OF THE COMMONS is a tragedy of the commons — fundamental, systemic, intrinsic to the very notion that goods can be held in common. My aphorism for this occasion is “What is owned by all is owned by none.” That is: what anyone and everyone has a claim of ownership on, nobody will own up to the responsibility for. It seems self-evident to me, and history bears me out — from ancient times to the Pilgrims of the Massachusetts Bay Colony to the utter failures of the 20th Century Marxist socialist states. Goods held in common degrade. Goods held by individuals with exclusive ownership rights, at least have inherent to them the possibility of increase, given prudent management.
Which brings me to an interesting tangent: “Non-profit” is a dirty word. If an enterprise does not both repay its capital investment and increase in value, it is a waste. Its operation amounts to pissing money down a rathole. And, as all good liberty-loving Americans know, money represents people’s lives. It’s called a medium exchange for this reason: one exchanges bits of a person’s life for goods and services through the medium of money. Wasting money wastes lives. It must be seen as a cardinal sin in a free society. I would urge those who love liberty but seek outlet for their altruistic impulses to eschew non-profit or not-for-profit enterprises, and instead invest in economic activity which at least hopes to provide a profit. I submit you do more for your community thereby in the long run.
Cross-posted at Eternity Road.