Musing on markets on a Montana mountaintop

I’m just back from the Mountain Sky Guest Ranch in Montana, where I spent a wonderful four days at a seminar entitled “Entrepreneurship and the Environment” (free-market environmentalism), a Liberty Fund conference for professionals, co hosted with the Property and Environment Research Center.

Moderated by the very brilliant Ron Bailey of Reason Magazine, the conversation was lively — to say the least!

We were treated to excellent presentations by Chris Corbin of Lotic Water Marketing who reported on life as a Western water broker; cattleman Paul Schwennesen of Double Check Ranch in Arizona speaking on the morality of markets; and Kate Bonzon of the Environmental Defense Fund based in San Francisco updated us on the latest in fisheries managment. Kate spoke on how Individual Transferrable Quotas (ITQs) transformed the management regime of the communally-owned Alaska pollack fish stocks from a “derby” disaster fishery to a free market success. Fascinating topics!

Along with me, Teresa Platt of Fur Commission USA, other participants included:

Stacey Kennealy and Fletcher Harper of Green Faith based in New Jersey;

Glumur Jon Bjornsson of the think tank Andriki of Reykjavik, Iceland;

Karen Eller of Green Burial in New Mexico; 

Michael Robertson of IRON Ventures in Connecticut;

Carlos Fernandez of The Nature Conservancy’s Patagonia Office;

author and water markets expert James Workman of SmartMarkets;

and fisheries management economist Kurt Schnier

Discussion focused on the writings of Locke, Smith and more. Toss in passionate debates about markets, incentives, risk, the climate change campaign, habitat loss, invasive species, water markets, the United Nations and morel. Add in a First Class accommodations and food — plus a hot tub and gorgeous pool, hiking and horseback riding — and you can imagine why a good time was had by all!

Contributing to the event’s success were PERC Senior Fellow Bobby McCormick and Liberty Fund liaison Amy Willis.

At the end of each day it did feel like our brains might explode but it was a terrific opportunity to think about how the world works.

So a  big thank you to those at the Mountain Sky Guest Ranch and all who made this meeting possible!

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