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# QOTD: Hardin argued that grazing land held in common

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QOTD: Hardin argued that grazing land held in common [#permalink]

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28 Feb 2018, 06:03
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Difficulty:

75% (hard)

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56% (01:28) correct 44% (02:36) wrong based on 251 sessions

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Verbal Question of The Day: Day 234: Critical Reasoning

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Hardin argued that grazing land held in common(that is, open to any user) would always be used less carefully than private grazing land. Each rancher would be tempted to overuse common land because the benefits would accrue to the individuals, while the costs of reduced land quality that results from overuse would be spread among all users. But a study comparing 217 million acres of common grazing land with 433 million acres of private grazing land showed that the common land was in better condition.

Which of the following, if true and known by the ranchers, would best help explain the results of the study?

(A) With private grazing land, both the costs and the benefits of overuse fall to the individual user.

(B) The cost in reduced land quality that is attributable to any individual user is less easily measured with common land than it is with private land.

(C) An individual who overuses common grazing land might be able to achieve higher returns than other uses can, with the result that he or she would obtain a competitive advantage.

(D) If one user of common land overuses it even slightly, the other users are likely to do so even more, with the consequence that the costs to each user outweigh the benefits.

(E) There are more acres of grazing hand held privately than there are held in common.

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Re: QOTD: Hardin argued that grazing land held in common [#permalink]

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03 Mar 2018, 18:44
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1
Let's start by identifying the discrepancy between Hardin's argument and the results of the study:

• According to Hardin, grazing land held in common would always be used less carefully than private grazing land.
• However, according to the study, the common land was in better condition than the private land.

Now let's look at the details of the passage:

• Common grazing land is open to any user.
• According to Hardin, each individual rancher would be tempted to overuse common land. Why? Because each individual rancher would benefit from overusing the common land. Meanwhile, the costs of reduced land quality from overuse would be spread among all users.
• In other words, if a rancher overuses his/her own private land, he/she will bear the costs of the overuse. But if a rancher overuses common grazing land, the costs will be spread among ALL users. Thus, it seems as though ranchers using common land have more incentive to overuse the land and negatively impact the land quality.
• But the results of a study, which compared 217 million acres of common grazing land with 433 million acres of private grazing land, showed that the common land was actually in better condition. This goes against Hardin's argument. We need an answer choice that explains this discrepancy.

Which of the following, if true and known by the ranchers, would best help explain the results of the study?

Quote:
(A) With private grazing land, both the costs and the benefits of overuse fall to the individual user.

This helps explain Hardin's point of view, but it does not explain why the results of the study do not match Hardin's argument. Eliminate (A).

Quote:
(B) The cost in reduced land quality that is attributable to any individual user is less easily measured with common land than it is with private land.

Choice (B) tells us that it if, say, 20 ranchers are sharing some common land, then it is difficult to measure the cost in reduced land quality caused by any one user.

On the other hand, with private land, any cost in reduced land quality could be attributed to the rancher who owns the land. Determining the exact cost might be difficult, but we would not have to worry about dividing up the blame.

This information helps to explain Hardin's position. If (B) were NOT true, it might be easier to point a finger at any one rancher and say, "Hey, your overuse of the common land has cost us all X dollars!" That would make it harder for the ranchers to take advantage of the shared land.

But (B) does not explain the results of the study, so it should be eliminated.

Quote:
(C) An individual who overuses common grazing land might be able to achieve higher returns than other users can, with the result that he or she would obtain a competitive advantage.

Again, this helps to explain Hardin's position. Choice (C) gives us even more reason to expect that ranchers would try to overuse common land and that the private land would be in better condition. (C) does not explain the results of the study, so it should be eliminated.

Quote:
(D) If one user of common land overuses it even slightly, the other users are likely to do so even more, with the consequence that the costs to each user outweigh the benefits.

According to Hardin, an individual rancher would have an incentive to overuse public grazing lands. Why? Because the rancher would accrue benefits from overusing the land, and the costs of the overuse would be spread among all users.

But according to choice (D), if an individual rancher tries to exploit the common land as described by Hardin, then the other users are likely to overuse the land to an even greater extent. As more and more users start to overuse the common land, the costs of overuse start to outweigh the benefits, even though those costs are spread among all users.

In other words, if only ONE rancher tries to exploit the system, then that rancher will benefit at the expense of the other users. But, if (D) is true and KNOWN by the ranchers, then all of the ranchers are aware that any such attempt will end up costing them in the long run. Thus, despite the temptation described by Hardin, the ranchers would not want to overuse the common land.

(D) explains the discrepancy, so keep this one.

Quote:
(E) There are more acres of grazing land held privately than there are held in common.

We are not concerned with the number of acres of common and private land. We are only concerned with the condition of each type. Choice (E) is irrelevant, so eliminate this one.

(D) is the best answer.
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##### General Discussion
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Re: QOTD: Hardin argued that grazing land held in common [#permalink]

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02 Mar 2018, 09:52
Can you please explain the answer? The official answer is D, but I can't seem to understand how.And what level of difficulty is this question? souvik101990
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QOTD: Hardin argued that grazing land held in common [#permalink]

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02 Mar 2018, 10:35
[quote="nithinjohn"]Can you please explain the answer? The official answer is D, but I can't seem to understand how.And what level of difficulty is this question?
Hi nithinjohn

Let me give it a shot!!

Hardin feels that since the cost of maintaining public grazing lands is shared by a group of people, the stakeholders will be tempted to overuse them. Using this ideology, he concludes that these grazing lands will be used less carefully than private ones.
However, Statistics present an opposite sight.
The reason to this discrepancy should be the ans?

And only D ans the reason perfectly!!
Each user of public lands is aware that if he tries to overuse the grazing land , rest of them will do the same. The result of such an action is that the benefit of overgrazing will outweigh the cost these users will have to bear.
If the users of public grazing land are aware of the consequences , they will never try to overuse the land.

Hope its clear!!

Regards
Teja
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QOTD: Hardin argued that grazing land held in common [#permalink]

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02 Mar 2018, 11:01
evs.teja wrote:
nithinjohn wrote:
Can you please explain the answer? The official answer is D, but I can't seem to understand how.And what level of difficulty is this question?
Hi nithinjohn

Let me give it a shot!!

Hardin feels that since the cost of maintaining public grazing lands is shared by a group of people, the stakeholders will be tempted to overuse them. Using this ideology, he concludes that these grazing lands will be used less carefully than private ones.
However, Statistics present an opposite sight.
The reason to this discrepancy should be the ans?

And only D ans the reason perfectly!!
Each user of public lands is aware that if he tries to overuse the grazing land , rest of them will do the same. The result of such an action is that the benefit of overgrazing will outweigh the cost these users will have to bear.
If the users of public grazing land are aware of the consequences , they will never try to overuse the land.

Hope its clear!!

Regards
Teja

Don't you mean that the costs will outweigh the benefits because of the action? Isn' that the consequence of the action which the users of the garden are afraid of? If that is what you are trying to say, then I think I have understood it.
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Re: QOTD: Hardin argued that grazing land held in common [#permalink]

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03 Mar 2018, 02:38
1
nithinjohn wrote:
evs.teja wrote:
nithinjohn wrote:
Can you please explain the answer? The official answer is D, but I can't seem to understand how.And what level of difficulty is this question?
Hi nithinjohn

Let me give it a shot!!

Hardin feels that since the cost of maintaining public grazing lands is shared by a group of people, the stakeholders will be tempted to overuse them. Using this ideology, he concludes that these grazing lands will be used less carefully than private ones.
However, Statistics present an opposite sight.
The reason to this discrepancy should be the ans?

And only D ans the reason perfectly!!
Each user of public lands is aware that if he tries to overuse the grazing land , rest of them will do the same. The result of such an action is that the benefit of overgrazing will outweigh the cost these users will have to bear.
If the users of public grazing land are aware of the consequences , they will never try to overuse the land.

Hope its clear!!

Regards
Teja

Don't you mean that the costs will outweigh the benefits because of the action? Isn't that the consequence of the action which the users of the garden are afraid of? If that is what you are trying to say, then I think I have understood it.

yes that is exactly what I am saying.
Just to make sure that we are on the same page, consider this example!
Lets assume there are 10 people who jointly hold a grazing land.
The cost of maintaining that property, under normal condition, monthly is 10 bucks. By the use of overgrazing, a user lets say typically will reduce his cost by 5 rupees.
However, If every user knows that if he ever tries to overuse the land, so will every other person, and this practice will land to greater maintenance cots(200).
A user in his right mind will never take such a risk.
Re: QOTD: Hardin argued that grazing land held in common   [#permalink] 03 Mar 2018, 02:38
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# QOTD: Hardin argued that grazing land held in common

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