Jon Bostwick agrees on another post that "Man is clever but not wise ("homo sapiens" is a misnomer)", but further comments (emphasis added):
"True. But humanity is wise. Men create cultures, economies and law.
"Man's flaw is that he is over confident of his own intelligence. He tries to control things he doesn't understand, like culture, economies, and law.
"You have just made an excellent case for why government involvement will not improve the environment. Because governments, like man, are not wise."
This is too simple, as well as self-contradictory. Humanity is wise because he collectively (but non-deliberately?) creates "cultures, economies and law" (let's not forget governments), but individuals are foolish when they seek to use institutions to achieve particular purposes?
Our states are merely one subset of the wide universe of formal and informal institutions through which we cooperate with one another. States are not a market, to be sure, but then neither are corporations, and there is a spectrum of ownership types between the two. We can study all of these institutions and use that knowledge to direct how we make use of them. Such study has informed, for example, the deliberate shifts in policy that have led to the ongoing (yet incomplete) privatization of the former USSR and of China.
A study of institutions governing common pool resources by guru Elinor Ostrom makes the following point:
"Whether people are able to self-organize and manage CPRs also depends on the broader social setting within which they work. National governments can help or hinder local self-organization. "Higher" levels of government can facilitate the assembly of users of a CPR in organizational meetings, provide information that helps identify the problem and possible solutions, and legitimize and help enforce agreements reached by local users. National governments can at times, however, hinder local self-organization by defending rights that lead to overuse or maintaining that the state has ultimate control over resources without actually monitoring and enforcing existing regulations.
"Participants are more likely to adopt effective rules in macro-regimes that facilitate their efforts than in regimes that ignore resource problems entirely or that presume that central authorities must make all decisions.If local authority is not formally recognized by larger regimes, it is difficult for users to establish enforceable rules. "
Elinor Ostrom et al., Revisiting the Commons: Local Lessons, Global Challenges, Science, 04/09/99 http://conservationcommons.org/media/document/docu-wyycyz.pdf
Was von Mises foolish to suggest we can use the state to reform our institutions?
“It is true that where a considerable part of the costs incurred are external costs from the point of view of the acting individuals or firms, the economic calculation established by them is manifestly defective and their results deceptive. But this is not the outcome of alleged deficiencies inherent in the system of private ownership of the means of production. It is on the contrary a consequence of loopholes left in this system. It could be removed by a reform of the laws concerning liability for damages inflicted and by rescinding the institutional barriers preventing the full operation of private ownership.”
And Cordato, for suggesting that Austrians take particular policy approaches to environmental issues?
"For Austrians then, public policy in the area of the environment must focus on resolving these conflicts over the use of resources that define pollution, not on obtaining an ultimately unobtainable "efficient" allocation of resources. ... For Austrians, whose goal is to resolve conflicts, the focus is on clarifying titles to property and rights enforcement.
Sorry, but I cannot believe that we are condemned always to repeat all mistakes, despite our rather constant human nature. Rather, as Yandle notes, our very history as a species is about our success in evolving, devising and adopting ways to manage shared problems. http://www.fee.org/publications/the-freeman/article.asp?aid=4064
This is a message of profound optimism, not cynicism --- said the fool.