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Re: [jox] A response to Michel and Jakob

Hi Michel, all,

On 03/27/2012 01:19 PM, Michel Bauwens wrote:
what makes you believe that faced with healthcare issues, I will find with
certainty a right doctor and equipment willing to take care of me ... since
I'm facing this kind of issues right now as a peer producer without health
insurance, I'd be more than happy to follow your instructions ...

as you understand you, your reasoning seems to go like this:

1. If I had enough money, then I could afford to pay for health insurance
which would allow me to pay for any doctors I need (or I could just pay them

2. If doctors, like me, need to earn money, they'll offer me (and everybody
else who can afford it) their services in exchange for money, so I can find
some suitable doctor willing to treat me if I can offer them my money.

Your assumptions, while accurately reflecting the current situation, also
indicate what's wrong with it:

- Everybody is forced to work, or at least to try to find (paid) work. Not
only must you (and everybody else) work (or otherwise get income) in order
to get the money that grands you access to the services provided by doctors
(as well as to most of the other essential or nonessential goods which our
society has to offer). But also, looking at the same problem from the other
side, doctors must be forced to work, since otherwise they apparently
wouldn't offer the services you need, so your money wouldn't do you any good

- Since you must work, and everybody else must too, you are constantly
forced to compete against others. You compete for paid work you could do,
you compete trying to sell goods while others try the same. It may be less
apparent that it *has* to be like that, since it might seem that there could
miraculously be enough paid work for everybody, but such a scenario would
indeed be "miraculous" and has always been very far from reality.

- Additionally, in such a situation any peer production (generally unpaid,
voluntary, self-organized) is the enemy of those whose livelihood depends on
being paid for doing roughly the same work. The livelihood of people working
for Encyclopedia Britannica and Brockhaus has been endangered by Wikipedia,
professional musicians' livelihoods are endangered by all the free music
that is shared (legally or illegally) on the Internet, journalists are
endangered by blogs etc.

- Moreover, automation now becomes your enemy rather than your friend. A lot
of jobs have been made superfluous by computers. If you think that
everything which people do should preferably be fun or satisfying for them,
then any automation of tasks that aren't sounds like a good thing. But if
your livelihood depends on performing some more or less annoying and
unpleasant job, then you won't want it to be taken over by a computer or
machine, even if you otherwise wouldn't mind being rid of it.

Because of these conflicting tendencies, I don't think the scenario of a
long-term, more or less peaceful co-existence of peer production and market
production credible. Market production is totalitarian: if some goods (e.g.
health care in your example) are only available on the market (by paying for
them), then *everybody* must remain a market producer (engaging in some form
of paid work or else living from the work of others), since otherwise how
would they get the necessary money? The only conceivable exception is market
for luxury goods which nobody does absolutely need (i.e. NOT health care and
other essentials).

What are the alternatives? Either turning peer production into a form of
market production, yielding some income to those engaged in it, as you seem
to suggest. Then ultimately market production would win and the specific
characteristics of peer production would be lost. You would have to compete
against others in order to keep or gain market share. You would no longer
work voluntarily since your income now depends on your continuing to work.
You would be forced to keep some secrets from others to prevent them from
competing effectively against you. And so on.

The other alternative is to make people's dependency of income superfluous,
meaning that neither you nor anybody else needs to engage in paid work in
order to live a good life. This means finding answers to all the hard
questions: "If we cannot pay doctors to care for us, how else do we get them
to do it?" would be one of them. The basic form of the question is the same
as in: "If we cannot pay people to write an encyclopedia for use, how else
do we get them to do it?" That latter question has already been answered,
though finding the right answer was far from easy. The history of the
Nupedia <> is an instructive example of
the trial-and-error process that preceded the successful setup of the
Wikipedia -- trying to follow the processes of existing encyclopedias to
closely was among the biggest sources of mistake, I believe. Similar
trial-and-error processes will be needed for all other areas of life, and I
suppose that trying to follow the example of capitalist enterprises too
closely will be the source of many other mistakes and that peer-produced
health care, or education, or furniture production, or computer manufacture,
or whatever, will look more different from the currently used processes than
we can imagine.

Meanwhile, for a long time we'll remain in some kind of hybrid situation,
where many people will be engaged in some kind of peer production, while
still needing some kind of paid work (part-time maybe, like me) to get the
money necessary to buy what peer production cannot yet provide.

Best regards

|------- Dr. Christian Siefkes ------- christian -------
| Homepage: | Blog:
|    Peer Production Everywhere:
|---------------------------------- OpenPGP Key ID: 0x346452D8 --
The perceived value of a thing is inversely proportional to the ease with
which it can be duplicated. If the public simply refuse to acknowledge
that copying books or movies or software is wrong, then in a democracy, it
will eventually cease to *be* wrong. People elect the legislators, and
legislators make the laws.
        -- Ernest Adams, The End Of Copyright

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