Free-Market Curmudgeonry :grin:

by

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Many of the homes in my neighborhood still don’t have power from Saturday’s storms.

 

Some of those people are running very loud gasoline generators.

 

If you don’t have power and it’s hot out you have to open the windows, right? Even after bedtime. Even with a loud generator running non-stop right next door.

 

So, if one person is providing a value for himself but this creates a nuisance that diminishes his neighbors’ quality of life, hasn’t he unethically “externalized” the cost of his convenience onto neighbors who get no benefit from that? In the same manner as a factory owner whose smokestack dumps harmful soot on others’ property: “What’s your soot doing on my lawn?”

 

“What’s your noise doing in my living room?”

 

A colleague suggested that the answer is a “Pigouvian tax,” which got me thinking about what tax rate would compensate me for this nuisance. Maybe $50 per day? If the nuisance were chronic, like say constantly barking dogs, that’s $18,000 per year. Payable to just one neighbor. If the other neighbors were similarly disposed the cost of these taxed “goods” would become prohibitive except in extreme emergencies. Which of course is at least in part the idea of such a tax.

 

Here’s the real curmudgeonly part: This doesn’t even affect me very much, since I do have power – well, kinda have power, as described in a previous post here. (I’m out but my neighbor has power and let me run a cord to his house :grin: ).

 

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PS. In almost every case the generators are running purely for convenience, not to supply power to vital medical equipment, etc., which of course would be different.

 

PPS. Another colleague offered that the polite thing would be for generator-guy to offer to power his neighbor’s house. Nice thought, but the noise-generating capacity of those things extends a lot further than their electricity-generating capacity, even if he had several cords for several neighbors.

 

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