Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Shovel THIS!

So, Philadelphia is dealing with a commons problem, in the traditional Lockean sense.  Combine your labor with the (undeveloped) resource, and ownership moves from the commons to your private control.  At least until the snow melts.

If there is no private ownership of parking spots, no one shovels out the parking spot and it is not available for anyone.

But, if someone combines his/her labor with that spot, shoveling it out, then that person has the sense thta it is "owned," at least until the snow melts.  Remember, the spot is useful to no one until it is shoveled.

Should Philadelphia be prosecuting this "#NoSavesies" campaign on twitter?  Or should they allow the informal norm to exist, since it encourages the public good of shoveling out parking spaces, though at the price of short-term privatization?  Not surprisingly, the "intelligentsia" just assume that the public good will be provided, by magic, and that property is theft.  Mayor Nutter, on the other hand (whom NO ONE would accuse of being a member of the intelligentsia!) thought the practice made sense.  One suggestion I like from that article:  "Shovel the snow back in!"  Now that is the Philly way..."If I can't have dis, YOUSE can't have dis!"

So, should we allow people to take "ownership" if they shovel out the space, combining their labor with the (otherwise useless) resource?  After all, there is clearly "as much and as good" for the rest of us, if you just get out your shovel.  Or should we treat parking spaces as common property of which you take ownership only so long as you combine your CAR with the space?

Or is there a third alternative?  What do YOU think, folks?

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Do you have suggestions on where we could find more examples of this phenomenon?