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Monday, November 22, 2010

A Tuxedo Rental and the Tragedy of the Commons

I recently had the privilege of being a groomsmen in my friend's wedding. The day before the big event, I went to the store to pick up my tuxedo rental. $139.99.

I don't own an outfit that costs that much money. And I only got to wear that uncomfortable mess for 8 hours.

A couple of days after the wedding, we were talking with the newly happy couple about their lovely day. And the tuxedo rental cautiously came up. The bride then said, "Yeah, that was a great surprise! When we got to the store, we found out that the groom's tux is free with the paid rentals from all the groomsmen. So we just decided to get the most expensive one."

She said this. In front of me. Without batting an eye. She saw the benefit of a free suit. And didn't think through the fact that her closest friends and family would have to pay double for theirs.

I experienced the law of the commons. And it was indeed a tragedy.

Eric Olsen,
Regular Columnist, THL
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