Do try to keep up Guardianistas, please

We\’ve just had a Nobel Prize awarded for explaining exactly this sort of thing:

The Pennine Way took another 33 years to inch its way across the Dark Peak. Arguments against access were built on the premise that the wilderness would be overwhelmed by the likes of Benny Rothman\’s British Workers\’ Sports Federation, which rallied communists, ramblers and students for the trespass. Proven wrong, the objections are stood on their head by Natural England\’s designation of this 224th national nature reserve.

Well, no you see. They weren\’t proven wrong. They were proven right:

It is a popular hiking location and the Pennine Way crosses Kinder Scout and the moors to the North. This has resulted in the erosion of the underlying peat, prompting work by Derbyshire County Council and the Peak District National Park to repair it.

Now as to that Nobel: Olstrom\’s work is all about how, where and when limits to access to a common resource work and when they don\’t. There\’s the purely private property approach, there\’s the government regulation approach and there\’s, well, various sides can claim it actually. Voluntary cooperation, spontaneous order perhaps: or communalism and collectivity in another view. But the people invloved in a resource can (sometimes) work out rules to make sure that it\’s not over-exploited.

And from what I\’ve seen of her work (nothing directly, simply reading other people\’s views of it) Kinder Scout is one of those areas where the communal or spontaneous version won\’t work: there are simply too many people with potential access. Tens and hundreds of thousands rather than the smaller groups she thinks can make something like this work.

Which is why of course we\’ve got that nature reserve designation. That allows a restriction of acess through regulation.

We still come back to the point that open access to a common resource doesn\’t work when the demand for that resource outstrips sustainable supply. Thus we have to limit access: which we can do in a number of different ways dependent upon the resource and other circumstances. But limit access we must: Marxian open access just don\’t work.

4 comments on “Do try to keep up Guardianistas, please

  1. There’s the purely private property approach, there’s the government regulation approach and there’s, well, various sides can claim it actually. Voluntary cooperation, spontaneous order perhaps: or communalism and collectivity in another view.

    Its a thought provoking post Timbo and a good summary of attitudes that might to be take to many things , the original thingy is the tragedy of the Common isn`t it ? ( Also the tragedy of Easter Island )
    I favour the spontaneous order option whenever possible for various reasons when the ideal option of private property is either unworkable or unreasonable . The poor last option of the state is sometimes unfairly berated in that what we call the state also includes the ritual civic expression of the spontaneous order .That’s the bit of government I like most and a distinction sadly missed by the Libertarian atomist.
    Where I might differ with you is that you are so besotted with the market and what regard as a simplistic idea of freedom that you risk these precious spontaneous orders by taking your combine harvester approach into my delightfully tended Conservative Garden .

    Now I would say it is too early to despair of cooperative effort. Very similar problems are encountered in the Lake District which seem to be solved by creating clear and advised paths and an awareness of responsibility for the environment in crowded spots , it may not work but well worth a try .

    I suggest the nudge before the jack boot

  2. I see. So to ensure that future generations can walk on Kinder Scout, we are to forbid future generations from walking on Kinder Scout.

    Seems the limitations of the government approach are showing up already.

  3. Wrong.

    People like going rambling etc to ‘get away from it all’. Once the path is crowded enough, it will lose some attraction until we reach a stable equilibrium number of ramblers. The ‘market’ limits itself.

    Also, what BFOD says. It’s like the NIMBYs and Greenies saying they want to preserve The Hallowed Greenbelt for Future Generations. Hello? The future generation would like a few more houses to be built to get prices down.

  4. Why is erosion of the underlying peat considered a problem? If the ramblers are happy to wear it down to the bedrock, let them. On the other hand, if they want to solve the problem themselves they will. No interference from government is required.

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