11.14.2008

A LIGHTS-OUT BRIGHT IDEA

A nice piece on how environmental concerns are leading to the end of Manhattan's gleaming nighttime skylines: "Efficiency’s Mark: City Glitters a Little Less." [Via Governing Magazine's blog.] Here's the money quote for me: "But more and more, building owners are writing leases that require tenants to pay for their own electricity, leading many tenants to install more efficient lights."

And this is why it's good to unbundle goods: because end-users now have an incentive to use only what they are willing to pay for. This is the sort of thinking that can minimize the amount of water, gas, and electricity we would otherwise piss away because we have no incentive to treat these things as the scarce resources that they are. Instead, we want to artificially depress the price of these things, leading to ruinous over-consumption, even as we punish good things like making money or leaving some of that hard-earned wealth for the next generation. Here's hoping we can get this turned around in enough time that our kids and grandkids will inherit more from us than a scorched earth and unusable air and water.
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