New Commons

This is an area that has long interested me as providing an alternative between a strict market economy approach to public policy, in which “efficiencies trump concerns issues of equity, values, and “externalities” such as the environment, and top down government regulatory approaches that attempt impose heavy handed regulations – that offend reflect negotiated special interests rather than policy in the public interest.

My paper with David Bollier, ( A Renaissance of the Commons, represents a first attempt to address some of these issues and offer an alternative directions. I also recommend Peter Barnes excellent paper, Capitalism, The Commons and Divine Right (2003), he is the founder of Working Assets and the author of “Who Owns the Sky” and one of the most thoughtful, practical and articulate thinkers on the issue. I also recommend the following website,, which contains an excellent report he co-authored on “The State of the Commons”.

In light of Barnes argument that the atmosphere is a finite commons and a failure to treat it as such as has resulted in atmospheric pollution and climate change, I recommend reading the recent Pentagon sponsored study Peter Schwartz and Doug Randall, An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States National Security. This report identifies the global security implications of major shifts in climate.

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