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Sunday, April 03, 2005

Bill Day: A unique perspective

Bill Day is business editor of the San Antonio(Texas) Express News, and he offers an interesting commentary on the ANWR debate in today's paper. He's a business guy, obviously, and spends a lot of his time thinking about money and economics to bring his readers the best business news.

Taking his inspiration from a paper by Univ. of Colorado economics professor Phillip Graves, Day notes it is hard for economists to fully value public goods such as clean air and beautiful scenery because they can't charge for them. They're available to everyone for the taking.

He also explains why a lot of environmentalists act the way they do. Most people are prone to act only on their own self-interest, but environmentalists act in the interest of the environment. Therefore, unlike most consumers, they don't always buy things (land, water, oil) just because they can. In effect, these things become "priceless."

Concludes Day: "Cost-benefit analyses are important, but only if the right values are used."

So, what are the right values? That's the question we face today concerning ANWR.

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