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Copernicus and the Fort Collins Computer: A Reappraisal of Public Land Management

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Type: Working Paper
Author: Baden, John
Date: 1984
Agency: Political Economy Research Center, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT
Series: Working Papers in Political Economy, no. 84-8
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/4494
Sector: Land Tenure & Use
Region: North America
Subject(s): land tenure and use
resource management
Abstract: "Recognizing that we do not live in the zipless world of Ronald Coase, where transaction costs are zero and where externalities are internalized, and being quite familiar with the various causes of market failure, I assert with confidence that while market failure does exist, it may not be overstated even by market critics, the relevant comparison is net imperfect markets and perfect governments but rather between imperfect institutions of both forms. "As we approach the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution, it is important to recall that the authors of that document explicitly considered laws and public policies to be experiments. For nearly a hundred years, we have experimented with increasing governmental ownership, allocation, and management of the nation's resources. The data are coming in and the evidence is compelling: governmental failure is both more pervasive and more serious than market failure. Further, the failure of government to manage efficiently, equitably, and with environmental sensitivity are predictable consequences inherent to management by public officials."

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