Home
In this issue
April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Dec. 5, 2007 / 25 Kislev 5768

Tragedy of the Commons, Part II

By John Stossel


Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | My Thanksgiving column about how the pilgrims nearly starved practicing communal farming but thrived once they switched to private cultivation made some people angry. One commented, "Sharing of the fruits of our labor is a bad thing?"


I never said that.


I practice charity regularly. I believe in sharing. But when government takes our money by force and gives it to others, that's not sharing.


And sharing can't be a basis for production — you can't share what hasn't been produced. My point is that production and prosperity require property rights. Property rights associate effort with benefits. Where benefits are unrelated to effort, people do the least amount necessary to get by while taking the most they can get. Economists have a pithy way of summing up this truth: No one washes a rental car.


It's called the "tragedy of the commons." The idea is as old as ancient Greece, but ecologist Garrett Hardin popularized the phrase in a 1968 Science magazine article. Hardin described a common pasture on which anyone may graze his livestock. Each person will benefit from a larger herd but will suffer only a tiny fraction of the negative effects of overgrazing. Public Choice economists call this "concentrated benefits and dispersed costs."


That's a recipe for depleting the resource. If a herdsman were to leave a portion of the commons ungrazed, someone else would gain the benefit, so why leave it ungrazed? Soon, all the grass is gone, and the livestock die. That's the tragedy of the commons.


There are two possible solutions. One is to put someone in charge. But that someone would have arbitrary power over the rest — he may give his friends better terms — and one individual can't possibly know how to plan the village economy.


The second solution, as the pilgrims learned the hard way, is private property. Property rights unite costs and benefits. If a herdsman owns part of the pasture, he reaps not only 100 percent of the benefits of enlarging his herd but also 100 percent of the costs. Under those conditions, he behaves differently. If he undergrazes, uses fewer pesticides, etc., to make sure that the pasture flourishes next year, he can anticipate the future benefits. So, he has a strong incentive to be a good steward of the land.


This principle is pertinent today. People lament endangered species and call for government action. But that is the inferior "solution" already discussed. What we need is private property.


Cows, chickens, turkeys and pigs are never at risk of becoming endangered. What's special about them? Only that individuals own these animals and sell them. That gives livestock owners an incentive to keep them healthy and plentiful year after year.


The animals whose future we do worry about — whales and elephants, for example — are not typically subject to ownership. It's the tragedy of the commons.


Elephants are endangered because in much of Africa, poachers kill them for their tusks. Poachers have no incentive to expand herds, and neither does anyone else. Governments outlawed hunting and the ivory trade, but that hasn't stopped the loss of elephants. The plain is too vast to police it all.


Yet, where the property principle has been applied — however imperfectly — the fate of the elephants has been reversed. Villagers in Zimbabwe earn income by permitting hunting. In effect, the villagers have property rights in the herds. That changes attitudes. They'd be poorer if they let the elephants be hunted to extinction.


The result? "To say that we have too many elephants would be an understatement," Zimbabwe Department of National Parks and Wildlife Management acting director E.W. Kanhanga said 2001.


The system is not perfect because individual property rights — which would create a stronger sense of responsibility — are not allowed. Moreover, the system has come under suspicion because cronies of Zimbabwe's despicable dictator, Robert Mugabe, are said to be killing elephants in game parks.


Nevertheless, Zimbabwe tried property rights. Kenya tried prohibition. Kenya lost elephants while Zimbabwe gained them.


The pattern is clear. Property = responsibility = prosperity.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JUST OUT FROM STOSSEL
Myths, Lies and Downright Stupidity: Get Out the Shovel --- Why Everything You Know Is Wrong  

Stossel mines his 20/20 segments for often engaging challenges to conventional wisdom, presenting a series of "myths" and then deploying an investigative journalism shovel to unearth "truth." This results in snappy debunkings of alarmism, witch-hunts, satanic ritual abuse prosecutions and marketing hokum like the irradiated-foods panic, homeopathic medicine and the notion that bottled water beats tap. Stossel's libertarian convictions make him particularly fond of exposes of government waste and regulatory fiascoes. Sales help fund JWR.



JWR contributor John Stossel is co-anchor of ABC News' "20/20." To comment, please click here.


Archives

© 2007, by JFS Productions, Inc. Distributed by Creators Syndicate, Inc.

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles