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How the Grinch stole ... property rights?

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Courtesy of Warner Home Video

(Read caption) This image from the classic animated film, 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas,' based on the Dr. Seuss book of the same name, shows the Grinch stealing toys from the Who children down in Who-ville. In Art Carden's economics update on the story, the Grinch has something else in mind...

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Over at, Art Carden has a brilliant retelling of Dr. Seuss’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (ht: Greg Mankiw). Carden recasts the story as a parable about externalities and property rights.

He starts with the Grinch’s view that Who singing is a nuisance: Mises Economics Blog

He hated the shrieks of the Who girls and boys
For fifty-three years he’d put up with it now—
He had to stop Christmas from coming, somehow.
He asked and he questioned the whole thing’s legality
Then his eyes brightened: he screamed “externality!
He reached for his textbooks; he knew what to do
He’d fight them with ideas from A.C. Pigou.

As regular readers know, Pigou argued that externalities — pollution, singing Whos, etc. — could be addressed by levying taxes that reflect the harm imposed. So maybe, the Grinch might reason, he should help himself to some Who presents and roastbeast whenever they sing.


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