The “Tragedy of the Commons” is an environmental term coined by ecologist Garett Hardin back in 1968. The basic premise and dilemma is that when a resource is shared, or held in common, it can lead to depletion, since those utilizing it have a greater incentive to profit from its use rather than to conserve the resource.
A similar dilemma seems to be in place when it comes to government spending. With the national debt north of $15 trillion and climbing, there doesn't appear to be any serious effort to change the mindset that the wealth of the country is a “commons” that can be strip mined at will. Tapping into government money is like a communal ATM machine if you have the right pin number.