Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Tragedy of the Commons

A very nice explanation of unintended consequences, governmental good intentions and the poor.

{Via Tam}


Rachael Storm said...

Cool, we should apply limits to the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the FDA as they also stifle innovation. After all, it's not like after Bush's heavy cuts to those that we started getting terrible things like lead in toys or Salmonella in our food, right? The free market should decide what is and isn't toxic for human use.

OK, seriously, while I appreciate that there are instances where government agencies do not always apply themselves in the best manner, I think to an extent the examples listed in the linked article do not paint the whole picture.

Ted said...

Rachael, actually the FDA does slow down new drugs coming to market, so the result is literally people dieing.

The point of my post, however, was that as long as costs are hidden, you get a distortion. If it were possible to track how many people died because the FDA has created a system designed to minimize blame to the FDA, don't you think that we'd have a better system?

As you point out, the picture is complex. I tried to say in the post that the people who set things up almost always honestly do want to help others. However, there's a dynamic in play that does in fact result in a system designed to make it hard to blame the FDA. Society is the worse for it.