A Twist On The Tragedy Of The Commons

The tragedy of the commons is where there is a resource of some kind which is essentially free for all. This means that each individual who is in a position to profit from that resource brutally exploits it, until there is nothing left but a big mess. The fact that everyone will be worse off after the resource is gone doesn’t stop people from getting as much as they can, scrambling to haul away anything not nailed down, before the next guy comes along to grab what is left.

The solution is to avoid unowned or collective resources.

If an individual owns the resource in question, a resource that is worth money, then they have an extremely keen interest in making sure that the resource isn’t brutally exploited to the point where problems arise. This is not only because the resource will generate income over time, but also because the owner will be obligated to spend money in order to clean up the mess.

But what if there is a privately owned commodity that isn’t generating income right this minute?

There is a closed restaurant near my craphole apartment. Behind the shuttered building is an equipment shed.

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The Beer Index

Pity the UK government. Like most, they have had a great deal of trouble closing the gap between money spent and tax revenue. And, like most, they have scrambled to raise taxes in order to increase the amount of money coming in.

One of the items hardest hit with rising tax rates in Great Britain is beer.

The powers-that-be have enacted a “beer duty escalator“, which automatically raises the tax on beer by 2% over inflation every single year. According to the article behind the last link, the average beer drinker in the UK now pays £177 every year just in taxes alone. The average pub owner must shell out £66,000 per year in beer taxes, above and beyond the overhead costs that come from running any small business. And, thanks to the automatic increases, every year is going to be worse than the last.

As any economist who hasn’t drunk deep of the Liberal kool-aide will tell you in a heartbeat, adding frivolous costs to any commodity will result in limiting demand. Beer sales in the UK have plummeted, while close to a score of pubs across the island nation have been going out of business every week.

Just think of all those people who were dependent on the family business, now out of work and on the dole. I don’t have the numbers to tell for sure, but it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to find out that any jump in revenues realized by the beer duty have been more than offset by the increased number of people who now rely on public assistance.

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Horrific Act Of Violence

The media has been buzzing the last few days with news reports about a terrible mass shooting at a midnight screening of the latest Batman movie. Those of us who are not directly involved, who were not in the theater or do not know anyone who was, can have no idea of the pain and anguish that such an act leaves behind. Hundreds of people will never be the same again.

That aside, the question that will inevitably be asked is if there was any way to prevent such a crime.

My very strong impression is that the suspect, who was arrested outside the theater just moments after allegedly committing mass murder, was obviously a deranged individual who can never be trusted to be set loose amongst the innocent public again. But he was also an extremely methodical, clearly intelligent, and very resourceful individual who spent months planning his big day.

Case in point are the reports of his earlier life, which are filled with tales of his academic prowess. You don’t get accepted to a reputable PhD science program unless you have some brains.

The second indication of his drive is how he spent months assembling his arsenal. Not only guns and ammunition, but also body armor, tear gas grenades, a gas mask, and ingredients for the improvised explosive devices he used to booby trap his apartment. All of that gear would have cost thousands of dollars, and the fact that he didn’t blow himself up when preparing to rig his home with explosives and incendiaries shows that he must have spent some time carefully researching the correct way to assemble his bombs.

It is inevitable that the Left will take up the call for increased gun control, but I think it is very clear that such laws would have done nothing except slow down the timetable a bit.

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Getting It Backwards

Our esteemed President sticks his foot in it once again

“… -look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own.”


“If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business. you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. “

The idea President Obama is clearly trying to communicate is that success in the private sector is only possible because of the infrastructure built by the government. How he got it wrong is that the only way all that infrastructure could get built was if there were successful businesses already established to provide the tax money needed to fund the government projects!

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Relatively Expensive

In this post, I link to a brief news item that discusses the most expensive cities in the world to live. knirirr was kind enough to leave a comment.

Interesting – I was surprised to see London so low down the list.

knirirr makes his living as an academic. He works at a prestigious college in the United Kingdom. Even adjusted for different currencies, his pay lags about 25% behind what a comparable American prole slaving in the Ivory Tower would earn. And professor salaries in the UK are considered to be pretty posh compared to most of the world.

If anyone is wondering as to the reason for this disparity, it is because the US government has guaranteed loans that college students take out to finance their educations. With all that money coming in, centers of higher learning have applied themselves to spending the wealth. Hence, academics in America earn significantly more than their foreign cousins.

There is a lot more to the issue, enough to warrant a few other posts on the subject. But the main reason I mention it here is that knirirr’s comment got me to thinking about disparity of income.

How would those cities on the list fare if one factored in the per capita GDP of the countries where they are located? According to this list, a few revisions would have to be made.

Perhaps surprisingly, cities in the top spots would still be even more expensive places to live if one considers average per capita income.

According to the article, the cost of living in Zurich is 176% compared to New York City. This means Zurich is the most expensive city to call home in terms of money spent to live there. But since the average wage of the Swiss people is five to ten percent less than citizens of the United States, the cash shelled out for rent and food would take a greater percentage of their pay checks.

The same goes for the number two city. It might cost 166% to live in Tokyo, Japan than it would to dwell in New York, but the average Japanese citizen earns about 72% of the wage that the average American takes home. If GDP was included in the calculations, then Tokyo would climb above Zurich so far as relative expense was concerned.

The real shakeup, of course, comes at the very bottom of the list. Karachi, Pakistan is supposed to be the least expensive place to live as one could make a home for only 46% of the cost to live in New York. But considering that the average yearly wage in Pakistan is about 5% of the average wage earned in the US, and suddenly it is obvious that the vast majority of Pakistanis can only think of living there to be an impossible dream.

(Cross posted at Hell in a Handbasket.)