Tag Archives: Tragedy of the Commons

Owned Markets

We’ve seen the modern market is not made for the average man, but is instead made for the soulless, high-IQ, homo economicus. So what kind of economic system do we replace it with?

We can not replace it with socialism, communism, or the like, for those systems lead to misery. Distributism looks nice, but is light on details and is unlikely to scale to large urban populations. It is undisputable that free markets are the most effective and efficient means of producing goods and services, but modern free markets are based on the abominations of usury and inflation, and destroys traditional communities and leave those humans not suited for inhuman money-grubbing frozen out.

So, where can we get a system that is a combination of efficient, just (in the proper sense, not in the evil ‘social justice’ sense), and human?


Before we begin, we first recognize that the market, just like the economy, does not exist in a real, tangible sense. It is an abstraction of billions of trade contracts between millions of people. It is real concept, but not a concrete entity.


Everybody knows of the tragedy of the commons. It is a major plank of libertarians and conservative thought on economics and their support for the free markets. Everything must be privatized because people inherently tend to abuse and exploit common property, while they generally tend to care for and tend their own property.

Leftists in turn argue that the tragedy can be avoided by settng up complex social schemes (ie. government regulations) to prevent them. Of course, we all know how rapidly these schemes snowball out of control and how regularly they backfire, leading to self-serving, self-sustaining bureaucracies that tend to perpuate problems rather than solve them. The social schemes themselves are common property subject to pillaging.

The problem with free markets though, is that they are free. Libertarians and conservatives do not take their thoughts as fully forward as they should. We can privatize all the goods and services on the market, but that leaves one question, what of the market itself?

The lib/cons wish to privatize everything but the market itself, leaving the market as its own commons. They than argue the socialist argument that the market, and the contracts that it consists of, should be enforced and controlled by the public through the complex social scheme called the government. Of course, the government tends to snowball out of control, and the lib/cons are suprised when a formerly free market country becomes a socialist state.

The solution then, is to privatize markets themselves. We need not free markets, which are subject to the plundering all commons are subject to, but owned markets, markets which are privately owned and controlled for the profit of the owner.

This is neocameralism as applied to the economy. Somebody should own the market and have control over his own property. By this I mean, that the owner of a market should have absolute control over the rules regarding the usage of his property, the enforcement of the rules of said rules, and the right to extract profit from the market.

Now, you’ll notice that control and enforcement sounds eerily like government and that profits sounds eerily like tax. You’re correct in that assessment.

So what makes this different from our current government or from a lib/con free market? Our current government is not owned by anybody and taxes are ostenibly for the good of the people, which in reality means that the government (or rather the many different institutions and individuals that comprise it) is in competition with itself to suck the economy dry to buy off the people with their own money. The lib/con free market it much the same, but instead the limited government not being owned does nothing to prevent the tragedy of the commons as everybody competitively rapes the common market (ie. millions of humans their trade decisions) for personal exploitation and gain at the expense of others and with no eye towards the long-term health of either the market or the people it consists of.

On the other hand, in an owned market, the market owner is the only one who profits (in the narrow sense of the term) from the the taxes he levies and he has a vested interest in ensuring his cash cow remains healthy for not only his own life, but for his legacy as well. He has to ensure that not only is the market and its laws are healthy, but the people who produce his wealth are as well.

An owned market would (generally) be free with strong contract law because the free market works and the owner would aim to hit the optimal point of the laffer curve to maximize his own revenues. The owner would also recognize that the well-being of his people was necessary for profit maximization and so would (effeciently) invest some of his profits into infrastructure and public welfare programs to ensure profit-maximization. Pork and rent-seeking would simply cease to exist as a problem, as the king can do with his own money and property as he wishes. Finally, the owner, having human judgement, would be able step in if an corporation or individual within his market was abusing it and address the issue on an individual basis, without having to create an unwieldy set of regulations (with many exploitable loopholes) to cover every eventuality and a huge, impersonal, self-serving bureacracy to enforce it.

Naturally, none of this is to say that there is no possibility of the owner abusing or misusing a market. Vested self-interest does not necessarily mean wise or correct decisions, he may himself be foolish, sociopathic, or mad, but they do mean that sociopathy and foolishness are temporary states of the current owner rather rather than inherent and permanent structures at the base of the market.

To make the market more human, more just, and more efficient we need human judgment with skin in the game. We need owned markets.


The obvious owner of the market would be he who owns the country the market is found in, the king. Ideally, the king would own the market, he would extract taxes from the market in exchange for enforcing contracts and policing the market.

The owner could also delegate authority over certain areas of the market, either in specific places or in specific markets. The former would be a form of economic fuedalism, while the latter would be a form of the guild system and the chartered corporation system (where corporations were formed by government charter rather than by registration).

I have one more post on economics upcoming, this one with potential practical economic actions that could be implemented by either the future market owner or by the current government.