Sunday, June 28, 2009

When the MTA's Hemmerdinger called the AY arena a "public good," he was fantasizing

"And I think, in this economy, jobs and an arena in Brooklyn is a public good.”--Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Dale Hemmerdinger, June 24

"On Thursday, we made some critical personnel decisions to secure financial flexibility for player moves now and in the future in order to give you the best product on the court."--Nets president Rod Thorn, e-mail to season ticket holders, June 28 (via NetsDaily)

(Emphases added)

Defining a "public good"

I suspect Hemmerdinger meant that an arena in Brooklyn was a "good thing for the public," rather than a public good.

The latter, as economist Paul Samuelson defined it, is "[goods] which all enjoy in common in the sense that each individual's consumption of such a good leads to no subtractions from any other individual's consumption of that good..."

In other words, like national defense, or air, or (free) television.

Not an arena with a finite amount of tickets and a "product on the court."

1 comment:

  1. Good point about Hemmerdinger's mis-use of the expression "public good." The phrase itself, however, does seem to lend itself to this mistake -- although as the chairman of a giant public agency, HE should know better.

    I realize this may sound ridiculous, but at times I've been tempted to say instead, "public merchandise" (!) (or maybe even "public goodS") in order to avoid confusing the two meanings of the word "good."

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