CAPE ANN BEACON, February 25, 2011. Page 5
By Carmine Gorga
The discovery of the problem of the free rider did not originate with the enforcers of the preferred solutions of privatizing the commons and the proposal of the Catch Shares program. The discovery properly belongs to the subtle reasoning of a group of people who stand behind the scenes and ultimately control the mind of bureaucrats, environmentalists, and economists. These people identify themselves as social scientists.
They come in many stripes: They are statisticians, mathematicians, game theorists, philosophers, political scientists, and outright social scientists.
This mutual admiration society is unified by the goal of dealing with the free rider problem once and for all.
How do social scientists want to resolve the problem of the free rider? Well, the answer is obvious. They want to impose the most stringent rules of behavior on all members of society, even to the point of building a Leviathan, a monster government, which will punish the free rider with the gulag.
That is the preferred solution of governments tending toward communism; governments tending toward fascism do not mind to starve the transgressor to death.
The more sufferance inflicted, the more blood spilled, the more exciting the intellectual game. The more thrilling the chase. The higher the odds of success.
If all members of society were indeed to behave as social scientists suggest they ought to behave, clearly the free rider problem would be solved. It is assumed that no cheating would occur, because any cheating is inconceivable among few trustworthy survivors. Not only that. Social scientists rely especially on the fear engendered by the menace of life-threatening penalties, penalties imposed with overwhelming force.
This is indeed an intellectual reduction to the absurd. The non-cooperating reality offers a different answer: The free rider is going to exist no matter how stringent the government rules, and no matter how few the survivors.
What, then, is the solution? (Wait until the next installment).
For the time being, I hope I have made it clear that, explicitly or not, much of the academic establishment is supporting the proposed rules and regulations that are killing the family fishing fleet.
That is the reason why we do not hear a pip against the plight of the family fishing fleet. That is the reason why government bureaucrats have – with impunity – been treating fishermen as if they were criminals. That is the reason why the national press is absent when 5000 fishermen show up on the steps of the Capitol to ask politely for the preservation of their right to fish.
That is the reason why so few people even notice the disjunction between branches of the federal government spending billions of dollars to create new jobs and the plight of the fishermen who are restrained by a different branch of the federal government in their right to fish, whereby the fishermen create jobs on the oceans and on land, at no taxpayer’s expense.
That is the reason why the majority of the public is witnessing the plight of the family fishing fleet and still takes no sides: Too many people claim to be confused by the complexity of the issues. Still confused? Clearly, no amount of evidence will convince people who have negatively prejudged the fishermen.
To complete this cultural/sociological picture, you need to add one more notion to the panorama: the unresolved conflict between “small is beautiful” of Jeffersonian memory and “big is efficient” of Hamiltonian memory. Hence, down with the small independent fisherman; hurray for the strong and efficient sectors, the proposed enforcers of the Catch Shares program. This is a conflict that divides the American house.
We all know that a house divided against itself does not stand. The fisheries, caught in this maelstrom of conflicting ideas, are collapsing. It is always the weakest member that suffers most.
Carmine Gorga, PhD, is president of Polis-tics Inc. His latest book is titled The Economic Process: An Instantaneous Non-Newtonian Picture.
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