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Tragedy-of-the-commons?

Posted by ESC on December 17, 2003

What does "tragedy-of-the-commons" mean?

http://www.cincypost.com/2003/12/16/chabot121603.html
By Michael Collins
Cincinnati Post Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON -- After the U.S. House passed a massive spending bill last week, Rep. Steve Chabot's office issued a press release listing $6.4 million worth of projects that the congressman will be bringing back to
Cincinnati.

Yet a few minutes earlier, Chabot voted against the bill that contained the funding. The Westwood Republican said he could not support the legislation because congressional spending is getting out of hand.

Chabot sees nothing contradictory about inserting projects for his district into the appropriations bill and then voting against the legislation and decrying excessive spending.

But others do.

...The Club For Growth, a conservative group that has praised Chabot's votes to reign in government spending, said it has no problem with him
requesting money for his district.

"This is basically the tragedy-of-the-commons problem," said Stephen Moore, the group's president.

"If everybody is sticking their snout in the trough, if you don't stick your snout in, you're not going to get anything for your voters."

There's nothing inconsistent about a congressman getting money for his constituents at the same time that he is pushing to reduce government
spending, Moore said...