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Ronald Coase, Murray Rothbard, and Walter Block on the Indian River


Tags Private Property


There is controversy on the Indian River in southeast Florida where fishermen are complaining about the fertilizer runoff from sugar farms. The fertilizer runoff leads to an overgrowth of algae in the Indian River lagoons and cuts down on the amount of fish that can be caught. Sugar subsidies provide large incentives to grown sugar inside the US and it also encourages sugar farmers to use more fertilizer than under free market conditions.

The author applies the ideas of Ronald Coase and Murry Rothbard to this controversy. The sugar farmers are imposing an externality on the fishermen. He argues that Coase's solution is not correct and that Rothbard's is correct. He then uses arguments by Walter Block to show that privatization of the river is the solution. Randall Holcombe and Gary North are also mentioned.

Mark Thornton is a Senior Fellow at the Mises Institute and the book review editor of the Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics. He has authored seven books and is a frequent guest on national radio shows.

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