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SCI LIBRARY

A Commons Without Tragedy

Robert V. Andelson



[A paper presented at the Joint Georgist Conference, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1989]


Georgists, for the most part, are wont to deny that there is such a thing as a population problem, or that, if there is one, it is of more than trifling importance. I used to take issue with this view to the extent of saying that there is a serious population problem, but held that it was qualitative rather than quantitative in nature. Over the past couple of years I have become persuaded that the problem is quantitative as well as qualitative. This change in my position stems from ecological instead of narrowly economic considerations. No doubt, with proper land arrangement and the application of advanced technology, the earth could support, after a fashion, a vastly greater population well into the distant future. But when account is taken of the quality of life, and of the environmental degradation that significant increase in population would inevitably entail, the issue assumes far more ominous perspective.

Lest by "true believers" I be charged with heresy, let me say that I heard with my own ears the late Professor Harry Gunnison Brown, for decades leading champion of the Georgist gospel among academic economists, announce to a large audience bluntly and without qualification: "I am a Malthusian." Well, I am not a Malthusian in any literal or thoroughgoing sense, and I don't think that Professor Brown really was one either. But I submit that there is no good reason why Georgists today need turn a blind eye to overpopulation, any more than those concerned with overpopulation need turn a blind eye to land monopoly. I submit that it is time that we Georgists (or neo-Georgists, if you will) called a halt to our anachronistic feud with the Neo-Malthusians.

The fact is that land monopoly engenders artificial overpopulation, whereas overpopulation exacerbates the ills of land monopoly. The population problem and the land problem are both serious and real; neither should be used as an excuse to avoid recognition of the other.

In Henry George's day, Malthusianism was the great red herring that diverted attention from the most fundamental cause of poverty. The fallacious mathematical methodology of Malthusianism proper was utterly demolished by George in Progress and Poverty, but he was "beating a dead horse," as it had been abandoned by Malthus himself, as well as by John Stuart Mill and other proto-Neo-Malthusians. George's treatment of their more sophisticated position is far less satisfactory, and amounts to denying the population problem altogether, except insofar as it might obtain in such special isolated instances as Pitcairn Island. In the course of this treatment, he permitted himself deliverances that are truly awesome in their extravagance, most notably the assertion that "the earth could maintain a thousand billions of people as easily as a thousand millions."[1]

For this he may be forgiven in view of the obscurantist and callous fatalism that Malthusianism characteristically engendered. Yet Malthus himself was neither obscurantist nor callous, but a conscientious truthseeker and humane reformer. It may come as a surprise to many in this audience, and was, I'm sure, not known to George, but Malthus had, in fact, proposed a single tax on land values as a remedy for Irish poverty.[2] Nor was Mill in any sense a complacent defender of the status quo. His recommendation that future land-value increments be socialized may have seemed to George a half-way measure, and does not go as far as I myself would wish, but it surely pointed in the right direction. I do not claim to be conversant with all or even most of the current literature on overpopulation, but of the major figures who have called attention to this evil in our time, I am not aware of a single one who sees it as a comprehensive and sufficient explanation for involuntary poverty, or who seeks to use it as a rationalization for neglecting efforts toward a better distribution of natural opportunity.

At any rate, if we hope for credibility among environmentalists, we are going to have to admit that the planet's "carrying capacity" is finite, and that, however much that may be extended by technological progress or by free in g-up of natural opportunity, its limits, in terms of the integrity of both global and regional ecosystems, may be a great deal closer than we habitually assumed. The Georgist outlook has always been sensitive to duty to future generations, as evidenced in its emphasis upon the conservation of non-renewable resources. That sensitivity must now be focused also upon the need to keep those generations from swamping the environment.

I shall probably be accused of being alarmist. While I realize that the scientific community is not unanimous as to the precise magnitude or imminence of the ecological ills portended by exploding population, there is broad consensus that at the very least the prospect of such ills is not to be dismissed as nugatory. To do nothing in the hope of some technological miracle would be to court disaster. Mandatory population control, the only long-run safeguard against possible environmental doom, presents a threat only to sentimental and conventional notions of rights and freedoms. The movement to abolish slavery was once considered an assault on vested rights; and efforts to collect for society a greater share of the site-values it creates, are today considered, in all too many quarters, an assault on individual freedom. Self-interest and prejudice must not be permitted to place at risk the condition and perhaps even the very survival of the essential joint-heritage of the human race.

Implicit in this is a necessary repudiation of the assumption that indiscriminate breeding is an absolute right regardless of the burdens that it imposes by default on society. This statement may seem odd coming from someone who considers himself a libertarian, but libertarianism is not libertinism, and Georgists should be the first to realize that rights that trench upon the rights of others are no rights at all. The biological ability to procreate does not confer on its possessors the right to saddle society with the support of children for whom they are unable or unwilling to make decent provision. Let us face this squarely, while as Georgists continuing to affirm that society does not have the right to maintain institutional arrangements which render it impossible for competent and industrious people to make decent provision for children.

I don't want to oversimplify the ecological issue. If we were to get a handle on population growth, and if access to natural opportunity were open on fair terms to all, there would still be much to be done in the way of stemming ruinous habits of consumption that deplete resources, foul the atmosphere, and create mountains of unrecyclable and sometimes toxic waste. But perhaps I am not being altogether fatuous if I dare to entertain the hope that with fewer (and conceivably more responsible) people, and with prosperity more equitably distributed, public demand might turn away from machine-made mass commodities and built-in obsolescence, in favor of craftsmanship and durability; away from chemically grown and processed junk foods raised and marketed by giant agribusinesses, in favor of wholesome organic foods cultivated with care and pride on much less acreage by those who truly love the earth and nurture it.

What I am trying to convey is that a solution to the land question such as we propose is-the most decisive step that could be taken toward the diminution if not the total extirpation of involuntary poverty, but that although it might hugely ameliorate and considerably postpone damage to the environment, in the last analysis salvation of the environment will require control of population. In the words of John Baden: "With any positive rate of growth, whether it is only 1 percent a year or even .1 percent a year, a population approaches infinity in a relatively short period of time... Even a 1 percent growth rate will double a population in a mere human lifetime. ...An ever increasing population is clearly inconsistent with the maintenance or improvement of the natural environment."[3] For most of the world's history, growth rates were kept in balance by Malthusian checks, but modern medicine has drastically reduced mortality, especially among infants, while well-meaning aid programs have made famines more likely to result in stunted half-lives than in outright deaths.

Genuine solutions to both problems, involving as they do the implementation of reciprocity in freedom (freedom to use nature without doing so at the expense of others, and freedom to procreate without placing unsolicited burdens upon others), fall legitimately within the purview of enforcement by government. As we Georgists know, the enforcement of the first solution allows for the removal of impediments to the operation of the market; Kenneth Boulding has suggested an ingenious plan whereby the second solution could also be enforced within a market framework.[4] It is at least arguable that with these two solutions in place, market forces might themselves curb ecologically destructive patterns of consumption.

Nothing I have said in underscoring the ecological necessity for population control should be construed to denigrate the ecological side-benefits of George's remedy for poverty. It is incontrovertible, I think, that the rapidly-increasing destruction of the Amazon rain forest (with its resultant "greenhouse effect" upon the global ecosystem) is directly attributable to the fact that the Amazon basin is the only part of Brazil where free or cheap land is available, and this, in turn, is attributable to the fact that nearly four-fifths of Brazil's arable acreage is covered by sprawling latifundios, half of which are held by speculators who produce nothing.[5] Were the artificial scarcity of available land in the rest of Brazil corrected, as the Georgist remedy would unquestionably do, pressure on the Amazon basin would obviously cease. This is but on example, albeit a dramatic one, of the ecological side-benefits of which I spoke. But, if the Brazilian population continues to increase at its present rate, how long would it be before the margin extended again to Amazonia? The environmental advantages of the Georgist program are certainly substantial, but they cannot be permanent unless coupled with restraints on population growth.

Neither should anything that I have said be construed to minimize the possibilities of technology. A couple of months ago, it seemed as if we had strong indications that cold nuclear fusion would give us an inexpensive and inexhaustible supply of clean power within a decade or two. It appears now that these indications were unduly sanguine, but I have no doubt that it (or something like it) will happen sometime within the next half-century. Yet would an inexpensive and inexhaustible supply of clean power save the rhinocerous hunted for its horn or the elephant slaughtered for its tusks? Would it preserve the redwoods from extinction? Would it protect the dolphins from the drift-nets, or the pyramids from the disintegration caused by tourists? It was Henry George himself who characterized man as "the only animal whose desires increase as they are fed; the only animal that is never satisfied."6 If his numbers be not too great, these insatiable appetities can be accomodated without grave stress to the environment. But the environment is fragile, and its carrying capacity finite. In our day and age, this is too evident to deny. If Henry George were living now, I am convinced that he would not deny it. If we refuse to admit it, we are being wilfully blind, and cannot expect to be taken seriously.

Of the Neo-Malthusian voices emanating from ecologist ranks, one of the most powerful and certainly the most provocative is that of Garrett Hardin. In some circles, he is best known for his advocacy of triage; in others, for his advocacy of unrestricted abortion. With this audience, which may already consider him a bet noire for his famous association of tragedy with the idea of common property, I shall not venture to discuss his views on these other controversial topics except to say that, however harsh they might appear, they stem from an attitude similar to that evinced in that reluctant demi-Georgist, Thomas Nixon Carver's, definition of justice: "Justice is mercy writ large. It is benevolence with a long look ahead, a look which takes in the most distant generations of the future and places them on an exact equality with the present generations .. ."[7] I confess that I find this unsentimental attitude a lot more congenial than that expressed by Lord Keynes with the flip words, "In the long run, we are all dead."

In the remainder of this paper, I propose to show that, despite secondary disagreements, Garrett Hardin and Henry George may, in what is to us of greatest interest, be far closer to each other than might first appear. I propose to show that what they have in common is obscured by a semantic difference -- ironically, a difference in the meaning that they attach to the word "common."

When, in Book VI, chapter 2, of Progress and Poverty, George asserted, "We must make land common property" he was guilty of a tactical blunder that hobbled the advance of his proposal from the start. For although he took pains later in his book to clarify this declaration, it has been used by his antagonists with deadly effect to portray him as an advocate of nationalizing land.

Actually, of course, nationalization, with its concomitant collectivization and regimentation, was not at all what George proposed. By "common property in land," he intended to signify the effectuation of common rights in land, not (except in instances involving generally-accepted public functions) its collective use. Neither did he intend to signify a common resource to be drawn on individually without concern for social consequences.

The true meaning of the phrase for George is best exhibited in Book VIII, chapter 1. He first speaks there of a lot in the center of San Francisco:

"This lot is not cut up into infinitesimal pieces nor yet is it an unused waste. It is covered with fine buildings, the property of private individuals, that stand there in perfect security. The only difference between this lot and those around it, is that the rent of the one goes into the common school fund, the rent of the others into private pockets."


He then turns to the Aleutian islets of St. Peter and St. Paul, the breeding places of the fur seal, and animal so wary that the slightest fright causes it to flee its customary hunts forever:

To prevent the utter destruction of this fishery, without which the islands are of no use to man, it is not only necessary to avoid killing the females and young cubs, but even such noises as the discharge of a pistol or the barking of a dog. ... Those who can be killed without diminution of future increase are carefully separated and gently driven inland, out of sight and hearing of the herds, where they are dispatched with clubs. To throw such a fishery as this open to whoever chose to go and kill - which would make it to the interest of each party to kill as many as they could at the time without reference to the future - would be utterly to destroy it in a few seasons, as similar fisheries in other countries have been destroyed. But it is not necessary, therefore, to make these islands private property. …They have been leased at a rent of $317,500 per year (partly fixed ground rent, partly payment of $2.675 on each skin with an annual harvest limited to 100,000 skins), probably not very much less than they could have been sold for at the time of the Alaska purchase. They have already yielded two millions and a half to the national treasury, and they are still, in unimpaired value (for under the careful management of the Alaska Fur Company the seals increase rather than diminish), the common property of the people of the United States.


Although George thus illustrates his principle by means of actual examples involving leaseholds, his prescription envisages an easier and less drastic application than that of confiscating land and letting it out to the highest bidders. Instead, he advocated that land titles be left in private hands, with rent appropriated by means of the existing tax machinery. Commensurate reductions would be made in taxes on improvements and other labor products (culminating ideally in the total abolition of such taxes), and the machinery reduced and simplified accordingly. "By leaving to landowners a percentage of rent which would probably be much less than the cost and loss involved in attempting to rent lands through State agency, and by making use of this existing machinery, we may, without jar or shock, assert the common right to land by taking rent for public uses."[8] But this is simply a practical refinement; the principle remains the same.

In his seminal essay, "The Tragedy of the Commons,"[9] Hardin focuses on the inherent tendency of individuals, each in the pursuit of his own interests, to overgraze, denude, and use the commons as a cesspool.* That which belongs to everybody in this sense is, indeed, valued and maintained by nobody. The Enclosure Movement ultimately brought an end to the commons in Europe as a basic institution, but not without exacting a baneful price in human misery that might well be termed "The Tragedy of the Enclosures."

It makes no difference, really, whether or not Hardin believes that most people are utility or profit maximizers who value their individual goods more than they do social goods. If common property is free to all without restraint, it only takes one such person, once an area's carrying capacity has been reached, to degrade the area. As with persons, so also with nations. The stocks of blue whales are so depleted that the International Whaling Commission recommends the virtual stoppage of whaling, and all but two nations have ceased whaling on the high seas altogether. But Japan and Russia continue to fish for whales aggressively, and the depletion becomes ever more acute. Soon the blue whale may be extinct. Actually, Hardin does not deny the existence of altruism either in individuals or in societies. But his "conservative policy," as he calls it, is "to regard altruism as a marginal motive."[10] To me, this policy seems only sensible. Archbishop Temple must have been thinking along similar lines when he defined the art of government as "the art of so ordering life that self-interest prompts what justice demands."[11]

When I commenced the research for this paper, I set out, with the aid of two British collegues, David Redfearn and Julia Bastian, to disprove Hardin's thesis. Together, we compiled an impressive list of counter-examples, showing that the historic commons, far from being an unregulated free-for-all, were mostly operated according to agreed-upon rules that ensured a fair distribution of opportunity, spread work evenly through the seasons, and generally tended to conserve the soil and other natural resources.[12] These rules worked effectively in England for about a thousand years. It was only after the enclosure of the open fields was well advanced that the common pastures, having been thus divorced in large measure from their traditional employment, became subject to overgrazing and other environmental abuses as the old regulatory machinery fell into abeyance.[13] Vestigial remnants of the historic commons, such as the Swiss alpine village of Torbel, survive and thrive even today.[14] As for the supposed ecologically beneficent effects of "private" as opposed to "common" ownership of land; a recent report in the Financial Times of London speaks of pollution resulting from the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, deterioration of habitats, erosion, loss of topsoil, acidification of rivers, desertification, unsuitable afforestation, etc., etc.[15] But this is not a brief for "government" ownership (nationalization); Lake Baikal in the U.S.S.R. is every bit as polluted as is Lake Erie.

"The Tragedy of the Commons" was first published in 1968, and has been reprinted in numerous collections since that date. Among the more vigorous efforts to rebut it is an article by John Reader which appeared just last year. "The true commons," Reader property insists, "was, by definition, an area of mutual benefit and responsibility, managed by those using it in a manner than acknowledged that environmental resources are not unlimited. Access to the commons was restricted by entitlement; use was regulated to ensure that no individual could pursue his own interest to the detriment of others. Par from bringing ruin to all, the true commons functioned to keep its exploitation within sustainable limits, thus providing every commoner with a dependable food supply in the short term, and maintaining the viability of available resources for generations to come."[16]

A more careful analysis of Hardin's essay demonstrates that, like my own compilation of counter-examples, Reader's attack, while factual enough, is utterly beside the point: What Reader calls the "true commons" is not what Hardin meant by "the commons' in his essay. The essay presents a hypothetical illustration of a pasture open to all. Each herdsman, seeking as a rational being to maximize his gain, will try to keep as many cattle as possible on the pasture. So long as tribal warfare, poaching, and disease keep the numbers of both man and beast below the carrying capacity of the land, the arrangement may work satisfactorily. But once that capacity is exceeded, "the inherent logic of the commons generates tragedy," since the rational herdsman, knowing that without regulation others will pursue their individual interests even if he abstains, adds animal after animal to his herd. "Each man is locked into a system that compels him to increase his herd without limit - in a world that is limited."[17] So much for the hypothetical illustration. But one looks in vain in the essay for historical references.

It is true that, in another work, Hardin alludes in passing to the ecological destructiveness of the system of English commons that was replaced as a result of the Enclosure Movement.[18] In this, he may have been historically inaccurate, but this was a mere incidental error, as in neither case was he writing to establish a historical thesis. Hardin uses the term "commons" to refer, not primarily or necessarily to any actual historical institution, but to what sociologists, following Max Weber, call an ideal type - a pure logical construct, in this instance, one of the four discrete politico-economic systems of environmental utilization. The "system of the commons" is the one in which the environment is utilized by the group with the proceeds going to the individual. It is, practically speaking, a synonym for anarchy.

In a piece entitled "Ethical Implications of Carrying Capacity," Hardin discusses an "excellent report" by Nicholas Wade, which ascribes the advancing desertification of the Sahel largely to (often well-intended) Western interference. Prior to this interference, the Sahelian peoples carried on a way of life that was a remarkably efficient adaptation to their environment, with migrations, routes, the length of time a herd of a given size might spend at a given well, etc., governed by rules worked out by tribal chiefs. But, according to Hardin, the "old way of treating common property in the Sahel" was not really the system of the commons but rather a kind of informal socialism.[19] It may, of course, be argued that the words "commons" and "socialism" are both used by him in an idiosyncratic fashion, but an author is entitled to use words any way he chooses so long as he specifies what he is doing, and Hardin cannot be accused of failing to so specify.

"The morality of an act," says Hardin, "is a function of the state of the system at the time it is performed"[20] In the old Testament period, "Be fruitful and multiply" might have been a sound injunction; today, it is a mandate to behave irresponsibly. For a lone frontiersman to discharge waste into a stream may harm nobody; as population reaches a certain density, such conduct becomes intolerable. "Property rights must be periodically reexamined in the light of social justice."[21] In a complex, crowded, changeable environment, statutory law cannot make adequate allowance for particular circumstances, and must therefore be augmented by administrative law. But Hardin admits that administrative law, depending as it does upon decision-making by bureaucrats, is singularly liable to corruption. To it applies with special force the age-old questions: Quis custodiet ipsos custodies? - "Who shall watch the watchers themselves?" Hardin draws attention to this difficulty, but does not attempt an answer.

How can exploitation be adjusted to carrying capacity, allowing for particular and changing circumstances, yet avoiding the corruption and caprice of bureaucratic regulators? Inasmuch as we live in an imperfect world inhabited by imperfect beings, a perfect solution to this dilemma does not exist. Yet the program of Henry George, since it calls for a process that is virtually self-regulating, comes as close to being foolproof as anything conceivable. To leave the land in private hands, while appropriating through taxation the greater part of its annual rental value as determined by the market, would assure, not maximum, but optimum exploitation.

In an illustration concerning the lumber industry, Hardin correctly remarks that "high taxes on land that is many years away from being timbered encourage cut-and-run."[22] But they wouldn't have this effect if combined with heavy severance taxes, which encourage conservation while reducing the land's market value. Thus the tax on annual rental value could be set at a high percentage yet still be low enough to induce retention of title, together with non-injurious harvesting schedules and techniques. Although the taxation of land rent is, of course, the method characteristically emphasized by Georgism, a severance tax is simply a different technical application of the same philosophy, adapted to different circumstances but equally amenable to determination by the market.

I make no pretense of familiarity with the whole of Hardin's copious literary output, but the adverse reference to which I just alluded is the only one I have encountered that speaks explicity of land taxation. Conversely, in Stalking the Wild Taboo, one finds a glancing but favorable mention of the graduated income tax.[23] Yet he proposes internalizing pollution costs (and simultaneously discouraging pollution) through taxation[24] - a proposal very much in keeping with the Georgist accent on using the tax mechanism to protect common rights in the environment within an overall framework of private enterprise. And in a book he edited, Jay M. Anderson suggests, quite possibly with his tacit approval, "the taxation of industry at a rate proportional to used commons."[25]

But most significant, I think, is an easily overlook passage in "The Tragedy of the Commons" in which Hardin, perhaps unwittingly, endorses by implication the essential Georgist concept:

During the Christmas shopping season (in Leominster, Massachusetts) the parking meters downtown were covered with plastic bags that bore tags reading: "Do not open until after Christmas. Free parking courtesy of the mayor and city council." In other words, facing the prospect of an increased demand for already scarce space, the city fathers reinstituted the system of the commons.[26]


By calling this a "retrogressive act," Hardin demonstrates his belief that the meters ought to have been left in operation. Now, parking meters exemplify (in specialized form) the public appropriation of land rent; they constitute payment for the privilege of temporarily monopolizing a site - compensation to the members of the community whose opportunity to use the site is extinguished for a given time by the monopoly. The payment, to be sure, is typically only partial. Compensation reflecting the full market value of the temporary monopoly would be at levels comparable to fees charged by commercial parking lots in the vicinity of the meters.

But more than compensation is involved here. If parking meter fees, instead of being used to pay for community services or even for their own collection cost, were buried in the ground, their collection would still be justified in order, as Hardin puts it, "to keep downtown shoppers temperate in their use of parking space"[27] - i.e., as a means of rendering monopoly temporary and innocuous. So, also, the public appropriation of land rent in its more comprehensive application, by removing any incentive to hoard and speculate in land, would be warranted in terms of social justice and well-being, even if its yield were cast into the sea. For in rectifying distribution, this approach liberates production; in apportioning the wealth-pie fairly, it increases the size of the pie. Instead of being a cruel contest in which the cards are stacked against most players because of gross disparities in bargaining power, the market becomes in practice what capitalist theory alleges it to be - a profoundly cooperative process of voluntary exchange. And all this is accomplished without stressing the environment. Cities, more compact, return to human scale as artificial pressures for expansion outward and upward are removed. The availability of land at prices no longer bloated by speculation, makes profitable agriculture possible without the wholesale use of ecologically harmful chemicals and machinery.

In addition to the "system of the commons," which amounts to anarchy, Hardin distinguishes three other discrete systems of environmental utilization: "Socialism," "Private Philanthropy," and "Private Enterprise."[28] He tends in general to favor the last, since under it the individual decision-maker and society both lose when the carrying capacity of the environment is overloaded, and thus decisions are more apt to be "operationally responsible." Yet he concludes that this is not invariably the case, and is no apologist for absolute private ownership of land.[29] Not only does he grant that an owner, seeking rationally to maximize his gains, may under certain conditions behave in an ecologically irresponsible fashion[30] (a conclusion set forth in greater detail respectively by Daniel Fife and Colin W. Clark,[31]) but he holds that the Enclosure Acts, even though ecologically desirable, were unjust.[32] "We must admit," he asserts moreover, "that our legal system of private property plus inheritance is unjust - but we put up with it because we are not convinced, at the moment, that anyone has invented a better system."[33]

Well, someone surnamed George did "invent" a better system - one that eminently satisfies all of Hardin's criteria, one that secures the advantages of both commons and enclosures with none of the disadvantages of either. For, paradoxical though it may seem, the only way in which the individual may be assured what properly belongs to him is for society to take what properly belongs to it: The Jeffersonian ideal of individualism requires for its realization the socialization of rent. Were rent socialized, the costs of negative externalities internalized, and the returns of private effort privatized, we and our posterity would prosper, at least roughly, according to our deserts, and healing come to our abused and wounded habitat, the earth.


ENDNOTES


1. Henry George, Progress and Poverty (1979; New York: Robert Schalkenbach Foundation, 1962) p. 133.
2. Two reviews published by Malthus anonymously of books by Thomas Newenham, Edinburgh Review, July 1808, pp. 336-355, and April, 1809, pp. 115-170, respectively. I am indebted to Michael A. MacDowell for having called my attention to this information.
3. John Baden, "Population, Ethnicity, and Public Goods: The Logic of Interest-Group Strategy," in Garrett Hardin and John Baden, eds., Managing the Commons (San Francisco: W. H. Freeman and Co., 1977) pp. 253,259.
4. Kenneth Boulding, The Meaning of the 20th Century (New York: Harper & Row, 1964), p. 135.
5. "Brazil's land reform program is caught in a violent crossfire," Christian Science Monitor, May 7, 1987, p. 11.
6. Progress and Poverty, p. 134.
7. Thomas Nixon Carver, Essays in Social Justice (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1915) p. 292.
8. Progress and Poverty, p. 405.
9 Garrett Hardin, "The Tragedy of the Commons," Science, Vol. 162, pp. 1243-1248, Dec. 13, 1968.
10. Hardin, "An Operational Analysis of 'Responsibility'," in Hardin and Baden, eds.. Managing the Commons, p. 68.
11. William Temple, Christianity and Social Order (1942; New York: Seabury, 1977), p. 65.
12. See C. S. and C. S. Orwin, The Open Fields (Oxford: Clarendon, 1938) pp. 38-58; and Laxton: Life in an Open Field Village (Nottingham: University of Nottingham, Manuscripts Department, Archive Teaching Unit No. 4), Introduction, pp. 12-17, Transcripts and Summaries of Documents, pp. 10-11.
13. W. G. Collins and L. D. Stamp, The Common Lands of England and Wales (London: Collins, 1963), pp. 56-60.
14. John Reader, "Human Ecology: How Land Shapes Society," New Scientist, No. 1629 (Sept. 8,1988), P. 55.
15. Bridget Bloom, "Erosion Threatens Europe's agricultural land," Financial Times (London), July 18,1988, Environment IV.
16. Reader, p. 52.
17. "The Tragedy of the Commons," p. 1244.
18. Hardin, Exploring New Ethics for Survival (New York: Viking, 1968), p. 116.
19. Hardin, "Ethical Implications of Carrying Capacity" and "An Operational Analysis of 'Responsibility'," in Hardin and Baden eds., Managing the Commons, p. 122 and p. 69.
20. "The Tragedy of the Commons," p. 1243.
21. Hardin, Exploring New Ethics, p. 127.
22. Ibid., p. 126.
23. Hardin, Stalking the Wild Taboo (Los Altos, CA: William Kaufman, Inc., 1973), p. 177.
24. "The Tragedy of the Commons," p. 1245; Exploring New Ethics, pp. 123, 244f.
25. Jay M. Anderson, "A Model of the Commons," in Hardin and Baden, eds., Managing the Commons, p. 41.
26. "The Tragedy of the Commons," p. 1245.
27. Ibid., p. 1247.
28. "An Operational Analysis of 'Responsibility'," p. 69.
29. Exploring New Ethics, pp. 125-127.
30. Ibid., pp. 125-126.
31. Daniel Fife, "Killing the Goose," and Colin W. Clark, "The Economics of Overexploitation," in Hardin and Baden, eds., Managing the Commons, pp. 76-95.
32. Hardin, "Denial and Disguise," in Ibid., p. 46.
33. "The Tragedy of the Commons," p. 1247.



* A major theme in Hardin's thought it that the genetic stream is also commons. As stewards, we have an obligation to ensure that it is not overloaded or polluted. I do not know whether he anywhere discusses the specifics of how this should be done, other than to say that if it were left to depend upon appeals to conscience, conscience would soon be bred out of the population. My personal opinion is that if measures are to be taken to reduce population size or to keep it static, then there is all the more reason why measures should be taken to upgrade its quality. Once understood that there is no automatic right to breed, to prevent the transmission of defective genes will not be regarded as a violation of an individual's private and personal life any more than to prevent the transmission of venereal disease is so regarded. Arbitrary value judgements about what constitutes "superiority" and "Inferiority" need not enter into the picture; the only judgements required would center, upon whether prospective offspring would be likely to become public charges - surely a proper and legitimate concern. Hie probable production of genetically defective offspring would then become an option only for those wealthy enough to put up surety for their support. Since such people are relatively few and tend to be less prolific anyway, to permit them such an option would not significantly hinder the cleansing of the genetic stream.