Monday, August 28, 2006

The Tragedy of Economic Ignorance

Courtesy of Janet Neilson's astute eye for economic ignorance, we have this from the TTC:

The advert reads: "People don't litter at home. Why do they do it here?"

Uhm, duh!

(And when you're done understanding why this question is dumb, you can play a little game here).


Blogger BBS said...

I had a good laugh at the end of Round 1 of the 'Public' game. Nice little piece of flash. Many would call it dumbing down, but small flash games and animations are increasingly being used as informative tools.

2:38 a.m.  
Blogger Steve said...

Whether those who created the ad are aware of the lessons of the "tragedy of the commons" or not, it is still effective. In part, the ad presumes the economic illiteracy of the general public, which is always a sure thing. How else can explain some of the governments we elect?

Yet, assigning property rights to the right to litter on the TTC is not going to solve the problem of messy subwar cars. While having a TTC employee on every train to enforce the rule would undoubtedly be effective, it would also be prohibitively expensive. Hence, the appeal to social pressure as an enforcement mechanism.

Capitalism would fall apart if people did not have basic respect for the rules. That is one reason why it has yet to really take root in Eastern bloc countries. Social convention plays a key role in its success in Western economies.

That said, I did have an issue with one of the other advertisements the TTC has been using in this campaign. The guy in the pig mask is most definitely white, while the two that are looking at him in disgust are visible minorities. Imagine the uproar if the tables were turned. Yet another example of multiculturism run amok.

7:45 a.m.  
Blogger P. M. Jaworski said...

Why not privatize the TTC, Steve? That would take it out of the commons...

11:00 a.m.  
Blogger Steve said...

Privatizing the TTC still wouldn't solve the litter problem.

12:06 p.m.  
Blogger true dough said...

Steve --

"Whether those who created the ad are aware of the lessons of the "tragedy of the commons" or not, it is still effective."

I would rephrase that: whether those who see that ad are aware of the lessons of the "tragedy of the commons" or not, they intuitively know that they're free to make a mess in public if they really have the urge, so they disregard the ad and stare at "the guy in the pig mask." ;)

7:31 p.m.  
Blogger Steve said...

You are absolutely right true dough.

After tidying up a pile of newspapers so I could sit down on a subway seat this morning, it is evident that social disapproval has diminishing impact in the anonymous big city, the very place that socialist notions of the collective good are strongest. You would never think of doing that in a small town. A paradox indeed.

8:53 a.m.  

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