O'Regan, Emlyn wrote:
> But the argument is that everything will be perfect once nanotech arrives,
> removing all cartel/monopoly situations due to scarcity. If nanotech
> remove scarcity, then it doesn't. So we still have monopolies/cartels (I'd
> venture to say that they could be quite stable, at least over finite time
> periods), and so the economic version of coercion is still an option in
> Billy Brown's belt retreat.
Not really (or at least, it isn't serious enough to be a big issue). It is already impractical to maintain a monopoly in any kind of manufacturing enterprise, because you can't prevent a competitor from setting up shop and driving prices back down to a reasonable level. Services are generally not subject to these problems for similar reasons. That leaves only raw material resources and energy as possible foundations for a monopoly in a truly free society.
Now, we can easily see that energy is not going to be an issue until we get pretty far into megascale engineering projects. The sun puts out more power than any reasonable number of ordinary humans has any use for, and we can supplement that with our own fusion reactions if need be.
Nanotechnology ensures that we can arrange atoms to form whatever structures we want, which means there can't be any rare, impossible-to-duplicate natural compounds. Since even relatively rare elements are present in space in very large quantities, that doesn't leave anything to supply a basis for a scarcity of natural resources.
Note that none of this requires that anything be free, or even particularly cheap. I'm not promising a utopia, after all. It does, however, indicate that we can reasonably expect a completely free market to function quite efficiently without any need for government-enforced anti-monopoly measures.
Billy Brown, MCSE+I