RE: capitalist religion (was: NANO: _Forbes_ cover story)

From: Reason (
Date: Wed Jul 18 2001 - 14:38:01 MDT

> At 11:55 PM 17/07/2001 -0700, Lee Corbin wrote:
> >This "rule" is a misnomer to the extent that companies offer people
> >free choices whether to buy their products or not.
> Have seen the movie "Rollerball", Lee?

Anyone who hasn't should go rent it. Good movie.

> How likely is it that a few mega-corporations will offer anybody free
> choice when they can carve up the world into non-competing groups? We are
> already racing headlong toward that arrangement now. Already when several
> companies dominate a field they often don't really compete --
> they politely
> agree upon what they think they can get and fix the prices. How much less
> likely do you think it will be when governments can no longer break up
> monopolies or unhealthy concentrations of power? Do you think the simple
> system of a free market offers any solution to consolidation of
> power into
> fewer and fewer hands?

This only happens because of the government regulation that raise the cost
of entry for small companies to the point where it doesn't happen. Media and
telecommunications are an excellent example of this...there is no such thing
as a small media startup because the cost of complying with regulations is
beyond the resources of any company below a certain size. Additionally,
large companies create regulations through their bought political power to
hamper competition.

All monopolies are unstable; in a completely unregulated environment (in
which large companies cannot create new regulations) any new, small company
can come along and offer a better product. It's easier for them to do this
than offer a completely new product in a new market, in fact.

Look at the much less regulated computer and software industry. It's in a
constant state of flux with new companies, new products, new trends coming
and going all the time. Microsoft has been forced to drastically change
their basic business model several times in order to adapt; the fact that
they've retained their position of power for so long is testament to their
determination to do so by any and all means possible.

> Capitalism is great as far as it goes, but it has that same failing that
> most other systems have: all the power ends up in a few hands.
> Those hands can be benevolent or malevolent. If anybody can tell me a way
> of that I am all ears.

Someone earlier said that power ends up in the hands of those with control
of resources sooner or later in whatever system you're in. Very true. The
big advantage of capitalism over other forms of economic government is that
is doesn't attempt to get people to act in non-natural ways. Why fight the
tide? You want a form of government that works with the way in which groups
of people will act, otherwise you end up with a big mess on top of the
normal way in which people act. Communism as was practiced in the USSR for
example...the underlying real social interaction was all about accumulation
and exchange of resources.

> >the more [societies] are under centralized control---the worse they are.
> Yes, this is exactly my point.

And the reason decentralized control is good is above: it's a very good way
(indeed, probably the only way with the computing power available now) to
flow with the desires and actions of the governed.

Interesting thread we set off here. I'd say more, but the points have
already been made: all the faults of the currently capitalist systems can be
traced to regulation and interference by governments or individual human
stupidity and greed, capitalism does better than other systems tried to date
because in its ideal form it is decentralised and flows with the desires of
people rather than against them, consumer awareness and groups accomplish
great things if they're allowed to, etc, etc.


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