economics

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Monetize me!

We live in the era of the hustle. Of following our dreams until the end, and then pushing ourselves more. And every time we feel beholden to capitalize on the rare places where our skills and our joy intersect, we underline the idea that financial gain is the ultimate pursuit. If we’re good at it, we should sell it. If we’re good at it and we love it, we should definitely sell it.

[…]

That’s not to say there isn’t joy to be found in turning something you love into your life’s work — it’s just to say that it’s okay to love a hobby the same way you’d love a pet; for its ability to enrich your life without any expectation that it will help you pay the rent. What would it look like if monetizing a hobby was downgraded from the ultimate path to one path? What if we allowed ourselves to devote our time and attention to something just because it makes us happy? Or, better yet, because it enables us to truly recharge instead of carving our time into smaller and smaller pieces for someone else’s benefit?

Molly Conway on hobbies.

Hahaha publishing hahahaha.

[something something gig economy is making people poor and platform capitalists incredibly rich something something]

2019-02-27T14:13:50+11:0025th August, 2019|Tags: culture, economics|

Big money.

So… how do you actually, physically pay for something worth millions, or even billions, of dollars?

2019-02-27T08:42:04+11:0019th August, 2019|Tags: economics|

Dominance.

Imagine, for a moment, a world in which Uber and Lyft hadn’t been able to raise billions of dollars in a winner-takes-all race to dominate the online ride-hailing market. How might that market have developed differently?

Uber and Lyft have developed powerful services that delight their users and are transforming urban transportation. But if they hadn’t been given virtually unlimited capital to offer rides at subsidized prices taxicabs couldn’t match in order to grow their user base at blitzscaling speed, would they be offering their service for less than it actually costs to deliver? […]

We’ll never know, because investors, awash in cheap capital, anointed the winners rather than letting the market decide who should succeed and who should fail.

Tim O.Reilly on blitzscaling.

Related: I always kind of fascinating that the pop perception of capitalism is one of competition on an equitable playing field—to the point where the word “competition” itself is often used as a synecdoche—when in reality like, no major “capitalist” institution works like that at all

2019-02-18T09:04:55+11:009th August, 2019|Tags: economics, tech|

Wealth.

As [Jason] Hickel also points out about the earlier parts of the graph, and as I have pointed out previously, most of “people are making more money” comes from “people were forced off their subsistence farms so that they had to use money to buy what they got from their own labor before.”

[…]

People miss the essential point: it’s not how much money you have. It’s whether or not you have enough food, shelter, clothes and so on. It’s whether you have what you need and some of what you want.

Ian Welsh on money.

2019-02-08T09:01:28+11:0028th July, 2019|Tags: economics, politics|

Whose poverty?

Prior to colonisation, most people lived in subsistence economies where they enjoyed access to abundant commons – land, water, forests, livestock and robust systems of sharing and reciprocity. They had little if any money, but then they didn’t need it in order to live well – so it makes little sense to claim that they were poor. This way of life was violently destroyed by colonisers who forced people off the land and into European-owned mines, factories and plantations, where they were paid paltry wages for work they never wanted to do in the first place.

In other words, [Max] Roser’s graph [purporting to show that “poverty has declined from 94% in 1820 to only 10% today”] illustrates a story of coerced proletarianisation. It is not at all clear that this represents an improvement in people’s lives, as in most cases we know that the new income people earned from wages didn’t come anywhere close to compensating for their loss of land and resources, which were of course gobbled up by colonisers. [Bill] Gates’s favourite infographic takes the violence of colonisation and repackages it as a happy story of progress.

Jason Hickel on poverty.

For next time you hear people claiming poverty has declined since the 19th century. (Hickel also goes on to point out that the “$1.90 a day” figure usually used to denote the poverty line is, in reality, almost certainly far too low by any humane measure.)

2019-04-29T12:06:40+10:0026th July, 2019|Tags: economics|

Everything is lemons.

[Amazon sells] junk that would never, ever be sold at a Wal-Mart store. That’s because in order to get into a store, a buyer, a human being with a reputation, has to allocate shelf space. The easiest way to lose your job as a buyer is to put brand-destroying lousy products on a valuable shelf.

Amazon, on the other hand, has infinite shelves. And no buyers. As a result, they’re relying on an algorithm that rewards low prices and high ratings. But the best way to lower prices is to make junk. And the best way to high ratings is to fake them.

Seth Godin on Amazon.

This is what’s known, incidentally, as a “market for lemons“, and people have been accusing Amazon of fostering it in publishing for years. I guess now they’re just branching out…

2019-01-23T13:37:41+11:0025th June, 2019|Tags: amazon, economics|

Scripsville.

What’s more, [Facebook] targeting people in developing nations [for its digital scrip, Libra] sounds noble and could be genuinely useful, but it also smacks of neocolonialism. What happens if this currency fails to gain adequate traction? What happens if it succeeds in gaining traction, and now small, local economies in developing nations are dependent on venture capital firms and credit card companies in the United States for their functional base of trade?

I get the eagerness to disrupt something as big as the global financial system. But you don’t have to trust the system to worry about a small consortium of mostly-American companies inventing a private and poorly regulated psuedo-currency.

Nick Heer on company worlds.

So in my Space Demons book (that I’ll totally get around to posting soon I swear), one of the little bits of side-fluff is that every galactic megacorp has its own “in-game currency”, i.e. a digital token that’s used on its worlds, and… well.

(Also, for those of you paying historic attention, what Facebook is proposing is essentially just a digital version of a company script, which is nothing new…)

2019-06-19T08:43:43+10:0019th June, 2019|Tags: economics, tech|