March 14, 2007
Caught My Eye

1. Among those of us who discuss property rights in class, it is pretty standard to compare private ownership to open access. Sometimes my students will respond "Nice idea in theory, but who actually owns a [fill in the blank with an open access resource]?" Conveniently, the WSJ recently ran had an article on the Duke of Devonshire's ownership of a river in Ireland. Alas the article is not available on the web, but this info conveys the same point:

Ireland's river and lake waters have been privately owned and managed for centuries. In the Lismore area it is the Duke of Devonshire, Lord of Lismore Castle, who owns most of the river rights. He leases out the best fishing waters for the day. In the case of salmon, these are stretches of river from 100 to 500 yards long with clean gravel breeding beds. These rented stretches, called beats, can cover either one or sometimes both banks of the river.

Depending on the time of year and the particular beat, prices for a day's rental run between 35 and 100 Irish pounds. Bank fishing or wading is the method allowed. There are no quotas - the rule is NOT catch and release.

The beauty of the system is that it keeps the river from being fished to death! The beats are well managed, well policed, and stocks are conserved.

2. The WSJ also had an article last week on increasing pay for leaders of non-profits. It isn't really a surprise since incentives matter and skilled leaders possess scarce talent. An excerpt:

People who work at charities generally aren't in it for the money. But a growing number of nonprofits are paying salaries that approach those in the corporate world, a trend highlighted by a new survey.

"Salaries have become much more competitive," says Marilyn M. Machlowitz, who runs a New York-based executive-placement firm for nonprofits. She says her firm has lured corporate types to fill a number of nonprofit jobs paying in excess of $200,000. That's at least $50,000 higher than five years ago, she adds.

Salaries for top executives at nonprofits have climbed 25% to 50% since 2000, says Jennifer Bol, head of the education, nonprofit and public-policy practice at Spencer Stuart, an executive-placement firm. A new survey of New York-area nonprofits by Professionals for Nonprofits, another search firm, found that among nonprofits with operating budgets over $20 million, 15% more chief executives and executive directors of these organizations earned $250,000 to $350,000 last year than in 2005.

Several factors are boosting pay: greater competition among nonprofits to attract top talent, difficulty in retaining staff and a lack of internal candidates for some important positions.

Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 10:34 PM in Misc.

The statesman who should attempt to direct private people in what manner they ought to employ their capitals would not only load himself with a most unnecessary attention, but assume an authority which could safely be trusted, not only to no single person, but to no council or senate whatever, and which would nowhere be so dangerous as in the hands of a man who had folly and presumption enough to fancy himself fit to exercise it. -Adam Smith

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