Externalities like air pollution, deforestation and other effects are not represented by the price of everyday items (such as gas and lumber). When we don’t pay these costs up front it can allow us to drive too much, cut down too many trees because the products are inexpensive and the externalities feel abstract or as if they don’t affect us. Social controls have been suggested, such as tax on drivers who drive at peak hours. Much of capitalism is based on cheap production, which can mean it is less expensive to buy an apple from New Zealand than an apple from a farm next door. Labeling which shows the environmental impact that produced an item is one option, and Wal-Mart will soon begin to use this system.
I appreciate the idea of somehow showing people the true cost (in every sense of the word) of products. Something like nutrition facts labels on foods, but on everything and taking into account many more factors. This, however, would not be an easy project to undertake as there are so many factors that contribute to the actual price of a product and it would be incredibly hard (although I suppose not impossible) to figure out the exact cost for every individual product.
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