Wednesday, June 13, 2007

World Bank Mission Creep

More is more is less

The World Bank which of course (I think though its hard to tell all that I know is that "the Bank" continues to find new ways to justify its existence) was founded to fight poverty is now giving cash to governments to put forests out of harm's way. This is of course to be funded by donor country taxpayers whether or not they buy into the global warming thing.

I am not sure how buying forests helps fight poverty. In fact, if you know the work of Julian Simon (and no-one could prove him wrong) our natural resources are becoming more efficiently managed, not less so, over time, through the powers of economic incentives. Workers has said this before, change is part of who we are, this means global climate change. It is a hierarchy of liberty. Putting dampers on people's ability to contract with each other - and the underlying free will of all expressed by this liberty - is the imperative, not those willing to curb someone's behaviour for their own values.

There has been countless studies on property rights for environment protectionism, local vs national management of commons, reforestation and deforestation, public-private partnerships, species preservation strategies, etc. To paraphrase Schumpeter no theory is true (nature is too complicated) but different theories are useful in different situations.

How can the Bank control stuff from above? The Washington Post has a quote on this situation, "some environmentalists fear nations might sign-up to secure one area, shifting deforestation elsewhere but bringing no net gain." This means of course no net gain to the environmentalists but net gain to whoever is making the resources allocation decision.