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The Complete Idiot's Guide to Game Theory by Edward Rosenthal, Ph.D., Edward C. Rosenthal

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The Tragedy of the Commons

When ecologist Garrett Hardin described the Tragedy of the Commons in 1968, it was already a well-known phenomenon. Hardin used the concept as a way to describe overuse of publicly held resources, such as land, air, or water. Consider, for instance, what happens in a rural community to land that is held in common and open to all. If ranchers are allowed to graze their cattle on the land with no management practices in place, the land will eventually be totally depleted. The Tragedy of the Commons can also be used to describe other practices, such as overfishing and deforestation, which are difficult to control.
Hardin’s two solutions to the Tragedy of the Commons span the economic/political spectrum. One solution ...

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