Saturday, April 17, 2010

Collective Action, Singular Accomplishment

ASU alumni magazine has this article in it this month about how small community work is better than top down government work.  This article was written on the 2008 Nobel Laureate Elinor Ostrom.

Elinor showed how water sources can be managed locally and how higher up government will just screw things up.  Important studies for AZ and our water issues.  The state of AZ should learn from her studies and let us deal locally with our water issues.

Ostrom identifies eight "design principles" of stable local common pool resource management:

1. Clearly defined boundaries (effective exclusion of external unentitled parties);

2. Rules regarding the appropriation and provision of common resources are adapted to local conditions;

3. Collective-choice arrangements allow most resource appropriators to participate in the decision-making process;

4. Effective monitoring by monitors who are part of or accountable to the appropriators;

5. There is a scale of graduated sanctions for resource appropriators who violate community rules;

6. Mechanisms of conflict resolution are cheap and of easy access;

7. The self-determination of the community is recognized by higher-level authorities;

8. In the case of larger common-pool resources: organization in the form of multiple layers of nested enterprises, with small local CPRs at the base level.

Kathryn Muratore gives this example:

"I was pleasantly surprised when some of my students chose to investigate chemical basis for the claims of gluten-free foods for their class project. Despite my fascination with food labeling, I had absolutely no influence on these students’ choice of a research topic. Among the things that they learned was that the FDA gluten-related regulations appear to be worded so that any company with a good legal team can get around the laws. This has allegedly led to serious illness and death for celiacs. They also found that a consumer advocacy group has more stringent rules for getting their seal of approval on gluten-free foods than does the FDA.

This was a chemistry project, not a policy project, so we didn’t delve into these revelations further. But I hope it underscored for these students that the government is incapable of putting the safety of the consumer first. At the very least, it was another example for me to warn LRC readers about: if you are a celiac, please, please, please do your own research and look for private certification on your foods."

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