The Broken Window Fallacy
I’m confused by Guy Crittenden’s “broken window” editorial in the December/January 2002 issue. I was prepared for a somewhat different conclusion than the one drawn by Mr. Crittenden. That is, that we should not break the window on the earth’s store of resources. Rather, we should be paying our fair share up front for the resources we harvest rather than trying to repair the window after the shelves have been emptied, without even the benefit of having received a fair price for the missing inventory.
In many cases of resource extraction and use the environmental damage is done and governments are faced with having to repair it as well as the full replacement value, without having charged those who benefited form the resource. I agree with Mr. Crittenden that environmental issues should be assessed on their own merits: do they contribute to sustaining and even enhancing the environment? Just as economic policies should be assessed on their merits: do they sustain and even enhance the health and well being of human societies? In both cases blind adherence to unexamined ideology, of whatever stripe, can lead to broken windows.
Brian Van Rooyen
Valley Waste-Resource Management
Kentville, Nova Scotia
First of Its Kind
I just read Clarissa Morawski’s article about the MSRP report in the February/March edition. I want to pass on a couple of comments.
Firstly, the goal of this report is significant. Comparing inter-jurisdictional recycling and waste reduction rates is important. I believe that the Multi-Stakeholder Recovery Project (MSRP) report has some serious deficiencies purely from an accounting theory perspective. I do not agree with the National Soft Drink Association’s (NSDA) opinion that the study was intentionally biased, however I believe that this study is seriously flawed, which may explain the NSDA’s conspiracy theory.
This report is sloppy. Why you ask? The issue I have with the MSRP report is that it compares financial apples to oranges to bananas. The stakeholders of the MSRP report agreed to a project charter. The stakeholders should have also agreed upon the accounting methodologies they were, or were not going