Problems and Progress
Edited by Colin Robinson
60 Utility regulation in competitive markets CHAIRMAN’S COMMENTS Leonard Waverman I am really a poor choice to comment on this because I agree with the analysis: you should never have a neo-classical economist following another neoclassical economist. We should thank Tom for what he has done. He has really made two essential points. One is that we have not established private property rights in spectrum; we are still a long way from that. The second main point is the crucial confusion between on one end, the ownership of the property and, on the other, the access regime. A lot of the comments on ‘commons’ are really about what the price should be, and not what the regime should be. I searched for the deﬁnition of scarcity in Wikipedia: it says ‘scarcity is the central concept in economics’. In fact, neo-classical economics is about the allocation of scarce goods. Scarcity means not having suﬃcient resources to produce enough to fulﬁl unlimited subjective wants. But there are many meanings, unfortunately, and a lot of loose talk at the moment. For example, recently (Spring 2005) a Saudi oil minister was quoted as saying that there is no scarcity of oil. Does he mean that oil is available at a zero price? No. He says the world has suﬃcient oil resources, that the problem is not one of availability, but rather one of deliverability: ‘There will be no scarcity of petroleum in the foreseeable future. Prices are under pressure because...
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