Re: Scarcity

From: Dani Eder (
Date: Mon Sep 16 2002 - 16:12:37 MDT

--- Cliff Stabbert <> wrote:

> But this I'm not too sure of. Our institutions,
> economics and
> politics by and large are based on zero-sum tactics,
> scarcity
> thinking, however you want to describe or name it.
> To raise a hypothetical: there's plenty of "free
> energy" theorists out
> there (some very amusing, the majority running
> financial scams to
> get "investors"), and almost all of them posit a
> conspiracy by Big
> Oil / Big Energy. But what if there really *was* a
> cheap/easy way to
> create an abundance of energy -- what if, say,
> somebody managed to get
> some form of tabletop (or "cold") fusion working? I
> think The Powers
> That Be* would do everything in their power to shut
> that down. At this
> point, they're too entrenched in scarcity-based
> thinking -- too
> "addicted" to power -- to be able to see beyond it.
Substitute "music" for "energy" and you can watch
a real world example of the battle between scarcity
and abundance in action. There is a cheap and easy
way to create an abundance of music, between CD
burners and file-sharing applications. And the
music industry is doing everything they can think of
to stop it. To use communist rhetoric, music is
being shared 'from each according to his ability,
to each according to his needs', and 'the ownership
of the means of production is in the hands of the

Big music companies came to exist in the era when
the production equipment cost lots of money. A CD
factory built here in Huntsville, AL cost quite a
few millions of dollars to build. Now that anyone
can make CDs, the days of big music are numbered.

Once upon a time laser printers were $100,000
machines. Today almost anyone can afford one.
Today 3-D printers (the machines that produce
solid objects layer by layer, either via plastic
polymerization or laser sintering metals) cost
many thousands of dollars. Perhaps in a decade
they will be standard PC peripherals.

Taking a wider view, we may be moving into a post-
scarcity economy even now. In 1984 the necessities
(food, housing, & clothing) took 51.3% of total
spending. In 2000, adjusting for the 20% increase
in home sizes over the interval, the necessities
took 45.1% of total spending.

As manufacturing continues to get more productive,
the basic 'stuff' we need to live gets less expensive,
and we can spend more, if we go to the effort of
working for it, on optional stuff.


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