French Bicycles, Plymouth Plantation, and the Commons

by Elaine Schwartz    •    Dec 5, 2009    •    376 Views

According to a recent NY Times article (10.31.09), the Parisian bicycle sharing program has experienced considerable vandalism. Although the article attributed the damage to gangs of unhappy immigrant youths, I wondered whether the tragedy of the commons was relevant. More tomorrow on this year’s Nobel prize winner and solving the “problem” of the commons.

Tragedy of the Commons: When a resource is shared by many rather than privately owned, it tends to be “misused” or “overused”. For a pasture, “misuse” is over grazing; in the ocean, fish populations are depleted; in the air, factories pollute.

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