Interactions Between Private and Public Resource Governance: Key Insights from Fisheries

Note from the Digital Editor: In order to highlight the high-level of research and scholarship from the authors who have published in the William & Mary Policy Review’s peer-reviewed print journal, we have reproduced the abstracts from Volume 8, Issue 1 along with a link to an electronic copy of the full form of the piece. 

Growing in presence and visibility, eco-labels and other forms of green certification are the more obvious signs of a broader social and policy phenomenon: the rise of private regulation and non-state, market-based governance of environmental and resource practices. The growth of private regulatory initiatives, especially initiatives led by NGOs and other civil society actors, is increasingly accompanied by concerns over their potential to detract from public, government regulation.

This paper seeks to generate some empirically grounded insights on the nature and consequences of interaction between more traditional forms of public, government regulation and the growing realm of market-based regulation by non-state actors. It does so by focusing on the burgeoning field of private, market-based fisheries regulation to highlight some intriguing new trends of public-private interaction that are emerging in the fisheries context.

My observations and analysis suggest there is potential for positive synergies between private and public fisheries regulation, and specifically, between the private, market-based regulatory efforts of NGOs and their broader endeavors for public regulatory reform.

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Zdravka Tzankova is an Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies at University of California, Santa Cruz. 

Implications of Recent Federal Personal Tax Increase for Evasion, Revenues, and Deficits

Note from the Digital Editor: In order to highlight the high-level of research and scholarship from the authors who have published in the William & Mary Policy Review’s peer-reviewed print journal, we have reproduced the abstracts from Volume 6, Issue 1 along with a link to an electronic copy of the full form of the piece. 

In 2013, the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 implemented federal personal income tax increases. Based on our analysis of data for the time period 1970-2008, we argue that the incentives to engage in federal personal income tax evasion have increased as a direct consequence of the tax-increase policies manifested in these two statutes. To demonstrate this conclusion in the present study, we present evidence concerning key determinants of federal personal income tax evasion that strongly suggests that evasion has been an increasing function of the maximum marginal federal personal income tax rate over the period 1970-2008. This constitutes the most current data currently available on aggregate personal income tax evasion. This evidence leads us then to conclude that the federal personal income tax increases implemented effectively in 2013 under provisions of the two aforementioned statutes will result in increased tax evasion behavior and hence lower growth in federal tax collections. Among other things, then, this policy-induced increase in personal income tax evasion also implies that federal budget deficits in coming years will be greater than those projected by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and various government agencies.

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Dr. Richard J. Cebula is the Walker/Wells Fargo Endowed Chair in Finance at Jacksonville University in Jacksonville, Florida.

Risky Business: When Safety Regulations Cause Harm

Note from the Digital Editor: In order to highlight the high-level of research and scholarship from the authors who have published in the William & Mary Policy Review’s peer-reviewed print journal, we have reproduced the abstracts from Volume 6, Issue 1 along with a link to an electronic copy of the full form of the piece. 

At the turn of the 21st century, biofuels appeared to be a solution to mounting concerns over greenhouse gas emissions, climate change, skyrocketing fuel prices, and dependence on foreign energy. When Congress passed the Energy Policy Act (EP Act) in 2005 with a renewable fuel standard (RFS) provision mandating producers to add ethanol to gasoline,  it is unlikely that lawmakers thought the act would increase hunger and social unrest in the world’s poorest countries. However, unintended consequences frequently accompany even the most well- intentioned policies. Lawmakers specifically intended for the RFS provision to address both environmental and energy issues. Ethanol is a cleaner fuel with lower carbon emissions than gasoline and is often added to gasoline as an oxygenate, allowing gasoline to burn more completely and thereby reducing carbon emissions. The EP Act simply ramped up the already increasing use of ethanol as a fuel additive with the hope of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The law’s proponents expected higher ethanol use to offset rising oil prices by filling at least some of the domestic demand for fuel. Further, because most ethanol in the United States comes from domestically produced corn, policy advocates hoped the act would make the country less dependent on imported oil. As an added bonus, the policy would benefit US farmers. At the time, the policy seemed perfect.

As the policy went into effect and was further ramped up in 2007, scholars and environmentalists began to question its environmental and energy benefits. Producing ethanol from corn or other crops consumes energy. For ethanol to be a viable fuel source, it should, on balance, produce more energy than it consumes. Experts, however, disagree about whether this is the case. Beyond ethanol’s questionable viability as a fuel, the negative environmental impacts of corn production undermine ethanol’s benefits. Corn farming leads to greater soil erosion than the farming of other crops. Higher pesticide and fertilizer use in corn farming compared to the farming of other crops increases water pollution. In addition, ethanol production leads to air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, offsetting some of the environmental gains from its use as a fuel.

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Sherzod Abdukadirovf is a Research Fellow at the Mercatus Center, George Mason University. Parts of this paper were presented at the annual Society for Risk Analysis Conference in December, 2013.

Tax Favors for Philanthropy: Should Our Republic Underwrite De Toqueville’s Democracy?

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This article critically reviews the current rationales for the federal income tax system’s favorable treatment of philanthropy, gives those rationales a new descriptive synthesis based on de Tocqueville’s account of American democracy, and offers a normative alternative based on neo-classical ethical and political theory. It first identifies the two basic normative questions: What is the function of philanthropy that warrants favorable tax treatment, and how well does favorable tax treatment advance that function? It then examines the answers of three distinct phases of normative tax theory: the traditional subsidy thesis, the antithetical technical definition of income theory, and a set of synthetic theories that combine elements of both prior theories. That review reaches a paradoxical conclusion. Although the charitable exemption and deduction are perhaps impossible to justify in any other way, together they almost perfectly co-ordinate three basic features of American society: the populist and antistatist sources of American philanthropy, the consumerist orientation of our form of market capitalism, and our tax system’s reliance on income as its principal revenue source. Finally, this paper outlines an alternative, neoclassical justification for favoring philanthropy, grounded in both the constitutional values of justice and general welfare and the ethical and political theories of Plato and Aristotle.

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Rob Atkinson is a Greenspoon Marder Professor at Florida State University College of Law