The tragedy of the commons

Wherein Walter Cromwell defines the tragedy of the commons, where the incentive to take advantage for one’s own good outstrips the incentive to behave for the good of all.

He tells them about the Pegasus, and about his father’s brewhouse and how Walter gets fined for bad beer at least twice a year. He tells them about how he gets fines for stealing wood, cutting down other people’s trees, and about the too-many sheep he runs on the common.

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel