Poor Richard posted an extended comment to the previously published theses by Brian Davey:
“Brian Davey raises several interesting points but I believe there is a flaw in some of the underlying logic.
“Economists tell us that by putting a price on natural resources that this creates a restraint on their use. That is rubbish – it puts them up for sale – and then the banking system and central banks create all the purchasing power needed to acquire them. In order to protect natural resources they must be taken out of the market – and put under the collective control of responsible communities. ”
There are two problems with that analysis:
1) Putting a price on natural resources and ecosystem services is not the problem. In fact I believe it is unavoidable (see below). But it is important to establish a correct price, one without externalities. That insures sustainability. The test of zero externalities is that all transactions and all conversions must be reversible. The price for removing a mountaintop or a forest must be equal to the cost of replacing it.
2) The power of central banks to create unlimited fiat money is potentially fatal to the commons but it has a simple (if not easy) solution. A universal basic income coupled with highly progressive taxation of both income and property can create a maximum ratio between the top and bottom strata of wealth. I don’t know if the ideal ratio would be 100:1 or 100,000:1 — that would have to be determined democratically and by trial and error. If that is done, an artificial expansion of the money supply is pointless. No one gains an advantage from it. This solution provides a monetary homeostasis mechanism regardless of the type of money in circulation.
These may sound like impossible reforms to achieve, but according to my reasoning they are the only possible solutions to the enclosure of the commons.
It is simply impossible to avoid putting prices on the commons.
Regulating access, extraction, consumption, etc., by any means, establishes value. And like night follows day, price follows value in human instincts. A priceless commons would be a transparent fiction. A black market would prevail.
Furthermore, quantification is essential to good management of resources and services. Once you have metrics you have accounting; once you have accounting you have relative values and accounts; once you have relative values and accounts you have rules and calculations for exchange and distribution — i.e., prices by any other name. You can’t tell me that hunter-gatherers didn’t establish rates of exchange for various goods and services. Its in our DNA. Cooperation and sociality are based on negotiation. From this evolved our facility for accounting and symbolic representation, and thence our large brains. Justice is also based upon true and fair accounting. This cannot be removed from the human experience without diminishing the very nature of humanness.
For that reason money and prices are simply inescapable. The only two things we can actually do, no matter how difficult and unlikely they may seem, are 1) put an upper limit on the concentration of wealth by taxation, and 2) price things objectively.”