Thursday, August 18, 2005

Hardin's Essay provides a backdrop to the student reaction to the loan bribe

The reaction of students to the Labour bribe echoes somewhat Hardin's classic 1968 essay (interestingly Hardin was thinking about nuclear weapons) - the tragedy of the commons -

The "logic of the commons" is as follows:

Each household has the right to take resources from and put wastes into the commons. To accumulate wealth, each household believes that it can acquire one unit of resources or dump one unit of waste while distributing one unit of cost across all of the households with whom the commons is shared.

The fallacy in the logic of the commons lies in the failure to recognize that all households are attempting to do the same thing. Thus, on average, one unit of gain for a household actually produces a net one unit of cost for each household.

However, selfish households accumulate wealth from the commons by acquiring more than their fair share of the resources and paying less than their fair share of the total costs.

Thus with the Labour bribe, Students know it is a bribe and unsustainable but selfishness forces them to partake and that same driver will encourage them to go to the max. Else another habitant of the commons will take their share.

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