Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Tragedy of the Commons

Socialism is a bad idea. Period. I thought it was discredited in the lame economies of post 70's Europe, or the fact that India has finally loosened up and allowed more free enterprise, or China's torrid embrace of capitalism (albeit one without much in the way of laws and riddled with corruption).

There are many problems with socialism, but a famous one is "the tragedy of the commons". Basically, if something is owned by everyone or "the people", it is in fact owned by no one, and there is no point in caring, keeping up, or treating common property as anything other than something to be used and ignored. For example, there is tremendous over-fishing in parts of the ocean since it is effectively owned by no one so there is no incentive to conserve resources or leave behind a base level so that species can keep on reproducing - you might as well fish it all up, or someone else will, and since you don't own it, you don't have any abilities to preserve it (no property rights).

Well I get this at a micro-level with my building. I live in a condo, and the hall way carpet is filthy and the walls are scuffed and it basically looks terrible. My wife told me that it is so bad that she is embarrassed when we have guests.

Of course, if this was someone's house, they'd NEVER let it get this bad. But since it is a common hallway, if you spill something, leave it there and wait for the janitor to clean it up, or someone else who cares more.

First I sent a letter to the condo association and the "management" company (I use the term extremely loosely) and told them to do something about this. I am paying a lot in assessments, and I expect to get at least a minimal level of service back.

Of course, they did nothing, so I could basically wait it out or just clean it all up myself. So I went out, on my anniversary, no less, and scrubbed the carpet and the scuffs on the wall. It took me a while, but it definitely looks better, and maybe our guests won't think we live in a high priced dump as they get off the elevator.

I am disappointed with the other people on my floor. I didn't spill that crap or scuff the walls, someone else must have, or their movers must have. Oh well, since it is common, who cares, right?

Socialism in a nutshell....

And on a much bigger scale - Canada's supreme court invalidated their laws against private health insurance, putting a lie to the "single payer" concept and basically acknowledging that all it does it replace cost with queuing and a system where government favorites (like the big politicians) get services that the average person might wait a lifetime for (literally).

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