04 November 2009

What if Free Markets Really Were Free?

“The factory of the future will have only two employees, a man and a dog. The man will be there to feed the dog. The dog will be there to keep the man from touching the equipment.”
- Warren Bennis

Increasingly, the digitized world is making products free: movies, music, articles, books ... even the software that lets "customers" get these products for free.

Perhaps it is no coincidence that as the portion of free goods we consume rises so does unemployment.

Maybe in the future there will be good news and bad news. The good news will be that everything is free. The bad news is that no one will have jobs.

In such a world, conspicuous consumption will take on a new urgency. Economically, there will be little else to distinguish us.


Lifehiker said...

There ain't no such thing as a free lunch...TANSTAFL, as Heinlein's characters often explained.

But, it's sure true that the digital world is making lots of things cheaper and less worker-intensive. A recent "Forbes" described the coming world of "$10 Monthly Phone Bills", for example.

What are we going to do with all these surplus people?

Anonymous said...

Hi Lifehiker... our world does not lack problems to solve. Give them some real work!

Lifehiker said...

Hi, Sandi!

Why don't you get your brainy husband busy on the problem of what to do with all these people? I'm fresh out of solutions.

We live in a market economy. Somehow our values must change so that milions upon millions can be employed producing something that the rest of us know we need. But what is it?