Geopolitical. Collective Goods Problem

Topics: Public good, Goods, Free rider problem Pages: 5 (1749 words) Published: November 5, 2011
What theory best solves the collective goods problem? Provide an example to support the argument.

The issue of collective good has to be think in terms of international policies

Collective goods are, in theory, goods or services which represent two characteristics. The first one, called non-rivalry, means that the consumption of the good by an actor does not prevent its consumption by another one. The second characteristic, the exclusion, means that nobody is excluded from the consumption of this good. The field of the world collective goods covers so many different domains such as: the reduction of the global warming, the basic research, the fight against the distribution of diseases (AIDS or malaria), the stability of financial markets, struggle against poverty, etc. Peace, free trade, and monetary and financial stability are sometimes considered collective goods that must be assured by international organizations or by hegemonic powers. The climate, water, air, biodiversity, international security, and knowledge are world collective goods too. There are however very few domains where states share the same general interests. International security, financial stabilization, and food safety are polar opposites of the interests of salesmen of weapons, speculators and salesmen of surpluses of foodstuffs. That is why the issue of collective goods can only be resolved by compromises or superior interests defined during international negotiations.

There are two conceptions that collective goods oppose. The first one is economic and justifies the existence of these goods by the failure of markets. The second conception analyzes the mechanisms of private and public appropriation of these goods and approaches the notion of common heritage.

According to the neo-classic theories, the states are responsible to intervene in regards to collective goods only to correct the imperfections of the market. The production of these goods can be realized through: contractual agreements between the agents, the "markets of externalities" (for example, the market of the rights to pollute to answer the negative externality of the industrial production which represents the greenhouse effect), or through private or public authorities of regulation. The production and the financing of the collective goods raises particular problems. People and companies can agree to pay for the financing of the public goods only according to the consumption of the goods, but because the consumption of the goods is not exclusive they can also act as a free-rider. A free-rider allows the other pay for this good and takes advantage of it. The difficulty of the neo-classic approach is being able to ask the agents to participate (by the tax) in the financing of the public goods which they consider necessary. Because collective goods do not know exclusion about the borders, the states think in terms of interests, costs, advantages, and compensation they can have by financing or not financing these goods. The concept of collective goods aims at correcting the failure, not only from the market but also from the states, to produce them. The market does not allow an optimal production of these goods and every state has an interest to be a free-rider by leaving others to the care of financing and producing them. The production of collective goods at the international level assumes a collective action of public actors or a regulation by independent agencies.

The liberalists assume the existence of a social contract. For now, it is difficult to believe because of the transnational sovereignty of each state. That is why it is necessary to think in terms of State-Nation. For the neo-classic, state-nations perform collective functions. But for the realist, they also are the expression of the sovereignties of the states. On the other hand, they are the expression of the interdependence of economic and political powers in others theories.

According to a political...
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