Saturday, November 01, 2014
Why we should privatize our helium reserves
Our discussion in class got me thinking about how the world would be different if all or most of the planet's natural resources were privatized. How would the world look today if all the oil in the middle-east was owned by a corporation, if companies owned the Amazon rain forest or if some endangered specie was owned by a private citizen. I think that world would look a lot different then it does now. I don't think we would be hearing people worry about us running out of our most precious resources.
So I tried to imagine a situation today that people were complaining about that we are running out of a natural resource and how it would be different if we had liberty and private property rights on that natural resource. So for the natural resource I picked helium. Right now the U.S. government owns and sells most of the helium in America. They sell a set amount every year regardless of what the market demand is, this has lead to an over supply and very low prices. The only problem is that helium is not a renewable resource, there is a set amount of it on earth and once that’s gone its gone. This problem is further escalated by how important helium is in modern day life, its used in medical equipment, physics experiments, and for rockets. This low price has had the consequence of industries not reusing or recycling helium, they just let go in to the atmosphere and then into space. I don't believe that this is the best way to use helium and I don't think that if people had private property rights on helium this is how it would be used.
Now I think if the helium supply was owned by a corporation that had property rights on it based on our understanding of liberty, I think the market would value helium much more and wouldn't needlessly waste this precious resource. I believe that this corporation would only sell a limited amount of helium every year as they would wish to stretch their investment as long as they could. This would lead to higher prices and the industries that use helium would then value it much more and would reuse and recycle it. If this were to happen we wouldn't have to be worried that we are running out of helium. Everyone could then go back to complaining about our taxes.