討論逐字稿: The Myth of the Tragedy of the Commons

Here's the link to the discussion article: The Myth of the Tragedy of the Commons.


—Don’t assume that people are selfish when we share the common goods. kind of intend to overuse it to maximize our benefit, which will make resources go quickly, because everyone will do the same thing. but that assumption is not really real, based on what we observed. like in England, people can work together to keep the land not overgrazed. the idea is there. it all depends on how to do. people can work together to make the good, or people can be selfish to make society crash it all depends.
—if we can start to think about how to make the people around us to live better not only ourselves, our lives will be better than thinking about ourselves.
—the video also mentions about the role that the government plays in governing the commons. so it seems that if they government work effectively it can actually make some good things for the entire community.
—I thought i twas interesting because there was a guess different models of what would go on, the economists’ idea of simple game theory where everyone is selfish and bad things happen, and then there’s the idea of government coming in and making mistakes, and then the idea of privatization where the company or landowner tries to maximise profits, but in the end, none of that was needed, the villagers self-regulated, and all the theories were wrong in the end, something different happened.

—how does that relate to us?
—we are regulated everyday, we don’t jaywalk because we’ll get hit by a car or ticketed by a policemen, people follow all the rules. that’s how people make things work. so it has to be that way, for human society can’t work smoothly.
—traffic is a good example of self regulating.
—but some do it better than others
—example?
—Germany is supposed to have good drivers, but they also have a strict licensing system

—the ways people self regulate is probably just as important as the regulation itself.
—that has something to do with culture
—also wouldn’t it have something to do with psychology
—what do you mean?
—we can learn and change
—people are flexible
—in the right conditions
—I drive recklessly in Taiwan but I follow the rules in the US
—so you change culture
—in Taiwan, I thought wow, people are so reckless, but then I realized nobody hits each other. it’s rare to see an accident. so they drive slower than America, and they’re paying attention to everything more. but the laws are strict in the US, so people pay attention less.

—when my brother in law was driving in japan, when he saw the traffic light, he stopped forwarding for a long distance, and that was common, so that’s why they don’t have as many accidents as Taiwan. it’s self-regulating
—well it depends, we all agree that traffic in Taipei is terrible. but actually according to statistics, the people who died in accidents is not actually that many compared to America
—really, the rate is lower
—yeah, because the speed is lower.
—because at a high speed, the crash is more likely you;’ll die.
—maybe it’s just that we have health care.
—it’s really hard to say
—is it true
—oh, yeah, for sure. maybe the health care means that you can get instant treatment and be okay, and in US you might take more time to go to the hospital

—that’s why I don’t really want to go back
—you gotta have good care from your company
—here you can shop around
—there it matters on your coverage.

—let’s talk about the overfishing problem.
—let’s talk why the overfishing is happening
—because sushi is too damn good
—well yes
—wale, there’s a video about overfishing related to the tragedy of the commons. there are four people, they’re allowed to have a fish per day, but nobody follows the rules, so i the end they’re starving and have no fish to eat. so how can each one of the follow the rules and only have one fish per day.
—how do you make people follow the rules/
—one problem with fishing, with the commons, the grass, it’s really obvious if people are overgrazing, but with the ocean it’s dark and deep, you can’t see the effects of your actions
—fishing is also a risky business, you don’t know how many you’re going to get, there’s no guarantee, so when you get a chance to get fish, you get as many as you can, because that’s human nature. you wouldn’t just take half, because you don’t know what you’l get the next day. it’s risky and not guaranteed
—[it’s like rats and levers and ]
—one of the things is regulating the size of the fish. if it’s too small they have to let it go. in Alaska they measure the size of the crab-
—in korea, they do something, on an island on Jejudo, the women who go diving. it’s not like a boat and nets, it’s just a woman in a wetsuit to get abalone or sea cucumber. one person can’t really overfish, it’s just two hands.
—you cannot use tools
—they can use compressed air now so they can go down longer, but they’re still not going to overfish.
—so size regulations, or making the tools less efficient, what else?
—also the linking of individual responsibility. for example everyone knows if you use a lot of electricity or waste a lot of plastic you may cause the environment or health, and result in an extreme climate. everyone knows that, but nobody really stops, for example I’ll use a lot of electric, because I’ll be like, everyone is using so much electricity, so I’m not really the main cause. so everyone thinks the same way, so there’s no individual or business.
—I’ll just take a little bit of fish, it doesn’t matter.
—I think the difference between the grass commons and the ocean commons is the lack of easy accountability. the problem on the ocean is there’s no community of people talking to each other. which makes me think, what if we had a reason for them to work together? then they’d take care of the fish themselves
—like in taiwan, our fisher boats regularly were hijacked so much by philippine navy, because they’re claiming they were in philippine waters, it’s hard to know for sure because there’s a lot of fighting about this, but in this situation, you have to communicate with the same language, between the business units, then you can work together, otherwise other people coming into your territory might grab as much fish as they can, because they’re not part of the agreement. so that’s pretty hard to regulate, in an open area like that. with land you can build a fence to protect your group interests. but in the open ocean, how do regulate? military patrols? how can you claim this is your territories.

—privatization is another proposed solution.
—this can work with enough information and education. at least in the us, we get all of our salmon from farming, not fishing. that works because they were getting less and less salmon, and so they think it’ll be easier and cheaper to farm the salmon
—you can have your fish and eat it too
—mc donalds is the same example as salmon. they sell hamburgers, and the cows were injected with chemicals, so they could sell cheaper and more abundant meat, so they could make a lot of money, the same example as salmon
—i’m not sure if that’s like a great example
—you wanna eat chemically injected meat
—but people still want to eat mcdonald’s

—what did you understand from the second video
—what he said is that some certain services or goods should be controlled by government or public sectors not private companies, or we’re at the mercy of those companies. and we’ll suffer. there’s a good example, american health care, but let’s not go there. or for example, electricity. people say competition makes good stuff. you don’t want the government to make clothes, there’ll only be one design. competition means good stuff, but for electricity power, oil, military, safety stuff, should be regulated or governed by one singe unit, which is our country. it’s better for everybody. but how do we define what should be common good, or what should be private sector.?

—but how do we define what should be common good, or what should be private sector.?
—what could be the parameters, or rules of thumb?
—we talked about the common good, he expanded it beyond the piece of grass, to like different types of wealth, different resources. one interesting thing is, maybe things that should be public commons are those that are good for life liberty and pursuit of happiness. I think the important thing is liberty, like freedom of speech is a kind of resource that should be protected, and we can’t trust a company to protect that so we have to protect that for other people
—and I think another parameter is about the way or how does the thing made. for example, for manufacturing for clothes, you just need a factory , some workers and a suppliers for the textile to make clothes, so this kind of resources are easily to identified, but for example, if you want to build a railway, you need the land, you need electricity, or you might change other people’s urban development, so that kind of fundamental resources are affecting a lot of people across a lot of industries, these things are better publicly owned,
— so the more coordination is needed,
—if the railway is owned by a private company, they might not build rail stations to small villages, there ’s not economic benefits would be very low, they might not consider to serve that community
—internet is another example of this.
—there’s utilities, water, sewage, transportation, electricity, internet
—there must be some other parameters, like should police be owned.
—are private security guards better or worse than police?
—they’ll steal our information security for their own good
—because they’re not publicly owned?
—does being publicly owned make them more accountable?
—why do we make utilities or these thing private? there’s too many reasons. private ownership can create efficiency or innovation. that’s what some people argue. like electricity. I think taiwan has passed a law to make electricity private, so
—like isn’t the HSR private?
—people think private will do it better. but in Texas, they deregulated electricity billing since 2006, so there are multiple electric companies, so you pick which one you want, and they’ll compete for your service. they’ll compete on price. actually it’s all the same thing packaged in different ways by different companies. the power grid is the same, they share the same lines. but you have to pick which company you want. in theory competition can lower the cost. but in 10 years I didn’t see that happen, the bills went higher. one reason is wasting. they kind of overlap, so their systems overlaps, all their systems do the same thing, so the overall cost is higher. so this goes against the idea that privatization will lower the costs.
—they build the same IT system for each company
—like taiwan’s telecom system, do we really need so many companies.
—like i said earlier, it’s hard to know what’s good
—so where is it good?
—computers, there all these different companies, it’s due to the competition
—technology and r&d involved, so competition is a good idea
—and water is water, so it’s not gonna change
—so one of the parameters is the difficulty to separate ownership. we can define a computer, this is owned by me, or this is for angela, but for security it’s hard to define, security should be shared. and water. because i want clean water, but my water and henry’s water is all coming from the same place, we’re using the same water. if you cannot just cut the products into pieces, it’s better to be shared, or managed by common owned organization’
—like a government

—electricity is like water, it’s better to be governed by one unit, because it’s for everybody. it should be referred to as the common good
—I like your point that things that require innovation or development should be competitive
—what about schools
—are schools a public good, or a private innovation?
—that’s a tricky thing
—as a parent I would like the best for my kid, so I would like
—public, because public schools are more prestigious/reputable
—it depends on the country, in the philippine if you go to the public school, other people a re like, oh, you’re poor, and they don’t have enough teachers in the public schools
—just like the us
—parents want their kids to be with the good, wealthy or knowledgable kids. that’s the goal, regardless of public or private

—my question is is school like water, or like computers?
—of course it’s like water, because everyone needs school
—but there’s no common source of school. is the efficiency in innovation, or in common governance?
—in school you need good teachers. it doesn’t mean that you need an advanced environment, or clean or whatever. it’s not like computer, if a bad computer, it sucks, but schools are a combination of people, it’s not about good or bad hardware or software. it’s about good teachers and their reputation. in america, just because it’s public schools, its not necessarily bad, because it depends if the neighborhood is rich. so you just buy an expensive house to get a good education. so it’s a virtuous cycle, if rich, and a vicious cycle, if poor.
--I think we have to go back to the purpose of school. first it’s to develop0 and educate people. so one of the ultimate purposes of this is to make an educated population or community
—and educated in the right way, if you want computer industry, you need computer literate people.
—so there’s a common motivation. for example if we want taiwanese to be able to compete in the world, we need our student to learn english, so if this is our goal, the school needs to be in line with the whole industry or country’s development policy.
—like the government wants to train more professional soccer players so they build a school for the students in order to..so the same goal, they have the same goals to train the professional players, is that what you mean?
—education, one of the goals is to have the public interest,
—what are the other ones?
—another hidden purpose of attending school is to make the social hierarchy more flexible
—so people can move up

Final Statements
So, for the common good, if I came here and just went to the movie crazy rich asians, I’m fascinated about rich people , it’s a romantic story about spoiled kids. but if everyone lived like that, it’d be gone soon, they’re wasting so many resources. so we have to draw a line about what’s shared, which is common goods, we don’t want them controlled by a handful o people, they’ll make others suffer. they’re limit supplies, they’ll limit output to make sure their profit can be long stay, a good example is diamonds, we all know why diamonds are so expensive, even though they can generate so many diamonds. they make us think it’s for women and forever love. but diamond is not a common good for sure. but air, water, even the fish, farming, all need to be regulated properly. properly means not over regulated. because people still need to generate a profit or outcome to meet our needs. so I keep thinking about this issue, it’s pretty hard to define. we all agree that power water utility, need to be regulated by government. but what other things/ you don’t want to go to socialism, right/ efficiency, regulation. I think that publicly run company actually lose a lot of money. there’s only one in taiwan, and lose millions of dollars a month. their earnings i s not equivalent. the government freezes the price, because electricity bills impact election results. I don’t know how much longer they can stand, but the government is behind them. and oil is the same thing, when the crisis happens, government intervened and creates an unfair…in private business when you have to raise the price you raise the price, supply and demand. but for public goods, general welfare is worth it. even if the company is losing money, it’s good for the general population. so it’s the conclusion that the government running business may be inefficient but it is necessary in this case.

actually based on my previous education we all most of the time believe that privatization is better, because it will bring more efficient way to utilize the resources. but today’s discussion actually brings a lot of ideas for me, that actually it depends on the situation, privatization is not always the best solution in some cases. but sometimes it will do very well, because it will bring a lot of innovation or different way of working, because of competition. however, for some common goods, especially for those that share the common supply or common interest of lots of people, for these it’ll be better to be managed by maybe a public association or in a better regulated environment.

I’m very glad I came today, it was an eye opening video, I’m always interested in economics, because it presents a contrarian view to the idea that the free market is always the right answer. they were talking about before people worked together and it worked very well without privatization, they could work out what was the best for everybody. so probably for common goods it’s best to do that as much as possible. so don’t go the government route or the privatization route, so maybe if people can just talk to each other and be accountable for any damage, and have some sort of communication mechanism, and transparent y, maybe that’s the best way for things to work out. communication, collaboration and self-regulation, and when that doesn’t work, then do government or public companies. and henry’s stories about the electricity in Houston. it makes me think that combining private and public, like the MRT and HSR they’re like quasi-public. but it sounds like in Houston, it didn’t work out, that the competition didn’t work because of the redundancy, so maybe you needed like 10 different power meters. so you’d think that the free market would be a better solution, but infect it was the worse solution. I had a thought about the government for a private or community good, like water or electricity, or maybe like police departments? if they’re local, maybe it’s better that they’re local, rather than national. maybe it’d be better for cities, to be funded or voted in by the local people.
—actually talking about the police group, the private hired security actually exists in the US, like my old boss, of course a rich guy living in an area of Houston called The Village, it’s only 2 acres, they have their own police dept., called ‘village patrol’. so we think of policemen as helping everyone, so they’re prioritizing local people first, so they won’t come, they only help their own local people. so it’s kind of private guard, but they call themselves police. they only serve the people who pay them.
—that’s a good point, police should be helping everyone, to be a public good

what I learned tonight is that self-regulation needs some sort of motivation to keep everything balanced and in check. so the grazing commons could, and fishing grounds currently can’t. but so organizations who developed this balanced and in check were pirate organizations in the 1700s, and the original layout of the US, with the balance of the three branches of government.