Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Shopping cart distribution in parking lots prove the law of the commons

Every time I go to the store, I see shopping carts spread around, many only a few steps from a cart return. Are people that lazy? That inconsiderate? Sadly, the law of the commons has struck again. When everyone shares the responsibility of ownership, no-one does. This means that no-one feels responsible for the carts even though they can roll and damage cars, and that employees of the store are put to extra trouble rounding up stray carts. It seems that the only way to make people feel responsible is to give them some individuals "ownership."

1 comment:

Jonathan said...

Indeed, it's a general problem with communal ownership.

I think it's also the main justification for the ownership of land. Morally, land has no rightful owner, because no-one ever made it, it was just there. But in practice it's useful to have someone who's responsible for each patch of land and looks after it.