What Is a Tragedy of the Commons? Overfishing and the Campaign Spending Problem
"[T]his Article  analyzes a problem that has not been previously recognized as a tragedy of the commons—the problem of ever-increasing political campaign expenditures. In Part II of this Article, I set out my definition of a tragedy of the commons using the overfishing problem and other examples to illustrate what is unique about this class of problems. In so doing, I distinguish it from the broader set of large group externality problems that are mischaracterized as tragedies of the commons problems, such as air and water pollution. In Part III, I use the overfishing problem to illustrate the dynamics of tragedies of the commons, showing how resource degradation over time impacts resource users. In Part IV, I apply this analysis to the problem of political campaign spending, showing how the problem is similar to the problem of overfishing, and showing how the current campaign spending debate, framed as freedom versus equality, is misguided. In Part V, I address the question of why those trapped in a tragedy of the commons are not more eager to address their joint overexploitation problem. Finally, in Part VI, I discuss solutions to tragedies of the commons, in particular those for the campaign spending problem."