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The Hidden Commons

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Type: Working Paper
Author: Rowe, Jonathan
Date: 2001
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/4187
Sector: General & Multiple Resources
Region: North America
Subject(s): common pool resources
property rights
environmental degradation
Abstract: "Two centuries and some ago, people looked at the economic life around them and saw many different things. They saw factories and farms, shipping firms and theaters, and on and on. Then Adam Smith came along and said 'Hey, wait a minute. These arent just different things. They are different aspects of the same thing--a market.' It was Smiths genius to give mental shape to the whole, and this idea has dominated the public imagination ever since. "Now we need to do that with the commons. We need to declare that atmospheric pollution is not just a health threat. It is a violation of common property rights--a form of taking. Sprawl is not just an inefficient use of land and energy. It depletes the social commons, which rarely thrives in a world of freeways and malls. The commercial invasion of childhood is not just a matter of obesity and hyperactivity. It involves a larger question of the narrative commons--the question of who creates the stories on which young people are weaned, and to what ends. "For decades the libertarian Right has been fighting what it calls 'takings' of private property by government. Now its time to fight the taking of what belongs to us all."

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