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Old September 5 2012, 05:35 PM   #62
Location: Kentucky
Re: Why isn't Internet free for everyone yet?

Deks wrote: View Post
RoJoHen wrote: View Post
Sometimes I feel like people treat the internet like its a natural resource. The internet isn't water. You can't just go down to the well and pump yourself some internet. The internet was made by people, and people have to maintain it. They're not gonna do that for free!
We live in a socio-economic system where there's a pervasive rule: work, or you don't get to live (because that's what it comes down to) and in which idiotic myths such as 'money is the ONLY motivation for people' persisted for generation.

On a flip-note of things there are far more humans who do things in life for free... even things that are repetitive and complex (and part of their profession). Their motivation is not money (which has been shown to inhibit creative/critical thinking and problem solving skills) but the fact they enjoy the work they are doing.

Assuming that ALL humans work on jobs they fundamentally hate is yet another stupidity.
Okay, moving past the debate on innate tendencies, let's move on to economic systems.

Capitalism wasn't imposed by the ruling class. For most of human history, rulers had nothing at all to do with capitalism and were probably unaware that it was the economic system the peasants were crudely using. Rulers didn't go shopping in the market. They didn't try to buy or sell a house. In England and elsewhere the king used to travel from village to village and have food and money given to him in return for his protection.

Control and land was divided up according to loyalty to the ruler, and the ruler could decide to take lands from a disappointing lord pr baron and give it to a more favored one. That's not capitalism either. All major projects were done at royal behest, and as far as the ruling class was concerned they had a top-down command economy. A "good king" would give back to the peasants to make sure they were healthy and loyal.

As kings became weaker, ceding absolute power to lesser nobles and eventually, in part, to the people, the people started making better use of their inherent capitalist system (owning land, trading, open businesses, etc) to a greater and greater effect. That generated more wealth, especially through trade.

But the rulers naturally thought they should be in control of their people's activities, and the ownership of anything in their domain, and thus asserted the right to grant licenses to conduct business or trade, deeds to own vast estates, and sold these royal approvals for lots of money. They avoided granting licenses to competing interests, to avoid duplication and inefficiency, because they didn't remotely understand capitalism or how competition and failure can increase efficiencies. Many thought all economic activity should be aimed to concentrating gold within their own borders (which became bullionism), or that economic activity should build their own nation's power compared to competing nations, which became mercantilism.

England's government, with a large navy and small army, wasn't as good at imposing this type of system on the peasants, and they kept gaining more rights to property and to freely conduct business and trade. They started climbing out of poverty. They weren't doing anything peasants hadn't been doing for thousands of years (buying, selling, farming, building) but they could do it more openly, without fear that as soon as they built something worth owning, someone more powerful or connected would come buy and claim it for himself. That fear is why third world chanty towns look like they're only half built shacks. Build something better and someone else will claim it (Don't be the fat cow).

As the English settled North America, their ruling class largely stayed at home, content to make money by profiting from the colonies and taxing them, instead of actually living in primitive conditions, so there were even less restrictions on colonial property rights and business policy, decreasing as time wore on. Poor people got the crazy idea that if they wandered out onto what officially was the crown's land and built a farm, the land was theirs by right, based on what had become English custom when nobody rich was looking.

Once they rebeled against England, there was no ruling class worthy of the name, so they codified their customary black-market system of land ownership, business, and trade into law. The poor settlers' land system flew in the face of all established legal precedents whereby land ownership flowed from kings and rulers and rich investors, so the US Supreme Court struck it down. The settlers passed it again, and the court struck it down again. They passed it again and then other states copied it, so the Supreme Court finally shut up and accepted a legal system imposed on the ruling class by people who were poor as dirt. That system is free-market capitalism taken to a higher level, and the poor people made out like bandits.

It's the same system used in black markets throughout the entire world, but unlike most places where the transactions aren't officially legal, in the US the peasants' natural, intuitive, black-market rule system is the law of the land. That freed ordinary folks to conduct their business with much more certainty and efficiency, and allowed them to get ever more creative with ways to use property as capital, taking the abstract concept of "property" and abstracting it further, creating an algebra out of it, and then a calculus.

In a third-world country a house is a dwelling place and a car is a form of transportation, and little more. In a capitalist country they are also financial instruments that can be levered, hedged, insured, used as collateral, siezed, liened, loaned, rented, repossessed, bundled into tranches which are then insured, and that insurance can issue bonds which are sold overseas in a future market, etc. Marx, Engles, and many critics of capitalism are so ignorant of what capital is, where it comes from, how poor people can create it, and how it can be used, that they might as well be counting with sticks while people running a taco stand are solving third-order differential equations in their heads.

Outside of capitalism, your robots produce "things", and your theory is that they'll produce so many things that the people will just sit around enjoying all these "things". What kind of things? Who maintains the robots? How much does a robot cost? All of these questions are unanswerable, and barely askable, without a proper capitalist system where there's a business model, a market for robots, a market for things the robots produce, a currency to send production signals between the people enjoying the "things" and the assembly line producing the things, and a struggling peasant with an ingenious plan to takeover the robot market.

Socialist revolutionaries are just about the only people too dumb to realize that their social revolution already happened, and highways are clogged with expensive cars driving to big houses as a result.

And Humans DID show demonstrate the ability towards helping others in areas they don't particularly enjoy or care for (again, they volunteered their free time and energy in these instances just so they could help others - I found myself in such situations, and I most likely am not the only one).
And you can build a social system on helping and sharing, which we've attempted thousands of times, based on everything from early Christian communities to free-love hippy communes to kibutzes. If you keep the attempt small, tribe-sized, it sort of works. Nobody gets rich, and it can't really expand because then it becomes a big commune, and building a big commune has a history of invariable disaster. As their diarists have put it, "The pigs ate all the corn, and all the men just stand around accusing each other of not working."

But as I said... if we used automation to its fullest extent... you wouldn't have to use people for labor, or at least you could severely reduce it to insignificant portions of time spent on any given task.
And the products you produce would thus perhaps be very, very cheap, and thus would have little market value. We've done that in thousands and thousands of markets. Food used to require a tremendous amount of labor, to the point where most people were employed making food. We automated the heck out of that, from growing, to processing, to packaging, to distribution, and to retail sales. Food is now very cheap, and represents only a small percentage of expenses. All the people who used to work on farms had to move on to other jobs.

We automated the heck out of making nails and lumber (which used to be made by hand), and now they're very cheap, too. The people who used to hand-saw wood found other work. They didn't just stop and sit. Combine them with the out-of-work farmers, and claim that now "nobody has to work" and society would've essentially froze in the 1800's.

We automated or streamlined the heck out of making cars, and radios, and computers, and televisions, and furniture, and photographs, and anything else that wil sell, even bags of dirt. We've been doing it for a very long time now, and it just makes capitalism stronger, more dynamic, and more efficient.

The alternative is the system where "We pretend to work, and they pretend to pay us." That's also been done to death.
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