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By their nature, public goods are not things that we really consume. In other words, you cannot look at anything that you have bought and say that it is a public good.
Public goods have two main characteristics. First, they have nonrival consumption. What that means is that when you consume such a good, it does not take away anyone else’s ability to consume that good. Second, they do not have nonpayer excludability. That is, there is no way for someone to prevent people from consuming the good if they do not pay for it. From this, we can see that the goods that we typically think of ourselves as consuming are not public goods.
A public good that I have consumed recently is clean air. Because of government action, the air in the places where I have been recently has been pretty clean. When I breathed the clean air, it did not prevent others from breathing clean air. Once the air was cleaned, there was no way to prevent me from breathing it. Therefore, the clean air that I have been breathing recently is a public good.
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