Tragedy of Traffic

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Damian Molinari Oppedisano
The Tragedy of Traffic
In 1968, Garrett Hardin published a fascinating article titled “The tragedy of the commons”. In this article he discusses his theory on overuse of resources that are considered renewable. These renewable resources, which in theory belong to everyone, then become to a certain extent non-renewable. Choices made by a portion of the people, result in consequences that affect the entire population. In his article, Harden describes these problems as “no technical solution problems”. A reference to a game of tick-tack-toe is used to simply explain the concept (Hardin, 1968). Someone who finds themselves in a no win scenario while playing the game would have to use unrealistic ways to win, such as hitting or killing his or her opponent. There is simply no way to win by following the given guidelines and constraints. In reality, man is naturally egotistic and will not cooperate with others and only think of personal gain, which is basically the prisoner’s dilemma (Barnes, fall semester). Cooperate and get in trouble, or not cooperate and benefit from it? In our society, there are many of these tragedies which affect the whole. A modern and everyday example of such a tragedy is traffic congestion on the freeways of most major cities. It is well known that many of the worst traffic jams occur in the United States. The worst traffic jams in the country remain in California (see maps), which had been the most congested four years in a row by 2010 (ABC News, 2010). Seven of the 10 most congested freeways in America are located in Los Angeles (Business Insider, 2011). Is it a coincidence that California happens to be the most populous state of the country? No. The United States has a total population of over 300 million people and counting (United Nations), most of which live in urban areas (Downs, 2003). Basically, the highways get overused and the practicality of these resources is lessened for all the users. Any logical...
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