Did I ruffle a few feathers? :)

Chris M. Sciabarra sciabrrc at is2.NYU.EDU
Fri Sep 22 13:06:17 MDT 1995

On Fri, 22 Sep 1995, Doug Henwood wrote:

> At 6:19 PM 9/21/95, Chris M. Sciabarra wrote:
> >        Oh, but the price system WOULD signal it if resources were
> >privately owned; I know this anathema to a Marxist.  But the "tragedy of
> >the commons" is precisely a tragedy of the COMMONS.  As long as public
> >property exists, and is used and abused by private individuals who don't
> >have to bear the costs of abuse, they will do whatever they can to get
> >away with it.  Will there still be some selfish bastards who tear down
> >trees in privately owned forests?  Sure.  But other selfish bastards
> >might see profit in planting new trees on their property for future
> >production purposes.  The commons are ravaged because they are one huge
> >externality with loads of free riders having the time of their lives.  It
> >is time to privatize and make the free riders pay.
> In fact, the privately owned forests in the American West are far more
> ravaged than the public ones. In your critique of libertarianism, be sure
> to devote some space to the triumph of theory over actual lived experience.
> Doug

You still can't abstract this phenomenon from the fact that the overall
system is not privatized.  Otherwise we get into all sorts of ridiculous
problems.  For instance, gambling, prostitution, and drugs are illegal.
The Mafia is a private organization providing many of these goods and
services.  Are we to judge the efficacy of Mafia delivery of goods and
services as a comment on the whole of private enterprise, when it is
state regulation and prohibition that has created this huge black
market?  How private lands are currently used in the absence of full
privatization is not indicative of how they might be used if all lands
were privatized, and different land uses could be competitively engaged.
One thing is pretty certain; rents would collapse, most likely.  And all
those huge tracts of land owned by the U.S. government for "defense"
purposes will be used by real people for real human needs.
				- Chris
Dr. Chris M. Sciabarra
Visiting Scholar, NYU Department of Politics
INTERNET:  sciabrrc at is2.nyu.edu

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