RIP Elinor Ostrom
Tragedy of the commons? Nah. Elinor Ostrom, the only female to win the Nobel Prize in Economics, argued communities were surprisingly adept at maintaining common property.
“Elinor Ostrom has challenged the conventional wisdom that common property is poorly managed and should be either regulated by central authorities or privatized. Based on numerous studies of user-managed fish stocks, pastures, woods, lakes, and groundwater basins, Ostrom concludes that the outcomes are, more often than not, better than predicted by standard theories. She observes that resource users frequently develop sophisticated mechanisms for decision-making and rule enforcement to handle conflicts of interest, and she characterizes the rules that promote successful outcomes.”
Right at the same time I was taking ECON100 classes, I listened to one of her lectures. I never saw economics the same, because it made me realize our collective capacity to manage common property. It’s not hard, really. Over time, you develop self-regulating mechanisms for keeping people in check.
Here’s an NPR interview: