Thursday, October 15, 2009

Tragedy of the Commons

Warning: This is gonna be boring paintball stuff along the lines of past boring posts like the ones here, here & here. Oh, and this one, too. (The Econometrics of the Commons series) If you missed them count yourself fortunate or, if you are a glutton for punishment or a junior member of the Marquis de Sade Club enjoy. Basically the series called out PBIndustry. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

This post is covering some related territory--hence the title--and is intended to be the introduction to the posts I've been meaning to get around to on the PSTA. Within the overlapping frontiers of social & political sciences and economics 'tragedy of the commons' normally refers to the inability (or unwillingness) of individual actors to act cooperatively with respect to common or shared resources--often within a closed or semi-closed system. [This, btw, is the general area of study of the recent Nobel prize award given in economics.] Or the uncommon result when they do act in concert. Bored yet? I'm just getting started.

Anyway, it seemed to me there were potentially some interesting parallels in a small, emerging market--like paintball. (There are also some very significant differences, too.) For example, Texas Gulf Coast shrimpers have behaved certain ways based on finite fishing beds--and have been a prime area of this sort of study--but is it either appropriate or rational for PBIndustry to have behaved in similar ways? And they have--and, no, I'm pretty sure it wasn't either appropriate or rational even though it worked for a few (or seemed to work, as the case may be.)

Without getting too bogged down however the simple point is to set a baseline for PBIndustry and my baseline, as expressed in past posts, and restated here is that they have screwed the pooch more often that not. And the past conduct of PBIndustry is my prism for looking at the PSTA, its goals and purposes, and its future plans. This doesn't mean I am opposed to the PSTA or disbelieving of their claimed intentions. Only that, in my estimation, the PSTA will have a lot to overcome both externally and internally. Can the PSTA actually accomplish positive for paintball results? Will the PSTA succeed where PBIndustry has failed in the past? Or will the PSTA, despite every good intention, fail because PBIndustry can't seem to avoid the 'tragedy of the commons'?

It will be interesting to hear what the PSTA's current goals are and how they intend to go about achieving them. Of course I will probably have a thought or two on their prospects in light of past history. And I will flesh out future thoughts within the 'tragedy of the commons' framework throughout the upcoming PSTA posts.


Anonymous said...

who is the PSTA these days?

anonachris said...

I'm not sure I'd apply the free-rider problem to the failure of the PSTA.

It's more like the PSTA fails because no one wants to:
submit to an outside authority
pay money to someone to do something they see little value for
pay money to somone they view as corrupt or in bed/sympathetic to the competition

Or maybe I'm understanding your use of the "tragedy of the commons" different here. What is the public good/resource that you see people free riding on that creates this tragedy for everyone else?

Generally, everyone is in favor of "promotion of paintball and promotion of paintball safety". The trick is who get's to be in charge, how the money get's spent, etc.

How is the PSTA actually organized anyway? Can any manufacturer sign up? What does it cost? Does any manufacturer get an equal say with another? How do they make their decisions?

anonachris said...

Just a quick attempt at answering my question... do you see the free riding as in other companies in paintball will be able to free-ride off the efforts of some with the PSTA without getting involved?

If that's the case, just announce their goggles as PSTA not-approved and see how quickly they want to get on board ;)

Of course, that's assuming the PSTA does anything like that...still no idea what it does or what utility it provides.

Reiner Schafer said...

I'm a member of the PSTA...I think. They let me go on their forum and for the time being aren't charging me anything for the opportunity. I believe that is scheduled to change however. Soon I will have to pay in order to rub elbows with all the other members on the PBIndustry forum. Awful quiet in there though. Feels like I'm in an empty room by myself most of the time. Not sure if I'm going to be spending money for that feeling in the future.

Read the links in the above post btw. They were posted before I was a puppet. Good insight.

Baca Loco said...

Hey Anonachris
My apologies for the lack of clarity. What I meant to do was equate the mindset and behavior of PBIndustry with what is seen in a tragedy of the commons situation. And further to call that a misreading of their marketplace. The way the PSTA fits into this is as a creature of PBIndustry and my concern (expectation) is that it will prove difficult or impossible to act in common even if thy all broadly agree.