Economics

Why Goats Owned in Common Always Starve

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Instapundit Glenn Reynolds in USA Today:

According to a West African proverb, "a goat owned in common always starves." This pithy phrase captures a key truth of human behavior: People are a lot better about taking care of things that belong to them than they are about taking care of things that don't.

That's a lesson that applies to more than goats. At the beach place where I'm staying right now, there are some "community" bicycles. They're "free," in the sense that the cost is just built into your rent, so that it doesn't cost any more to use them a lot than to use them a little.

Read the whole thing—and why it matters to the current moment.

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  1. It takes a village to give me a free bicycle free unlimited health care.

  2. There is almost always trash around the common areas of an apartment complex. In a decent neighborhood of privately owned homes – never for long.

    1. There’s also a lot of trash around my privately owned home.

      1. That’s no way to talk about your family.

        1. Could be his in-laws. My immediate in-laws are great. My wife’s extended family would be straight out of a run-down East TX/North LA trailer park except they don’t have trailer parks that far out in the woods.

      2. I said “decent neighborhood”.

  3. alt-text fail

    You are a cruel man, Gillespie. The silver lining to the depressing, stormy cloud that is Reason reporting has always been the alt-text (also, sarcasm). Without it, how do you expect us to survive the election?

    1. I’m unsure how I feel about this. I usually just attack the lack of alt text, but this feels like he’s just mocking me.

      1. I like a man who will just say “I’ve got nothing, today.”

        1. I might have to commend someone like Doherty putting up an alt text that just said “Suck it, Auric”

  4. There’s a proverb fit for Family Feud.

    “A goat owned in common….”

    1. …gets screwed twice.” – Old Afghanistan proverb

  5. I didn’t think goats starving was much of a problem. Those fuckers will eat anything.

  6. Mmmm, cabrito.

  7. The modern correlate:

    “A public restroom is always gross.

    1. Some high end malls and the better tourist towns do a decent job of keeping their facilities clean, compared to say the average McDonalds or Walmart, but in general you are absolutely correct. Of course many people of the white trash / ethnic urbanite variety live in foul conditions even within their own homes. I know, I’ve sold things door-to-door in the past.

      1. I was thinking of more “public” public. Like subways, public parks, etc. (the analogy to the goats being that the mall is owned by a single entity, even though the restrooms are open to the public. “We” own the restroom in a public park. And it shows.)

        Private-public is definitely better than pure public. So the African goat rule holds.

  8. So the free bikes are used by Nerf herders? And we all know that Nerf is Wookie for Goat. Are the people advocating free bikes stuck-up? I mean we know pretty much all socialists are half-witted, and we now know their bikes, at least, are scruffy-looking. And all of this of course begs the question…can we use the free bikes to herd communally owned goats?

  9. The article’s conclusion (context: refers to community-held bicycles):

    “Which do you prefer? Shiny? Or scruffy? Decision time is in November.”

  10. But poor people need goats too!

  11. Some high end malls and the better tourist towns do a decent job of keeping their facilities clean, compared to say the average McDonalds or Walmart

    McDonalds tend to be clean — Ray Kroc’s obsession with cleanliness was part of why McDs grew to be such a huge chain. He’d go to a franchise, and if there was trash in the parking lot, he’d pick it up and dump it on the manager’s desk.

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