The Lorax:

Jonathan Adler reconsiders the lessons of The Lorax.

Rachel (mail):
My sister has a great parody at on the Lorax. The whole problem with the Lorax isn't just that he doesn't care about the environment, he doesn't seem to be profit maximizing either.
7.29.2005 5:15pm
Justin Kee (mail):
Adler presents an interesting interpretation via the institutional view. However I do think he is confusing the issue. Specifically, the Truffula trees do need to be viewed as the commons, not as private property, in order for the moral to be told. If we interpret the trees as the commons, shared by all, the trees can be symbolic of our shared environmental resources such as water, air, and biologically diverse ecologies. The notion that placing these resources under the auspices of individual property rights would lead to their beneficient stewardship by the property owner may be true, but we would need to look at the end results.

For example, the owner of a large tract of forest chooses to maximize his economic returns by selectively harvesting and replanting the forest. It is in the owners best interest to preserve the long term calue of his property, in this case the health of the forest. The owner has no express interest in the amount of CO2 converted to O2 by his forest, the amount of water the forest produces as runoff into streams or rivers or the ecological sustainability of other species co-habiting with his trees. Yet the three items are all of tremendous value to local property owners as well as to inhabitants of the community at large.

Thus, if the owner of the land truly wishes to maximize his return on investment, he should calculate the value of the aforementioned less tangible items and charge local and global consumers for these products. This would effectively remove these three items from the commons by privatization. While this does provide an economic incentive to the property owner to truly tend to his property, do we really want clean air, clean water and ecological diversity to be sold to the highest bidder? I hear they are in Brazil.....
7.29.2005 5:33pm