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MBM Principal Sources

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« Maiden Voyage | Main | Energy and Free Markets Primer »

04 May 2005



Animals also make a similar calculation in attempting to privatize common-access food:

"The feeder is a commons, but not just for hummingbirds. Bees are attracted to it as well, and oddly enough, they can drive off the larger hummingbirds. So even if the dominant bird is able to deflect competition from other members of the species, that is not enough to protect the nectar, and the defense itself is costly in energy burned. The feeder contents are never secure.

"Hummingbirds have no way to stake a claim to the feeder. So far as we can tell, hummingbird communities have no constitution that reflects socially evolved rules for establishing a social order. Most likely, a long process of adaptation and selection has generated a hummingbird capable of living in a world where nourishment is a common-access resource, a commons. Hummingbirds live a life of flight, engaging in a constant search for nourishment to feed their high-energy lives and, at times, fighting for temporary control over valuable resources."

See for the full story.


Gordon Tullock has also written on the economics of non-human societies. While animals do not consciously 'choose', adaptation and selection might be serving the same function that prices and the profit/loss mechanism do in an economy. Poorly suited firms are weeded out while those that best 'fit' the needs of consumers are rewarded. In fact the profit/loss mechanism seems tame by comparsion to the certain starvation and death faced by poorly suited animals.

for a brief introduction to Tullock and his work.


I have fond memories of an economics lecture on marginal utility. One of the students commented that individuals may not consciously make rational decisions. The professor's response: "Birds do not understand the physics of how to fly... but they sure do fly."

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