What are the Commons?

What are the Commons?
by
David Schlecht

We’ve posted many times regarding the importance of protecting our commons. Check out some of our previous posts, such as,

There’s also a good web resource that you should check out that has a worthwhile perspective on the commons.

Reading any of the above links will give you a good grasp on the commons. But, in a nutshell,

  1. General Commons: The Commons are those things that we all hold in common, such as our country, our clean air, clean water, our resources like minerals and oil, our soil, our common needs such as health care, and our common defense.
  2. Common Wealth: Of these commons, some are assets, such as our soil and our minerals, some are liabilities, such as our government and our health care, and some are neutral, such as our military. Of course, different ways of looking at each common may put the common in a different category, such as defense is also a liability as it will cost us unending investment to maintain, and a country and our government is an asset but will also cost us money. Any common that is viewed from the perspective of an asset is considered a common wealth.

When a logging company harvests the lumber off our land, they are taking our commons and making a profit from them. It is morally right that the profits should be used to repay the people for the loss of their common wealth. The same goes for all our common wealth. Oil companies are not just stealing the oil that is part of the common wealth, but they are stealing the oil from our future generations. Morally, they need to be reimbursing us for the stripping of our wealth and when they don’t, they’re stealing from us.

When a company flushes toxins and pollution in our air, they need to be reimbursing us for the reduced value of our breathing air.

Our common wealth can be divided into renewable and non-renewable commons. Renewable common wealth, such as lumber, is still costing you and me because of the depletion of the nutrients in the soil. If the logging company renews the forests to their original health and renew the soil, then they’ve repaid the common wealth. Anything less is a “taking” that should be paid for.

We have to put a stop to the plunder and pillage of our common wealth and the commons of future generations and we have to stop today. Every day we procrastinate is more value lost that will never be repaid by the companies stealing our commons.