What are the social costs of polluted air, paper ashes flying, a burning smell and general throat irritation? It’s clear that there are high negative externalities associated with burning paper money during hungry ghost festival. It’s interesting that the Singapore government tax petrol (ok, partly to prevent traffic congestion, but surely reducing air pollution and carbon emissions must be a reason as well?), but does not tax paper money. Yes, taxing paper money may be a politically unpopular move, but if you think about it, it’s clear case of market failure and simple economics concepts are able to tell you that taxing is the best way to correct the failure. And those inconsiderate pricks should definitely be fined for burning the paper money without filters to stop the ashes from flying into people’s houses.
Seriously, the smoke caused by the burning of paper money makes the haze caused by Indonesian forest fires seem like kids’ play.