3Arbitrary Restriction of Goods Is the Future
It works the same way with all digital goods -- from entertainment to communication to the software you use to do your job. A significant chunk of our economy runs on FARTS now. And as time goes on, more and more of what we use and rely on day to day will be enveloped by that invisible cloud.
Awesome, right? After all, you're not going to do what the Man tells you to do. You're not going to tolerate a future where corporations try to slap a price tag on readily available goods. It'd be like -- I don't know -- making a woman pay huge amounts of money for something that could be accomplished with her own bodily fluids.
Or spending money on candles when you have perfectly good earwax.
That's what I thought, too. I'm savvy. I'm savvy as balls. But then I looked around my desk.
Sitting next to me is a bottle of Aquafina water. It's there because in the 1990s, both Pepsi and Coke noticed cola sales were flat, so they bought tap water -- the same stuff I have an effectively infinite supply of -- stuck it in bottles, put a picture of a mountain on the label and upped the price by 20,000 percent. Then I paid for it.
Capitalism. Because spending is easier than thinking.
Next to the water is a green bottle of Excedrin. Sure, the generic store brand is identical right down to the molecule, but I paid twice as much for the name brand because this is Excedrin here. The Headache Medicine. It's sitting on top of a statement from the bank showing where they automatically deducted my mortgage payment... for a $5.00 "transaction fee."
And man, don't even look at my PC. I have on it a copy of Windows 7 -- a $200 full copy, because I was installing it on a new hard drive. The upgrade version is only $100, and by the way, they're the exact same product -- all the data is on both disks. The cheap one just has a thing that detects whether you have a previous version of Windows on the drive and refuses to install if you don't.
For an extra $20, they'll throw in an animated cut-scene of Clippy being crucified.
When I go to upgrade this computer, maybe I'll wind up with that new processor Intel is test-marketing, which ships with software that intentionally disables some of the chip's features. Why? Because along with it they sell a $50 "upgrade card" that does nothing but unlock the capabilities the processor had all along.
They've been training us to pay for nothing, and we're all going along with it. Tell me I won't find any FARTS at your desk.
2The Future Will Turn Us All Into Lars Ulrich
I picked the example with the ebooks earlier for a reason. As I mention every chance I get, I have a book on store shelves, a novel about monsters and dongs. It's in paperback now at the reasonable price of $10 or so. It took me five years to write it. But let's face it: If you want a digital copy of it for free, you can get it. The scarcity that would require you to pay money is purely a product of our collective imagination. John Dies at the End is 350 pages of FARTS.
Also, the binding glue causes leukemia.
This is the basis of that huge fight between Amazon.com and the largest book publisher about ebook prices. Nobody knows what to charge. We just kind of have to arbitrarily decide, because after the first copy, it costs nothing to make them.
Meanwhile me, my family, the bank what owns my mortgage and car loan, the IRS, the grocery store where I buy my food, all are hoping the same thing -- that you won't notice that free copies of my book are floating all around you. Soon, the whole world will be nursing the same hope.
That's what ACTA is about. This massive worldwide treaty would bring the hammer down on anyone violating intellectual property laws. Everyone on the Internet hates it because we know it 1) would have to be incredibly invasive, to the point of basically peering into everyone's hard drive at any moment for signs of contraband, and 2) is futile. It's a leaking ship trying to stay afloat by threatening the ocean with its cannons.
"Avast, ye big blue cockbite!"
And for what? To protect the profits of huge corporations and record labels and freaking Activision? So Metallica's irritating anti-piracy crusader Lars Ulrich can buy a plane made of platinum instead of gold? So some hack writer can buy a monkey and train him to ride a tiny motorcycle? Fuck you!
But remember the dog and the fence. The world has changed. For everyone. I'm in the same boat as Lars Ulrich. But so are you.
Here's hoping one of us brought Febreze.
Lars makes money selling his music. You make money selling your labor. At some point down the line, like his music, your skill as a human being can and will be converted to an electronic format for a fraction of the cost, rendering your skill worthless.
Work at a GameStop or some other video game store at the mall? The next consoles will download their games directly, no store needed. Work at a video store? Same thing -- Blu-ray is probably the last physical media we'll ever see. Work as a cashier? Forget self-checkout lanes taking your job -- soon they'll have RFID systems where customers can pile groceries into a cart and wheel it out the door, and sensors will bill their debit card on the fly. Work at Starbucks? What are you doing that a machine couldn't do? Work for the post office? You're just a human spambot at this point -- more than half of all mail is now unwanted junk that goes directly into the trash, because in a world with email, direct mailers are the only profitable customers the Postal Service has left.
That bag is where he keeps his vodka and spare shame.
Note that I'm intentionally listing service jobs here, because almost none of you work in manufacturing. Those jobs have already been outsourced, often to robots.
Thanks to technology, much of the labor is about to become to employers what Internet porn is to you now. Post-scarcity. And it gives them just as much of an erection.
So hate ACTA all you want, along with the MPAA and the RIAA. But you, like them, are getting paid in FARTS.