10 Mar 2014

Tragedy of Common in Your Daily Life

Doyup Kim writes:*

Tragedy of common is an idea that people will over-exploit the resources that are common, causing depletion or reduction in resource, leaving everyone unhappy. This might sound bombastic however tragedy of common is something that we can observe easily. Imagine family members having a breakfast. There are pancakes, coffee, juice and other meals on the table. If table is an economy, foods could be thought as common pool resources, since they are non-excludable but rivalrous goods. Suppose your parents and younger brother and sister drank all the coffee. You won’t be having any, because coffee was depleted due to over-exploitation. In other words, you became a victim of tragedy of common.

Now, how are we going to solve this tragedy in breakfast time? First, making coffee club good would be one possible way. Allowing coffee to only adults will exclude your younger brother and sister from coffee, which will save some for you and your parents. Second, privatize coffee by owning the coffee machine of your home, although it doesn't sound so easy. Lastly, government regulation, in this case government might be parents, will control the amount of coffee consumed by each member of family. If you want more desperately, consider bribing them.

Bottom Line: Tragedy of common is common around us if we are aware of it. Just like in breakfast table, if we are aware of that it is damaging us, we try to solve the problem. In the same context, we should be aware of global tragedy of common such as global warming, and start putting some effort on to solve the problem.

* These guest posts are from students in my resource economics class at Simon Fraser University. Please leave feedback on their logic, ideas and style and suggestions of how to improve.


MC said...

You analyzed ways of how to solve the tragedy by privatizing the commons and by regulating them. However, I don't fully agree with the "bribing" part, and also I would consider breakfast as a private good, but it is a good analogy though! What do you think? :)

Doyup Kim said...

Well, I assumed the breakfast table as an economy which contains resources such as milk, coffee, egg fries and etc. So what I thought was unless you have your own plate and place your every food in the plate, you will inevitably have to share foods with your families. For bribing part, you can take it as a joke haha.

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