Just in Time for Earth Day… It’s Monoxitube!

Holy environmental impact awareness, Batman! The Monoxitube, the brainchild of Dave Doctor, allows drivers to “face their exhaust.”

Before you whip out your credit card, no the Monoxitube is not a real product. Dave “invented” the Monoxitube to illustrate an obscure point made by the late Murray Rothbard in For a New Liberty. From the Monoxitube website:

Rothbard explained that soon after the invention of the internal combustion engine, people sued engine operators for producing harmful exhaust and irritating noise. The courts ruled the engine’s benefits for “society” superseded the harm caused by air and noise pollution. Engine operators then had no incentive to create non-toxic and quiet machines because they could offload the “cost” of their machines on to others. Had the courts ruled in favor of the victims, then inventors  long ago would have developed machines that don’t pollute the air.

After reading about these court cases, Dave Doctor, the creator of the Monoxitube spoof, never looked at exhaust the same way again. He thought, “how can people realize that air pollution is harmful, for the environment, but more immediately harmful to everyone who must inhale the pollution?” One answer is the Monoxitube spoof.

The Monoxitube spoof will hopefully encourage people to drive less and consider to what extent one person can pollute the air of another person.

Personally, I think Rothbard’s “societal benefits” argument may be a strawman. Although I haven’t read the court cases, it seems to me the more challenging aspect of bringing a tort against auto polluters would be proving that defendant’s X exhaust harmed plaintiff Y.

Perhaps one could bring a class action lawsuit where the plaintiffs are the class of people harmed by auto pollution (everyone? most people? some people? only people with lung cancer or emphysema not traceable to other possible causes?) and the defendants are everyone who has ever owned or driven an automobile. But it isn’t even provable that every driver has contributed to the alleged harm.

Anyway, even if the Monoxitube doesn’t reduce air pollution, I just thought of another use — a suicide machine for car owners without garages. It’s perfect for Manhattan.

3 thoughts on “Just in Time for Earth Day… It’s Monoxitube!”

  1. What’s missing is a little algae farm in the back of the SUV to recycle the CO2 , H2O and heat in the exhaust ( hopefully also the CO ) back into Oxygen and Vegetable .

  2. Lawsuits would be challenging. When the government warps common law and common decency, undoing the harm is as messy as the status quo. We could let past polluters go unpunished and gradually–over years–reduce permissible air pollution and reduce the areas where cars are allowed to run. City centers would be accessible to cars that don’t pollute. This would be a start, and starting would be good.

  3. Did Rothbard say that lawsuits against internal-combustion-pollution should virtually out law it? – or that legislation should accomplish this?

    Was the Stanley-steamer a valuable technology, relevant today?

    Thanks, jkm.

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