As I said, I wish I had trained as a rabbi, a priest, a minister, an imam, or a monk. I would then work on the source of the problem. The source of the problem is this.
Unawares, social scientists have separated the issue of trust from its source: morality.
They have placed trust in the context of the positive sciences – pure sciences that are measurable and experimental. Hence, they have made trust depend on reciprocity.
In addition, since pure sciences abhor abstract unmeasurable entities such as morality, they have expunged morality from their system of thought.
In brief, social scientists believe that morality either is powerless or does not exist, and they have made the problem of the free rider insoluble.
It is only the re-entry of morality in the social sciences that can solve the problem of the free rider. How? By this maxim of morality: You do good for its own sake; you act morally, not when you act in self-interest – i.e., expecting some positive result in return, namely reciprocity; you act morally when you act selflessly. You act morally when you do not expect anything in return.
And you know that, when you act morally, society – and, ultimately, God – will give you everything in return. Society and God will give you above all self-esteem.
The problem of the free rider, then, is not for social scientists to resolve, but for the community of people who have been shut out of any serious social conversation during the last four to five hundred years: Rabbis, priests, ministers, imams, and monks. Did I forget to mention the shaman? Should I not add the literati?
It is this group of people alone who, dealing with cultural and spiritual issues and working on the deepest levels of our psyche, have the power to tussle with the problem of the free rider.
And if this community of people is unable or unwilling to deal with the problem, let us not fret over it. The problem of the free rider is a small problem. Let us absorb the small damage it creates and move on with our lives.
Any damage done by the family fishing fleet is, by definition, a problem of miniscule size. Overfishing is not done by the family fishing fleet; overfishing is done by the large, generally subsidized, corporate enterprises; overfishing is done by the natural predators of fish.
If government bureaucrats, environmentalists, and economists really want to attack the problem of overfishing at its source they should unite and instruct the public and the politicians to wage a fight against large corporate enterprises and to truly manage the fisheries by working with the laws of nature. They should purposefully reduce the population of the natural predators of fish.
The relation between predator and prey, as modern solid science is pointing out and specific studies have confirmed, is a moveable feast. Hence, while the policy of taking predators out of the water ought to remain constant, the specific type of fish to be taken out of the water will vary.
To remain within the field of major commercial interest, it has been established that there is a predator/prey relationship between bottom fish and pelagics, the fish that live in the middle of the water column. Hence, at times the type of fish that ought to be purposefully taken out of the water is composed of pelagics; at other times, it is composed of bottom fish. It is keeping as much a balance as possible between these two major groups of fish that counts.
That is true fisheries management.
Carmine Gorga, PhD, is president of Polis-tics Inc. His latest book is titled The Economic Process: An Instantaneous Non-Newtonian Picture.