of various resources. Decentralized planning by many separate persons possessing knowledge of the particular circumstances of time and place must be recognized. Private property lays the foundation for environmental conservation.

A free market does not pick winners through subsidies and losers by taxation. Politics as such encourages bad business behavior. It is counterproductive and creates malinvestment.  Under the rule of law, markets determine resource allocation most efficiently.