species extinction, private property, tragedy of the commons
With the 40th anniversary of the passage of the Endangered Species Act it becomes necessary to review the history of this act and its impact on achieving its goals of preventing the extinction of endangered species. Many environmentalists have argued that the only way to prevent the extinction of animals, most notable Elephant populations in Africa, is through government management and ownership. However, we argue in this paper that the best solution to preserving endangered species is creating a more free market- oriented system of private property rights over animals and land use.
Our argument is two-fold, first - that without a true market with effective property rights we encounter a tragedy of the commons where there is no effective incentive among individual actors to protect endangered animals. Second is the unintended consequences of regulation by government actors that distort the incentives of individuals to protect endangered animals. By instituting a more market oriented way of governing all animals would significantly benefit by reducing the tragedy of the commons problem and the unintended consequences of government management. Using examples from the American buffalo, African elephants, fish farms, and farm animals we try to build the case for more free market-oriented policies in achieving the goal of species preservation.
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