Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Privatizing The Commons
The commons are those things that we all need to sustain a decent life and to make a living. These include essential services, the roads, and the common defense of life and property and commerce. These are the things that we organize government to serve. I have now lived through a period in American history in which we have experimented with the privatization of many perts of the commons to our detriment. It was unthinkable the the military should be privatized when I was young, yet now we have rogue private armies like Blackwater that have rin amok in foreign lands, committed murder with impunity in those foreign lands and domestically in New Orleans during Katrina. We have privatized aspects of the National Park system. We have privatized many human services, jails, and our system of health care delivery. When the commons are privatized, the quest for profit soon results in exploitation and infrastructure degradation as Hardin so clearly pointed out in his classic science paper. The concept of the commons seems to be beyond most people, and the result is a deteriorating society, just as Hardin foretold and warned against.