Scarcity Is A Bad Thing, So Why Would You Want To Artificially Add Scarcity?

from the think-this-through dept

If there were no such thing as scarcity in the world, there wouldn't be a need for property rights, because there would be no borders to worry about. The entire reason why we worry about property and ownership and borders and allocation is because these things are scarce and we're concerned about the most efficient way to split up those scarce resources, without having too many arguments over who controls what scarce bit. If there were no scarcity, everyone could have whatever they wanted, and there would be no reason to worry about the rest. That's why I've never quite understood the rush to create artificial scarcity, as in the scarcity created by intellectual property laws.

It's a situation where you have the opposite of scarcity. You have abundance, such that there need not be any argument over ownership, because everyone can have what they want... and suddenly people want to take away the good thing (abundance!) and replace it with limits and a situation that is worse for everyone. Why would you ever do that, unless you either don't understand economics or you dislike mankind and would prefer that the world have fewer resources and more arguments over ownership.

Apparently, some others feel the same way. Derek Reed points to an amusing quote in a post by Tycho over at Penny Arcade concerning Sony's Playstation Home:
"Chief among these bizarre maneuvers is the idea that, when manufacturing their flimsy dystopia, they actually ported the pernicious notion of scarcity from our world into their digital one. This is like having the ability to shape being from non-being at the subatomic level, and the first thing you decide to make is AIDS."
While an extreme quote, he's making an important point. If you are creating a new world, where unfortunate and damaging resource limitations of other worlds wouldn't be necessary, why would you arbitrarily add those limitations back in? Why would you arbitrarily shrink the resource pool?

Filed Under: abundance, scarcity


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  1. identicon
    Tod, 18 Dec 2008 @ 6:05am

    "in the tank"? Read deeper

    I don't even own a PS3, so I'm not a fanboy blindly defending Sony. However...

    While worldwide the Wii and XBox 360 are each outselling the PS3, the PS3 is doing very well and until recently was outselling the XBox. ( http://vgsales.wikia.com/wiki/NPD_2008_in_review )

    Not bad for a system which is marketed at twice the cost of its competitor.

    Plus, I wish my company's sales were so "in the tank" we were up 60% over last year. :p
    With software sales, the real monymaker, up 150%.
    http://www.thebitbag.com/2008/12/11/playstation-by-the-numbers-12112008/

    NPD numbers via GamePro
    http://www.gamepro.com/article/news/208337/november-2008-npd-sales-figures-everyone-wins/
    http:// www.gamepro.com/forums/topic/3964799/official-na-npd-console-sales-to-date-for-2008/

    Year to date 2008 via NPD
    X360 PS3
    January 2008 | 229,000 | 270,000 |
    February 2008 | 254,000 | 280,000 |
    March 2008 | 262,000 | 257,000 |
    April 2008 | 188,000 | 187,100 |
    May 2008 | 186,600 | 208,700 |
    June 2008 | 219,000 | 405,500 |
    July 2008 | 205,000 | 225,000 |
    August 2008 | 195,200 | 185,400 |
    September 2008 | 347,200 | 232,400 |
    October 2008 | 371,000 | 190,000 |
    November 2008 | 836,000 | 378,000 |

    Total:
    X360 = 3,293,000 Units
    sony = 2,819,100 Units

    Now, lets throw in the PS2 and PSP from http://vgsales.wikia.com/wiki/NPD_2008_in_review

    If you combine PS3, PS2 and PSP sales, Sony is doing very well.

    NPD 2008 console sales figures
    Console Yearly sales (as of November)
    Wii 8,001,000
    Xbox 360 3,295,400
    PlayStation 3 2,818,900
    PlayStation 2 2,092,300
    Nintendo DS 6,910,000
    Sony PSP 2,810,000

    Nintendo 14,910,000
    Sony 7,720,000

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