Why isn't Internet free for everyone yet?

Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by Dream, Aug 31, 2012.

  1. Deks

    Deks Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Oct 16, 2003
    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.
    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).

    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.
  2. gturner

    gturner Admiral

    Nov 9, 2005
    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 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."

    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.
  3. scotthm

    scotthm Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Oct 16, 2003
    I seriously hope you live near me as I'm in dire need of someone to paint my house. When that's done, I have a need for a lawn man.

    Can I count on you?

  4. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

    Apr 12, 2006
    Your Mom
    And I just finished a copy of the New England Journal of Medicine that contains a twin study that reached the exact OPPOSITE conclusion, conducted on children between 9 months and 3 years. The basic result was that twins raised in vastly different households with vastly different social circumstances had nearly identical reactions to social situations; specifically, the children who were less likely to "play nicely" or were more likely to fight over a toy or throw tantrums in response to adversity correlated directly with the twins and wasn't affected by parenting (e.g. families that emphasized fair play and sharing had the same problem with the greedy twin).

    Those of you on this board who have children will probably not see this as a terrible surprise.

    I can't say that anyone I know has ever actually believed this. The closest I've ever heard is "money is the only motivation for mercenaries," which isn't really the same thing.

    90% of the things ANYONE does are free. Take you, right now, reading this message. Are you getting paid to read forum posts or respond to them? Are you making any money typing your response? Did I make any money raising my son for the past three and a half years, and if I turn out to be a better father than my own, do I get a bonus in the end?

    Of course not. But then... if I offered you a choice between posting on trekbbs for $3 an hour or mopping floors at WalMart for $20 an hour, and you can only pick one of the two, which one would you pick?

    And as has been asked of you MANY times, what exactly do you propose we do with the laborers?

    Consider the fact that not everyone in this world WANTS to spend half a decade in college just to be able to do something useful, and not everyone is mentally or psychologically capable of doing so. Not that anyone here is inclined to celebrate mediocrity, mind you, but denouncing it altogether can be even more hazardous.
  5. Deks

    Deks Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Oct 16, 2003
    I've also predominantly met people in my life who don't ascribe to this rule necessarily... but, that doesn't change the premise that the system we live in operates on it.
    Most people for that matter within the current system have barely enough to live, let alone help anyone else.
    How many people lost their homes and ended up on the streets due to insane debts that they could never pay off?
    Or how many people in USA today are in debt to the banks or some other institution in some capacity?
    The worlds economy is based on debt... which is how money is generated.
    How does the USA plan to pay off its trillions large debt? Or any other country/nation for that matter?
    Simple answer is... they can't - because they are blinded by the notion of 'money' and 'cost' so much that they can't see anything else besides it and think that more money is the answer (and we've seen how that turned out).

    If I live in a socio-economic system where I have to have money in order to survive (let alone do anything else), I'd probably pick the higher paying option so I can ensure I have enough to live and maybe secure some kind of savings in the long run for other things.

    That choice is a mere byproduct of a system I live in and doesn't demonstrate anything besides the premise that a person goes for the higher paid option simply because it offers more access than a lower paid option so they can ensure they don't have to worry about those things in the first place.

    But... financially situated people... or even those who have their needs met already would probably pick the low paid option (posting on TrekBBS) or even do it for free - myself included (plus I've already done that).

    If you eliminate money from the equation though completely and base an economy around access abundance and user-ship, if there's a need to mop a floor of a Wal-Mart for an hour or two, fine, I'd do it (and with high enough rotation of people, you'd only need to do it for a fraction of the time, which would take say an hour depending on the size needed to be cleaned) - even though it would be unnecessary since that can also be automated.

    The purpose of implementing automation to its maximum potential is to free people from the notion of being required to work so they are free to pursue whatever it is they want to do in life (which today is severely limited since you have to have 'money' in order to achieve that).
    Re-education was just one possible alternative I mentioned - which if you would eliminate monetary based economics would be necessary because you cannot THROW people into a new system without informing them of it or how it functions, etc. (which is exactly why numerous problems are happening today - things change and people are thrown into new situations without being properly informed of how they work and are expected to 'adapt' without any sort of support from those who instigated those changes in the first place).

    Travel for example is another option, or do your hobbies on a full-time basis - all the while not having to worry whether you have enough to eat or where will you sleep (because those notions would simply not be an issue).
    To pose a question... are there things besides work in your life you expressed an interest in doing? Doesn't have to be re-education or travel.

    People wouldn't waste away doing nothing. Majority of humans would go stir crazy (and those who do waste away today are doing so mostly because they don't have the purchasing power to do anything else).

    We occupy our time even when we don't work (professionally) with something we find of relevance to us.
    Even those who hang on the internet. They are constantly exposing themselves to new information and education in one form or another.

    I'm not saying a change would be simple.
    We are talking about a fundamental paradigm shift that also shouldn't be done 'over-night'.
    One option on how to get there would be to for example... increase automation over the next 5 years to the level where people would be required of working 2 to 4 hours for 5 days in a week - without decreasing wages... and in the next 5 years, you further decrease the work hours.

    That way, people get acclimated to changes and they start realizing the 'need' for work is not as big as they once thought.
    With more time than ever at their disposal, they would be free to devote more time to things they might perceive of more importance.

    In the meantime, expose those people (and others) to relevant general education.
    Encourage critical thinking and problem solving.
    Send soldiers back to school so they can learn how to bridge differences between nations - and not be killing machines.

    There are tons of options to consider during the transitional period and what can be done (which would be a period that money is still used [approximately 10 years - maybe 15 to allow for sufficient social changes, even though we can transform the planet on a global basis to extremely high technological developed world in less than a decade]... just with ever decreasing emphasis until its completely phased out).
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2012
  6. scotthm

    scotthm Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Oct 16, 2003
    Anyone who is willing to see can clearly see that money (or whatever rewards you'd like to substitute) offers an incentive to get people to do jobs that might otherwise go unfilled. It can help prevent shortages in some career areas and gluts in others. It can help insure that trained workers are available when needed to do the job. Your idea that someone competent will always be willing to step in when needed is just wishful thinking.

  7. gturner

    gturner Admiral

    Nov 9, 2005
    Then who is giving the charities all the billions of dollars they collect every year, in most cases from small donors? Who is giving money to all the churches? Who is buying all the $200 purses and shoes? Yes, there are people who are poor, and a great many people have been poor and then climbed out because having more things is an incentive to keep trying new options and new jobs.

    And those are strong disincentives to bad decision making. If we could run up huge debts without any downside, everyone would do it - all the time.

    No, the world's economy is based on making goods and services that people want. I think you might need a simple explaination of capitalism.

    People needed stuff to survive (spears, clay pots, berries, game, clothes, huts). We came to really like having stuff, and learned to make stuff ourselves. The way to have more stuff is to make more stuff, and the more stuff you make the more stuff you have. If you're not good at making stuff you want, make stuff somebody else wants and then trade it with them to get the stuff you want. If you notice two people with lots of stuff they don't want, who want different stuff, arrange a trade for them and haul their stuff to customers, keeping a small part of the traded stuff for yourself. If you just sit on your butt and demand stuff from other people, they might give you junk, but they won't give you good stuff, so you'd better figure out a better angle or get motivated to start making something they want.

    It's so simple that we don't have to teach people to do this, we just teach them how to make particular kinds of stuff. Immigrants can show up from anywhere and they'll start making stuff, and trading, and buying and selling stuff, even if they come from communist countries where trade was illegal.

    When Marx and Engels would send communist agitators to the US, they'd always disappear. America became known to them as "the graveyard of communists." Then they sent more communists to track down the missing ones, and invariably found that the missing ones had realized they could open a store or a shop in America (which was very difficult in most of Europe at the time), and had immediately done so, abandoning communism completely.

    That choice is part of the market for labor. To lure a worker from posting on a Trek board, Walmart has to offer more money. To lure a worker from the NFL or NBA, they'd have to offer a lot more money.

    And there's the problem. Not everyone should be mopping floors at Walmart. The labor market lets those willing to do it at a certain price self-select for the job, and keeps Walmart from accidentally hiring doctors and astronauts to mop floors.

    But we implement automation where it makes financial sense to use it. As its cost drops and capabilities increase, we'll use it in more places.

    I happen to do automation for a living. I can tell you all about robotics projects, automation, and its effects. Robots aren't actually as good as most automation, just more versatile (humans aren't as good as a specialized machine for most things, like shredding tobacco, spreading pavement, digging canals, or powering ships - all of which could be done with robots, which would be like using thousands of human slaves, but with power cords and no toilets).

    Most child labor used to be employed in glass blowing (as gathers). Then what is now the world's largest glass company developed a bottle making machine that eliminated both the gathers and the glass blowers from the operation. A few dozen men could provide enough glass battles for a small country. A single ribbon machine could make enough glass light bulbs to supply the entire world. Bottles and light bulbs became very cheap, but people still worked, because staring at a Coke bottle and thinking it's a sign from the heavens isn't a very productive activity.

    Perhaps you should try to explain your system more fully, especially the part about why someone who is making things will just give their output to lots of strangers who they don't even like, as a general pattern of behavior. How on your way to the lake you have to have to good luck to find the guy who's still out there giving away free gas, and then you have to find the guy who likes serving free food in his restaurant. He might be late, because he's trying to find a guy who makes free tires and gives them away.

    Basically, you're describing a retirement community. We have those now. Why aren't they self-sustaining based on the economics of voluntary labor?

    Why not just fire them, put them on unemployment and welfare, and suck up the slight drop in economic output? Why blow money on robots and welfare?

    I'm trying really hard to encourage some criticial thinking. I'm trying...

    And there you have a clear sign that your system is doomed to failure - because you've taken a couple of million people with diverse skills, abilities, training, and specializations, and assigned every one of them to do a diplomatic task that is already being handled by a vastly, vastly smaller group of people. Top-down "planned" command economies are full of such insanely inefficient ideas, which is why they fail.

    And that's another clue that you're heading for failure. Our economy doesn't consider just tons of options, it considered hundreds of millions of options every day.

    The decisions on using a robot instead of a laborer is considered constantly. The only time we use a robot is when the robot makes more sense considering the development and installation cost, project schedule, benefits, support, training, retooling, and total life-cycle costs. Thousands of people are making that decision even as we speak. They are scheming to use a robot to take over the market for product X, where X is a vast range of things that perhaps could be made much more cheaply with automation.

    Other methods are even much better than robots, and we use those too. For example, back in the 1950's the Air Force had a big program trying to make the construction of complex electronics easier by pre-building units out of discrete components. Having ladies soldier together thousands of resistors, capacitors and transistors to build complex electronics was a bottle-neck. Nowdays you could use robots (pick and place machines, which are amazing), but instead we developed the integrated circuit and just side-stepped the problem by putting hundreds (later tens of millions) of components on a single chip in one operation.

    The electronic industry didn't just retire en masse and live a money-free existence, even though their physical output had jumped a million-fold or more. The engineers didn't just devote themselves to hobby projects, although they did go nuts on hobbies, quickly turning those hobbies into Microsoft, Apple, Cisco, and < insert vast list of multi-billion dollar corporations started in garages and bathtubs >.

    Our system is always moving forward, redefining our lives in the process. Your system is a retirement home where the people finger-paint till they die. You can build a society with your system, and our workers will go there to take pictures and buy their local arts-and-crafts, just like milionaires vacationing in Kenya.
  8. marksound

    marksound Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Nov 19, 2008
    Planet Carcazed
    Finally, a reasonable voice. I was beginning to doubt the future of the human race. :lol:
  9. Deks

    Deks Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Oct 16, 2003
    Money is a good incentive for repetitive jobs. When it comes to critical or creative thinking, let alone problem solving, it inhibits people.
    Its wishful thinking that someone will always be willing to step in when needed?
    Millions of volunteers worldwide would disagree with that notion.

    Charities? Seriously?
    How much of the donated money to charities actually goes to the said 'cause'?
    At best, one would have to say 10%, maybe 20%.
    'Having more things' is an idiotic pursuit that's coming from a consumer mindset of 'use and discard'.
    Have you noticed just how much waste is produced like that, not to mention that we are talking about 'infinite growth' on a finite planet which is fundamentally demented and impossible (something even the 'economists' are coming to terms with)?

    Except that a good portion of people doesn't like to be in debt... which in turn generates extra stress, forces them to take drastic measures for the sake of paying them off, etc., etc., etc.

    Fractional reserve banking (fiat-based monetary system) or should one say 'credit-based monetary system'.
    The same one that took place when money stopped representing resources in 1929 when the first great depression hit the world (which was due to automation/mechanization).
    I think you should get acquainted with our history and the socio-economic system we live under.

    Communism used banks and money - it was also imposed on people forcefully, not to mention it had a government that perceived resources as infinite (exactly like Capitalism), social stratification, etc.
    It was a monetary based system.

    There is a difference between human needs and human wants.
    Human needs: clean air, clean water, food, clothing, shelter/housing, electricity, transportation (a lot of people use public transport as opposed to having a car even though they can afford one), relevant education and certain amenities of the modern era.
    Human wants: things such as a villa, sports cars, yachts, fur coats made from animals (even though we can make synthetic ones that are just as good, if not better, + we don't have to kill any animals for it) - those (to name a few) are generated by the culture, and the desire to 'own' a 'real' one (as opposed to the synthetic one) is a pshychological difference created by the sales industry.
    The desire to 'own' things stems from scarcity - because right now, thanks to Capitalism, over 90% of crimes are committed due to money or finances.
    What is the premise behind stealing something if you can just have it whenever you need/want it?
    Our ability to automate production eliminates need for human labor.

    You are also forgetting that money simply gives you access to use things. Whats the point in owning things if you can simply have them when you need/want to use them and if everyone else can do the same?
    What is the incentive behind committing a crime to steal something if they have unrestricted access to it?

    And as I said... no amount of money can stimulate a person to take a job if they are already happy with what they have and have no need for it.
    I turned down such jobs before, plus I was offered various amounts of money after doing maintenance work on people's computers and ended up refusing it because I told them I couldn't care less about money - even today when I'm strapped for cash.
    To you it may seem 'stupid' and maybe it is given the system we live in... but at the same time I always hated money and everything it represents (limitation, life of servitude, etc.)

    I'd prefer to help people because I like doing it... not because 'money' is my motivation.

    What fantasy world do you live in?
    People are often forced to work on jobs they hate now because they have no other choice.
    You have people with university degrees and professional experience who have a hard time finding jobs at all (are unemployed for years) or are working in positions that are considered 'menial' by society.
    And before you utter some sort of nonsense how its their fault or that they should move to an area where they can find a better job... uhm... in order to move anywhere (let alone a different country for example), people need to spew A LOT of money in order to get the necessary papers.
    If they are barely surviving as is... do tell, how are they supposed to get the necessary money to move to a place where the market is 'better' (that's assuming of course they gain the legal right to move and work elsewhere in the first place).

    What about re-education programs funded by the government for the unemployed?
    Only limited amount of individuals can attend those programs (if they qualify in the first place), and NONE are guaranteed they will find a job once they finish the course (or that they will be able to keep it for a long amount of time).

    80% of the global workforce is in the service industry... one which is completely unproductive to society at large.
    What about people who make money off movement of money such as stock-brokers?
    Why are they perceived as more 'valuable' to society than say a working man who does physical labor for 12 hours per day and makes minimum wage?

    Automation as you said is implemented in industries as soon as they become financially acceptable to companies to employ because a machine can do a work of a human being x times faster, better, it doesn't require sick days, pensions, or rest in order to do so.
    And companies are already doing that, because they are coming to the realization that human labor is just way too expensive to keep and cannot justify such an expenditure when they can spend less on a machine.
    Its already happening.

    Oh yes, I can see how the economy considers hundreds of millions of options every day...
    Where was that approach when one of the larger depressions began back in 2009?
    Why did the 'stimulus' go to the instigators of the problem (banks)?
    Only a small portion of new jobs (a lot less than 50%) was 'generated' as a result of the stimulus.
    Why is the US spending 1 Trillion $ on the military undercutting practically every other sector for that matter?

    The decisions to use robots and automation are considered in times when companies need to cut their expenses.
    Recent large layoffs by large IT firms in USA alone only reinforce that notion.

    Today we also have machines building machines... pre-fabrication, etc... all of which are used.

    Automation isn't used on-masse exactly because it would cause a very large economic downturn too fast.
    You need to do it gradually in order to stave off the drop in purchasing power... however, that's just not doable anymore because computers and technology are becoming so cheap for companies, and its faster to simply program a computer/robot to do a specific work, instead of training a human (which takes a long amount of time) who will just be replaced by a robot anyway.

    No one is irreplaceable today... and if you think you are... then you are living in the past.

    As for your comment that a resource based economy is a retirement home where people finger-paint until they die... lol... you are merely projection false/biased notions onto a system that is far away from your concept of understanding (because you've acclimated to the capitalist system... you benefit from it, and you couldn't care less about anyone else but yourself - if your responses are anything to go on).
  10. scotthm

    scotthm Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Oct 16, 2003
    Of course not. :guffaw:

  11. gturner

    gturner Admiral

    Nov 9, 2005

    Then why do creative people demand, and get, much higher salaries, sometimes into the millions of dollars? A whole lot of the ingenious patents are objects dreamed up, designed, and perfected to make lots of money by solving an existing problem in a much better way. Thomas Edison was in it for the money (and fame), as was Tesla, Marconi, and even Andy Warhol.

    Money didn't seem to inhibit their thinking, it focused it on ideas that would be useful to people, if not indespensible, or just extremely desirable.

    Out of a population of billions. Can society live on the generosity of a fraction of a percent of the population, when that fraction is largely volunteering the output produced by other people? Take the people who volunteer to serve food or collect canned goods for the needy. They're not the ones growing the food, canning it, or shipping it. They are volunteering their time largely to redistribute, because nobody really volunteers to work in a cannery or a grain silo. Those jobs are unpleasant and you almost never get to see the beneficiaries of your generosity. In short, people who work in production jobs will contribute and donate to causes, but very, very few people who contribute and donate do so by taking production jobs. Remove the production, and the "redistributors" don't have anything to redistribute. Remove the financial incentives for production, and production slows dramatically.

    Example: A comrade in Leningrad stood in line at the market for hours before finally getting up to the counter, where he asked the clerk for some fish. The clerk looked at him like he was crazy and said, "You've stood in line for hours to ask for fish?!!! Sir, this is a bakery! We don't have any bread. The store without any fish is across the street."

    And there's a good benchmark for your system of voluntary giving and redistribution. It's not very efficient, and in many cases it can do more harm than good by wiping out local markets. Some charities, especially foreign aid, are trying to figure out how to ameliorate some of the bad secondary effects of giving away free stuff, and especially giving it away through existing power structures where the government keeping people down is in charge of distribution and takes a large cut of the donated aid.

    The other problem with depending on giving is that giving is based on emotions, ones that evolved fairly early and are contingent of fairly specific situations. It's rare that people give to someone who is better off than they are (which pretty much puts a ceiling on the top per-capita wealth), or who don't work as hard as they do through laziness, or who commit almost any transgression. They also tend to quit giving when they feel they've given enough. "Whew! I helped. Now I'm going back to my book." That's why beggars know to look sad and down on their luck and only ask for pocket change or a few bills and not ask for a check for $8,500.

    Compared to countries where they have less, the West is more efficient at processing things like food, much more efficient. Whole industries have been built around finding uses for what would've been discarded waste products. Proctor and Gamble and many other companies were built when we started processing so many cattle that they looked at mountains of discarded hooves and other cow parts that butchers throw away, and tried to figure out what could be done with them. In "less wasteful" countries all those byproducts are just wasted. For example, Mexicans waste a higher percentage of their food than Americans because processing is still done on very small scales, usually in the home. All the little trimmings and peelings go into the garbage can.

    One man's junk is another man's treasure, and the free-market system is very good at redirecting the junk to people who will turn it into treasure.

    Second, our "limited planet" has enough material in just the top one meter of continental crust to provide every man, woman, and child on the planet with over a hundred billion dollars worth of stuff, including their own nuclear powered aircraft carrier (complete with air wing), a Soviet Alfa class attack submarine, 600 Boeing 747's, a couple pounds of gold and platinum, a hundred or so pounds of silver, tons of bismuth (no idea who would want tons of bismuth in the yard, but there it is), zinc, copper, tin, etc. And we could dig down ten meters, or a hundred. Currently, all of humankind uses less than the top millimeter of the crust.

    And you just want to stop where we are, and freeze us at this level.

    Hrm... Another set of misconceptions, if not just plain conspiracy theories based on ignorance. What gives money its value? (Hint: It's not anything tied to resources) What "resources" did money represent in 1929, and why did people think those resources had value? Why does anything have value, and where does value come from? In short, why can't Marx explain the enormous value of a Babe Ruth rookie baseball card (which was spat out of a cheap printing press), and why can't we all just print a thousand of them on our color-jet printer and get rich? Why can't we just print our own fiat currency?

    But it wasn't supposed to be a monetary based system except in the short term as they transitioned to true socialism. As one Eastern European joke went, the little girl asks her mother "Mommy, we will have money when we achieve true socialism?" "No honey, we won't have any of that, either."

    And human needs often include a part or a tool that's required to complete the task at hand. Your car may be a want, but when your battery is dead you really need a jump. So are jumper cables a need or a want? When you sale something to someone, does it matter whether they want it or need it? If so, how come jumper cables aren't free?

    The far-left revolutionary thinkers pointed to the difference in wants and needs, and the governments they created spent much of their time explaining to the people why their wants were unfulfilled, and then kept redefining needs to be wants. Unsurprisingly, it turned out that toilet paper is a want, not a need. Equally unsurprisingly, the party rag that explained the difference between wants and needs was a need, and made a handy substitute for toilet paper.

    And how does everyone get a genuine Babe Ruth rookie card or an original Picasso? How does everyone get Marilyn Monroe's wedding dress? How is it that everyone can have the same one-of-a-kind item? If lock-washers are free, people won't steal lock-washers. But they weren't stealing those anyway. People still things that have value, and if nothing has value, then nobody has anything worth owning. We call that poverty. You'd wonder why Elbonian mud farmers don't rejoice in their abundance of mud.

    Early communist thinkers had the same deluded conceptions of value and use. Try reading Edward Bellamy's "Looking Backward" written in 1888 and you'll see many of the same arguments you're presenting. In his future, people didn't need personal possessions because everything was provided. They didn't even need umbrellas because the sidewalks had automatic awnings. Instead of going to concerts, music halls had brass pipes that ran to everyone's houses, so you could hear the volunteer musicians. It's amazing how limited his thinking was, even when he was trying to describe a utopia.

    No, it doesn't. We've been automating production for centuries. We've used water wheels to run trip-hammers to make plate armor for knights, and we can produce everything from beer bottles, to beer, to steel, to frozen pizzas with very little operator supervision. And yet everyone is still working, because everything we automate just adds to the stock of goods, improving production capacity, efficiency, and lowering costs. That means people can have more of certain kinds of stuff, and stores like Walmart are filled with a bewildering variety of such things.

    You're suffering under the illusion of Marx's labor theory of value, which is so incorrect it's not even wrong (as the phrase goes). Add robots to the mix, where labor becomes free, and all products become free too! It doesn't work that way, which is why apples aren't free even though apple trees produce them for free, like woody green robots.

    Who decides what the consumers will want to buy in your world? Nobody.

    Who makes sure that the factories don't produce things that nobody wants? Nobody.

    Who designs the products that are actually produced in your world, and who double-checks the designs? Nobody.

    Who designs the packaging in your world? Nobody.

    Who designs and builds the automation equipment for the factory in your world? Nobody.

    Who decides what land will be used for the factory? Nobody.

    Who installs and wires the factory equipment in your world? Nobody.

    Who loads the trucks that hauls the raw materials to the factory, and hauls the products to stores, and who drives the trucks? Nobody.

    Who built the buildings where the products are stored? Nobody.

    Who tells the consumers about the new product, and how it differs from the old product? Nobody.

    Who sits at a desk answering calls about problems with the product? Nobody.

    Who decides when to shift production to a different product, once the market for the original product is saturated? Nobody.

    All those "Nobody" answers actually require some people's names, and since money is out of the equation, as is property, most of them will have to be compelled by force or brainwashed by slogans to show up and do those jobs, because all of them would rather be fishing, spending time with their kids, or hitting on college girls.

    We sell bags of dirt in stores. The price on the bag won't fall to zero as soon as we figure out how to make cheap dirt, because the dirt is already as cheap as dirt.

    No, money also gives you control and ownership of things. Control and ownership are extremely important concepts, and if you don't understand those concepts you'll never understand human behavior or economics or society. Human's don't just use objects physically, like a tribe of monkeys, we use them mentally in very complex transactions. We have relationships with objects, and those relationships define how the objects can be used, who can use them, and strongly determine how people use them.

    I'll avoid going into details about how land, mineral rights, timber rights, houses, home expansions, and everything else gets used in very sophisticated, beneficial arrangments, and just note that the only person who buys a bed, a dresser, and a lamp and puts them in a hotel room (thereby improving it) is the owner of the hotel. Why don't guests sign in and start redecorating? Why don't they buy a big screen TV, mount it on the wall, and leave it when they check out? Why, if they did this, would the hotel owner actually get pretty upset?

    Why do people call the police when you "use" their car? Why do they get really angry when you "use" their girlfriend? Why do they get really angry if you and a bunch of your friends show up at their house uninvited and use all their furniture for a big bonfire and beer blast? Why do they get upset if you decide to "use" their lawn for your garden?

    In your system of "use" you'll have this conversation all too often: "What are you doing in my orchard?!!! Those aren't your apples!!!" "But you weren't using them just then..." "I've just spent ten years building the d**n thing, you idiot!" "Yes, but you weren't actually using them. Just. Then."

    And our market is built to accomodate that. It was designed by poor, working people with strong ties to the land and strong opinions about what work they would and wouldn't do - at any price. Early factories that had an important need for labor, like Springfield armory, had to lure farmers away from their farms by dangling lots of money in front of them for producing rifles - seasonally in their downtime between crops.

    And we all do that. We also stop if we start feeling exploited, taken for granted, or if the people we're helping start demanding our help, like we're they're servant.

    There are only three types of people who help a diva like Paris Hilton. Those who are trying to be photographed with her and get some fame of their own, those who are trying to become her friend so she gives them things, and those who are being paid.

    How many overbearing, rich assholes have you helped, and how likely are you to help them again - for free? Suppose one of your friends comes over and says that his boss needs some simple application written so he can make a huge pile of money from online concert ticket sales. So the overbearing, pompous boss comes in and asks you to write it. You ask around and this boss has made lots and lots of money exploiting people for free software and marketing it as his own. Would you write it for free, or would you start debating a flat-rate or percentage?

    Would you start acting like just about every other computer expert and programmer who spent years peforming free labor and writing free code, who later cashed in on an opportunity or jumped at a job offer that was just way too big to turn down. All those people still do free labor and write free code on the side, so it's not like you turn evil or anything.

    I've been admonished by major corporate project managers on hundred-million dollar contracts to stop giving the billion-dollar customer (IBM, Dell, etc) free bells and whistles, and I said, "But I like making the customer happy! :lol:

    I think Dell started out doing free PC repairs for his friends, too.
  12. RB_Kandy

    RB_Kandy Commander Red Shirt

    Aug 7, 2012
    I'm glad the internet isn't free. Perhaps the only reason we have the amount of freedom on the internet now is because corporations control the internet.

    If the US government, for example, controlled the internet, there'd be no reason why some angry mom couldn't just shout "hey, there's porn on the internet, I demand it be US law that no pornography exist on the internet". And because only cry babies who want to prevent others from seeing and doing, actually get a say in America, there'd be a law passed against it immediately.
    And after that it would be someone that gets upset at a holocaust denier, and so only praise of Jews and Israel is allowed.
    And then some christian will see an atheist blog and demand that speaking out against Jesus offends the community.
    And some guy will point out Jeri Ryan has nice boobs, and some feminist will make it illegal to "degrade or objectify women on the internet."
    And the list just keeps growing and growing.

    But as it is, many different corporations control the web in many different countries, thus a petition group finds it very difficult to have some topic censored world wide.

    When corporations provide a service, money talks and BS walks. A petition group can boycott something, but if the corporation has competition, they know that taking away a feature will hurt them, because a group of 15 loud angry people cannot do as much harm as 10% of your customers leaving for the freedom your competition offers.

    Of course one day the whole internet system will collapse. The MPAA and RIAA will lock everything down that violates even the smallest copyright. YouTube and Wikipedia will disappear as quickly as mega upload did.
    And then advertisers will quit paying to have their advertizements on the net when they realize that no one looks at their ads (although they will assume that a radio commercial and TV commercial will convince people to buy things), and without ads, webmasters have to charge. And when it starts costing you a penny per click, you're going to stop surfing 90% of the web. And the web will become just a place to get porn and do online shopping.

    So I am happy that many different corporations make up the internet and all of them have competition, it slows down the eventual collapse of this wonderful thing called the internet.

    The internet isn't free for the same reason cars, electricity, water, and food, aren't free.

    If you want the internet to be free, under government, via tax payer dollars, I suspect this is why we have a capitalism vs communism debate going in this thread.

    Under capitalism, we are exploited as consumers and exploited as workers. We spend our childhood in school learning stuff that we'll never use (though it's very good for brainwashing students into political ideologies). And then we have to pay to go to college and do work. We can't afford college so we take out huge loans with insane interest rates. By the time we've paid off that student loan debt we are in our mid 30's. By that time we have a house and a car we bought with debt. Chances are by the time we pay off our debts in life, we are senior citizens. We look back on our life and realize 2/3rds of our childhood was wasted in schools being lectured to, and 2/3rds of our adulthood wasted slaving away our time to the rich elite who run the show.

    However, a truly gifted, talented person can really make something of themselves. A really clever sociopath can be a millionaire selling fake arthritis cures, or by BSing his way up the corporate ladder while embezzling and blaming innocent people, or just becoming a cult leader and getting weak minded people to hand you money and do your bidding.

    Capitalism works by exploiting the weak and stupid, while rewarding people who have great looks, great talents, or are really good sociopaths.
    Capitalism is like the jungle, survival of the fittest and all that.

    Communism is a beautiful idea, like one of those innocent ideas a small child has "Daddy, I think war is wrong, and people should stop doing it. Also, people should never have to grow old. And people shouldn't die. And no one should have more money than someone else, because greed is bad. People shouldn't have to spend their lives working like slaves just to have a house, and TV, and toys."

    Communism fails here is why: http://thedefenestrators.blogspot.com/2009/05/why-communism-fails.html
  13. Alidar Jarok

    Alidar Jarok Everything in moderation but moderation Moderator

    Apr 14, 2003
    Norfolk, VA
    Actually, there's a couple flaws with that argument.

    First, if the government controlled it, the First Amendment would apply. Internet Service Providers are free to block sites of rival companies or even censor your personal emails that you send to someone else (which they've been known to do).

    Second, there are obscenity laws that apply to the internet. The GOP national platform does endorse enforcing that law and the US government has the legal authority to do so unless the First Amendment prevents them (which it probably does not under the Miller standard). This would not change if the government directly controlled it.

    However, direct government control might at least prevent the issue of corporate censorship. For example, if you sent a message about the Tea Party movement through yahoo mail, it would not have been received by the person you sent it too. But the government could not block it.
  14. Robert Maxwell

    Robert Maxwell memelord Premium Member

    Jun 12, 2001
    Although I have tried to read this whole thread, there is no way I am wading through this text war between Deks and gturner. You guys have fun.

    Others may have said it, but I will reiterate: the Internet costs quite a bit to maintain. I don't think it will become "free" until things like water and electricity are also "free," which is to say it is unlikely to happen unless and until we live in some kind of Trek-like utopia, which is to say "probably never."

    In addition, there seemed to be some talk about how ISPs and mobile carriers aren't motivated to invest in infrastructure. I think people underestimate just how quickly applications requiring high bandwidth have exploded, especially streaming video. That market exploded just about overnight, and ISPs are still working to catch up. Fiber-to-the-home is still rolling out. Alidar's right that mobile networks are limited by the spectrum available. There is only so much "room" there, and of course the speed is hard-limited by the spectrum itself.

    This stuff is expensive, and while the government could run it and provide it gratis to everyone by paying for it with taxes, I'm not convinced that's really a good thing for anybody.

    What I would support is some kind of subsidy for people who genuinely have trouble affording a computer and Internet access--but honestly, I'd rather see subsidies for energy bills first (which I do know exist, but are not that well-known.)

    I also don't see Internet access getting substantially cheaper over time, because it looks like people's demands of the Internet will only continue to increase, not flatline or decline. Once Netflix and Hulu start streaming 4K video, well, 15Mbps won't be anywhere near enough anymore. The upgrades will just have to keep coming, which means prices are not likely to fall much even as current upgrades are amortized.

    Mobile broadband access, like I said, is even more limited in its upgrade potential. Current network conditions are so bad, almost all carriers have anemic data caps. This doesn't look likely to improve anytime soon.
  15. gturner

    gturner Admiral

    Nov 9, 2005
    Hey, I cut my last reply in half. Just <snip!> :lol:

    Deks only replies once or twice a day, so the whole thing has the loook of arguing via the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal.

    I think you nailed it about the Internet costs (as have most people here).

    Letting the government run it would also be about as innovative as the old Ma-Bell where your phone service was indistinguisible from your grand parents' day, except that touch-tone had replaced the rotary dialing which had replaced an operator. Pretty much three or four trivial upgrades a century, because why should they bill you more for better service when they can just bill you more for the same thing?

    It might be interesting to see a cross-country comparison of Internet services where the phone systems are still monopolies, especially government monopolies.
  16. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

    Apr 12, 2006
    Your Mom
    Does it?

    Considering we live in a country where growth in wages hasn't kept up with the rate of inflation in nearly 20 years, that appears NOT to be the case. There's a whole class of industry consultants called "efficiency experts" whose primary job is to figure out how to make workers do the same jobs for less money, or do more work for the same amount of money.

    Your evaluation of our "system" is simplistic.

    Which completely obliterates your strawman that "the system believes the only motivation is money." ALL of us here know better. There is, in fact, a hierarchy of motivations for workers, the most basic of which is SURVIVAL: you have a roof over your head, you have food on your table, you have electricity and clean water.

    The basic problem is that someone has to grow your food, someone has to generate electricity, someone has to build your house, someone has to run the waterworks. All four of those someones have basic needs of their own, and all four of them in turn depend on four other people to provide those needs. The only good way for everyone to get what they need is for everyone to exchange what they have in exchange for what they don't have. The monetary system exists in the first place to make this exchange simple and convenient; if you eliminate the system, the problem still remains.

    Which is, in the end, a centrally-planned economy: a committee decides how much you need and sees that you get it at regular intervals, with the implicit understanding that you will work hard whenever you are asked to do so. No money needed, everyone is taken care of.

    Historically, this hasn't worked so well in any of the countries that have tried it, for three main reasons:
    1) The committee isn't always fair.
    2) The people don't always keep up their end of the bargain
    3) Automation requires a significant investment in technology and education, which the committee may not necessarily prioritize, even if they can afford to.

    The flaw in the monetary system isn't that people aren't motivated by money. The flaw in the system is that the people who ARE motivated by money are driving the agenda for everyone else. Unless you can think of a solution for THAT problem, even a centrally-planned economy is doomed to fail.

    And what if "whatever they want to do in life" is work?

    To pose an answer: I would very much like to fuck a Puerto Rican stripper. I'd like to get a different one every day of the week so I never fuck the same girl twice. Maybe even get two or three at a time. It would also be awesome if I could pick up those strippers in a helicopter and fly them to my mansion in Southern California. And because automation is going to make all of that possible, I don't have to worry about how I'm going to pay for any of that; the mansion, the helicopter, the helicopter pilot, the aviation fuel, the strippers, and a year's supply of birth control pills should all be totally free, because I don't have to work and I don't need money.

    To pose an answer from the opposite extreme: my 20 year old cousin dropped out of college two years ago. She has no job, no skills, no recognizable ambitions. She sleeps until noon every day, gets up and eats, then sits on the couch until 2AM playing video games, browsing tumblr and facebook. She is content to do this for the rest of her life if she had a choice; she is in the habit of being useless.

    Your non-monetary system assumes universal altruism and moderation from all people. It totally breaks down in the presence of a the Greedy Son of a Bitch, or the Lazy Piece of Shit. You continually refuse to acknowledge the basic fact that many people choose to work, not because they need money (which they do) but because they need to be useful.

    You would be shocked and amazed by how many people would do EXACTLY that. There is an entire population of people in the inner cities who are defined by their ability to consume goods without producing anything of value to anyone.

    Which has the immediate consequence of reducing everyone's wages, making the problem WORSE, not better. "But newtype, why would that reduce wages?" you ask. Because our economic priorities are set by greedy sons of bitches who ARE motivated by money: if automation reduces the cost of doing business, they don't pass those savings onto their workers, they KEEP IT THEMSELVES and screw everyone else.

    You want a real solution to the problem you descibe? It's this: set the minimum wage to $20 an hour. I guarantee you that will IMMEDIATELY have the effect you're aiming for: people will work fewer hours, they will not have to worry about money anymore, they will spend more time doing things they really like outside of work, AND they will depend more on automation for all the stupid stuff they don't want to have to do anymore (that kind of salary can buy a lot of roombas).
  17. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

    Apr 12, 2006
    Your Mom
    There ARE some countries in which water and electricity are "free", at least insofar as they are paid for by tax revenues and not by service fees to corporations. Mind you, most of those countries are socialist.

    Privatization can do some great things, but private operators don't always or even usually take the long view of things and aren't as eager to invest in long-term infrastructure. Seems to me a partnered approach would be ideal: the government owns the internet and contracts with private companies to manage it; contract goes to the lowest bidder who can also demonstrate the best quality service for a particular region. Apart from potentially avoiding huge price-rigging monopolies (coughAT&Tcough) it would also encourage smaller companies to get involved that might otherwise be completely shut out of the market, while at the same time giving consumers guaranteed access as a public service, through tax dollars.

    IOW: if you use the government as a giant consumer's union, then ISP's can't use the same "divide and conquer" tactics to squeeze out the competition and then run their prices through the roof. You put bargaining power back in the hands of the customers, prices would drop dramatically.
  18. gturner

    gturner Admiral

    Nov 9, 2005

    As an aside, Fredrick Taylor, the father of time-and-motion studies and scientific management, had some really interesting tricks to motivate workers. In one, he'd just be chatting with the workers about him being an "expert" and start reeling them in with things like, "Well, a 25 cent a day man can do a little, but anyone can do that much. You guys can move a pretty decent load, like a fifty cent-a-day man. But a dollar-a-day man, now a dollar-a-day man could move that big barrel over there. Are any of you a dollar-a-day man? From the looks of you, I'd guess not." Sure enough, one or two would rise to the challenge of pride, honor, and social advancement. John Henry even challenged a steam-hammer. ;)

    One trick Bill Gates used at Microsoft was a special slide into the cafeteria that could only be used by programmers who'd accomplished some nearly impossible level of clever and complicated coding. People would work like dogs to earn the right to slide into the lunch line. Management genius.

    What worries me is what will happen to labor when management finally understands how WoW and other online games can keep people intensely focused on irrelevant tasks for days on end.


    "Carl, you look like hell!"

    "I've put in 36 straight hours packing printers into boxes."

    "What for?"

    "At 850 boxes I hit level 37 and get the +3 Shield of Power."

    "Jebus. You must be making a fortune in overtime."

    "No, they don't pay me anything."

    "Then why the f**k do you do it?"

    "Because I NEED the +3 Shield of Power to smite Shelly in marketing!"


    People will work like dogs for imaginary gold and pretend magical powers, en masse, and think they're recreating.

    Deks thinks the revelation that money isn't "real", a thing with physical position and mass, means it can't have real value. He's missing some abstraction layers or some little mental leap.

    I could perhaps try to convince him either that numbers don't really exist because they don't have mass, position, or energy, or perhaps try to prove that the number seven doesn't exist in nature, even under a microscope.

    "See, there are seven amoeba!"

    "No, that's just four amoeba there and three over there."

    "Look again!"

    "Now it's six amoeba and one amoeba. Still no seven.
  19. Alidar Jarok

    Alidar Jarok Everything in moderation but moderation Moderator

    Apr 14, 2003
    Norfolk, VA
    I'm not quibbling with your overall post, but I am going to take issue with this. There are people in the inner city, small towns, and rural areas who consume goods without producing anything of value to anyone. By saying inner city you make it a racial thing when it sure as hell is not. You can be a shiftless drunkard in small town Kentucky or a squatter in rural Virginia just as easily.
  20. gturner

    gturner Admiral

    Nov 9, 2005
    Hey, being a shiftless drunkard in small town Kentucky is NOT easy! I've tried. Forty or fifty mile beer runs to the nearest wet county suck, especially when your Trans Am is on cinder blocks in the front yard.