Overcoming Small Collective Action Problems

This post by Ben Hyde, Fundable, at “Ascription is an Anathema to any Enthusiasm” is worth a read. It explains a variety of collective action problem in very clear terms, and then suggests that startup fundable may help to solve some of them.

Great start, too:

Why don’t neighborhoods have a collectively owned tool shed? My neighbors and I own the most amazing amount of idle capital equipment! We each have our own hedge trimmers, snow blowers, lawn mowers, etc. etc.

Of course the real answer is that everyone wants to use the lawn mower early Saturday morning while I'm trying to sleep.

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5 Responses to Overcoming Small Collective Action Problems

  1. Desert Donkey says:

    For those neighbors who arent trying to wake you at 7:30 am on Saturday; there is the my lawnmower/tractor is cooler factor to consider, too. Of course the market has invented the alternative, called the lawn care service, in which you own no cool tractors at all, or even titanium shovels with carbon fiber handles, but your own migrant labor force come by 3 hours a week.

  2. Paul Gowder says:

    Aaaaaah! That’s like … http://www.timeshare.com or something!

    It doesn’t strike me as terribly useful. All the real collective-action type bickering isn’t in the going in on the payment, but in the distribution of the good afterward.

  3. Paul Gowder says:

    dear god, there is a http://www.timeshare.com. I want my mommy.

  4. Doran Williams says:

    I have been involved with a number of cooperative/collective/neighborhood attempts at such sharing (including an intentional lending/borrowing effort). The reason they haven’t worked is because there has always been one or two people in every group who are slugs. Jerkoffs. Dumb. Uncaring. Don’t understand small engines. Forgetful. Don’t-give-a-shit assholes who lose tools; lend them out to people who are not in the group or neighborhood and never get them back; break stuff and don’t get it repaired; steal stuff and move away, etc. etc. I have learned to hate to lend my gasoline powered tools, even to people who know how to use them. I cringe when my spouse starts up the lawn mower, because I know there is better than a 50% chance that said spouse did not check the oil, and that said spouse will run it over rocks or into the wire fence. I loaned a perfectly good automobile to a friend who thought the little red light on the dash was just a decoration, rather than a “no water in the radiator, STUPID” warning. I would rather lend out my kids armed with cross cut saws than lend my chain saw. I will spend the day helping someone shred weeds or roto-till a large area, rather than lend out my tractor. Grumph!

  5. Libaries are already set up to track borrowing and returns, and collect fines for late return, loss, or damage to borrowed items. All it takes is suitable adjustment of the fine schedule to add other categories of shared objects for loan. For example:

    Berkeley Public Library — Tool Lending Library

    San Francisco Public Library — Tool Lending Center

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