William Baxter was an Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Antitrust division of the United States Department of Justice, getting recognition after settling a seven year old AT&T case. He was a trust breaker. Baxter was also a lawyer, writer and environmentalist. The latter gave Baxter background to write a “widely read and influential book on the law of economics of pollution control entitle People or Penguins: The Case for Optimal Pollution.” Intending this book for a law audience, Baxter’s book also contained a philosophically intricate stance on the topic of animal rights, and conservation
Baxter is what you call a speciesist, a person who believes in “the assignment of different values, rights, or special consideration to individuals solely on the basis of their species membership.” Using this term like all other environmentalists, Baxter believes we should re-prioritize and save our resources for future generations. However, during Baxter’s time there was a lot of backlash towards environmentalism, especially from President Ronald Reagan.
Reagan believed we needed to deregulate. Deregulating offices like the EPA and other policies that prevented companies from expanding and new citizens from being hired, similar today. By getting rid of said programs the country would cut its deficit while also killing the environment and its people, go good ol’ U.S. However, all of this will come back and bit everyone and their big white bottom because the world will turn to crude thanks to deregulation.
Yet, Baxter believes we should let the market decide in terms of what we should do with fixing the environment, and its problems. Letting the market tell us what to do and when to do it is perfect, because it allows us to put the pressure on when the time calls for it. This is a free market, capitalistic approach to environmental degradation. Bluntly, Baxter states that since nature cannot state its wants and needs to us, since it is amoral, we can use this to our advantage. We are all selfish and if animals cannot say anything then to hell with them. Baxter wants to create an efficient economic market as possible. That means his environmental policy is based solely on economics. Yes, our economical system can slightly support the environment mainly the ideas of externalities and ecosystem services; but the idea of creating environmental protect based solely on economics is crazy, I do not see it working/happening.
Us humans understand the world, and how it works, and economic long term effects. Thus, any non-humans will not be able to have any rights unless only to be protected if it serves the best interests of human beings. Usually, the best interests for humans are the best interests for nature, as well. For example Baxter mentions the penguins, DDT is harmful to penguins but humans rarely interact with penguins, thus penguins do not harm humans. However, it would be a greater economic social benefit for banning DDT to give us penguins, the money received is astronomical. We should never banish DDT just for the penguins on their own sake, however.
I guess focusing on the economic side of things would interesting but I feel there should be more to the equation than just economics. I mean I think people would like to save penguins because they could not stand to kill innocent creatures. However, we are selfish so keeping them around as they are affected by DDT means we put our own needs above the penguins, which is not that good. Another thing that bothers mean about Baxter is how he puts other non-important needs before important needs, like that seems logical, ok.
Then you have Hardin, ooh Hardin. Well, Hardin talk about overpopulation. His concept is called tragedy at the commons, that we use property as a right to use it as we want with certain guidelines. This is where the idea of private property versus public property comes about, thanks old chap. Hence, the commons were not privately owned but rather public forums. These public places are greatly affected by human activity and soon our world and its public places will not be able to withstand our population growth. So how do we lessen population growth? Well, simple, we limit reproduction rates or face the consequences.
This is nonsense to me because I do not see anyway anybody will let the government regulate the amount of children he or she can have. It is his/her body not the governments so he or she can do whatever he or she please, in this case most likely a she. But whatever the case, people are not owned, they are free and I do not see them willing to give up that freedom to help save the Earth. Maybe if we spruced up or education system they will understand more.