View Full Version : The Tragedy of the Commons

10-09-2012, 01:56 AM
As someone who is more liberal on civil and social issues and more conservative on most economic issues, I usually consider myself a somewhat liberal libertarian. I could much more consistently consider myself libertarian except when it comes to the environment. As of yet, I have not heard a convincing argument dealing with how a free market can deal with the problem of commons. The solution to this problem always seems to end up with some outside agent (usually government at some level) making some protocol for how the commons should be used in order for us to sustain it and gain economic benefits from the environment. Privatization of natural resources would seem to work if businesses were oriented more for the long term, but the system currently incentivizes short term gain and it's unclear (to me) how this could change.

Are there any solutions to the tragedy of the commons that do not involve the state (either from a central or localized level) exerting more power? In a freer market, would free agents be more likely to work for the long term, making privatization a realistic solution for the tragedy of the commons?

Of course I'd like to know why you you think so, whatever your position is, so any links or evidence would be appreciated :smiley:

To be clear: I don't particularly think the state does a very good job of setting the rules and regulations for the environment since more often than not the regulations benefit bigger firms who are most able to deal with the regulations. Even in state and national parks a few contractors seem to extract enormous benefits from the government at the taxpayers and park visitor's expense. So the way I currently see it, state intervention on behalf of the environment is only the lesser of two evils.