When we talk about intellectual property around here, one of the popular responses from those who disagree with what we say is that "property rights are a central tenant of capitalist economies, and you're trying to take away property rights." That's not quite true. Property rights are
indeed an important part of capitalist economies, and we are
supporters of property rights -- but only for things where property actually makes sense and is necessary. The whole reason why property rights exist in the first place is to manage the efficient allocation of scarce resources
-- that is to make it clear who controls a specific scarce resource. Property rights don't make much sense when a resource isn't scarce, because there need not be any question of how to best allocate it, since anyone who wants it can have it. In those cases, adding property rights actually makes the market less efficient
by limiting the allocation.
With that in minds, it's great to see that there's apparently a new book that touches on this very subject. Against Monopoly
points us to economist Tyler Cowen's brief review
of a new book called: The Gridlock Economy: How Too Much Ownership Wrecks Markets, Stops Innovation, and Costs Lives
. The book apparently focuses on the "tragedy of the anti-commons," which is the situation when too many limitations are placed on how certain goods can be used. Sounds like an interesting book to add to the collection of books recognizing the economic problems that can come with putting property rights where they don't belong.
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