Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Common Areas

John Stossel's latest article is interesting. In it he argues against big government and in favor of local control. Fair enough he's a conservative. But the specific issue is that of the "commons." He seems to champion those areas that are shared in common, referring to the work of economist and noble prize winner Elinor Ostrom.
There is also an "opportunity of the commons." While most politicians conclude that, depending on the resource, efficient management requires either privatization or government ownership, Ostrom finds examples of a third way: "self-organizing forms of collective action," as she put it in an interview a few years ago.
What Stossel leaves out, naturally enough, is the threat to the Commons from Capitalism. Big businesses and private owners have in many cases acquired the commons for themselves, and used their power over the commons to extract a profit for themselves. Other big businesses have fouled the commons (say rivers and lakes) in order to save themselves the costs of preventing pollution. It's comforting for Conservatoids to pretend that government threatens the commons, but the truth is that it's businesses that usually covet those areas.

1 comment:

Random Goblin said...

But government--especially any kind of representative government--is a "self-organizing form of collective action," and it is intellectually dishonest of conservatives to pretend otherwise.