Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Why Is Every Forum A Market?

A thread I posted over at the Nation States forum...Is This Forum A Market?

Linked to it from reddit...

Libertarian subreddit: Challenge to Liberals:  1 upvote, 6 downvotes
Dark Enlightenment subreddit: Challenge to Liberals:  4 upvotes, 1 downvote
Economics subreddit: Challenge to Liberals:  1 upvote, 3 downvotes

The economics subreddit is mostly liberals...so that makes sense.  But I'm not sure how to explain the disparity between the libertarians and the neoreactionaries.

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[note]You don't have to be here. Really.[/note]

In a few threads I've argued that this forum is a market. Nearly everybody categorically rejects the concept.

In the most recent thread where I brought it up, I was given the green light to create a thread dedicated to the topic.

So here I am. Why do I think this forum is a market?

First off...it's not just this forum...any forum is a market. Forums are markets because they have...

1. demand
2. supply
3. choice

Right now I'm being a producer. I'm using society's limited resources to create/produce/supply a new option (builderism). The resources that I'm using are...

My own resources...

-Brain
-Time
-Energy
-Calories
-Keyboard
-Computer
-Monitor
-Mouse
-Internet
-Electricity
-etc

This website's resources...

-Software
-Server
-Storage space
-etc

The variety of resources required to create this one thread are really too numerous to list in their entirety. This concept was wonderfully illustrated by the I, Pencil video.

So here I am taking these resources and putting them to a new use. I'm actually being quite unreasonable...
The reasonable man adapts himself to the conditions that surround him. The unreasonable man adapts surrounding conditions to himself. All progress depends on the unreasonable man. - George Bernard Shaw
The economist who has by far done the most work in the area of entrepreneurship is Israel M. Kirzner...
Entrepreneurial discovery represents the alert becoming aware of what has been overlooked. The essence of entrepreneurship consists in seeing through the fog created by the uncertainty of the future. When the Misesian human agent acts, he is determining what indeed he 'sees' in this murky future. He is inspired by the prospective pure profitability of seeing that future more correctly than others do. These superior visions of the future inform entrepreneurial productive and exchange activity. The dynamic market process is made up of such profit-motivated creative acts in regard to the future. - Israel M. Kirzner, How Markets Work
I'm sure some of you will quickly object, "Hey! But you're not making any money by creating this thread!"

As a society we do tend to equate profit with money...but it's more accurate to think of profit as gain. I'm making the effort to put a new option on the table because my individual foresight indicates that it might be worth the risk to do so. Clearly I want the largest benefit for the smallest cost. If I perceived that the only thing that I'd gain from this endeavor was an old dirty sock...then I would do other things with my resources.

Personally I like to dream that this new thread/product/option will help everybody understand how markets work. Economic enlightenment has extremely beneficial consequences.

It's important for me to emphasize that it's my potential personal gain/benefit that incentivizes me to make the effort to put a new option on the table. Incentives really matter.
Land occupied by such tenants is properly cultivated at the expence of the proprietor as much as that occupied by slaves. There is, however, one very essential difference between them. Such tenants, being freemen, are capable of acquiring property, and having a certain proportion of the produce of the land, they have a plain interest that the whole produce should be as great as possible, in order that their own proportion may be so. A slave, on the contrary, who can acquire nothing but his maintenance, consults his own ease by making the land produce as little as possible over and above that maintenance. - Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations
Once I put this new option/thread/product on the table...then it's up to you, the consumer, to decide whether you'll "buy" it. Buying this thread won't cost you money...it will cost you time. And your time is an extremely limited resource. This isn't a video game where we get unlimited lives. Not yet at least.
It is through the gaze of my extinguished self that I realize the limitations that make scarcity necessary. Through this gaze into my own limitedness - a limit always established by the impending cessation of space and time for me - through this gift of death, I discover in nature the best way to be efficient. Thanks to death I must choose x rather than y. This has become a feature of 'nature' - a demystified 'nature' that bears no possibility of participation in the eternal. This is consistent with capitalism. - D. Stephen Long
You, as the consumer, inherently understand that any time you spend on this thread (x) can't also be spent on other threads (y). This is one of the most important economic concepts...opportunity cost.

Given that your time is limited...you desire to get the most value for your time. The most mucus for your minute. Ugh, that's really not right. The most marjoram for your minute? The most mayo for your minute? The most mustard for your minute? The most macadamias for your minute? The most maybelline for your minute? The most muscles for your minute? The most music for your minute? HAHA...I got it! The most magic for your minute! The most magic for your moment? The most magic for your musical moments?

Markets are magic because of consumer choice. You, the consumer, you know your preferences, you consider your circumstances, you survey your situation, you ponder your priorities, you weigh the alternative uses of your time and you sacrifice the least valuable uses. As a result of your choice (demand/input), how society's resources are used (supply/output) becomes that much more relevant/valuable/magical to you. Consumer choice is consumer sovereignty.

But if only one person buys my product (this thread)...then my buddy and I...we aren't going to significantly shift the supply in our direction. In order for more resources to flow in our direction...more and more consumers would have to agree that this is a valuable direction. Imagine 100 people replying....1,000 people replying....10,000 people replying. Visualize people joining this forum in droves in order to reply.

More and more replies to this thread would require more and more servers and more and more servers require more and more space...one warehouse...one block...two blocks...more and more blocks of server space.

In a market, supply shifting is the epitome of a group valuation/vetting process. Significant supply shifts require crowd vouching.

The multitudes vouching for my use of society's resources means that I'd receive a mountain of minutes...a moon of moments. A mountainous moon of magically musical moments. And it's easy to see the moon...and it's easy to see that I'm the only one who owns it...and it's easy to think that it's unfair. But is it unfair? Did I force anybody to give me their time? In case you missed it, you don't have to be here. Really.

Some threads in this forum are more magical than others...and resources are allocated accordingly. As a result of the free flow of input, the allocation (distribution) of resources is efficient. This means that redistributing moments would definitely destroy magic. It would destroy magic to mandate the minimum amount of minutes/replies that every member of this forum earns.

People want minimum wages just like they fail to grasp that this forum is a market. The two are one in the same. If somebody grasps that this forum is a market then they won't want minimum wages to be mandated.

If this forum wasn't a market...then it would be a command economy. We wouldn't be able to shop around for the most valuable threads to spend our time on. Instead, we'd be marionettes, our time would be allocated for us. Planners would create threads and allocate our time/replies accordingly. It's a given that we'd spend most of our limited time reading and writing about topics that really didn't match our preferences.

Do you think it's a coincidence that there isn't a single forum that is a command economy or a representative democracy? Maybe? Perhaps it's just been overlooked? It's entirely possible that nobody thought to create a forum structured exactly like our public sector. Well...now the thought is out there. If you truly believe that our public sector creates so much value...then you'll jump at the chance to earn your own magic moon by starting a representative forum.

Just take your business proposal to the bank. Tell the loan officer that you want to start a forum that works exactly like our public sector. How could he possibly doubt the business model? Or, if you want to be ironic, try and crowdfund your top down forum.

Boy...wouldn't I be surprised if one of you actually did it? I'd be even more surprised if you made any money. Holy cow would you make me eat my words. How awesome would that be for you? You'd have plenty of money and real evidence that command economies can function and even thrive.

It's funny because the Nobel Prize winning liberal economist who provided the best (most widely cited) economic justification for our government is the same guy who said, "the Soviet economy is proof that, contrary to what many skeptics had earlier believed, a socialist command economy can function and even thrive."

C'mon you believer...create your command forum. If the proof doesn't quickly materialize then cry aloud to Samuelson; for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked.

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