Rachel Botsman: The Case for Collaborative Consumption

I cheer any chance I get to see an articulate, intelligent woman wishing to change the world. However, there is one downside of collaborative consumption which we have already experienced in world history, and this grand social experiment has failed in many places including both Europe and Asia.  Botsman’s over-enthusiasm for sharing, for example, a land owner sharing land with a farmer in exchange for food services, is veering dangerously into the backward territory of feudalism.

Feudalism was a set of legal and military customs in medieval Europe that flourished between the 9th and 15th centuries, which, broadly defined, was a system for structuring society around relationships derived from the holding of land in exchange for service or labour.

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I agree that a sharing economy should be encouraged without endangering the concept of ownership.  Niall Fergusson speaks of “6 killer apps” that allowed Western Civilization to achieve imperium over the rest of the world:

  • Competition
  • Scientific Revolution
  • Property Rights
  • Modern Medicine
  • Consumer Society
  • The Work Ethic

It appears that Fergusson argues that 1/3 of of the success of the West was due to ownership.  I believe that, to some extent, property rights and a consumer society is necessary for individuals to feel ownership in the system or “have some skin in the game”.   Land prices may be skyrocketing, but all paths do not have to lead to feudalism.

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Globalization and some thoughts thereabouts

This is an interesting video where scholars discuss the issues China faces in the future regarding social policy and economic reforms. The problems facing China seem to be a gross magnification of the problems America (most likely all countries of the world) faces, which I have been wondering about without coming to any sort of solution.

Currency Wars: The Making of the Next Global Crisis suggests a conspiracy, a Game of Thrones, between central banks and their governments. I am skeptical that these banks would not rather work together instead. It is worrying that these institutions wielding vast amounts of global power are essentially opaque institutions. Yet, it does not seem possible to be rid of central banking while the world runs on fiat currency. Is a new currency type the solution or is a change in policy the solution? Neither options present themselves. I will like to investigate Milton Friedman’s proposed solution for a computerized central bank.

Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else suggests that we’re living in a world where it’s the global rich versus the global poor. While this is a good piece of journalism that does not overly demonize the super-rich and bemoan the poor, it highlights a critical symptom of a problem no one has yet found a solution for. The Institute for New Economic Thinking forum discusses this problem as well for China specifically.

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