Public Goods And Club Goods

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Libertarians often refuse to recognize public goods and club goods, or that governments have a role in their provision. The list of important goods with substantial public or club goods components is very long, and includes education, law, safety, health, transportation, research and much more. (Club goods are like public goods but excludable and only rivalrous with congestion.)


Antibiotic Resistance: A Mismanaged Public Good [More...]
"In the case of antibiotic resistance, health care providers who prescribing antibiotics frequently and easily are seeking to benefit each individual patient, while the costs of accumulating resistance to antibiotics are shared across the population. In this way, the pursuit of health for individual way, resistance to antibiotics builds in a way that can impose heavy costs."
Buchanan clubs [More...]
Starts with a brief, easy overview of Club Goods versus Public Goods. Club goods are non-rivalrous (until congestion occurs) like public goods, but excludable. Much of government can be characterized as producing public goods and club goods.
Can Investigative Journalism Overcome the Rational Ignorance of Voters? [More...]
Yes, especially when it is linked with entertainment demand. I.e. an interesting story.
Information Is a Public Good [More...]
Investigative journalism is the costliest form of journalism, and yet also the one that has the greatest societal value, two characteristics that make it extremely vulnerable to downturns in the journalism business, especially when the downturn is non-cyclical and protracted. Extremely underproduced by the market.
Libertarians embracing public goods, Tim Lee edition [More...]
"The larger point is that there are things that are much much much easier for government to do than private actors, and that these things often improve the efficiency of markets, and that infrastructure is a prime example."
Natural Monopolies (5 links)
Libertarians like to deny the existence of natural monopolies in roads, sewers, and many other services (like Google search) that have increasing returns to scale. Or they make crazy arguments that they should not be produced or regulated by government.
Research (2 links)
Scientific research and statistical information gathering are vastly better performed by government, and underproduced by private actors. These are classic public goods.
Roads (9 links)
The "who will build the roads?" question has become an inside joke for libertarians. So much so that they don't even debate or discuss it anymore. They just regurgitate "privatize everything!" despite the fact that history shows their solutions don't work except in rare cases.
Sewers (2 links)
Libertarians like to complain that governments are responsible for deaths through wars, etc. But they never consider how governments prevent deaths. The sewers of Rome have prevented far more deaths through sanitation than the legions of Rome ever killed in wars. Sewers are Natural Monopolies natural monopolies.
Shine your light on me … [More...]
How Paul Samuelson and Ronald Coase got into a pissing match over lighthouses being public goods, and how both were wrong in several respects.
The Antibiotic Arms Race Has a Capitalism Problem [More...]
"The overaching goal should be what's known as "de-linkage," a world in which the development costs of a pharmaceutical drug are disconnected from the sales of that drug. Given that antibiotic resistance affects pretty much all of us, hitching drug development to profit-potential seems actually insane."
The Gridlock Economy: How Too Much Ownership Wrecks Markets, Stops Innovation, and Costs Lives (book) (1 link)
"Usually, private ownership creates wealth, but too much ownership has the opposite effect -- it creates gridlock. When too many people own pieces of one thing, whether a physical or intellectual resource, cooperation breaks down, wealth disappears, and everybody loses."
The Theory of Externalities, Public Goods, and Club Goods (book)
Markets are expected to fail when there are externalities and public goods. Markets can be efficient for some club goods, but then so can governments. This is an undergraduate academic textbook for this branch of economic theory.
Was Coase Right About the Lighthouse? [More...]
No. The famous lighthouse example of Nobel Laureate Ronald Coase was supposed to be an example of private production of public goods. "Given Coase’s insistence that economists get their facts right, how ironic that he himself should fall victim to the same mistake!"


MarketThink is guaranteed to erode public space and public goods in the city.
Tom Slee, "No One Makes You Shop At Wall Mart: The Surprising Deceptions Of Individual Choice" pg. 63.
Competition and variety are also public goods: by their nature, neither can be provided by a single store. Jack never explicitly chooses to have a narrower choice of places to shop, and yet he and others like him contribute directly to the problems of the downtown stores. [That are failing due to big-box stores.]
Tom Slee, "No One Makes You Shop At Wall Mart: The Surprising Deceptions Of Individual Choice" pg. 59
In the particular circumstances of a given age or nation, there is scarcely anything really important to the general interest, which it may not be desirable, or even necessary, that the government should take upon itself, not because private individuals cannot effectually perform it, but because they will not.
John Stuart Mill, "Principles of Political Economy with Some of their Applications to Social Philosophy (7 ed.) Book V Chapter XI" pg. 606.