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Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Utility versus the pirates

People who see business as opportunity to loot, and competition as about economic warfare, are pirates not legitimate businessmen. And when they get their hands on monopolies and vital goods, they call that "privatization" but it really is privateering; guaranteed fortunes for the few versus pain and suffering for the many. We need to eliminate piracy from our economy. That starts with identifying it for what it is.

Free Markets versus Monopoly

There are two approaches to business. In one approach the businessman sees him(her)self as creating a good or service to meet some need that people have. Most businessmen at least advertise themselves as taking this approach.

The other approach is "maximize profit by any means!" "Make the sale by any means!"

In one the goal is to make a living, maybe get wealthy in the process, through business. In the other approach the goal is to make as much portable wealth as fast as possible. These also represent two very different kinds of competition. And two different views of what competition means.

Actual Free Markets

In one a free market is a place where many vendors sell their goods to many consumers and price reflects relative availability (scarcity) & utility of the goods. A free market involves goods which are:

  • interchangeable,
  • both buyer and seller can refuse the transaction and go elsewhere.

In the other price also reflects relative utility but the goal is to eliminate actual free competition.  Typically it gets replaced with advertising, products designed for different niches by the same manufacturer, and sometimes that dreaded word "monopoly," which doesn't have to be complete to be oppressive. It is not a free market if there is no sane choice for the consumer, or the seller. Once the word "free" is effectively gone from the production, sale and distribution of goods and services, one is no longer dealing with free markets. Yes, slave markets were "free markets" in classic economic apologetics. But from the Point of the view of the slaves, they were oppression. Smuggling and piracy have competition. But it's not the kind that is beneficial to society. For more on this read this previous post:

Economic discussion

Utilities as an Alternative to Piracy

Henry George Lost control of his followers in the mid 1890s. But the concept described in paragraph 11 of his 1893 plank endured and eventually gave rise to the notion of "Utility". A Utility is "commons" as a system; like communications, land, transport and yes healthcare. Elinor Ostrom, who I've talked about previously and David Bollier, who is picking up where we left off, talks about commons as systems. A Utility is a common Good. This is a preferable alternative to utilities as something to be invaded, looted and carried off. Grifting, Oligarchy and Piracy benefits the few at the expense of the many. The concept of commonwealth admits that everyone should be involved. I don't use the British Tory Definition of commonwealth but that of John Locke.

The Concept of Commonwealth as Antidote to Tyranny

Piracy and Utilities

I've been studying the East India Company, still learning more and more details, but they started as a private company with a monopoly on Trade with the "East Indies" for British Shipping, established offices in major ports in India -- way back in 1612, and then began convincing the Mogul Emperor and his minions to let them privatize governmental functions. Over the years they privatized more and more governing functions, essentially ruling nominally on behalf of weak rulers, and then discarding them. Starting in Bengal (The entire Country of Bangladesh plus neighboring parts of India), they extended their influence across India to the border with Pakistan. They kicked out their French Rivals in 1757 and 1764. They also engaged in smuggling and subversion with Burma and China, and eventually created a dystopic empire across the far east. In 1857 the "Sepoy Mutiny" rebellion resulted in the British Empire replacing them in India. The company made vast fortunes for a few and raped and looted much of India for 200 years. The East India company was one of the models for modern American Business Companies. It is a pirate model. Privateers get legal permission to loot and steal by bribing, suborning and overthrowing legitimate government.

They became the model for modern Industry. I have a lot more to say.

Further Reading

Health Care Is A Utility
Affordable Health Care Requires it be Treated as a Utility
David Bollier, and related articles:
George lakoff
Henry George on Income Tax & Monopoly
Attributes of a Virtuous Commonwealth
Locke on the Collective

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