McIsaac on the tragedy of the commonsPosted: May 4, 2012
TM argues that the private ownership ‘solution’ to the tragedy of the commons fails because it does not take into account externalities and spillover effects and therefore fails to address the true tragedy of the commons problem.
Byron Williston asks: The heart of the tragedy is the problem of individuals obtaining benefits without paying costs. But don’t we have a way to fix this–we can’t divide up goods like the atmosphere, sure, but what about carbon tax–doesn’t this at least in theory address the problem of individual benefit without paying?
Bob Litke and Tara McIssac respond: Can we set an appropriate tax? Can we divide harms and assign to payees? Is carbon tax an illusion that we are dealing? TM discusses 2009 Nobel Prize winnter Elinor Ostrom’s approach. BW asks, are Ostrom’s examples ones that generalize to climate change and the atmospheric commons?