2102. Wealth

Provocation 235 wealth

Wealth

Take wealth.The preferred model in economics is that everything has a price and each thing is the private property oa a single person, or a collective defined by a contract (a corporation). This makes it easier to do calculations but impossible to do broad public policy where wealth is often not quantitative, such as the value of a culture, a landscape, a love, a family, a community. These things of real value add up to real wealth for a lived life. A clean environment has wealth that is destroyed by bad human decisions.
How would these assumptions in economics have to change to have better public policy?

Part of the history as to do with the commons.

The assumption in closing the commons to the farmers and families thta lived there was that everything must belong to someone. At the time of the closing of the commons (stealing it from communities into private estates) judges said things like

-Who owns this land?
-we all do
-Each thing must belong to someone so since you cant tell me I assign it to the largest surrounding land owner.

For lots of discussion and analysis see Customs in Common by E.P. Thompson and more contemporary, Elinor Obstrom, Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action.

The tragedy of the commons, Hardin, is wrong because traditional farmers knew how to mange the commons. It wasn’t ruined by over grazing but by aristocrats wanting more cash for an emerging life style, so they ran sheep and rabbits on the commons.

Interesting to see the drive of the logic. Like can algorithms be either copyrighted or patented? The courts are struggling with this. But can patenting pieces of grammar in the lawyer’s sights?

“First, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office may only require an applicant prove acquired distinctiveness if the mark is merely descriptive of the goods or services. Common words or phases that are NOT merely descriptive of the goods or services are registrable without the need to prove the mark has acquired distinctiveness. For example, there is a well-known company that chose the word “apple” as a mark for the sale of computers. “Apple” is of course a common word. However, when used in connection with the sale of computers it is highly unique and even arbitrary. Apple Computer Co. was not required to show that their mark had a distinctive secondary meaning apart from the original meaning.

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2002/03/explainer-mailbag-department-of-corrections.html

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