New Civilization News: Free Economy    
 Free Economy12 comments
picture 11 Jan 2003 @ 14:15, by Flemming Funch

I wrote this little essay some years ago called Free Resources. It pointed out the relatively new phenomenon at the time that it can be quite viable to give things away freely, even for a business. And I also expressed a strategy for gradually making more things free. You know, if I look at the resources available to me, and I identify what I can freely share with others, and I work on increasing the number and variety of resources I can freely share, and others do the same, then we'd gradually be getting somewhere. Somewhere where a lot of what we need is freely and easily available for everybody. I'm not talking about whether I might take time out of my schedule to work hard for some charity once per week. I'm not talking about sacrifice. I'm talking about arranging things so that it is perfectly feasible and comfortable to give something away, without particularly being worse off myself.

Software remains the best example. Free Open Source software is today the best stuff you can find in a number of categories. The open source model has turned out to be a more reliable and efficient way of producing high quality software and distributing it widely. It costs almost nothing to copy software, and that means in part that smart people can build on lots of other smart people's work, and do something better than they otherwise could.

The music market started moving in that direction, of making it easy to share music easily and freely - Napster - but it is a mixed success at this point, as the big central media companies don't understand it, think it is evil, and are spending a lot of resources on making sure their products can't be shared.

Lots of free Wi-Fi wireless networks are springing up in many places. Individuals and small companies leave their wireless network open to whoever is in the proximity. They do that either unknowingly, or because they can, and because they think it might useful to somebody. A very small number of ISPs support it. The majority think it is theft and are trying to find ways of making it impossible.

There is obvioiusly a clash between different systems and different cultures there. I think it can be a vibrant and viable economic model to work on making more and more things free and easy to distribute widely. And it can very well be very profitable along the way for the originators of technologies and content that supports that. But then there are the big and powerful companies who don't get it, who believe that sharing is theft, and that it couldn't possibly be economically viable for anything to be free. And they're wrong. The most long-term viable production and distribution solution is for it to be free. Sunlight and air is in ample supply, no matter how much you share it and give it away.

It brings an interesting secret to light. You know, Monsanto sells suicide seeds to farmers. They work for the crop of one season, but they don't reproduce, so the farmer needs to come back next year and buy new seeds. That's the perfect model for many big corporations, and it is essentially what they're doing. You pay money and buy their product, thinking that it is now yours. And if it really were yours, you could of course do with it what you want, including sharing it with your friends or giving it away to somebody else. But there's a lot of small print, which you usually don't pay attention to. And the legal truth is usually that it isn't yours, even if you paid for it.

The solution is obvious if we pay more attention. Focus on alive, fertile, self-reproducing products, that can be modified, expanded, shared, given away, re-combined, re-cycled, re-invented. And start forgetting about suicide products that legally self-destruct in your hands right after you've looked at them, or the moment you consider using them in a new creative or beneficial way.

"Out of abundance He took abundance and still abundance remains." -- The Upanishads


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12 comments

11 Jan 2003 @ 16:21 by sharie : "Planned Obsolesence"
And things like vacuum bags that have to be bought over and over, batteries that have to be bought over and over, and property tax that has to be paid over and over...

Harmon Grahn says property tax is extortion. They threaten to take your home if you don't give them money that they use however they want.

Thanks for the Upanishads quote, that's great.  



11 Jan 2003 @ 23:03 by strydg : Lack
of the perception of abundance drives us by fear to have things exclusive of others. it also creates metabolic problems and thyroid hypofunction. the perception that there is not enough for everybody turns affluence into affluenza. this crazy disease is what drives people who already have too much to spend all their precious moments scheming to have more. as if they're trying to outrun the "planned obsolescence" that makes them exclusive. this is a kind of excessive/obsessive/compulsive disorder. GWB and friends got it. if we look at this phenomenon closely enough we might drive outselves into nightmares of shame.  


12 Jan 2003 @ 05:27 by istvan : The schizophrenic human.
Mental illness is so rampant anong our societies the norm excepted by deseased minds have became th norm preached to live by. Self preservation at any cost is the religion of modern man thus became the law of societies and is as ancient as the dawning of mind within the wery first creatures that posessed avareness. The question mow is, are we as humans evolved enough to transcend this. Transcend into what? Transcend the wery nature of life? Think about this.  


18 Mar 2003 @ 10:10 by dnp : The Free Econmy will certainly come
The Free Economy will certainly come about - eventualy - because the non-free, exploitative, economy-for-the-benefit-of-the-wealthy - whoever they are (& I could be one of them) - the economy whose price mechanism is GEARED to maximising non-participatory profit & to 'exploiting' demand in classical economic language, means everybody pays at least half their income to the giant state authorities. ie 30-35%income tax + 18% VAT/service tax = 48% minimum. The globalisation of the world economy, means all countries will contribute to this new 'WTO' system & eventually, as the population gets fed up with paying such high taxes to the officials of the global administartion, they will revolt. Not without plenty of bloodshed, if history is anything to go by but revolt they will. Few will be content to continue to live subserviently, in sich blatantly unjust & inequiatable world. It's all a matter of time. SMARTEN UP world leaders! You (& your children - "the child pays for the sins of the father") will pay, one way or the other, if you don't bite the bullet & think & ACT in genuine & real consideration for the less far greater proportion, of the far less fortunate of the world. No I'm not a Marxist or a communist by any means but Marx's (non-spiritual, only materialist) theory seems to have much substance to relect on & much relevance in today's world. qv Animal Farm, 1984(!!) & Brave New World.
(Knowledge_isPower@hotmail.com - regret can't respond at this time, to all e-mails received)  



20 Jun 2003 @ 09:23 by cat @64.94.14.68 : Surplus economy
Whay you're talking about here is a surplus economy. What you have to remember is that this spells the end to a lot of treasured economic institutions that hold the meaning to life to some people. Look at the RIAA. It is basically the same old liberals versus conservatives. A balance has to be maintained. Theoretically revolution is easy. As a practical matter it becomes extremely messy.  


19 Dec 2014 @ 21:04 by Maahi @154.48.195.100 : QCGYlodTVINZIVpHqpC
Sir Ming is to be commended for his pricinpled stance.We did not fight all those years for equal treatment for religions just to see the religions themselves demanding to be treated unequally.Freedom of Religion has to go both ways. It can only be possible for every individual to be free to choose what beliefs and doctrines, or none at all, if in return, they do not expect to impose their own religious standards on anybody else.If you are finding parents for children – particularly if you are taking taxpayers money to find parents for children – then the only consideration has got to be are they going to be good parents.Whether they are gay, straight, single, partnered or married, old, young, black, white or any other category or anywhere in between is irrelevant.  


23 Dec 2014 @ 17:35 by Brooklyn @201.236.221.243 : eVKJEPXiVVdoudDtSC
So sorry to hear the news but hope you will still be asked to comment on evetns, especially international ones, as otherwise we will all suffer from the loss of your wise and trustworthy perspective. Thank you for leading the party that continued to say it, courteously, as it is instead of joining in the political games we can all see through. Enjoy your additional freedom our loss but I feel with politics today your gain.By the way, aren't the various innuendoes about the age factor by the media and some politicians illegal now under British employment law?! I was amazed the BBC/press allowed such discussions.  


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