Conservation and Economic Efficiency: An Approach to Materials Policy

By Talbot Page; African Diaspora Studies Institute | Go to book overview

Notes
1.
Extrapolated from figure 2.3 of National Commission on Materials Policy, Materials Needs and the Environment Today and Tomorrow: Final Report ( Washington, D.C., U.S. Government Printing Office, June 1973) pp. 2-6.
2.
Neal Potter and Francis Christy Jr., Trends in Natural Resource Commodities: Statistics of Prices Output, Consumption, Foreign Trade, and Employment in the United States, 1870-1957 ( Baltimore, Md., Johns Hopkins University Press for Resources for the Future, 1962) p. 8.
3.
A product's price measures its marginal benefit in terms of a consumer's willingness to pay for it. Its marginal cost is a measure of the cost of one extra unit of the product. The marginal cost at a production level of X units per month (or whatever unit of time) is the difference in total costs for a production level of X + 1 units and the total costs for a production level of X units (for the same unit of time). The market tends to balance the marginal benefits with the marginal costs of production.
4.
A perfect market is said to be efficient; that is, it satisfies the condition that there is no possible way to change the allocations of goods and services to make some people better off without hurting at least one person. In a perfect market there are no price distortions so that economic activities are carried out to the point where marginal cost equals price. The cost and benefit are matched, on the margin, for each product, and there is no way to improve one person's economic well-being without hurting another's. Where there are institutional constraints, in a world of "second-best," this condition of price equal to marginal cost can be quite complicated, taking into account indirect costs.
5.
Harold Hotelling, "The Economics of Exhaustible Resources," Journal of Political Economy vol. 39 ( April 1931) pp. 137-175.
6.
Actually, it appears that several developing countries with newly nationalized oil deposits are more concerned about resource reservation than the previous resource managers, the international oil companies. The motive does not appear to be speculation on future price increases (in a competitive market) as discussed above. The motive appears twofold: to increase the rents on the present flow of oil and to provide a more stable economy over the next few decades. The tradeoff between present and future welfare is explicitly a policy issue for several developing countries with raw material deposits.
7.
Mason Gaffney discusses this point in his "Editor's Conclusion" of Extractive Resources and Taxation ( Madison, Wisc., University of Wisconsin Press, 1967) pp. 391-399; the point is also discussed in a Ph.D. dissertation by Frederick Peterson , "The Theory of Exhaustible Natural Resources: A Classical Variational Approach," Princeton. N.J., 1972.
8.
See, for example, Robin Marris, The Economic Theory of "Managerial" Capitalism ( New York, Basic Books, 1964).
9.
In another very long-run sense, depletion can be considered quite generally to include the extinction of genetic stocks.
10.
Alvin Weinberg, "Social Institutions and Nuclear Energy," Science vol. 177 ( July 7, 1972) p. 33.
11.
Of course maintaining the resource base intact is not by itself adequate provision for the future. If we maintain our forests and other resources intact, but the population triples in the next fifty years, we have still passed on a much increased resource problem.
12.
The assumption underlying this analogy is that future generations do not have the market powers to earn and trade for the resource base; they inherit it. To the extent that later generations have their own labor and hence market power to trade with overlapping previous generations, the analogy needs modification.

-15-

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Conservation and Economic Efficiency: An Approach to Materials Policy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword xi
  • Preface xv
  • Title Page xix
  • 1 - Introduction: Toward A Materials Policy 15
  • Part One - Material Flows and Uses 17
  • 2 - Virgin Material Intensity and Waste Management 33
  • 3 - Competition Between Primary and Secondary Industries 34
  • Part Two - Intratemporal Efficiency 59
  • 4 - Discriminatory Pricing 61
  • 5 - Disposal 105
  • 6 - Taxes on VIrgin Materials 139
  • Part Three - Intertemporal Equity 143
  • 7 - The Present Value Criterion 170
  • 8 - The Conservation Criterion 188
  • 9 - The Criteria Reconciled 206
  • 10 - Conclusion 208
  • Appendixes 215
  • Notes 221
  • Notes 225
  • Notes 234
  • Notes 251
  • Index 253
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