Wednesday, April 07, 2010
Parasitic government stops fighting actual parasites
Tucked in the myriad cuts in this year's tough-times fiscal plan, is an elimination of the Cornell Cooperative Extension Service, an organization devoted to agricultural solutions and education -- which means fighting pests.Parasite control involves massive externalities, where individuals face no incentive to account the huge costs that their actions can impose on numerous others. When individuals are not accountable for the costs they impose, private markets fail to coordinate efficient outcomes, creating a role for government to try to fill in for the missing market solution. The solution will still be dependent largely on individual action, but there will be a role for government in coordinating that action, as by developing, subsidizing, and if necessary requiring, eradication efforts.
"With roaches, we know how to get rid of them. With bed bugs, we don't know. This would be a loss in terms of coming up with solutions," Brewer says.
Instead of fighting parasites, government has become a killing parasite. New York's unresisted descent into primitive infestation provides a sardonically literal metaphor for this moral inversion.