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Capitalists are generally smart enough to forego immediate gain in favor of substandard greater gains under different conditions.

Rather than drive as fast as I can in Atlanta's 8AM rush hour (and get nowhere fast in the ensuing jam), I leave for work before 6AM (with half the drive time).


On the other hand, quarterly profits.

Ah, the "spherical chicken" argument.

Something has to limit demand, as there is not unlimited supply. If prices are not allowed to rise to where demand slows (to a fair and equal exchange of value), and nothing else increase the cost of acquisition (awaiting queues, covenants/agreements, paperwork, background checks, etc), then the only way to limit demand on a limited supply is simply running out of supply.

Price controls don't work. They may not completely destroy the supply, but they will at least debilitate it, functioning in a way many come to accept as normal - not realizing the resulting damage.


Upvoted after reading first sentence because "spherical chicken argument"

It's been in the process of national suicide for a long time. Abnormally high oil prices are likely the only thing that let the country survive this long.

Netflix doesn't carry all movies, and rarely streams recent big budget ones. Typical rental of a recent (or obscure) release from the convenience of wherever you happen to be is typically about $5, the price you're complaining of.

Nice to see a major studio delivering their goods practically direct to viewers. About time! The licensing wars are irritating.


That's also a perspective I hadn't considered, but it doesn't explicitly say anywhere that they'll publish newer releases right away, and then there's the localization thing where UK gets a grand total of 11 movies. That's still in stark contrast to Mr. Packer's statement, which promised “commitment to remain at the cutting edge of innovation in delivering content to online audiences around the world.”

> and then there's the localization thing where UK gets a grand total of 11 movies

My, my, the irony is jarring. The UK has localization problems? Then the rest of the world is screwed :p


Localization doesn't just refer to translation but more importantly to distribution rights. Even the publisher can't give away distribution rights in regions where they previously already promised exclusivity.

This is the anachronism that results in paradoxical situations like being able to only offer Lord of the Rings part 1 and 3 but not part 2 because some obscure TV channel has the exclusive rights in your country for the next five years.


I wouldn't be surprised if for lots of the content like this the UK is actually in the worst group.

The example that is currently annoying me: Sky has an exclusive deal with HBO for some of their shows, so I can't legally watch some of the best TV currently being made without paying for a mountain of other stuff I'll never watch.


Netflix DVD is still a useful option if you want to keep up with recent or obscure movies / TV series on the 'cheap'. Streaming, IMO is much more for killing time than watching a specific movie / series.

If you want to be really cheap you can add and drop the DVD section for a few months a year like say summer break.


I'd rather pay $8 a month for access to thousands of TV shows and movies I might want to watch versus paying $4 one time for a movie I know I want to watch. Especially when the movie I want to see will likely eventually show up on my $8 service at no additional cost.

I suppose it matters on whether you are willing to wait or not.


Bacteria can do things on their own (say, swim in water). Viruses can't do anything without a host's reproduction engine (like a program which can't do anything without a computer to run on). Prions are misshapen proteins which tend to damage other proteins such that the result is the same misshapen, and thus duplicating, form.

I think what was meant is that on the grand scale of "aliveness" viruses are more alive than prions. Viruses have DNA, they actively seek out host cells to hijack so they can reproduce, etc. Prions are much simpler and aren't alive at all. They're just accidentally self-reproducing patterns, basically. They don't have DNA, they don't make any specific effort to reproduce, they just "happen" from weirdly broken matter bumping together.

Viruses don't make any specific effort to reproduce, they too are just accidentally self-reproducing patterns.

More like microbial zombie bites.

That is a creepy thought.

This. Seems many advocating increasing control of society forget the USA was created precisely because of a deep & pervasive hatred of being bossed around by strangers far away holding very different sociopolitical views. Don't underestimate the simmering & growing opposition to such encroaching centralized control.

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There's a similar trailer park near here. Near the front, by the main road, and where many would loiter hoping someone would pick them up for odd jobs, there was a tiny convenience store; I've driven by there many times and took note of it. One day I drove by: it had been burned down ... accident? arson? dunno. Soon a small travel trailer was parked next to the charred remains, attempting to continue at least some of the services. Drove by again: that too had been burned down ... probably not an accident. Now, years later and quite predictably, nothing has replaced that service though the many still loiter hoping for odd jobs.

Make of the anecdote what you will.

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OK, say those "exploitive" businesses didn't exist. That doesn't subsequently mean "non-exploitive" alternatives would exist, it just means those customers/employees would have no options (not even "exploitive" ones). Is having no option better than having a bad option, when good options aren't available?

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That doesn't subsequently mean "non-exploitive" alternatives would exist, it just means those customers/employees would have no options (not even "exploitive" ones).

The hidden assumption here is that producing the goods and services required to keep a single human being alive in relative comfort (fed, sheltered, educated, healthy) necessarily requires an expenditure of manual effort roughly equivalent to what that human being can do.

Or, in other words, the assumption is that it is not and never can be the case that N people can be provided for by the effort of K people, where K < N.

And yet that assumption is obviously false: we have, here and now, the ability to feed, shelter, educate and provide health care to every single human being on the planet, and the ability to do so without the need for many of them to work for it. In the western world this has manifested in the explosion of service-oriented industries and administrative roles, which are essentially make-work jobs to give society as a whole the feeling that people are "earning their keep". Even among these affluent, supposedly highly-skilled people, probably the majority of the jobs are simply unnecessary.

What's needed is a realignment of our mentality about work: now that we have the ability to provide for everyone, we should simply do it regardless of whether everyone works or not. Will there be free riders as a result? Sure, but they're not actually a problem, and become less of one with every passing day (since the system that produces the necessary goods and services continues to grow in efficiency), and we just need to get over our fear that someone, somewhere might manage to have their needs provided for without working for it (we're already content to do this when someone inherits sufficient wealth to live without working, so this would just be an extension of that attitude: people living now and in the future will "inherit" the wealth of the past of the human species and be provided for out of it).

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Isn't Communism very similar to your perfect world? All the people were provided for and they worked for everyone and everyone was equal. However, that didn't work out too well.

In any system, some folk will always squatter and some will always attempt to gain power/advantage.

Your world sounds too much like Atlas Shrugged.

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The thing to realize here is that the number of humans who need to do work building/operating/maintaining the machinery that keeps everyone taken care of decreases over time. It's perfectly reasonable to expect a point in the future where most of the time, zero direct human work is required in order to provide for all humans.

The issue is getting over the mental hurdle of enabling such a society. The technology is actually pretty straightforward, but the politics of it is full of people who just can't stand the idea of that filthy leeching parasite, he doesn't work as hard as I do, why does he get anything at all! He doesn't deserve it! Which in turn is an artifact of an economic system that's already firmly in the past of many developed nations (i.e., one in which all people needed to work constantly in order to produce enough to keep themselves alive).

Of course this is a fundamentally irrational position to hold when one already lives in a society that's content to let people who never work a day in their lives have all their needs taken care of (see: inheritance). It also disregards the fact that many people who have everything literally handed to them from birth still feel a drive to try to do something meaningful with their lives. There are trust-fund parasites who don't do anything, of course, but it certainly isn't 100% of them. Plus, it's pretty well empirically established that humans do get bored and seek things to do even when they have no life-sustaining work left to perform (see: retirement).

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I think we're already past that point, if we define "provide for all humans" as "provide shelter, food, and clean water." However, "provide for humans" is a moving target which is actually interpreted as "provide a living standards not significantly worse than average." These days that includes providing running hot/cold water, range of healthy food, air conditioning, electricity, TV, internet, some form of motorized transport, health care, clothing, etc. etc."

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Frankly, I don't see that this is perfectly reasonable to expect. TANSTAAFL. Food still has to be produced. Energy still has to be produced. All that stuff has to be paid for somehow or the producers stop producing for the freeloaders.

What you think of as a mental hurdle I see as a way of discerning what is mine from what is yours. Show me a developed nation where a person actually doesn't have any personal property.

Without personal property rights, people will stop producing for others and society will fail. Why would I be willing to trade my load of firewood to you for your butchered hog? I'd just take your hog and not bother with providing you a share of firewood. And, in that system if you came around to get a share of my firewood, you'd disappear.

I believe that if a person doesn't have their needs met, they just don't deserve to have them met. (I'm not talking about a moralistic judgement here. Its more like the universe has just arranged itself in response to the unlucky person's actions.)

For example, 3 years ago, I got a hammer and a saw and started building a shed. I sold it and bought the materials to build another. I sold that one too. Today, I own a company that manufactures sheds and employs a few people.

I'm now much better off than I was because I decided to take advantage of people willing to buy my product. I now have employees who build my buildings and I profit from them, too. Is this a bad thing? I don't think so, because several of my employees were unemployed and needing work when I hired them.

What's fair about Capitalism is that anyone has the opportunity to make something work. If a person doesn't want to take advantage of this and better their lot, then I believe they have no right to bitch about us making money and having nice things. Let them suffer paycheck to paycheck.

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Food still has to be produced. Energy still has to be produced. All that stuff has to be paid for somehow or the producers stop producing for the freeloaders.

The question is: what happens when most or all of the food and energy is being produced not by human labor, but by fully-automated processes? Why would, say, a farming robot care whether someone is "freeloading" off its labor?

What you think of as a mental hurdle I see as a way of discerning what is mine from what is yours. Show me a developed nation where a person actually doesn't have any personal property.

The idea of a post-scarcity society is not incompatible with the idea of personal property. It is incompatible with continuing to believe that basic necessities such as food, shelter, water, medicine, and possibly other things should be apportioned on a "did you earn it" basis, because that notion dates to a time when it truly was necessary for each person to put in continual effort to ensure enough of those things were produced. These things are no longer super-scarce and no longer require anywhere near the effort to produce that they used to; society should adjust in response to that change.

There is no logical reason, if the capability exists to automatically produce sufficient basic necessities for every human being, why every human being should still have to do a make-work job in order to prove they "deserve" those things. And you could still have all the capitalism you like for anything that isn't a basic necessity; the basic life doesn't have to be one of luxury, just one free from worry about things like food and shelter; the currency of such a society would need to be tied to something other than control of basic-necessity resources, but finding alternative bases for currency is something people already do for fun.

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Food still requires valuable farmland, water, energy, fertilizers, pest control, capital to buy and expand the automation, operating costs and labor to repair and oversee the operations. It's an enormous amount of initial capital investment and a massive on-going operating expenses, and that's just for basic farming.

Now, add all the post-processing and transportation logistics after the food comes out of the ground to get to basic staple ingredients. Then add all the preparation activities, cooking, and packing to get to the Hot Pocket/Pop Tart level of salable food (or food-like) product.

Watersheds need to be protected; water needs to be treated, tested, stored, and pumped under pressure through a distribution network of pipes. Sewerage needs to be piped in the other direction, treated, and disposed of.

Electricity needs space, energy input, capital, and opex and a distribution network that needs on-going maintenance and repair. Gas lines need a lot of the same. Internet distribution needs...

Medicine needs space, energy, [lots of] people with specialized training just to apply the state of today's art. It also has a large research and development component responsible for ensuring that we aren't still using leeches to treat "Bilious fever".

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> Why would, say, a farming robot care whether someone is "freeloading" off its labor?

The obvious rebuttal is that someone has to build and maintain the farming robot, so this is the guy whom you would be freeloading of.

On a more general note: The concept of property only ever arises because of scarcity. For example, you wouldn't describe yourself as owning the air in your apartment, since there is ample air. A diver, on the other hand, would definitely declare ownership in the air in your air bottle.

So how can we implement a post-scarcity society? My best guess would be to work on affordable technology that makes basic things like water, food, clothes or internet access not scarce anymore.

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"There is no logical reason, if the capability exists to automatically produce sufficient basic necessities for every human being, why every human being should still have to do a make-work job in order to prove they "deserve" those things. And you could still have all the capitalism you like for anything that isn't a basic necessity; the basic life doesn't have to be one of luxury, just one free from worry about things like food and shelter; the currency of such a society would need to be tied to something other than control of basic-necessity resources, but finding alternative bases for currency is something people already do for fun."

Well, let the people who live on welfare invent and create the machines that will give them free food, water, heat and living space. They surely have a lot of time to devote to that, not having to work for a living.

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"Post scarcity" only exists and continues because of continued efforts which continue only because of reward/profits. No profit => no effort.

The other problem is what constitutes basic necessity. I can build you a "human terrarium" of 100 sq ft, HVAC, clean water, disposal, and 4 bottles Soylent per day - leaving you 18 hours daily to procreate & demand more. What is the limit to your demands? You have ample opportunity & resources to earn your own survival with ease; now you demand I provide your total basic survival needs from my own efforts, taking what I would give my own offspring - ENOUGH! BEGONE!

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Communism is much more focused about workers and equality. Just providing the bare basic needs for everyone, without expecting them to work or live in a certain way, is a very different concept. What if all basic goods can be produced with hardly any human labour? A rich enough society can be so far beyond those basic needs that forcing anyone to work for survival can only be explained as a form of punishment.

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No. Welfare programs are not communism or socialism. The single defining characteristic in both ideologies is the degree of which labor owns its means of production (the resources, facilities and tools needed to do a job).

Welfare programs do not even begin to touch on who owns the means of production.

Communism implies a stateless society after a period of power by labor that is devoid of private ownership of the means of production. Supposedly, this transitionary period should do away with class. According to theory, once class is no longer a factor, the state is no longer needed.

Welfare programs, again, do not touch on this at all.

You've read too much Ayn Rand.

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>Isn't Communism very similar to your perfect world? All the people were provided for and they worked for everyone and everyone was equal. However, that didn't work out too well.

A system where everybody was equal was never tried.

A system where the necessities were guaranteed was tried - in the Soviet Union - and it was, by and large, very successful.

It was successful enough, in fact, that Western elites responded to it in the 50s by implementing similar guarantees - NHS, social security, medicare, etc. (McCarthy's witchhunts and the Vietnam war weren't the only responses to communism).

What made the Soviet Union finally unable to keep up economically was the prohibitive cost of the arms race and declining oil export revenues, not the lack of capitalist profit motives.

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I really don't think the UK NHS was created in response to anything the Soviet Union did - the Labour movement in the UK had a long history long before the Soviets were around.

The NHS actually shows the power of democracy over an elite - after all the 1945 election removed Churchill and voted in the socialist Attlee government. Attlee was so effective as a leader that even Thatcher spoke highly of him:

'Quite contrary to the general tendency of politicians in the Nineties, he was all substance and no show.'

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1194059/A-giant-ma...

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On the idea that it was all about Atlee: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Man_theory

Do you think the fact that the UK NHS funding model closely followed the existing Soviet NHS model was a coincidence?

The Tories fought long and hard in the 40s to make the proposed new 'cover everybody' system insurance based (something like Obamacare I guess) and ultimately didn't prevail. They used all sorts of scare tactics that would seem very familiar today.

A large part of that failure was Labour being able to point to the Soviet Union (not yet enemies of the highest order) and go "look, we can achieve the same success in curing infectious disease that they did".

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Unlike you, I have personally experienced communism and Soviet Union. You have absolutely no idea what you're talking about.

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>However, that didn't work out too well.

When was communism actually implemented, that it didn't "work out too well" in your opinion?

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sigh do we really need to have this discussion and dou you actually think communism would ever work?

The problem is that pesky human nature gets in the way.

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The same problems that plague capitalism plague communist implementations.

In power structures, things are great if you're part of the class that receives political favors and not so great if you're not.

In capitalist societies, capital owning classes have the time and resources to be the political class. In previous communist societies, party and administrative members were the political class.

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"In capitalist societies, capital owning classes have the time and resources to be the political class. In previous communist societies, party and administrative members were the political class"

This sounds like theory. In practice, capitalism beats communism in pretty much every way. Of course there are people that own capital. Private ownership is one of the main tenets of capitalism.

Capitalism works because it is on the correct side of human nature. It pushes people to earn more capital, which in turn, helps the rest of us.

Do you think our technology would have advanced this far if we didn't have capitalism? The only reason computers, phones, the Internet are getting better and better is because of competition. The more competition in a market, the cheaper the price is to us, the consumer.

Communism, on the other hand, makes everyone a slave to the state. Why would you want to compete and earn more when it will just be taken away from you by the government?

There were many experiments in the 1970s with communism. People created their own small communities and shared everything. Everyone was equal. The end result was always a disaster: jealousy always fueled the collapse of the group.

Would you want the person in school that never studied for his tests and partied every day to earn the same amount as you, who studied for every test and did well? I sure wouldn't.

Communism, in any form, is a failure. I don't know how much death, poverty, and famine we need to go through for some people to learn this.

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Yeah, in theory it is awesome, but it just does not work in real life...

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I think even in theory it's not awesome.

What is awesome is a system where everyone benefits when everyone is self-interested.

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It's not awesome, it's poison. Cooperation > competition, and artificially forcing everything to be expressed in terms of the latter is cancerous to society. Ignoring conscience and empathy is wasting the in-born qualities that allow us to be more efficient in groups.

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Do you mean "actually" or "perfectly"?

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The reason "we have, here and now, the ability to feed, shelter, educate and provide health care to every single human being on the planet" is precisely because of capitalism: it's worth someone's time & resources to produce so much so efficiently. If those producers stopped, lacking incentive, global starvation would occur in about a week.

A key point you miss: wealth is perishable. Food rots. Weeds grow. Machines rust. Buildings crumble. Durable money is inedible, useful only when exchanged for something perishable.

You really need to read Atlas Shrugged. Comes a point when us producers get sick of you looters, and drop out of society. I'm already feeling enormous strain from my 30-50% tax bracket (most going to a welfare system you want), and debate switching lifestyle to the self sufficient farming I was raised on and which your utopia would receive 0% of.

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You are my favourite HN commenter. I frequently have the experience of reading a well-written, insightful comment, looking up, and seeing that it was written by ubernostrum.

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I think it depends. Not having access to temporary credit at all is better than pay day loans. Of course, I'm saying that from my proverbial ivory tower. Philosophically I don't support banning those things, but I'll be damned if they're not fucking evil incarnate.

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Not having access to temporary credit means that any hiccup in your finances has you facing eviction, late bill penalties, and in the case of unpaid fines, possibly jail time.

Having access to temporary credit means that same problem, but next month.

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Having access to incredibly high interest temporary credit means having the same problem next month and this new problem of having to pay off the high interest credit bill. You're generally not going to be evicted for a temporary hiccup. Late bill penalties are almost certainly going to be less than the payday loan fees. I have mixed feelings about the making bail bit.

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My bounced check fee is $30 from my landlord, $30 from my bank.

My late rent fee is $30.

My late utility fee is $5, but if I paid by a bounced check, that would be $35. In other cities, it could be much higher.

The fee for not paying a fine on time can be a weekend stint in jail, whereby you will get charged for room and board.

The fee for not being able to pay for car repairs is losing your job.

The fee for not paying for needed medical attention when you aren't on insurance (Which, despite obamacare, many poor people lack) can be crippling.

Poor people, in aggregate, aren't stupid - they wouldn't use payday loans if the alternatives weren't worse. Yes, it shifts the problem a month out, and puts you in debt for ~$100 dollars. So would juggling your missed payments (Meanwhile, giving you a black mark against your landlord).

That's still better then having the problem today. And who knows? Next month, you may be a millionaire. Or dead. Better worry about that next month.

If you want to kill payday loans, the best way to do that is by giving everyone a living wage/income.

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I agree poor people aren't stupid, you're projecting that on me. People who go to payday loan places are generally desperate. And desperation can often lead to irrational decisions. It seems like the major contention between us is that you believe that payday loans are good because in a vanishingly small percentage of cases they provide a net good. Virtually all of the data shows that in aggregate payday loans are a net bad.

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> The fee for not paying a fine on time can be a weekend stint in jail, whereby you will get charged for room and board.

looks at this in complete puzzlement

I'm constantly amazed at just how broken the US system is in almost every possible way.

And just for the record, there is no such thing as payday loans in Europe. At the very least not in Germany. The first time I heard of these was when John Oliver did a segment on them.

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Payday loans are better than paying for your electricity to be turned on again and to replace all the groceries that spoiled in your fridge, because you were fifty dollars short on your utility bill.

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Payday loans serve a purpose. Thinking the poor use them because they're irrational or stupid is just elitist.

A payday loan might have an atrocious interest rate, but it's better than getting kicked out of your apartment because you're $30 short on rent or getting thrown in jail for a parking ticket.

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Nope, the payday loan is still a raw deal. You're not going to get kicked out of your apartment for being $30 short on your rent. There's a reason states are cracking down on these pay day loan places and it's not because the government hates poor people.

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I mean, it's all about "for whom" in this question. What's better, widgets and a polluted stream, or no widgets? Depends on whether society values the fish.

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..or the people eating the fish and drinking the water.

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Make the alternatives exist. It's an engineering problem. Solve it.

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Can you please list some alternatives? That will help us understand the situation better.

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Social Security. Unemployment insurance. WIC/SNAP (food stamps). Government mandates affordable housing on major transit lines. Non-usurious Government loans for the working poor, secured against income. Stuff we already do, but should do more.

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I think one of the keys would be allowing people to live in improvised housing, a la Brazilian favelas. Loosening or repealing housing standards and property would reduce stress on these people. e.g. let people in bushes or trailers without forcing them out.

second, receiving mail was listed as a problem. how to get people their mail for important papers?

third, allocating land for farming their own food. why should they have to take part in the rest of our food economy if they can't fork over $1.25 for an apple? Just let them tend trees with their time.

fourth: transportation. often you have to get someplace. how can we design public transportation so it gets the poorest where they need to go reliably?

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Maybe if more towns had free PO boxes, then mail delivery wouldn't be interrupted by moves.

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"Detached reflection is not required in the presence of an upraised knife." If someone is in fact trying to kill you, you indeed have the natural right to "judge jury & executioner" if that's what's required to survive. It is exactly that natural right by which we delegate such power to the state (when circumstances do not demand otherwise).

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Note also that due process does follow even in the cases where a citizen becomes an "executioner", it just can't bring the killed person back to life, vs. judicial condemnations which have an appeal process before hand.

That I'm going to potentially be "judged by 12" even if I'm not "carried by 6" weighs heavily in my mind (sort of, I've never had to make such a decision in, say, 45 years of gun ownership (starting as a kid in a gun owning family when I was trusted enough) and ~17 years of carrying concealed (as noted in a previous recent related HN discussion, avoidance is the best policy: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11429446

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