Years ago, I got into a discussion about the “tragedy of the commons” (that is, the overexploitation of unowned resources) with a socialist. I cited the fact that elephant herds were growing in African nations in which tribes could own the herds, while they were shrinking in nations that did not allow ownership. Elephants often destroy crops, so tribes have little incentive to protect them and every incentive to kill them. If they own the elephants, however, and can use them as a resource, the incentives change.
The socialist’s response was that he would rather elephants go extinct than such majestic creatures be owned by anyone. He didn’t respond when I suggested that elephants might have a different take on the issue.
How do you reason with people who would rather a species – perhaps even the human species – go extinct than that their aesthetic sensibilities be offended?Published in