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Capitalists Who Fear Change 297

Posted by Soulskill
from the great-band-names dept.
bill_mcgonigle writes "In his essay 'Capitalists Who Fear Change,' author Jeffrey Tucker takes on 'wimps who don't want to improve.' From DMCA take-downs on 3D printing files to the constant refrain that every new form of music recording will 'kill music,' Mr. Tucker observes, 'Through our long history of improvement, every upgrade and every shift from old to new inspired panic. The biggest panic typically comes from the producers themselves who resent the way the market process destabilizes their business model.' He analyzes how the markets move the march of technology ever forward. He takes on patents, copyrights, tariffs, and protectionism of entrenched interests in general, with guarded optimism: 'The promise of the future is nothing short of spectacular — provided that those who lack the imagination to see the potential here don't get their way.'"
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Capitalists Who Fear Change

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  • by Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @05:37PM (#40377795)
    Home farming is killing the hunting and gathering industries.
  • by 3seas (184403) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @05:40PM (#40377843) Journal

    fearing change is contrary to the genuine intent of capitalism. So it is in error to say capitalist are fearful of change. But control freaks... that's different.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @05:45PM (#40377903)

      fearing change is contrary to the genuine intent of capitalism. So it is in error to say capitalist are fearful of change. But control freaks... that's different.

      The title clearly says "Capitalists WHO fear change", not "Capitalists fear change".
      Learn the difference.

    • If I can continue to make lots of money by protecting the entrenched system, then the appropriate response is to put the brakes on change.

      I think profit motive trumps progress, doesn't it? There isn't anything inherently profitable for all agents in allowing or encouraging change. Profit motive is the fundamental, wellspring value of the capitalist value system. Any other value is derived from that.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by 0123456 (636235)

        If I can continue to make lots of money by protecting the entrenched system, then the appropriate response is to put the brakes on change.

        That's the socialist way; 'we won't allow you to sell a car because it will put the buggy-whip workers out of a job'.

        In a free market, there will be a bazillion people trying to create new products that compete with yours, and some will be successful. 'Patents, copyrights, tariffs, and protectionism' are all government-created restrictions on trade, and would not exist in a free market.

        • by arose (644256)
          No, that's profit maximization. Stop trying to sweep the nasty sides of capitalism elsewhere.
        • "In a free market, there will be a bazillion people trying to create new products that compete with yours, and some will be successful"

          No, there will be a bazillion that will try. That some will success (on top of those already in the place) is mere wishful thinking (even if from time to time it becomes true).

          "'Patents, copyrights, tariffs, and protectionism' are all government-created restrictions on trade"

          No, they aren't. They are means, as are market analysis, commercials, r+d... that some can use to g

        • I see you've learned your economic theory, including definition of socialism, from solid and well-regarded sources like "Atlas Shrugged".

      • The profit motive is not a value of capitalism, it is a mechanism whereby it's values are achieved. Specifically the core values of capitalism are economic growth, stability and yes, innovation. Profit is a tool used to motivate people to further these goals. With regard to the article and headline, the original doctrines of capitalism proposed by Adam Smith and others were designed in principle to avoid organisations like the RIAA from existing. The RIAA is in essence a cartel (officially illegal) represen
        • "the original doctrines of capitalism proposed by Adam Smith"

          I read the "On the wealth of Nations..." and I have yet to see any doctrine. I see a theory on movements of capitals and wealth but no doctrine.

          "...were designed in principle to avoid organisations like the RIAA from existing"

          By the number of times Smith mentions the Bank of England and how it was a good influence to avoid the excesses of, say, the Scotish private bankers, I would say he would dissent.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @05:57PM (#40378059)

      Not really. The goal of a capitalist is to make money. If you are successful and at the head of your market then fear of change is natural, as change is not likely to benefit you. If on the other hand you are new and not yet established then change is likely to provide opportunites for advancement and is less likely to be feared.

      • by tomhath (637240)

        If you are successful and at the head of your market then fear of change is natural

        If you have a successful business you would be silly to abandon it unless you replace it with something better. The author's alternatives are better for the consumer who wants stuff for free, but not for the producers of that content who are in business to make a profit. It has nothing to do with fear.

    • Recording industry has money invested in a business model and they are going to get as much money as possible from their investment as possible. It's dollars and cents, fear has nothing to do with it.

    • by Hatta (162192)

      Ah, so No True Capitalist fears change.

    • by gmuslera (3436)
      Capitalims is not about change, is about getting profit. If you are getting it, and something change, you risk not getting it anymore. Of course, some people could get profits from changes, but if the people that have the big money see a risk on their profits, probably will act against change or lobby for laws to keep getting profits even if the new reality turns that obsolete.
    • by PopeRatzo (965947) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @06:18PM (#40378251) Homepage Journal

      fearing change is contrary to the genuine intent of capitalism.

      Nonsense. We've known for nearly a century that the true intent of capitalism was to put a nice cushion between the rich and the rest.

      Even the most ardent capitalist apologists now admit that there are going to be a whole lot of people who just need to be cut loose. The only question left is how to keep the ones who miss the bus from cluttering up the view from the top.

    • if you talk up the mythology enough, your mind's eye won't notice how the ideal has never been met by any living person

      i'm not talking about your quote specifically. i'm talking about free market fundamentalist fools in general who attribute mythological qualities to capitalism and free markets that have never existed and never will. for example: that they self-regulate. that they are egalitarian. that they are fair. no, no, and no: they need a strong central government, to regulate them and keep them fair

    • There is nothing irrational about fearing the competition or the paradigm shifting technologies. Once you stick in "genuine" or "true" in there, the sentence will stretch to fit anything. For example: "Not working to one's fullest ability when rewards are decoupled from effort is contrary to the spirit of genuine communism". There! You say, "but.. but.. no one will work, if the rewards are decoupled". And they will say smugly, "nah, nah. that is not real communism.".

      You have in your mind a noble mythical

    • When you run a business, any change is either an opportunity, or a threat. When your business is small, most changes look like opportunities. When your business becomes big, all changes start to look like a threats. Capitalist who runs big business but doesn't fear any change he didn't cause himself must be insane.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @05:44PM (#40377891)

    Once the average home can contain everything needed to produce consumer items, there will be no more reason for big business.

    Imagine a set of 3d printers, automated chemical labs, vapor-deposited chip fab in your garage. Maybe even a programmable genetic engineering machine and a computer controlled hydroponic garden to produce your food. You'd never go to the store again.

    • by Genda (560240)

      Oh yeah, I can see mega-corporations just lining up for that future... trust me, if it come down to that, somebody will charge you the national debt for your data and your atomic feedstock. Just like they ream you now for oil. In fact the 3D printers will probably have some kind of draconian DRM ensuring you can only buy IP through the manufacturer so they get their slice every time you print. That or we put an end to corporate rule. Of course its a little late in the game for that move, and the corporation

      • by 0123456 (636235)

        If you can build a car with a 3D printer you can also build a gun or a bomb, so they'll be banned.

    • Yeah, the proles will run all those machines, keep them running too.

      Wait a second, aren't these the same people who can't make 'crew chief' at McDonald's? Never mind.

    • All that hardware must be fed with something..

  • Producers? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by yesterdaystomorrow (1766850) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @05:44PM (#40377897)
    It's generally not the people who create things, make things, or provide useful services who fear change. They can adapt. But if you've spent your life's effort working your way into control of a particular set of cash registers, change is very threatening indeed.
  • Call me a Luddite on some occasions.
  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @05:53PM (#40377995)

    The larger the government is, the more is can be used as a cudgel to take down smaller competitors by big business.

    Reduce regulation, reduce the power the federal government wields and inherently big business only has the power of whatever intellect they have multiplied by the money they have on hand.

    The smaller government is the more small businesses will thrive.

    • by Microlith (54737) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @06:02PM (#40378103)

      What regulations would you reduce? I hear that all the time but little to nothing in specifics except ways that put more power into corporate hands / push costs off on to the citizens of the country.

      • Pick any industry, and look up the number of regulations. The sheer number of them keeps some businesses from doing anything because of the cost of keeping track of being compliant.

        The number alone, never mind any one regulation in particular, can easily keep smaller players out of the game.

        So basically just reduce them by half. Any regulations, it doesn't really matter which ones - because they are mostly selectively enforced anyway whenever someone gets uppity.

        • by Microlith (54737) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @07:10PM (#40378855)

          Pick any industry, and look up the number of regulations. The sheer number of them keeps some businesses from doing anything because of the cost of keeping track of being compliant.

          Unsubstantiated vagaries. I wanted one example, can you not even provide that? If you are so concerned, obviously you have specific examples you have selected as evidence for your case.

          The number alone, never mind any one regulation in particular, can easily keep smaller players out of the game.

          Such as? Let's go at this another way, name a company that has been shut down or kept out of a market because of regulations?

          So basically just reduce them by half. Any regulations, it doesn't really matter which ones - because they are mostly selectively enforced anyway whenever someone gets uppity.

          It does matter. Suggesting that you can just arbitrarily drop half the regulations in existence implies that no one rule has any more value than another, which is totally disingenuous.

      • by trout007 (975317)

        The problem I have with people that just say we have to cut regulations is they don't fully explain the alternative. This is how I see it. Regulation is prior restraint. Take illegal drugs for instance. The argument you always hear from the drug warriors is that drugs are bad because people could do bad things on drugs. You don't want your bus driver on drugs do you? To me drugs can be legal and yet you can still sue a bus driver or company that causes an accident because the driver was high.

        It's the same

      • by tmosley (996283)
        Simple, eliminate the central bank, and thus allow the market to set interest rates, and determine who fails and who wins according to their own merits.

        The only reason that banks are able to steal from people and wreak havoc on the economy is because of regulations regarding setting of interest rates. That has been the problem since day one. It caused frequent, shallow, recoverable recessions to become infrequent, devastating, potentially collapse-inducing depressions. They caused the Great Depression
    • by cpu6502 (1960974)

      +1
      Most regulations are written by the megacorps to keep-out new upstarts.

    • by Ironchew (1069966) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @06:09PM (#40378179)

      Reducing government regulation only leaves a power vacuum that big players in the private sector (transnational corporations, etc.) would gladly fill. These new overlords would gladly oppress the public if it meant a secured source of profit, and they wouldn't have to worry about the pesky constitutional limitations our government operates under.

      Reducing government influence is the same as reducing public influence. I don't want to return to the Gilded Age just for promises of a more efficient capitalism.

    • inherently big business only has the power of whatever intellect they have multiplied by the money they have on hand.

      i.e. still much more than new players. Enough to erect nearly insurmountable barriers to entry, in fact.

      The trick is rather to not let big business control the government, but to ensure that it works in the interest of society as a whole. Which is achieved by making it less corrupt and more transparent. Which may require downsizing it in some aspects, but certainly not for the sake of the mythical free market.

    • "The larger the government is, the more is can be used as a cudgel to take down smaller competitors by big business."

      Quite true.

      And then, the shorter the government is, the easier is for big business to crush new competitors before they become a real menace.

      "Reduce regulation, reduce the power the federal government wields and inherently big business only has the power of whatever intellect they have multiplied by the money they have on hand."

      Which is still orders of magnitude bigger than the intellect mult

  • Duh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rrohbeck (944847) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @06:25PM (#40378349)

    The incumbents prefer the status quo because that's where they make their money. If you're entrenched then change is bad.
    Now apply this premise to fossil fuel companies.

    • Well said, particularly the use of "incumbents." No one currently in power wants to see change. That goes for:

      - Pols in DC
      - Fat-cats in charge of *AA
      - Leaders of N. Korea
      - Saudi royals
      - Owners of the successful local coffee shop
      - Local school board president
      - Football booster club president
      - etc.
  • There's nothing wrong with Capitalism
    There's nothing wrong with free enterprise
    Don't try to make me feel guilty
    I'm so tired of hearing you cry

    There's nothing wrong with making some profit
    If you ask me I'll say it's just fine
    There's nothing wrong with wanting to live nice
    I'm so tired of hearing you whine
    About the revolution
    Bringin' down the rich
    When was the last time you dug a ditch, baby!

    If it ain't one thing
    Then it's the other
    Any cause that crosses your path
    Your heart bleeds for anyone's brother
    I've got to

  • This is firmly in the conspiracy theory territory (so go fetch your tinfoil hat), but I do wonder sometimes about how many promising scientists and engineers working in appropriate fields around the world "accidentally" die or have their lives ruined every year to ensure that the Universal Constructor is built later rather than sooner...

  • by Jason Levine (196982) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @07:42PM (#40379167)

    Folks like the RIAA and MPAA are at the top of the heap. The way things were 10 years ago, if you wanted music or movies you would likely obtain it from a RIAA/MPAA-approved source. Yes, there was indie stuff, but "nobody" bought from there. (Where "nobody" = a very tiny segment of the population... small enough to ignore.)

    Then change came and threatened to shift the heap. Where would the RIAA/MPAA end up? Perhaps they wouldn't really move and would weather the change just fine. Perhaps they would find that the heap grew and they were even higher up (bigger profits). The more likely scenario, though, would be that they'd no longer be at the top of the heap. This scared them and they went to great lengths to prevent change from coming lest they lose their "King of the Heap" status.

  • by dpilot (134227) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @08:35PM (#40379657) Homepage Journal

    Hidden behind the scenes of this discussions is the inherent and unquestioned assumption that capitalism is good.

    Note that I'm not saying it's not. I'm just saying that there is an entrenched belief here even stronger than religion. The arguments all seem to be "whose definition of capitalism" and "One True Scotsman" type of arguments. But under it all is the (again) unquestioned assumption that capitalism (appropriately defined, of course) is the One True Way of resource management.

    Again, in this I'm not questioning capitalism, I'm questioning the degree to which it has become a base assumption.

    So here's a bit of a progression...

    1 - Democracy and elections are good - not because they generate the best government, but because when properly executed, they peacefully remove and replace the government. Sometimes the replacement is better, sometimes worse, but at the very least, the replacement process is less disruptive and wasteful than a bloody revolution. If democracy were really working well, principally if the electorate chose to educate themselves well, governance would get incrementally better, where "better" is defined by a majority of the people. Things may not be happening that way, currently.

    2 - Capitalism is good - not because it does the best job of distributing resources, but because when properly executed, bad players in the system exit and others take their place. If the market were properly transparent, and properly policed, even if only by its participants, the job of distributing resources would get incrementally better. Things may not be happening that way, currently.

    There is nothing sacrosanct about the "profit motive". It's a nod to human nature, recognizing that personal gain can be highly motivating. Other than that motivational factor, "profit" is simply inefficiency in moving goods from supplier to consumer. The real idea behind the "free market" is that it harnesses chaos - a sort of natural selection of a wide array of ideas. When incumbants are able to suppress emergents, the free market is failing.

    It's amusing/astonishing/sad that people rail at the thought of economic central planning by a government, yet accept economic central planning by entrenched market incumbants. It's not the government that's the enemy, it's the central planning, by whatever party. Some amount of chaos must exist, some continual level of instability, or the system isn't really working.

    Food for thought...
    In a world with nuclear bombs, genetically engineered virii, and other results of high technology becoming widely available, "human nature" is no longer good enough. If we don't start doing better than "human nature", we'll probably stop doing. Thinking about it a little, we're more likely to crash our society, crash our population, lose our technology, and be lucky to work our way back to a feudal steam age. (The easy energy is gone. The easy resources are gone, perhaps accessible in landfills, perhaps locked up in alloys that need high energy and high-tech to get out.)

  • "provided that those who lack the imagination to see the potential here don't get their way."

    yea thats sort of the fucking problem now, douches patenting the color black and the idea of a icon, invent and be destroyed

  • Book by Dr Raghuram Rajan, Boothe School of Economcs, University of Chicago: http://www.amazon.com/Saving-Capitalism-Capitalists-Unleashing-Opportunity/dp/0609610708 [amazon.com] Basically the winners of the moment will do everything in their power to maintain their edge, and unless we as a Democracy fight them and make the playing field level, we will end up in a medieval feudal system.
  • by tmosley (996283) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @09:30PM (#40380097)
    Is there any possible way that we could stop confusing capitalists with fascists? Capitalists don't hide behind government force to do business. The US switched away from capitalism in 1913 when it established a central bank, and has at best been a mixed market since. With government intervention in the markets at an all time high, what we have now is the opposite of capitalism, which is a terrifying blend of socialism and fascism--the type that presages the fall of a once-great power.
  • by multiplexo (27356) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @11:35PM (#40380935) Journal
    is that they're stupid, especially those dumb bastards who love Ayn Rand and think that Ron Paul actually cares about liberty, and don't really know much about capitalism and don't bother to think things through. If a capitalist has a choice between spending X amount of resources to preserve his profits via rent-seeking mechanisms such as the DMCA or onerous patent litigation and 2X to preserve his profits via developing more efficient products rational actor theory, and human nature, says that rent-seeking is going to win every time. Adam Smith, you know, the guy who wrote The Wealth of Nations pointed this out when he wrote:

    “People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.”

    When confronted with this fact they either ignore it, minimize its threat, offer up irrelevant counter arguments or offer up solutions that make no sense whatsoever, such as eliminating government altogether.

Physician: One upon whom we set our hopes when ill and our dogs when well. -- Ambrose Bierce

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