Richard Epstein argued that simple rules are necessary for economic prosperity. Epstein's emphasis was on legal protection of private property rights and minimal government. Mark Pennington's robust political economy similarly comes down on the side of minimal government in considering the best way to improve environmental governance. Our simple rules build on these insights, but with significant modifications. Private property is significant, but not always a key: what is necessary is that property is defined and enforced in response to local conditions. Polycentrism, rather than minimal government, is in our view the most significant simple rule of politics. Without local participation in decision-making, it is unlikely that policy experiments will improve commons governance or reflect the needs of people. We also recognize, with the ordoliberals and classical economists, some role for government in promoting social values - especially trust, patience, and individualism - to improve commons governance.
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