Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Global Capital 4: Facebook, Capitalism and Liberty

Last August 10, 2009, I wrote and posted this::

Facebook, Google, Yahoo and other free web and social networking services, are among the best examples of the free market system and individual liberty. Zero tax money, zero government borrowings, and no State bureaucracy to create and sustain them....

A Filipina friend now based in UK, Antonia Hopkinson, made these comments (she gave me permission to post her comments here):

"Facebook and liberty...I think you have forgotten the famous econ adage 'there is such thing as free lunch'...

"Actually joining FB and other social networking websites is actually not free...in exchange for the free use we are actually giving them our personal details which they can sell to companies or use to create new products...have you noticed the applications available in FB such as farmville? information we give in the net and patterns of use is also being used to profile us in creating new commodities. 

"its so unfortunate that we fell on the trap of voluntarily giving our personal details disguised as liberty. in the west not only companies benefit from our personal details but aso fraudsters and identity theives." 

Yes, no such thing as a free lunch. But I think people, me included, enter into this networking voluntarily, and can get out or unsubscribe anytime. As long as there is perceived net advantage (advantages are larger than disadvantages), people will stay. When an individual perceives there is net disadvantage, then it is time to get out. So there is fair game there.

Compare that in government, even if our Mayor or Governor or Cong. or President is/are the most corrupt guys around, we still have to sustain them against our will. Zero voluntary arrangement there, unless one will become too radical and call for another "people power" revolution, local or national.

Antonia made another comment. She wrote, 

"Free sites in the web have their own machination to entice people to join to achieve their motive. i remember ebay used to be free. once it got all the information of people buying and selling in its site it gradually introduce fees. now it is very expensive and people dont even realise it. they have been conditioned it's free and even introduced paypal as the only method people could use to pay in the guise that they are protecting the safety of their memebers. but sellers has to pay 10% to take the money buyer had paid out on top of the 10% commission ebay charges from the sale of the item. then there are fees for photos and other special features. 

"It is also very hard now for other businesses to compete with ebay as people have been hooked to ebay now."

On "being hooked", I think it's the same with SM malls here all over the country. Food and shops at SM are not cheap, except when there are bargains, but people still flock to their malls with or without bargains. There are other big malls by big corporations that offer competition to SM malls. There is market competition.

Between being hooked with something (ebay, facebook, SM, a cell phone brand, etc.) and not being hooked due to absence of stable or reliable competitors, many people choose the former.

I wrote this last September 22, 2009:

Facebook and Youtube Capitalism

A friend in facebook posted this trailer,

TRAILER: Michael Moore's 'Capitalism: A Love Story' - OPENS NATIONWIDE OCTOBER 2nd!

There’s a caption after the trailer, "It's a crime story. But it's also a war story about class warfare. And a vampire movie, with the upper 1 percent feeding off the rest of us. And, of course, it's also a love story. ...”

I commented on my friend’s wall, "Hi, facebook and youtube are a product of capitalism. Also google, yahoo, iphone, starbucks. We all have a love story with facebook here and facebook capitalism.” My friend commented, “hahaha, nonoy, so true.”

I think we should be thankful of capitalism. It depends on pure, voluntary exchange. Youtube, facebook, google, etc. go the extra mile to give excellent services at zero financial cost to us, and still they make big money somewhere. They get the money they wish for, we get the social networking we wish for. There are terms in joining the social networking, zero registration or joining fee, people accept it. Zero taxation and coercion, zero bureaucracies involved.

A guy satirically commented, “thank you capitalism”. I know him, he’s a leader of an anti-globalization, anti-capitalism movement. And Michael Moore’s movie is indeed critical of capitalism. I think Moore is critical of big government capitalism (like Mr. Bush and Mr. Obama administrations), like the recent bail-out capitalism, and not really of competitive capitalism.

Once competitive capitalism is severaly weakened, State capitalism aka socialism, will set in. But the break up of the former USSR, the fall of the Berlin Wall 2 decades ago, are proof that socialism is wrong.

We should be thankful also of airline capitalism. For both jet-setter pro-globalists and jet-setter anti-globalists. Also ipod and iphone capitalism, disneyland capitalism,... :-)

See also:
Global Capital 1: Why Market Turbulence are Necessary, November 19, 2007
Global Capital 2: ICT, Capitalism and Government, December 18, 2008
Global Capital 3: Service Charges and Capitalism, October 25, 2009

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