Sunday, August 4, 2019
Yet another deadly global externality
Many people are quite rightly worked up these days about what Nicholas Stern called the biggest market failure ever – namely the human decisions that are leading to climate change. Not nearly as many people are worked up about the human decisions that are contributing to another global externality – namely the creation of antibiotic resistant bacteria. I am putting a section about this in the chapter on Externalities in the second edition of the Anti-Textbook.
There is a very nice article on the subject in today's New York Times. It's a case study of the difficulty of dealing with this problem because, at its root, is the usual suspect: profit maximization combined with the hamstringing of governmental regulation by corporate power, in this case the power of the livestock and poultry industries. Yes, I know, relative to the size of the economy as a whole they are a drop in the bucket, and yet (to mix metaphors) the tail wags the dog.
The Times has produced an excellent video that tells the story in just a few minutes. Have a look: