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
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Dec 2008 @ 8:22am

    Re: Re: Re: correction from editor

    my point is two-fold

    you claim Sony's gaming sales are excellent and to back it up you use misleading figures. In the real world people call you on doing things like that. you are combining a legacy system that is still popular with a two new systems that have failed to grab a sizable market portion and haven't made back the money spent to make+sell them and comparing it against a single set of a competitors product. You also neglect to include anywhere the actual profit from the gaming department and instead just list the sales. sadly if you included the net profit from all of sony's gaming divisions from the costs+sales of the PSP and PS3 it would be in the negative. microsoft and Nintendo are moth profitable right now they are making money with every sale they make, to quote pure sales is extremely misleading and inaccurate.

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