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Re: [ox-en] Re: Scarcity and limitedness - again

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I think this is a bad definition because it contradicts itself and it
also contradicts at least one of its references:

 Item of consumption (such as air) that is useful to people, is
 naturally in abundant supply, and needs no conscious effort to
 obtain it. In contrast, an economic good is scarce in relation to
 its demand and human effort is required to obtain it.


Comapred to deposits / limitedness / scarcity the cited definition
refers to a special sort of deposits - ones with abundant supply.
Anything else is processed by humans or not in abundant supply and
thus not a free good. In particular Free Software is certainly not a
free good according to this definition because it needs conscious
effort to obtain it.

free software distribution is a free good, not its creation

when you produce a car you need to develop/design  it
then you have to duplicate the design

in cars both stages are non-free

in free software, second one is free

and first one costs are greatly reduced by peer to peer means,
that's the power of p2p

so you are right to say that free software is not a free good in its
creation stage.
Wikipedia is right in that.

According to this Windows is more like a free
good because on a new computer it is usually preinstalled needing less
conscious effort to obtain it...

usually you are charged for  windows in a new computer

The wikipedia definition is exactly what we need.

The Wikipedia definition contains things like "at zero cost, or almost
zero cost". I'm sorry but what does this really mean? Isn't a
newspaper a free good then because it comes at "almost zero cost"?

a newspaper  do not have zero cost or almost zero cost.

do you know about  cost concepts?

zero cost is something without cost. Free Software reproduction is almost
zero cost.
It have some costs, you need electricity to maintain networks, you have to
pay to build networks

but networks, internet, etc. are used for a lot of stuff, and you usualy pay
on a fixed rate. So you do not have direct cost involved in software copy,
downloading, distribution

So its almost a zero cost condition. That is what wikipedia is saying. I
usually speaks about zero marginal cost. But that is another discussion.

You could agree or not, but its meaning is clear.

scarcity, as normally defined,  is the consecuence of natural limits
and social economy production/distribution system

This is a nice example for thinking in the old paradigm. StefanMz' and
my claim is that with the new paradigm we need to challenge this
"wisdom" and to replace it by something which is more suitable.


Because you are mixing reasons for non-availability of resources like
deposits and limitedness with purely ideological factors like
scarcity. This cloaks the real reasons for scarcity and thus plays the
tune of those who are claiming that capitalism is something "natural".

not at all

capitalism is only a stage in historical socio economic development,

scarcity is not a ideological factor

In a scientific manner I think it's our duty to separate these
different reasons and explore closely what is the effect of a certain
structure of society and what is beyond a certain society.


The fact is that peer production or other production system will not
put a end to scarcity, at least until will find other energy and
material sources

do you have something to say here?

See above. Deposits are not subject to society at all, limitedness is
defined by the interaction between humans and nature and thus subject
to every society and scarcity is the result of ideological


In particular if we try to think about a new society beyond the
ideological constructions of scarcity - which is needed ethically and
given by peer production practically - then we need to distinguish
these things very carefully.

scarcity exists because physical limitations and socio economic

peer to peer production will not remove scarcity, it will reduce by some
amount, nothing more, as happens with free soft development.

You still needs some time to develop a program. You could reduce the time,
but not completely erase it.

you did not give arguments to change scarcity or commons/free goods

I hope I gave something comprehensible now.

not for me. I do not see any contradiction in wikipedia definitions.

yes, but you will have less oranges

Though I think this is not universally true - production has lots of
degrees of freedom - I get your point. But did you get my point that
beyond a system of abstract exchange leading to scarcity this is
subject to a political decision?

of course. I do not believe in adam smith market invisible hand,at least not
in a religious way.

"free" markets, or "free monopolies" as we have now, are not natural
constructions, are social ones.
They develop form economic structure, and need specific political conditions
to do so.

In fact in soviet union capitalism was not the rule. So capitalism could be
profoundly afected by politics

But scarcity and capitalism are not in a one to one relationship

You have scarcity in soviet union, also. They could give a house, a job,
education, health to everyone, but not big cars to everyone.

While it is not subject to a
political decision under market conditions?

market existance and rules are a political decision

Today states make
decisions like this to some degree but states are expected to be not
subject to markets.

not in my country. Its usualy acepted here that state must regulate and
create markets. Some people argue against that but they are reputed as
neoliberal. Menem government was an example of that position, That positions
are not easily accepted today. Its clear here that "dolar price", for
example is decided by government. Central Bank do that.  In fact menem fixed
by law to one.

Or you *can* invest in new
technologies to solve the need for more energy. If you like this is
the field of politics in a post-scarcity world.

we are not in a postscarcity world, now humankind is desperately
for new energy sources, and there isn't nothing obvious in front of us.

It's true that we are not in a post-scarcity world. But we need to get

I do not think is possible because scarcity,  nor good because
medioambiental limits.

And a post-scarcity world will *not* be a world without
limitedness. Limitedness is always there.

if you have limits you will have scarcity, thats part of scarcity

you could have scarcity without limits. For example if some people reduce
food  distribution to others by force, or by capitalistics means.

But if you have limits, as we have, then you will have scarcity, even in a
non capitalist society, even in a peer to peer, socialistic,
exploitation-less society.

As far as energy sources are concerned: Day by day the sun sends an
amount of energy to earth which for quite some time will be
sufficient. I.e. the deposit is there.

Under a non-scarcity regime humans would have thought about using this
source of energy long ago - i.e. they would have tried to move the
limitedness from "no access to solar energy" to "enough access to
solar energy".

Under the scarcity regime we are living in this did not happen or at
least not to the degree which is needed - *despite* the fact that at
least in the Western countries the societal need for such an advance
in technology is clear at least since the 1970's.

Now the concept of scarcity enters the scene. Scarcity describes a
situation where despite better knowledge there *won't* be more apples
- for instance to keep the prices high.

you are inverting cause-effect here

you will need to  invert first and then you have quantities and then

ok, they are "unknown differential equations", and everything is related,
but you have a time delay in inverstments => production. Tree growth is
due in a minute.

you can choose if you will have (in the future)  cheaper apples or
oranges, but if you have a limit in human work time or in capital
investment, or in technologies, you can not produce every good you could
want at the price you want.

Nobody is saying this. I hope you got this now.

But I *am* saying that it makes a big difference whether the societal
system prevents humankind to make a decision in one or the other
direction or not.

I agree with that.

But facing the upcoming climate catastrophe we can only say: Too
little, too late. And whether it will have an effect at all is not
clear yet (think Kopenhagen where the scarcity regime prevented
recognizable progress once more).

I agree, capitalistic regime is doing so.

some "natural", some not, we could produce more goods, and distribute
better, but we can not produce everything we want without limits, and
is ussually called scarcity.

I hope that I was able to make clear that for *our discussion* it is
of utmost importance to distinguish between deposits / limitations and

yes, of course it is usefull to understand what part of scarcity is due to
political/economic capitalistic system and what part is due to  "nature".

If you want to speak of "limitdness" about natural limits, its ok

For scarcity, limitedness and deposits I gave a short definition
above. Could that serve at least as a starting point?

by now I prefer to stay with wikipedia

I could understand what you mean about limitedness, perhaps you could try to
setup that idea in wikipedia

but I think scarcity is better defined in wikipedia.

I'm somewhat hesitant trying to define xy good. xy is not a feature of
the good but of the societal production process the good is produced
by - see my respective remarks on "rival goods" for instance. So it
would be wrong to attribute this to a good as such. But may be a good
definition taking this into account could be given. Any ideas?

a good is a concept related with production

we are not speaking about physical properties of a good, but socio economic

so goods classification does exactly that:  speaks about  features of that
stuff related to its economic and social relationships.

some stuff could be classificated diferently as a good in diferent

Diego Saravia

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