Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Lesser Evil

To carry the topic from last time a little further, I note that a friend recently invoked the tragedy of the commons to justify government action. Without government action, he suggested, all sorts of worthy projects would not get done. When no one is responsible for solving a problem, the problem goes neglected. But private charitable and benevolent societies have existed throughout the history of our republic. They have often done a better job of targeting aid, because they have often been closer to the point of need. No one could argue with a straight face that such private organizations ever eliminated poverty or need, but then again the government hasn’t been able to do so either. All things considered, when setting the tragedy of the neglect of the commons against the tragedy of soft despotism, it seems the former is the lesser evil.

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