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An image of a truck with flashing lights driving through an intersection. The side of the truck reads “Chicago Fire Department Emergency Medical Services”.
A fire department ambulance rushes to the rescue in Chicago. Emergency medical services, fire departments, and police departments are all paid for by government through the tax base, and they provide their services without an additional charge. (credit: Tony Webster)

Government also performs the important job of protecting common goods    : goods that all people may use free of charge but that are of limited supply, such as fish in the sea or clean drinking water. Because everyone can use these goods, they must be protected so a few people do not take everything that is available and leave others with nothing. Some examples of common goods, private goods, public goods, and toll goods are listed below ( [link] ).

A chart showing examples of different types of goods. The chart is arranged similarly to a table with two columns and three rows. The first column is labeled “Excludable: Not everyone has access to these goods. Some will be excluded from having them, often because only those who pay for the good or service may use it”. Under the first column are “Private Goods: cell phones, automobiles, homes” and “Toll Goods: Cable TV, Private school education, Turnpikes”. The second column is labeled “Non-excludable: All people have access to these goods. No one may be excluded. Anyone may use the good or service, usually without charge”. Under the second column are “Common Goods: Fish in the ocean, fresh water” and “Public Goods: Public education, Mail service, National security”. Private Good and Common Goods are also labeled “Rivalrous: Only one person can use the good or service at any given time”. Toll Goods and Public Goods are also labeled “Non-rivalrous: Many people can use the same good or service at the same time”. At the bottom of the chart, a source is listed: “John L Mikesell, 2014. Fiscal Administration: Analysis and Applications for the Public Sector, 9th ed. Boston: Wadsworth”.
One can distinguish between different types of goods by considering who has access to the goods (excludable/non-excludable) and how many people can access the good at the same time (rivalrous/non-rivalrous).
John L. Mikesell. 2014. Fiscal Administration: Analysis and Applications for the Public Sector , 9th ed. Boston: Wadsworth.

Fishing regulations

One of the many important things government does is regulate public access to common goods    like natural resources. Unlike public goods, which all people may use without charge, common goods are in limited supply. If more public schools are needed, the government can build more. If more firefighters or mail carriers are needed, the government can hire them. Public lands and wildlife, however, are not goods the government can simply multiply if supply falls due to demand. Indeed, if some people take too freely from the supply of common goods, there will not be enough left for others to use.

Fish are one of the many common goods in which the government currently regulates access. It does so to ensure that certain species are not fished into extinction, thus depriving future generations of an important food source and a means to make a living. This idea is known as sustainability. Environmentalists want to set strict fishing limits on a variety of species. Commercial fishers resist these limits, claiming they are unnecessary and, if enforced, would drive them out of business ( [link] ). Currently, fishing limits are set by a combination of scientists, politicians, local resource managers, and groups representing the interests of fishers.

Juliet Elperin, “U.S. Tightens Fishing Policy, Setting 2012 Catch Limits for All Mandated Species,” Washington Post , 8 January 2012.

An image of a commercial fishing boat with several nets and a tall mast. The boat is floating on the surface of a large body of water.
Fishing provides income, as well as food, for many Americans. However, without government restrictions on the kinds and number of fish that can be caught, the fish population would decline and certain species could become instinct. This would ultimately lead to the loss of jobs and income as well as a valuable source of nourishment. (credit: Michael L. Baird)

Should the government regulate fishing? Is it right to interfere with people’s ability to earn money today in order to protect the access of future generations to the nation’s common goods?

Questions & Answers

how does one separate from State or government
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Ich Reply
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You feel free and you decide and do and achieve the right for you
was the Bill of rights a necessary addtion to the constitution?
noor Reply
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Jeremy Reply
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Seth Reply
why is today's government so corrupt?
Julius Reply
what type of government does American practice?
Joshua Reply
what type of government does American practice
Representative Democracy
Democratic Republic
what is communalism
Yarhere Reply
suppression of the people and their rights.
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debbie Reply
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Damion Reply
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subliminal messages through the converged technological devices. and sourced profiles
Which of the following is not an agent of political socialization?
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law making

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Source:  OpenStax, American government. OpenStax CNX. Dec 05, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11995/1.15
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