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
    eleete, 18 Dec 2008 @ 6:23am

    Re:

    "What I don't understand is why he expects inventors, musicians, movie makers, etc to not charge for their time???"

    What about artists, inventors and musicians that are dead? what time are they being compensated for. What about those that collect for 50 or so years, die and then their children begin suing, or a corporation that bought the creative works. When I can't sing Happy Birthday in a restaurant who benefits there ? The artists? They're loooong dead. Time Warner benefits from that. I think it is not that any of us want to see IP laws gone altogether, but with the other side arguing so vehemently for MORE control and a more complete monopoly, we all have to provide a strong argument against that. Especially as the laws are bought and paid for by the true beneficiaries of such litigation. The **AA

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