By John Stossel, Reason
But beware the “tragedy of the commons.” It almost killed off the pilgrims.
Now, via Washington, D.C., it’s probably coming for us.
Tragedy of the commons is a concept from an essay by ecologist Garrett Hardin. He wrote how cattle ranchers sharing a common parcel of land soon destroy that land. That’s because each rancher has an incentive to put cattle on the common. Soon, the extra animals eat all the grass. Shared grazing space is destroyed because no rancher has an incentive to conserve.
If the ranchers put up a few fences and divide the land, each rancher has an incentive to limit grazing. That saves the grass and the cattle.
Sharing things and “public” property sound nice, but only private ownership reliably inspires people to conserve and protect.
No one washes a rental car.
I bring this up now because the Democrats’ new multitrillion-dollar spending bills are all about expanding the commons: more free highways, free health care, free day care, free money for parents, housing subsidies, tax credits for electric vehicles, etc.
All these handouts discourage responsibility by making it easier to take from the “commons.”