Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Tragedy of the All-Too-Commons...

Awesome piece at Borepatch: You go read now.


Borepatch said...

Thanks for the link, Tam, although now I have to replace my hit counter - it's not just busted, it got ripped off the wall/


NotClauswitz said...

The people brazenly driving the bus off the cliff believe themselves to be Juan Manuel Fangio winning the Targa Florio in front of the home-crowd, and they have convinced a lot of the passengers of that.

Anonymous said...

I agree on almost every point. Government draws its ranks from the general populace, and there is no reason to believe that the disposition of those people would be any different than that of anyone else.

However, no matter how well intentioned, or how skilled, it is virtually impossible to make the correct decisions without accurate price information. This makes it more than a little difficult to determine a benefit. This applies to private enterprise, too. No one has complete information.

Government tends to grossly overproduce because it is possible for one group of people to demand a service and avoid payment in full at the time the service is rendered. It is also possible for that person pay for some of the service, but never have a need for it.(How valuable is that person's opinion of the service?) Either way, someone is forced to pay, so any information that would help the, uh, involuntary customer determine if the pricing is fair becomes distorted.

Whenever the analysis deals with the whole population, I get a bit frightened. When a private business does a cost-benefit analysis, it only deals with that company's area of specialization. When government attempts to determine the benefit to all of society--well, let's just say that doesn't make any sense, since what is beneficial is often subjective.

Plus: as noted in Bore Patch's linked Wikipedia entry, the CBA tends to be inaccurate when bad information results in project cost overruns.

Anonymous said...


Been a US Armored Cav garri-trooper in Federal Republic of Germany. Return to my job in pre-rust belt Jeep Factory in Toledo, Ohio. Some things have changed whilst i was away -- just didn't know how much.

Start keeping company with a fellow working young lady, lately out of High School. One day, she wants to introduce me to her best friend, who is still attending her Alma Mater.

The friend appears at her door, very obviously late preggers. And, as the conversation expanded, happy and proud. "Ummm..."I ask. "Didn't you know about birth control?"

Spake the babe:"Oh,sure. But see, now when I have my baby, I can move out of the house away from my parents, and I'll get my own trailer, and a TV and washer and drier."

Yup, things HAD changed since I'd been away. When I graduated from H.S, circa 1965, there was ONE rumored pregnancy in a class of almost 500 kids. Welcome to the un-intended consequences of LBJ's "Great Society".

It was just for the childern, all right. And, man, did that work well, eh? Occasionally, I wonder if her progeny has yet delivered to her the first great, great, great grandchild --all living in the same meth-infested semi-rural trailer park.

Matter of corollary interest, a decade or so later. I'm periodically attending furniture conservation lectures in Wash, DC every quarter for three years. But staying even in DuPont Circle B&B's is stretching the budget.

Fellow classmate lives in Georgetown, and partners an antique shop. Extends the hospitality of his unfinished early nineteenth century basement, in exchange for a good bottle of gift hooch and a good dinner on the town, per visit.

His partner, Bill, was Curmudgeon's
prototype, and a Radically Equal Opportunity Loather of All Things Liberal. Turns out he was Chief Legal Representative to the House for LBJ [his career culmination], and was responsible for both writing and pushing thru the Great Society Legislation.

He stated many times that his role in that American Tragedy was one of two acts that would bitterly haunt him for the rest of his life. "It forever removed from America the possibility that you might starve to death,if you didn't take responsibility for feeding yourself."

That's when I related to him my little tale of Ms Preggers and the probabilities for her offspring. Damn!!! THAT act of imprudence cost me an extra dinner, and a good insight into just how caustically a senior retired Washington lawyer can use a solid paragraph of Old Anglo-Saxonisms in rendering his opinion.

I think the other thing he most regretted was not pushing Elanor Roosevelt off a bridge or monument or the like, when he once had a chance. Bill was the genuine article, too. House was bedecked with portraits of him chumming with the Notables of American Politics over a course of several decades.

However, seeing the consequences of his legislation bear such bitter fruit had truly embittered him to the point of such caustically acid tinged commentary on events and people, that I quite expected him to invoke a New Biblical Flood, in order to rid the world of Human Vermin. Him and Jonathon Swift: good company with a good bottle.

John the Red

Anonymous said...

John, about that time in Toledo the question "Is she single?" came to mean "Does she have children?" Just one of the many wonderful things about the 70's.

So, Tam's getting married. When?

Tam said...

I wish somebody would tell me these things.