TED Conversations

Sean Wolf

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to nationalize infrastructure and resources and privatize people

A heavy burden of professionals should be placed on the tasks at hand, not whether or not they have the personal capital or profits to maintain their place of operation or to acquire the tools necessary to perform those tasks. From manufacturers to teachers, health care providers to retail sales representatives, the costs and deficit of materials and space can have a negative impact on their performance, efficiency, and attention they provide to their respective fields.

By nationalizing such concerns, they place the responsibility of access, maintenance, and delivery of these important yet secondary elements of their profession to those who directly receive it--the stakeholders, the people. By privatizing the professionals, in the form of contractual agreements drafted by the recipients of each respective professional service rendered, private interests and public governments would be less likely to directly dictate if and how certain services are rendered.

All recipients would share the cost of the maintenance and access of these resources but pay individually the full rate to the specific professional whose service they are soliciting or solicited by.

This in turn would directly show in what amount they pay directly to their service providers compared with the amount they share collectively to approve and pay for as a community the facilities and resources to which these services draw from.

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    Apr 11 2012: Imagine two soccer fields in two cities that sit across a river. Every year, the cities share a game, competing against the other. When the first city garners a win, the proceeds of the game-watchers admission goes to the upkeep and development of their field, and has the distinct honor of hosting next years game. That year, the winning city (we'll call them the Winners), get all of the proceeds and begin to build a tent to shade their benches. The shaded benches allow both the game-viewers to relax in the shade but also keep the team out of the elements during practice when it rained or was too hot, reducing the fatigue and extending their practice time.

    This extra practice time allows them to garner a second win, and a third. Then suppose that on the fourth game, the other city, we'll call them the Underdogs, garner a victory for their city. They put the proceeds toward their own field, but nothing compared to the total amount of proceeds of three cumulative years of victories, as the Winners have had. Trying their best, they are able to implement many of the improvements to their field, but not all. After the next years game, which the Winners happen to win, the city's people decide that games on the Underdogs field is less appealing than games held on the Winners field and decide that they will share the task of hosting games every other year, in which the city hosting would get the proceeds of the games admission.

    However, the people remember their experience at the Underdog's field, decide they would rather save their money for the experience of watching the game on the Winner's field. The Winner's home games are always packed to the brim and the field gets more and more money thrown at it, expanding seat count, attractions, and amenities. The Underdog home games see fewer and fewer spectators, until the field is little more than just an open field.

    The free market: Two teams meet. The capitalism: Prior profit affects outcome, those with it, get it
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      Apr 11 2012: capitalism IS free market. if there is no free market, there is no capitalsm. these are synonyms.

      your example stinks for multiple reasons. first, we don't care whether service providers can serve us because they are so smart or because they have standing capital. we care about the service only. second, capital does not automatically increases itself. like a flock of sheep, it needs shepherding. competition makes it sure that you can't lazy around. because they won't. history is the best proof for that. new companies emerge routinely, and old ones fail. ford fails, honda wins. microsoft rises, wallmart rises out of nothing. google takes the place of altavista. there is no rest on the marketplace, and past success does not ensure future success. third, your set of rules is too simple for the real world. in our world, there are many football fields, many games, many ways to practice. there are many paths through the complex economic landscape. if there is an unserved need, there are infinite ways to serve it. locking everyone out is impossible.
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        Apr 11 2012: Your response is testimony to the hijacking of the concept of 'free market' as if it were synonymous with 'capitalism'. I'll state simply that capitalism is not the same as free market. If you fail to see how they are separate and in many ways contrary with each other, then this discussion will only rest on personal policy and opinion.

        1 - I'd argue that we care only about the service because we have not been provided the choice as to whom provides that service. In my town, we are at the mercy of whomever purchased the land to develop. The consumption of their service has little to do with their talent or skill and more to do with the fact that they were the only ones allowed, through use of monetary incentives and promised capital, to set up shop.

        2 - 'competition makes it sure that you can't lazy around. because they won't. history is the best proof for that.' -- Can you expound as to how this statement is an argument against advocating free market labor and capital and advocating command use of resources and land?

        3 - That is the nature of using analogy. It is meant to simplify concepts. Simple constructs are not by nature a suitable argument against their use to express them.
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          Apr 11 2012: 1. we can choose from a great number of providers at the marketplace. anyone can provide a service. and whether they have customers or not is purely based on the quality of the service. why would that not be the case? i tell you why, because we have the stupidest regulations that prevents potential service providers to enter the market.

          2. it is not, since it is an argument for the free market and against command economy. competition makes the difference between central solution and market solution. that is the engine of capitalism (aka free market economy).

          3. an analogy either serves its purpose or not. it does not have to be perfect, but has to support what you are about to say. my point was that your analogy is not satisfactory.
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    Apr 11 2012: you can not solve a problem by dismissing or delegating it.

    resources HAVE to be distributed. we have limited resources, and someone has to decide who gets them, and what use thy are to be put. we can not escape that responsibility.

    we certainly want the best people to make such decisions. question: why do we think that bureaucratic government offices are the best we can get? it is rather safe to assume that almost every solution is better than this.

    in free market capitalism, creativity of entrepreneurs and trial-and-error determine the distribution of resources.

    why do we need a coerced monopoly provider, if we can have freely competing private providers?
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      Apr 11 2012: First off, there is no dismissal here, only delegation of the responsibility to another entity. Second, delegation is an action, not an excuse, and is necessary in order to get most things done.

      Yes, resources have to be distributed, I don't see how my idea limits that. In fact, what I am saying is that those resources should be distributed among the nation according to what the people feel is best for them, not according to which private company can afford to purchase at a discount, stockpile, and then sell for a profit to other businesses and governments unfortunate to not have as much capital or financial backers. Governments already allocate how much of a certain resource can be gathered by these private companies based on permitting and policy, so what real difference is there with this than consolidating the process to the people?

      Your statement about determining distribution of resources is an argument of a perfect world scenario, however, this 'advantage' of free market capitalism is demonstrably false in the real world.

      You don't get a coerced monopoly provider, because the provider (the people) is still privatized. They charge their rates for their services based on their talents and skills. You still get freely competing private providers.
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        Apr 11 2012: according what people feel? how do you plan to measure that? everyone feels that he needs more resources, yet, we have too few. someone will need to cross out some wants, and grant others.

        the choice is command economy versus free market economy. east vs west germany. USA versus USSR. south vs north korea. china vs singapore. that is the real world.

        you americans got so much detached from reality, you want to become USSR. good news: you are on the right track. bad news: it does not work.
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          Apr 11 2012: According to what people feel: Democracy and purchasing power.

          You are stating that there are only two choices at play: One of a command economy and the other of a free market.
          Instead I am proposing that aspects of both be jointly engaged. Command economy for resources and facilities, free market for labor and capital.

          The places where command economy fails, namely having perfect knowledge of labor and capital, does not come into play. One cannot have perfect knowledge of these things, because they are fluid. However, resources which are definitively fixed and becoming more scarce can be applied with command economy. Free market inherently ignores the true cost of resource depletion and land development because it does not operate with the concern of what happens tomorrow.
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        Apr 11 2012: the very goal of the economy is to distribute scarce resources. this is the main problem. what to do with that ton of iron ore. that question can be answered by the free market or by a central planning board (or computer). there are no other questions.

        if want central command over that, you have central command over everything important.

        the free market does not ignore depletion as long as there is an owner of the resources. if i'm the owner of a mine, i want to

        1, extract as many as i can with minimal losses
        2, restrain production if i anticipate that prices will rise later (as the resource becomes scarce in the future)

        if i have a forest or other regenerating resource, i also want to

        3, extract resources as fast as they regenerate. or else in some years, i will have no forest.

        problem arises exactly where a democratically elected elite makes decisions. they are in power for a limited amount of time, so they want to squeeze out as many as possible within 4 years, and they don't care about the future. yet another example where the free market excels, and central solutions fail.
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          Apr 11 2012: There is a difference between what private resource owners decide, based on market prices, and what is in the best interest of the stakeholders, those affected by the drawing out of resources and introduction of other resources supporting their economy.
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        Apr 11 2012: the best interest on anyone else is represented in the prices.
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          Apr 12 2012: I'm sorry you think that's true.