When no one owns a resource, we tend to overuse it–winding up with polluted skies, fished-out oceans and battles over access to freshwater. But too much ownership leads to problems too. A pharmaceutical company is stymied by a web of patents and doesn’t make a drug. An airport can’t buy land for a new runway to ease congestion because dozens of people own slivers of property. A production house, faced with a mishmash of music-licensing rights, keeps an old sitcom from DVD. In THE GRIDLOCK ECONOMY , Columbia Law School’s Michael Heller documents such “wasteful underuse” and the straitjacket it puts on innovation. His examples resemble pastures in which each square inch is owned by a different rancher: useless. The solution, free-marketeers will be glad to know, isn’t less ownership but better ways to aggregate it. Consider the patent pool created in 1917 that let airplanemakers swap technology and share profits without threat of litigation. For property use, Heller imagines something like a co-op board for landowners. Suddenly, there’s someone in charge to talk to–and maybe that airport gets its runway.