Subject: Re: [not part of the spew!] Re: A few here may have an opinion on this
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <stephen@xemacs.org>
Date: Tue, 29 Oct 2002 15:56:50 +0900

>>>>> "L" == L Jean Camp <L> writes:

    L> But environmental economics has progressed in the last two
    L> centuries.  [...]  However, much of what it does now is focused
    L> on risk and risk assessment.

Interesting analogy.

I think the focus shift is environmental economics is possible because
the enclosure principle for dealing with the "commons problem" is no
longer questioned.  With enclosure, to the extent that the risks are
private to the owner and/or well-informed agents trading with the
owner, we can ignore them too, trusting the owner and his counter-
parties to look after their own interests in a win-win way.

Thus, the "big problems" have been narrowed down to externalities
(and, of course, distributional equity) by the acceptance of
enclosure.

Open source, OTOH, _denies_ the validity of "enclosure," and thus must
deal with the free rider problem in some other way.  Economic theory
doesn't really have a good idea how to do that, and some results
indicate that it's a very hard problem.

The problem of working with intellectual capital is much harder, I
think, because the environmental resources are mostly reducible to
divisible rival goods, and the commons problem thus is (from the
social standpoint, assuming appropriate distribution of property
rights) satisfactorily resolved by enclosure.  (In theory; as we know,
in practice the property rights are unlikely to be "appropriately
distributed.")

However, intellectual assets are indivisible and non-rival.  Neither
open source nor IP is even in theory "fully satisfactory", as open
source leaves the free rider problem to be solved, while IP
substitutes a monopoly problem for the free rider problem.


-- 
Institute of Policy and Planning Sciences     http://turnbull.sk.tsukuba.ac.jp
University of Tsukuba                    Tennodai 1-1-1 Tsukuba 305-8573 JAPAN
 My nostalgia for Icon makes me forget about any of the bad things.  I don't
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