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Comment: The Tragedy of the Commons ...

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The Tragedy of the Commons ...

... is the idea that if "nobody" owns a resource because "everybody" (i.e. "the Public") owns it, then eventually that resource will be destroyed because there is no private interest enforcing the stewardship of the resource.

The classic example is the wild buffalo on the plains of the American Midwest in the 18th-19th Centuries. Because "the government owned the land," anybody could go and kill as many buffalo as they wanted. Eventually, the buffalo became near extinct.

When the government of the former USSR fell apart, Westerners were able to get in and look around areas that hadn't been seen by "unofficial" eyes in decades. The horrific destruction of the environment was obvious. Areas that were forests just a few decades earlier had become desert land.

This is the Tragedy of the Commons.