Not stringent government rules and regulations, but appeal to self-esteem will solve the free rider problem. Needless to say, this solution presupposes the existence of a strong and viable community to validate the self-esteem of its members.
Many social scientists will tell you that there is no such thing as a strong and viable community today. They ought to know, because many of them, mostly unawares, have performed the function of storm troopers who, not independently wealthy themselves but mercenaries paid by the domineering few, have destroyed one community after another.
They have attacked the family farmer and the independent retailer by falsely accusing them of overcharging and being too expensive. Falsely, because in their calculations social scientists, mostly unawares, omit many costs incurred by the consumer of products sold by the large corporations: externalities such as the cost of disposal of waste and the cost of a car together with insurance and fuel needed to reach the large but distant, box-store.
While family farmers and independent retailers have been accused of overcharging, fishermen are being accused of overfishing. Cheaters all three of them; free riders all three of them.
You can get on a high horse, even the high horse of morality, and take upon yourself the task of resolving the problem of the free rider. You can get on a high horse and conclude that you really need to – and you will, if you have your druthers – change human nature. Out of non-cheaters, you will create the ”new man.’’
Or you can acquire a more realistic view of morality. Human nature is perfect as it is. You need only carefully change some of the institutions in which human beings operate.
One can agree that the institutions within which the family fishing fleet operates today need to be changed. But solutions will have to be designed from the bottom up, and they have to be imposed from within the community of fishermen.
One can also agree that this movement forward will not come by itself. The cultural and spiritual community of rabbis, priests, ministers, imams, and monks will have to help. As it is written in the Good Book, if you want to be fishers of men… well, you have to help fishermen now in their hour of need.
Members of the cultural and spiritual community do not need to learn how to mend nets to help the fishermen. They need only counteract the classical approach of conquerors: Isolate those whom you want to subjugate, cut them off their community, and it is so much easier to scare them and to force them into submission.
To counteract these maneuvers, the cultural and spiritual community will have to call the affected people together, to hold each member in trust to each other, and to keep the invaders out.
No matter how good their intentions, the invaders are fishing in troubled waters, not for the benefit of the community, but for their very own self-interest.
We have had proof after proof of this dynamic: When members of the community no longer trust each other, some of them call in the experts from the outside. And the experts benefit only themselves, their friends, and their relatives.
The shadow of the community is left there to mourn the present. A murder is occurring before our very eyes. Who can remain neutral while watching the community of fishermen being economically annihilated?
The list of issues that lie at the bottom of all this mayhem might be long, but each one of them is not that complicated after all. It is up to all of us to ascertain the truth behind these maneuvers and to reveal the truth.
The truth alone shall make us free.
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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