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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Feb. 16, 2005 / 7 Adar I, 5765

Selfishness is bad, right?

By John Stossel


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | "Public" is good. Better than "private." Sharing is good. Private property is selfish. That was what people told ABC News. As one man put it, "Society would clearly be better off if we all shared more." Some kids even sang, "Sharing is caring."

That's what we all are taught. But if kids get Tori Haidinger in high school, they learn a different lesson. The California teacher invites kids to experience basic economics firsthand: "You are the head of a family that is fed by catching fish," she says. "Our fish are Hershey's Kisses. You will get to eat them." Each table gets a beaker of Kisses. She tells the kids, "Share them with your friends. You can take as many as you want, but any left over will reproduce, just like fish, because I will double them." What happens? The kids quickly empty their beakers. No more Kisses.

That's what has happened in the real world, too. The supply of fish in the world's oceans has dropped because the oceans and the fish swimming through them are public property — shared property. The oceans are full of fishermen who know that if they don't catch a fish, the next guy might, so they have very little reason to cut back on fishing: The fish they leave behind aren't feeding their own future — they're feeding their competitors. As one of Haidinger's students said, "I was thinking ... I probably should share, but I didn't think anybody else was sharing, so I took more." Economists call this "the tragedy of the commons."

Then, Haidinger tries a different tack. She gives each student a private beaker of Kisses. "What this has actually done," she says, is establish "a sense of privatization." It's as if each student had a private pond and owned all the fish in it.

"Privatization" has a bad reputation, but this time, no student overfishes. Kids leave enough in their ponds so the teacher can double their number, and so new generations of chocolate Kisses are born. "So," asks a student, "are you saying that if it's ours, we will care more about it?"

"Yup." Owning is caring.

Compare a typical public toilet to a private toilet. Public toilets tend to be filthy. But private toilets, common in Europe, are clean. Their owners, selfishly seeking a profit — you have to pay a small fee to use them — work at keeping them clean. And think about your office refrigerator. The one I use at "20/20" is disgusting. There's cottage cheese in there that expired over a year ago. The refrigerator is covered with ancient spills, and you can't believe the smell. When something belongs to everyone, it really belongs to no one, and no one takes care of it. Sharing can be a mess.

Why does the United States have so many catastrophic forest fires? Did you know that most of them are on government land, land we share? The feds own only a third of the forests, but they have most of the forest fires. Private forests are less likely to burn because the livelihood of "greedy" timber companies depends on having healthy trees. So the companies clear out the underbrush. The government, managing land we all share, is less careful, and so thousands of acres burn.

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There are two cases where sharing may be better than private control. As Thomas Jefferson pointed out, the "peculiar character" of an idea is that "no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it." If you catch a fish, I can no longer catch it, but if you learn something I know, I still know it. That's why ideas are different from physical goods.

The other case is where the people doing the sharing have a special bond, for example, because they're very close friends or members of a happy family. Mutual caring — the kind of love that makes another person more important to you than almost anyone else, when we feel another's gains and losses as our own — can make sharing work.

But most of us don't feel that way about the whole country. My wife and I share our car, but if we shared it with the whole town, the car would soon be trashed. Private property sounds selfish, and we're taught that selfishness is bad. But it works.

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JWR contributor John Stossel is co-anchor of ABC News' "20/20." To comment, please click here.




02/09/05: Fifth Avenue farmers
02/02/05: Buy a bridge? This $200 Million one isn't for sale — it's being paid for by taxpayers and it leads almost nowhere
01/28/05: Aren't science and scholarship supposed to ask questions and open our eyes to facts?
01/26/05: Forced altruism

© 2005, by JFS Productions, Inc. Distributed by Creators Syndicate, Inc.