information is across generations. The present generationnneeds to seek knowledge of the needs and desires fornresources of future generations. Particularly in the case ofnexhaustible resources, we must be concerned not to severelyndisadvantage the future residents of our planet. Interestinglynenough, private property rights are superior to publicnownership in predicting and regulating future needs. Undernpublic ownership wise managers may decide to preserve fornthe future, that is, attitudes may influence their behavior.nHowever, if these managers truly reflect the wishes of thenvoting public, they will use resources more rapidly thannunder private ownership.nUnder public management, the median voter’s preferencenfor the appropriate rate of resource use shouldndominate. In other words, if voters are perfectly unselfish,nthen a properly functioning democracy will use the resourcenat the rate of the median holder of those opinions. However,nunder private rights, those who are most optimistic andnbelieve the resource should better and more profitably benused in the future will dominate. And they will do so even ifnthey are perfectly selfish. Those optimists, knowing andncaring about their commodities, will outbid people withnother beliefs and will force a lower rate of exhaustion. For anresource to be used today, present consumers must outbidnall those who believe the resource will be more valuable innthe future. Thus a private property system will lead to anmuch slower rate of depletion than democratic publicnmanagement.nSince future generations do not yet exist, they neednagents to represent them in today’s society. These agentsncannot know perfectly the desires of people not yet born,nbut they can make educated guesses. In the market, thesenagents are either unselfish custodians of the future or theynare speculators, acting upon their perception of futurendemands for resources. If their perceptions are correct, theynincrease their wealth; if they guess wrongly, they lose. Thusnspeculators have strong incentives to be well-informed andnto predict correctly the needs of future generations. In thenpublic arena, in contrast, there is no mechanism fornrewarding those who make correct predictions.nPrivate property rights are also a set of institutions thatnfoster cooperation. By holding individuals accountable fornthe costs they impose on others, or by allowing them tonbenefit from being sensitive to the others (present or future),nprivate rights encourage mutual accommodation. Numerousnadjustments in behavior are possible for the privatenproperty owner when they become worthwhile, that is,nwhen they allow the property owner to further his goals. Annexample is to be found among oil companies and environmentalngroups when they are contesting the use of publicnland or when, in contrast, they are debating the appropriatenuse of private land.nIn recent years the U.S. Congress has debated thenexpansion of the public acreage designated as wildernessnareas. This is simply a reclassifying of existing public landnfrom multiple use to a more preserved status. Nevertheless,nthe debate has been fraught with conflict. The majornenvironmental groups have generally favored the inclusionnof more land in the wilderness classification. They admit nonvirtue to the opposition. The oil companies, on the othernhand, have fought such reclassification, arguing that there isnAutumn Daynby Rainer Maria Rilken(translated by Alban Coventry)nLord! It is time. The summer days were full;Now lay thynshadows on the warm sundials.nAnd loose the wind upon these grassy isles;nBid the unfallen fruits ripen and swell;nGrant them just two more days of sunny clime;nUrge them to their perfection and instillnThe final sweet into the heavy wine.nWhoever has no house and is alone.nNow builds no more and will alone remain,nWill wake and read and write with tired brain.nAnd when the last brown leaves are earthward blown.nWill wander, restless, in the falling rain.npotential for major oil finds in some of those areas and thatnour national interest is jeopardized by withholding themnfrom potential exploration. The public debate has beennheated and acrimonious, with both sides mounting majornpublicity campaigns for their point of view. Charges ofnmisrepresentation and fraud have been leveled, and bothnsides have “hard-lined” their positions. The environmentalistsnhave charged that there is no possibility for oil and gasnexploration to be compatible with environmental concern,nwhile the oil companies have argued that exploration andnproduction must go forward with little attention to thenenvironment.nOn private land, no matter who owns it, both partiesndisplay much more tolerant and cooperative attitudes. ThenNational Audubon Society has a major bird sanctuary ofn26,800 acres in Louisiana. The Michigan Audubon Society,nthe second largest of the state societies, owns andnoperates the Bernard W. Baker Sanctuary in southernnMichigan. In both cases the Audubon Societies have clearntitle and can manage their land in any manner they deemnbest. On both preserves, obtaining and preserving qualitynbird habitat is the primary goal. In the Rainey Sanctuary innLouisiana, the snow goose is the major bird under protection,nalthough attention is also paid to other wildlife. ThenBaker Sanctuary contains a nesting area for sandhill cranes,nand much effort is made to maintain the ecological integritynof their habitat.nThe most interesting part of the sanctuaries, however, isnoil and gas exploration and production on them. In bothncases the exploration was undertaken after the AudubonnSociety had established ownership; it came with theirnapproval, indeed, at their request. In the 1950’s the Raineynpreserve signed its first gas lease, and three companies nownoperate six gas-producing wells. After considerable internalndebate, the Michigan Society agreed, in 1981, to allow oilnand gas exploration on their property, and a producing wellnwas soon established. The attitudes of the participants in thenexchange is significant: Both the oil companies and thenAudubon Societies exhibited every willingness to cooperate.nNo expensive publicity battles were waged, no name-callingnnnFEBRUARY 1988 / 23n