Thursday, September 27, 2012

Free Rider Problem

Ever feel like someone else was the unfair beneficiary of your efforts?  Even better, have you ever felt relief when the efforts of someone else solved your problem without any effort, expense, exposure or risk taken on your part?

Free Rider Problem explanation from Wiki.  A good excerpt from the article:  “In economics, collective bargaining, psychology, and political science, a free rider (or freeloader) is someone who enjoys the benefits of an activity without paying for it. The free rider may withhold effort or resources, or may impose the costs of his or her activities on others.” 

Many of my neighbors got a complete “free ride”, courtesy of me, when I engaged the rescuer/puppy miller across the street, their landlord, and authorities.  Many of the other neighbors flat out hated what was going on over there, as they were exposed to the same hardships as I.  They would complain bitterly about the barking, dog at large, dog pee and dog crap everywhere, etc…  However, NONE of them would lift a finger to go after the miscreants. They wouldn’t call authorities; they wouldn’t complain to the miscreant, they wouldn’t complain to the landlord.  They refused to even co-sign any of my complaints!  However, they sure did benefit BIG TIME from my efforts!  They didn’t thank me, and there was no need to given that if my efforts benefited only THEM I wouldn’t have bothered!

So, it was ME, completely on my own, who had to:
-          File repeated complaints with AC, police, and code enforcement.
-          Dealt with excuses from above.
-          Perform a significant amount of legal research on my own time and dime.
-          Write and mail certified letters to dog owner, landlord, and authorities.
-          Face down the miscreant *in person* and thereby enduring the most extreme belligerent behavior on multiple occasions.  My friends and family were concerned for my safety.
-          Threaten both the dog owner and landlord with lawsuits.
-          Threaten my landlady with breaking the lease AND suing her for a rent abatement (THAT got her moving!).

So, now peace reigns upon the neighborhood (for now).  Again, my useless-ass neighbors didn’t have to lift a finger to get peace restored to their homes.  I did that for them!  Some of them even saw fit to CRITICIZE me!   I was TOO HARD on the poor couple, they said!

Of course, NOBODY is complaining about sleeping through the night!  Nothing like “Hey man, I really miss laying awake all night listening to those dogs bark!”.  No, it is armchair quarterbacking in its full, insipid glory!

Of course, this is only what I did in relation to the pet problems *on my block*.   My dealings with the larger issues are a similar but much larger story.   I won’t go into the gory details again, but as I noted in this essay and this essay I have made significant efforts to ameliorate the pet problems apparent in my state’s natural areas.  I built significant political credit via my activities in my state trail association, and I have had to BURN most of that credit working a problem that never should have existed in the first place!  I have also engaged my county executive and county attorney directly and those efforts have had some effect.  These efforts include, but are not limited to:

-          Engaging my state park system director directly regarding barking dog problems.  In addition to the letter sent, I have followed up by phone and email on this issue and the director is interested in ameliorating the problem.  Indeed, the pet regulations have become MUCH more strict recently (wonder why!).
-          Engaged individual park managers and park rangers regarding the problem.
-          Engage State Police at planning meetings.  They also seem interested.
-          Engage National Forest Service managers at open houses.  They seem interested in solving the problem.
-          Engaged my county executives and county attorney directly via certified mail and I have followed up with emails and phone calls.  They took my issues seriously enough to shelve an objectionable change to barking dog legislation.  So far, this appears to be a “Korean War” type outcome.  Hey, at least its only difficult to go after the nuisance barkers and not impossible!  So, now you do NOT need a neighbor to co-sign the complaint and the dog can only bark for 10 minutes.  YOU ARE WELCOME!

Why do these people even listen to me?  BECAUSE, I am active and engaged.  See, I don’t spend all my time blogging, I am actually OUT THERE doing useful things.  These people respect me because I cut new hiking trails in Florida in June.  They respect me because they know I do the right thing, and without the support of people like me their jobs would be very difficult, perhaps impossible.  They respect me because I am face to face with them and don’t snipe at them from some internet forum.  They respect me because they know I don’t have to get out of bed at 5am on a Saturday and work all day for free so Florida hikers can enjoy a safe hiking experience, but I do it anyway!   

See, these are the people who make the rules and enforce those rules.  THOSE are the people you have to engage directly and convince.  Preaching hate to a bunch of converts on some obscure web-page won’t do SQUAT.

So, you may ask… why do I have THIS forum?  Primarily to organize all of my thoughts in a place that can easily be accessed.  This forum is a tool, but only one tool of many at my disposal.

In any case, I put forth the effort to earn all this “political credit”, but unfortunately I have to burn it all up in this unending war against the “dogtopians”!  These efforts benefit others:  Thanks to me and people like me, you are now more likely to experience an outdoor adventure in peace and safety… that did NOT happen by itself!  Likewise, wildlife has a better chance of “making it” without constant harassment from out of control pets!

The alternate title of this essay was “Freedom ain’t free”, because it SURE ain’t!  A while back I wrote that to hold a right, one must demonstrate the ability to assert that right.    What that means is:
-          Get OFF YOUR DEAD ASS!
-          TAKE SOME RISK!

To change the subject just a little.  Dog owners enjoy a huge advantage.  Why do you think that is?  Did that happen ALL by itself?  NOPE… it happened because THEY are going to government planning meetings and open houses.  THEY are staging protests.  THEY are confronting executives and law enforcement.  THEY are “packing” planning meetings, town halls, and open houses.  THEY are out there actively promoting their interests.  AND, those interests are often in conflict with YOURS!   This is a WAR and THEY are shooting at YOU!  WHAT are you going to do about THAT?

Know what, if you won’t assert your rights, YOU do not deserve them!  They do not exist!  Look, ANYBODY can sit and complain!  Was it complainers sitting on their asses who won world war II or ended slavery?  NO!  If peace in your home were truly one of YOUR rights, you would do whatever you must to defend that, as I DID.  If you won’t do whatever you must to defend that right, then that right simply does not exist.

Whats even worse is, some of you make a POINT of doing nothing useful!  You have institutionalized worthless whining!  Your position is, “I flat out, pointedly refuse to do anything useful but I will sit here and hurl insults at anyone who does!”.  Wow, how could the world turn without the likes of YOU?

Furthermore, you whiners do NOT have the right to criticize ANYBODY.  You have not earned that!  How DARE you sit in peace and comfort and criticize those who fight your fight for you!  YOU go out there and do what I did and THEN come back and criticize!  The fact that I am making our neighborhoods and parks better for the likes of YOU makes my bile rise… again, if it benefitted only YOU I would not bother!   I respect the dog-nuts more than you because THEY at least put forth the effort!  You want to mix it up?  You want to “take me for a walk”?  If you want to sit at the adults table, you need to act like one and any 3 year old can bitch and complain!!

Put up or shut up!


  1. "So, now you do NOT need a neighbor to co-sign the complaint and the dog can only bark for 10 minutes."

    Good work.

    10 minutes is a decent time frame for anyone to get it together and attend the dog. Gives people time to get off the toilet, make sure the baby is safe, children arent sticking their fingers in electrical outlets and the dinner isnt on fire. It may even happen a few times a day and that's quite normal... Much like being on the toilet.

    The 10 minute rule will probably be abused by the disturbed neighbors on both sides of the fence.

  2. I believe that attempts to introduce time slots for barking in Australia failed.

    So they should.

    Allowable time slots for barking is similar to the law permitting a certain number of assailants' punches to hit you.

    NONE is the only acceptable number.

    1. I'm noticing more instances of people finding their own solutions to the barking dog noise problem. Matter of fact, I just blogged an incident from northern Arizona:

  3. We anti-barking activists in Australia have always found that when you turn to your neighbours for confirmatory support of barking allegations, all you see is dust as every local coward heads for the hills.

    Trust nobody.

  4. you have my condolences. i've been in your position.

  5. In my neighborhood, I've had to fight the barking battles myself for many years. And yes, I've heard other neighbors complain about the dog problems around here.

    Sure, I wish I had more support on this issue, but that's life. Sometimes you have to start the fight on your own.

    As for me, my next step will be to start wearing my anti-barking tee shirts in public. Yeah, I know. Wearing a shirt. Not exactly putting one's life on the line. But it's a quiet way of getting a much-needed message out to a broader audience.

    I also plan to be at next month's Walk for Victims of Pit Bulls and Other Dangerous Dogs. Hope to see others there as well.

    1. YQN: Actually, wearing a anti-barking T-shirt is rather bold. Good for you!

      I hope the turn out for the walk in your city is good... See, now THAT is what I am talking about! THAT is the sort of activism that gets noted.

  6. I've had the same troubles in two different neighborhoods, incessant barking dogs, no one else seems to care enough to do anything about it. I don't care if I make a few enemies, my sleep is more important.

    Wish I could go to the walk.

  7. AU: "Know what, if you won’t assert your rights, YOU do not deserve them!"

    Correct. But also: when people won't assert a right, it means they don't much care about that right, not really, no matter how much they whine. If they don't make an effort to solve a problem, it means it doesn't bother them all that much, not really, no matter how much they complain. Someone once said, 'if you want to know what a person really wants in life, look at what they do, not at what they say.'

    Some people like complaining. It gives them something to do all day. They don't like it when the excuse to complain is taken away. They quickly find some other excuse (such as you, the person who ruined their day by solving the thing they complained about). That is to say: The seeming subject of their complaint isn't really the subject; the real subject is the chance to whine.

    Re the free ride, what can we do? I'm in those shoes too, trying to solve a problem because it's a problem for me and mine. We're all unable to escape improving the lives of the professional whiners as we improve our own and protect those we care about.

    With a sigh, I've decided it's not worth cutting off my own nose to spite the whiners' complaining faces. What I do instead is refuse to listen to the whining. Someone comes to me wanting to tell a story about yet another pit bull attack. Before they can start their narrative, I ask whether they've reported it to the police and written to the Mayor and City Council. No? Well, then I don't want to hear your story -- and I walk away.

    I'm consistently amused by their surprised faces. 'But, but, but...this was my chance to complain, why are you walking away, doesn't everyone love empty complaining?'

    My amusement at their amazed faces is my antidote to the anger I used to feel when they deposited their story with me, then went on their way satisfied by the cathartic and exhilarating complaint session, leaving the sadness about yet another dead dog or child with me. The not listening protects me from taking on this burden of sadness. It also confronts the whiner with the fact that their whining isn't really interesting, they should find some other profession. So I find this tactic useful on several fronts, most of all the increased quality of life it gives me.

    Thanks for all your tellings, also for listening.

  8. "Before they can start their narrative, I ask whether they've reported it to the police and written to the Mayor and City Council. No? Well, then I don't want to hear your story -- and I walk away."

    I had a neighbor that called and asked *me* to complain to law enforcement about her neighbor's barking dog. She didnt want to get involved and have trouble with her neighbor.

    1. Boy, do I feel with you Anonymous. This is basically what those whiners are doing when they want to tell me another pit bull attack story: 'If I tell it to her, she'll do something about it -- and she'll take all the shit that flies when it hits the fan."

      This cowardice ON TOP OF the general laziness that typifies the whiner.

  9. Thanks for the comments, all!

    A couple of thoughts on the issue:

    1) There is a BIG difference between pointless griping and an activists call to action. The fact that some people try to muddy the water or distort that for their own aggrandizement does not change that.

    2) There is also a big difference between pointless griping and analysis. The main reason I started this blog was to at least try to bring some clarity to these issues. It became apparent to me that, unlike many other social issues, these AC problems have NOT been thought through.

    I don't bother "reporting", since most of these anecdotes, such as the Lenton situation, are all over the media. Instead, I try to examine the incident, analyze it at a deeper level, perhaps look for an angle no one has considered yet, and then proceed to use the situation to promote a call for change.

    An allegory would be a leak in a dam. Its one thing to say "The dam is leaking, and that just sux!". Yes, that is true BUT what is really important is, the indicated situation presents a real problem that needs to be solved. Its also important to consider: How did the dam start leaking? Are there any other problems with the structure to consider? How much worse is it going to get? How are we going to fix it? How do we prevent problems with this structure in the future? Etc... etc... etc...

    Often, I'll write just to clarify the issue in my OWN head! Its one thing to say "A rottweiler killed somebody in Alabama. Power dogs suck!".

    To me, what is interesting is:

    - Why were there no restrictions place on this guy before the fact... How was he allowed to own that many animals in a suburban setting? He likely would not be able to own goats or sheep.

    - Why is this guy walking around free after promoting lethal aggression against an innocent person? Why hasn't SOME sort of criminal charge been brought?
    - What can we do to get this dangerous individual off the street? (Restraint after the fact)

    - How do we restrain people like that going forward?

    - Etc...

    To me, THAT is what is interesting and that is primarily what I write about.

    In regards to true activism, obviously not everyone has it in them to be a real activist. OK, you have 2 jobs and 5 kids and you are overwhelmed... fine, I respect that. However, it then becomes a situation of what you do NOT do... DON'T interfere with those who are actively working to solve the problem. A call for real action may be ignored but should NOT be treated derisively! If you want to sit there and badmouth everyone who is working to serve your sorry ass you deserve nothing but contempt from everybody!

    1. Blogs that analyze, provide information, help organize thoughts and think up strategies are useful to everyone who reads them.

      I suppose gripe blogs are too, for whiners who like the cathartic experience of griping together. It's just that it so quickly gets boring to the rest of us. All the same, I wish them much fun together...

      ...and that they gripe about us on their own blogs, not on the ones we visit for more constructive purposes.

      This despite how amusing her (his?) silly rants were. Even that gets boring after one or two times.

  10. Thanks for sharing the idea there would be some apprehensions from segment but i am up for it.

  11. I don't know how to handle all these issues. Ive never really learned. But what I freaking hate with a passion is people without disability who are apparently so void of a social life and so dependent upon their animals especially dogs to fill a void for them that they bring their slobbering barking problems everywhere with them. Then they park their car in the grocery parking lot and roll down the window and some giant dog is sticking its ugly head out the window barking at everyone in sight.
    Bullshit I have a right to get out of my car without having to hear the undying bark of an idiot dog who had no need to be on that particular trip. Dogs can and are capable of sitting at home alone for an hour. It isnt that the dog needs to be there. Its that this person is extremely dependent on another being for company. Turn on your radio and leave the nuisance at home.