Posts Tagged ‘Externalities’

Adeline’s True Age

Lionsgate have released a trailer for The Age of Adeline . The film ...After miraculously remaining 29 years old for nearly eight decades, Adaline Bowman (Blake Lively) has lived a solitary existence, never allowing herself to get close to anyone who might reveal her secret. But a chance encounter with charismatic philanthropist Ellis Jones (Michiel Huisman) reignites her passion for life and romance. When a weekend with his parents (Harrison Ford) threatens to uncover reality, Adaline makes a decision that will change her life forever. This Kantian decision, to tell the truth always, irrespective of the consequences, ironically sets her free from the bondage and chains of time.

“Up” in the Air with Nail Houses

After a beautiful life and marriage cut short by his wife’s premature passing, Up (2009) depicts an elderly gentleman’s quest to fulfill his childhood “cross-my-heart” sweetheart promise to move to Paradise Falls in South America. Enter Russell: a young boy who is one “Be kind to the elderly” act away from earning his final badge toward becoming a Wilderness Explorer. Karl Frederickson has to continually choose between fulfilling personal desires and including Russell on his quest. Frederickson winds up discovering that the adventure doesn’t lie in the destination but in the journey. Frederickson’s nail house, which was so important to him at the beginning of the movie primarily because of its memories, gets appropriately left behind in his finding that life is never too late for new experiences. The fifth amendment of the United States Constitution generally protects private property from governmental seizure without “just compensation.” However, eminent domain (compulsory seizure for civil use, public safety, or economic development) allows the transfer of private property for the public interest in exchange for fair market value. Eminent domain represents a skirmish between individual property rights, public property, the common good, and private economic development.

The Constitution has traditionally been quite clear about public use, just compensation, and due process as prerequisites for eminent domain. But during contemporary times, Costco is a “public use”; just compensation is getting pennies on the dollar., and cities have offered owners nothing for their land, doing them “favors” to take it off their hands. So this is the world that we have come to. And how just did we get UP there?

Should Shopping Carts Stay or Should They Go?

Is it wrong to take shopping carts from parking lots?

These neighborhood eyesores elicit either the typical exasperated brush off or disappointed shoulder shrug. They inspire the creation of local field guides to identify strays and blogs preventing their abuse. Yet what is at stake in this particular transfer? Is the act illegal, or does taking a shopping cart away from its natural premises represent a moral violation? Are we going too far with calling the act unethical as it simply is an unaesthetic eyesore? Does it rather only represent a frustrating financial and time-consuming clean-up venture for the ownership and/or municipality?

What kind of individual or joint transgression if any is committed by this action? Moral and legal boundaries or aesthetic and pragmatic ideals aside, nobody connects that tomorrow’s grocery and electronic prices are higher because of the current massive cart movement on city streets−costs that are invariably passed onto other consumers (cf. litter as a classic example of what economists term a ‘negative externality.’)

Some cities have chosen to lay the burden on the victims and fine the store owners for the return of their carts. However, most municipalities combine punishment of the presumed thief/litterbug (often a fine) and encourage some type of responsibility from the store owner (e.g., walking customers out to their cars and bringing back the carts, anti-theft devices which lock the wheels, and charging security deposits on carts).

While empathizing with those without the financial means of transporting their goods and identifying with the plight of the homeless, a person’s financial status cannot decide the morality of an act.Some stores try to hire cart retrievers to take care of the immediate problem. But the long-term prospective moral concern affecting our groceries and outdoor strip malls remains.