Friday, September 19, 2008

Milk, Fish, and Derivatives

No, not a menu, just a linking of three stories today.
the Chinese continue to struggle with their milk scandal--dairies putting melamine in milk to boost the protein count. Problems of this sort remind of the government milk inspector who used to visit our farm. And also of Thoreau's famous quote on circumstantial evidence: "as when there's a trout in the milk" was good evidence the farmer had been adding water to the milk.

the Times reports on a study that: "Giving people ownership rights in marine fisheries can halt or even reverse catastrophic declines in commercial stocks, researchers in California and Hawaii are reporting." Who "gives" the rights? The government.

Derivatives are linked to this week's financial problems.

The point I'd make is government has a role in establishing and enforcing rules, rules of identity (what is milk), rules of property (who owns what right). Our history is government is usually tail-end charley, people discover something new, crisis happens, and sometime later government comes along to establish rules.

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