The waters were fresh and clean and full of fish and frogs. Then, one day, a Wealthy Industrialist was passing through the valley and he said to himself, “What a beautiful place to build a factory!” And so he built the factory. And the factory used the fresh, clean water to make its products and pumped filthy industrial effluent back into the river. Soon, all the fish and frogs in the river were sick or dying.
One evening, the Wealthy Industrialist went down to the riverbank for a walk. As he picked his way downstream through the decomposing fish, he chanced upon an enormous Frog.
“Hello,” said the Frog. “Good Heavens!” said the Wealthy Industrialist, “An enormous, talking frog. How on earth?” “I’m not entirely certain,” interrupted the Frog, “but I have a Theory about how to prevent it happening again.” “What’s that?” said the Wealthy Industrialist. “Well,” said the Frog, “The water upstream of your factory is fresh and clean, isn’t it?” “I get it” said the Wealthy Industrialist. “We tell all the fish and frogs to live upstream!” “Not exactly,” said the Frog. “We pass a Law to make you take your fresh water from downstream of the factory, so you become responsible for cleaning up the water after you’ve used it”
“Won’t that involve me in additional cost, thereby impacting my ability to deliver enhanced shareholder value?” said the Wealthy Industrialist. “Quite,” said the Frog. ”Well, it’s certainly an interesting Theory” said the Wealthy Industrialist “What’s it called?” “Economists call it Internalisation of Externalities” said the Frog. “Ooh, I’m not sure I can remember all that! After all, I’m only a Poor Industrialist!” said the Wealthy Industrialist. “O.K. How about the Polluter-Pays Principle?” said the Frog. ”Not sure I can get my head around that one either!” sighed the Wealthy Industrialist.
So the Frog sat and he thought. And he sat and he thought. And he sat and he thought some more. And then he smiled. Training his three enormous wise eyes on the Wealthy Industrialist, he whispered: “Eat your own shit.” “Ah!” said the Wealthy Industrialist. So he hurried off back to his factory, thinking: ‘F*** that for a game of soldiers!” And the shareholders lived happily ever after.