Alarming News: I like Morgan Freeberg. A lot.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: We were following a trackback and thinking "hmmm... this is a bloody excellent post!", and then we realized that it was just part III of, well, three...Damn. I wish I'd written those.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: ...I just remembered that I found a new blog a short while ago, House of Eratosthenes, that I really like. I like his common sense approach and his curiosity when it comes to why people believe what they believe rather than just what they believe.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is an intriguing guy...[he] asks great questions and answers others with style, flair, reason and wit. On the blogroll he goes. Make him a part of your regular blogospheric reading. I certainly will.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is brilliant.
Common Sense Junction: Misha @ Anti-Idiotarian never ceases to amaze me. He keeps finding other good blogs. I went over to A.I. this morning for my daily Misha fix and he had found this guy named Morgan Freeberg in Fair Oaks, California, that has a blog, House of Eratosthenes. Freeberg says its "The Blog That Nobody Reads" but it may now become the blog that everybody reads.
Jaded Haven: Good God, Morgan, you cover a topic from front to back with a screwy thoroughness I find mind boggling. I'm in awe of your thought proccesses, my friend, you're an exceptional talent. You start by throwing in the kitchen sink, tie in someone's syphilitic uncle, bend around a rip tide of brilliance and bring it all home in a neat, diamond dripping package of an exceptionally readable moment of damn fine wordsmithing. I love reading you.
Mein Blogovault: Make "the Blog that No One Reads" one of your daily reads.
Philmon: When Morgan meanders, stick with him - he's got a point and it'll be worth it in the end. He's not a hit-and-run snarky quip kind of guy. The pieces all fall into place like tumblers in a lock and bang! He's opened a cognative door for you.
Rightlinx: Morgan at House of Eratosthenes is one of the best writers out there. I read him nearly every day because he manages to provide an interesting perspective, even though I don't always agree.
Poetic Justice: Cletus! Ah gots a laiv one fer yew...
The wireless connection is up & down like a whore’s drawers. We’re arguing with the broadband company about it, and I must say this morning the experience has sapped my creative energies somewhat. It’s not so much that I’m exhausted, it’s more like I don’t feel like writing things if it’s just an exercise in frustration to get them posted.
But there’s one thing I want to make damn sure I preserve for posterity.
Neo-Neocon on “Tragedy of the Commons” (from Wednesday), whose words I’ll just suck in here verbatim, without editing nuthin’. Besides, I got a feeling these wireless woes represent a great example of what she’s talking about.
The economy, bubbles, and the tragedy of the commons
The current economic crisis exhibits characteristics that illustrate the tragedy of the commons:
“The Tragedy of the Commons” is an influential article written by Garrett Hardin and first published in the journal Science in 1968. The article describes a dilemma in which multiple individuals acting independently in their own self-interest can ultimately destroy a shared limited resource even where it is clear that it is not in anyone’s long term interest for this to happen.
Central to Hardin’s article is a metaphor of herders sharing a common parcel of land (the commons), on which they are all entitled to let their cows graze. In Hardin’s view, it is in each herder’s interest to put as many cows as possible onto the land, even if the commons is damaged as a result. The herder receives all of the benefits from the additional cows, while the damage to the commons is shared by the entire group.
Subprime mortgages began with Congressional acts that ordered banks to make bad loans in order to bring housing opportunities to the poor. But, although we can blame that for opening the door to the practice, the mortgages made under Congressional fiat were but a small percentage of the final total of bad real estate paper. Over time, mortgage companies and other lenders ran amok with the notion. Ultimately, the toxic paper was spread throughout our entire financial system.
Why? Why did so many people violate the most obvious standards of prudence, and endanger us all?
It’s the tragedy of the commons, stupid: there was money to be made from these loans in the era of ever-ascending housing prices that constituted the real estate bubble. The lenders and borrowers involved in such loans not only profited from the rising housing prices, but they also helped fuel them. And all homeowners liked seeing the value of their homes increase, especially those who took out second mortgages counting on that figure to remain the same or to continue to go up. Many people seemed to benefit.
In the short run, that is—although in this case, the “short run” lasted many years. Those involved in the deals were betting either that housing prices would never come down (a truly insane assumption, but it seems that many otherwise rational people convinced themselves it was true),—or that, when the decline did happen, they themselves would still have come out ahead.
What was ignored was that, despite individual benefit, such gains would be temporary for most. The fact that the risk was so thoroughly spread throughout the entire financial sector that it poisoned everything was either not understood, or ignored. In addition, even among those who did see a downturn coming in a general sense, most did not foresee that there would not necessarily be enough warning when the bubble burst to get out safely.
After all, that’s the nature of bubbles—they get larger and larger, and while that is happening, their outer surfaces become thinner and thinner, stretched finally to the breaking point.
Where exactly will that breaking point be? Hard to predict, but when it happens it happens suddenly and dramatically. Poof! The bubble is gone, and all that’s left behind is a tiny bit of slimy foam.
[NOTE: And don’t think government can rectify the situation. Not only does Congress lack the tools to foresee and correct the problems, but it is an excellent example of the tragedy of the commons in action.]
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