Friday 19 September 2008

The Monopoly Problem

Here is the problem.

It's the problem I see every day.

Technological efficiency.
Bigger really is better. It's about economies of scale.

The workerless factory really is a viable possibility. It is possible- in theory- for most of the goods we now need to produced, largely by systematic button pressing. Not even that.

But herein lies the failing of the capitalist mode.

Ultimately, the most efficient wins. Everybody competes to outdo eachother and gain dominance in a certain sector.
But the capitalist mode depends on a consumer choice which is ultimately self defeating.

The real long term value of consumer choice was that it meant that the fittest to provide eliminated the least fit.
The most efficient enterprises, those who could minimise their production costs, won increasing shares of the market because they were able to offer us BETTER goods, cheaper.
Whilst the global infrastructure was in a state of genuine growth (as in, actually being constructed, a process which has largely happened now), this competitive drive to win the ultimate prize saw living standards get better and better. The problem is the rules of the paitalist system are such we daren't TRUST any of the competitors to take the ultimate prize.


Only if it's the board game.

The problem is, once globalisation has been reached, is this.

No matter what product you choose, the bigger the economy, the more efficient it can produce. The provider has more to invest and could reduce its costs to maximum efficiency. The more people it provides to, the less energy it needs to use up on providing to each individual.

The problem is, when you reach Oligopoly point. When the key players are few enough in number to make private agreements between themselves not to undercut eachother too much.

Which is where we are today, in most sectors.

The problem is this. If all the food production in each continent was in the hands of a single organisation, that organisation could produce food to ultimate efficiency. It would have optimum efficiency, in terms of use of energy and ability to invest.

But as things stand, we couldn't trust such an organisation. Because, without competition, it could charge us what it liked. We'd have no power over it.

Capitalism has achieved it's purpose. It has created a global economy.

And in a global society, a co-ordinated global system of production and distribution is the MOST EFFICIENT WAY TO USE HUMAN ENERGY AND TECHNOLOGY.

Effectively, monopolies in all forms of production and distribution.

But we can't actually risk that. Monopoly corporations having power of life or death over us.

Exactly. My point.

We are now at that stage where the most efficient and most productive mode of human existence at our fingertips is one we can't allow, because we can't trust anyone to run it.

Private control over the means of production and distribution has now become the KEY OBSTACLE to human progress.

Because the most efficient way to produce and distribute, really is to have global co-ordination of those functions.

But we can only do that, if those administering them have no power to milk them.

We have to have democratic control over those appointed to administer that infrastructure on our behalf.

Because there is no sector where a monopoly wouldn't actually be the most efficient solution. It's just there is no sector where we'd trust corporations to run a monopoly.

Can't you see the point?

If we can't trust corporations to run the most efficient solution we can think of, then ultimately, monopolies aren't the problem, it's corporations.

If we had monopoly administrations, whose Executive Officers weren't appointed by shareholders, and weren't appointed by the government either (this is why nationalisation has never worked), but were elected by the entire population and paid a fixed salary like any other elected officer, elected on the basis of whether they could provide for us as efficiently and cheaply the best products they could, otherwise we'd vote them out, can you not see that really, Democratic Communism NEED NOT BE a dirty concept?

This is the answer.

No governments, no corporations.

Just an array of separate Executives, elected by the people they serve, each responsible for a specific section of the human infrastructure.

We'd elect a Food Executive. And a Transport Executive. An Education Executive. A Police Executive. A Technology Executive. A Health Executive.

Every aspect of our culture a SEPARATE Executive, each one elected by the population.

Our states don't need leaders, we're past the need to worship human beings and see them as saviours. Central government, it's an anachronism unsuited to the needs of modern life. Or modern FREE life, I should say. An anachronism that has a tendency to turn malignant.

And the legislature?
In the world of the internet, why do we need one?
Why not have direct democracy?

Why not have these Executives ask US every time they want to change a rule?
Ask us to our faces, direct.

You say this is a dream, its unrealistic, its unfeasible.
It's not, and I stand by it.

I give the Capitalist system fifteen to twenty more years, maximum.

And then the whole lot is coming down, it is.

And I believe that what I've just described, is the model we should look to establish on it's ashes.

The future's bright :)


Anonymous said...

We don't like monopolies not because we don't have "power" over them, but because they tend to become very inefficient very quickly. Competing companies always have one eye on the competition so are always looking to stay efficient. You only have to take a look at the public sector or a monopoly industry such as water to see how many resources can be wasted through out-moded practices.

It is not a zero-sum game.

Anonymous said...

Ah, you miss the point :)

The whole point of competition was that it offered us a rather crude democratic power.
We, the consumer could buy our sausages where we wanted.

We had freedom to buy the best sausages.

Or choose the best electricity company.

As the infrastructure developed and production got more and developed, ability to provide best quality became more and more to do with size.

Till eventually that crude democratic power of the consumer is lost.

The Oligopoly.

The only solution to regain that power the consumer orginally had- and which s/he NO LONGER CAN HAVE, in sych a world is to give him back control over who provides his sausages/electricty, etc.

You se, in the crude early of capitalism ther's a powerful incentive to give the consumer what he wants. If you don't, you won't have an income.

The ologipolies don't have to worry about that so much now. They can control the market, so it's not the consumer they have to worry about, it's the shareholders. So you have all the DISadvantages of a monopoly without the advantages.

Now the trick is to make those running whichever sector it is, accountable to the consumer. in other words, if they DON@T deliver the best they can in terms of efficiency, they have no income.

Because the people who use their services can vote them out and appoint someone else to fill their shoes.

So they can't be inefficient. We'd vote them out.
If yopu had a monopoly adminidtration, the entire Executive board of which came u for election on a full public vote every year, they would campaign to win on full public statments demonstrating to us the consumer exactly how they were going to deliver us the best deal. And we'd vote in the ones who we were satisfied would that.

If your job's on the line, you make sure you do it properly.
And their jobs would always be on the line.

Anonymous said...

Except when you look around you at the institutions we do have "democratic" control over, they are the most inefficient of the lot!

Anonymous said...

"And in a global society, a co-ordinated global system of production and distribution is the MOST EFFICIENT WAY TO USE HUMAN ENERGY AND TECHNOLOGY."

How so ?

Anonymous said...

This was minimal at best CBI: there are plenty of 'monopolies' that the people have control over (NHS for one) and not one of those 'public' corporations/businesses is better or better ran than the myriad private companies.

Competition isn't about efficiency (except where efficiency = profit), competition is simply about making money.

Businesses are in business to make money, they do not get there by being humane, or by going with popular sentiment (except by virtue of supply and demand) they are simply there to make money for the people that made them.

If you made anyone in charge of any monopoly by simply electing them and then having the power to ... un-elect them if they aren't 'efficient', then you have no done anything except take the power out of the hands of the people that actually know what they are doing and put it into the hands of the people that are popular.