Private Creation of Private Property Rights (Or, Curing the Boston Commons)

by Don Boudreaux on December 18, 2006

in Complexity & Emergence, Law, Markets in Everything

Editorialists at the Boston Globe are skeptical of the plan — for rather vague reasons of "fairness" — but here’s a neat way that private, innovative entrepreneurship might cause scarce parking spaces in Boston to be used more efficiently.

Although the details differ enormously, this idea reminds me of Fred McChesney’s article on parking spaces in snow-bound Chicago.  In both cases, as a valuable commodity (parking spaces) becomes more scarce, private efforts and coordination develop ways of creating private property rights in goods that otherwise would remain free-access goods.

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Tom Kelly December 18, 2006 at 6:38 am

It's interesting to note that the Boston "Transportation Commissioner" somehow feels he has authority over private individuals trading information about the usage of parking spaces.

S. Woods December 18, 2006 at 11:54 am

Interesting you link to the McChesney article, for a similar system existed in South Boston until a few years ago. People would put lawn chairs and cones in their freshly dug parking spots…if you took that spot, you had it coming. Mayor Menino, however, decided to do away with the system. (Does anyone know if he actually succeeded?)

Regardless, these articles drive home a true value of government: guaranteeing property rights. Whether property rights are subject to the state's coercive power matters in how people make decisions. Consider the difference between Chicago, which recognizes (de facto) the right and Boston, which does not. How does this recognition affect the culture in the two cities?

happyjuggler0 December 20, 2006 at 12:52 am

If there is a shortage of places to park on the street, then that means the owner of those spots isn't charging enough.

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