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Old 12-05-2018, 01:49 PM
 
Location: Aurora Denveralis
3,820 posts, read 1,279,461 times
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Good comments. Thanks.

I don't think this is about macro-capitalism or national policies or Fed rates, though. This is the very small-scale grit of our socioeconomic system - which is of course supported by and feeds from the bigger elements, but is operating on a scale and with brownian motion of its own. The last 20 years of consumer marketing and products from established sellers has fed the notion more than anything, but I truly think we've turned a corner to accepting as a bedrock notion that absolutely every thing in every life is merchantable and subject to monetization. And that that notion would have been seen as satire or farce or nonsense within most of our adult lives.

The example shouldn't be taken too strongly - yeah, yeah, renting a mall space and fitting it with nap cubicles is perfectly fine and legal and so forth. It's the idea that something as individual and intimately personal as sleep can be sold back to us. Even the right to breathe has been monetized (unsuccessfully, in the long run) - remember "oxygen bars"?

That we have crossed the line between things that are sold to us and things that are inherent and free, with more and more of the latter are being packaged and branded and marketed and sold and embedded as an essential purchase, is disturbing. No, it's not a completely new and revolutionary thought; I'm one of those who have been analyzing and railing against consumerism for the better part of a decade. But the notion inherent in the term hypercapitalism brings together a bunch of somewhat different viewpoints into one that can be thought of as a new entity in modern socioeconomics - and something that is even more wholly negative than consumerism as a whole.

Look at it this way: by allowing ourselves to be sold everything including the right to stand in a particular spot of no other value, and sleep, and water, and air, and vague 'privileges' that no one before thought of as something that had to be purchased as a product, we're cementing ourselves even more solidly into the consumerist paradise of the conglomerate makers, who want us to buy our very right to exist from a store filled with nothing but their products.

The predecessor of this notion is a whole host of racist, discriminatory, demeaning caricatures of pushcart peddlers who would sell you your own hat if you set it down and find a way to charge you for just standing in front of them while they sold you a minimum of value for a maximum of return - insert your stereotype here. About the only moderately PC one I can offer is "Mr. Haney" from Green Acres, who would show up to sell absurd products and solutions, often ones that were already in hand by the hapless Douglasses.

Do we really want a society in which the Mr. Haneys are our guiding lights and arbiters of behavior?
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Old 12-05-2018, 01:59 PM
 
321 posts, read 166,028 times
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They are not selling bottled air (yet).
The logic stated up somewhere that you don't buy if you don't want it. The problem is that the free alternatives start disappearing once the paid option gains traction. The city may say that you can't sit or sleep in the park since now you have an option. If bottled air is available everywhere, the gov't may stop caring about clean air act.
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Old 12-05-2018, 02:07 PM
 
Location: Aurora Denveralis
3,820 posts, read 1,279,461 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bp25 View Post
They are not selling bottled air (yet).
I beg to differ. I picked up some Sudafed for my meth lab the other day, and right there next to the pharmacy window was a shiny, high-design standup with three sizes of canned oxygen. At staggering prices.

Now, admittedly, I'm in Denver and newcomers and visitors do discover the fun of 20% less O2 until they acclimate, but I doubt these sleek cans are only sold here. If they were dull and medicinal and generic, it would be one thing, but these are as styled and polished and pushed like a bottle of Pantene or Dasani.

Quote:
The logic stated up somewhere that you don't buy if you don't want it. The problem is that the free alternatives start disappearing once the paid option gains traction. The city may say that you can't sit or sleep in the park since now you have an option. If bottled air is available everywhere, the gov't may stop caring about clean air act.
I started to misread you there, but now applaud. The only thing you're missing is the middle ground - in between no coercion and gummint requirements, the vast field where endlessly pervasive marketing convinces people that products are a must-have, and prices are what the market will bear. Saying either "Only stupid people buy that stuff" or "It's their money and they can spend it any way they choose" is the willful self-blinding to a truly predatory system.
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Old 12-05-2018, 07:49 PM
 
Location: Eugene, Oregon
7,442 posts, read 2,343,162 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quietude View Post
So, a new word is coming into prominence in socioeconomic discussion: Hypercapitalism.
(Aside #1: New is a relative term, but Ngram tapers off around 1960 and the curve is almost flat from then until now. I was aware of the word as a word, but I just found it 'in the wild' for the first time last week. So yes, maybe you heard it in 1988, but it hasn't been part of the discussion until pretty much this year.)

There are a couple of overlapping definitions:
  • Pursuit of capitalist practices without regard to conventional norms.
  • The economic principle that everything can and should be monetized.
I just spotted this as a focal word last week, in a NY Times article about a company that is selling... naps. Little comfy cubicles in public spaces, rented for 45 minute naps - solo only, sorry. (The company behind it is the same Casper that's behind the mattresses presently being marketed to the moon; I guess that makes sense. They're monetizing sleep.)

Which kind of says it all - hotel rooms, for example, aren't solely for sleep. But these new nap-ticles are - you can't live there, you can't use it as an office or conference room or even a legitimate marital sex room; what they are selling you -selling back to you - is 45 minutes of sleep.

This concept crystallizes a lot of disparate thought about consumer economics, motivations, the aims of modern marketing and the general place of capitalism in the present day world. (And that's 'capitalism' reduced to the simplest of its principles, make and keep a profit from whatever you can.) I am still processing this against my general knowledge and my own prior writings, but it seems brilliant out of proportion to its simple neologism-ness.

We've allowed ourselves to be boxed in by a corporate, commercial, capitalist system that is determined to extract wealth from us in return for even personal, individual experience. When it goes from possessions to self-entertainment to control of diet to even small details of personal grooming to... sleep, I have to wonder what's left that we will consider rightly free and ours. Before you bash off a comment, think a few minutes about the things we (collectively) and you (almost certainly) pay for, happily and convinced of necessity and good value, that may have been "free" within a decade to the beginning of your adult years. They are packaging and selling our own lives back to us.

(Aside #2: To throw out a tiresomely shopworn example, it was not that long ago that bottled water as a commercial, marketed product was literally a punchline for SNL, NatLamp and MAD magazine. Let's not rehash that one; there are many others.)

Hypercapitalism. We are well into the first years of the hypercapitalist era, and selling us a few of our own ZZZ's might be the watershed moment.
Coming up on the future list of monetized things, that have been taken for granted as free:

1. Fresh, unpolluted air. Interior spaces that can be entered for an hourly fee, with no pollutants in what you breathe. Likely a big success in Beijing and Tokyo right now. Clean, bottled water is already on sale.

2. Fees or a license required to walk, run or ride bicycles on public streets or pathways. There are already permits you have to buy, to paddle a kayak or canoe on public waterways.

3. All public parks would require paid entry. They already do this on wilderness trails.

4. Needless to say, free public education would end. High, extra fees charged for sports participation.

5. A carbon tax would be placed on all people, for their personal emissions. Pets billed separately. Herds or flocks of livestock also taxed. An existence tax, if you will. Of course, a burial or cremation tax would be the final installment.

The possibilities are unlimited. Homeless or unemployed people unable to pay their fees, would be driven away, rather than helped. This would spread, as more and more were marginalized by the increasing financial burden. The collapse of society would be next on the agenda, the end phase of hypercapitalism.
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Old 12-05-2018, 08:33 PM
 
1,201 posts, read 405,151 times
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"...who would be the first, to offer their time, their expertise, their good advice free of charge?"

poll-takers have this problem.
essentially:
"if you want MY opinion, you will PAY for that."
since the polling organizations want people to pay for their product,
this amounts to assembly-line workers wanting to get paid.
details:
will you vote for X?
how much for my answer?
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Old 12-05-2018, 08:44 PM
 
Location: Ohio
18,318 posts, read 13,441,851 times
Reputation: 14220
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quietude View Post
I just spotted this as a focal word last week, in a NY Times article about a company that is selling... naps. Little comfy cubicles in public spaces, rented for 45 minute naps - solo only, sorry. (The company behind it is the same Casper that's behind the mattresses presently being marketed to the moon; I guess that makes sense. They're monetizing sleep.)
Yes, I know, they were on Shark Tank a month or two ago looking for capital investment.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Quietude View Post
Which kind of says it all - hotel rooms, for example, aren't solely for sleep. But these new nap-ticles are - you can't live there, you can't use it as an office or conference room or even a legitimate marital sex room; what they are selling you -selling back to you - is 45 minutes of sleep.
Yeah, so what?

No one is selling anything back to you. They didn't steal or take your time.

Everything has value, including time. What is it worth to you to get 45 minutes of uninterrupted quality sleep?

You aren't compelled to take any action at all, and if it's of no value to you, why do you even care?

It's not really up to you to decide how other people should spend their money.

Some people drive 30 minutes to the station to take a 2 hour train ride to New York City and then walk another 15-20 minutes to the office. Add in the hour to get ready for work, and for those keeping score, that makes for a 15-1/2 hour day, leaving only 8-1/2 hours for family time, personal time and sleep. Those with small children may not get quality sleep at home.

For some people, it might be worth it, and if it is, then it shouldn't cause you any angst.
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Old 12-06-2018, 07:54 AM
Status: "True liberal" (set 22 days ago)
 
3,874 posts, read 1,741,867 times
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I lost faith in democracy when they started bottling water. Then I saw signs in the rest areas, over water fountains, "Please do not wash feet" and I understood where they were coming from.

Monetizing the trivial, Threepeat, stuff like that doesn't bother me. One is born every minute and it's somebody's duty to advantage of it. I worry about the financialization of the economy. There is too much trading of every kind of security, both real ones and the fictional varieties, by everyone from the biggest banks to the man in the street can't be a good thing. It detracts from the real economy, from making a better mouse trap, which is how real progress happens.

Buying something and hoping to sell it at a higher price than you bought it for without having added any value to it doesn't enhance the total wealth. Appeals to the all-knowing market, to "market efficiency" is fine for academics but they would have explained the tulip bulb mania, too.
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Old 12-06-2018, 09:49 AM
 
321 posts, read 166,028 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quietude View Post
I beg to differ. I picked up some Sudafed for my meth lab the other day, and right there next to the pharmacy window was a shiny, high-design standup with three sizes of canned oxygen. At staggering prices.

Now, admittedly, I'm in Denver and newcomers and visitors do discover the fun of 20% less O2 until they acclimate, but I doubt these sleek cans are only sold here. If they were dull and medicinal and generic, it would be one thing, but these are as styled and polished and pushed like a bottle of Pantene or Dasani.


I started to misread you there, but now applaud. The only thing you're missing is the middle ground - in between no coercion and gummint requirements, the vast field where endlessly pervasive marketing convinces people that products are a must-have, and prices are what the market will bear. Saying either "Only stupid people buy that stuff" or "It's their money and they can spend it any way they choose" is the willful self-blinding to a truly predatory system.

You are right and the coercion will work in both direction. In addition to creating shiny bottles to lure people, they will lobby gov't to divert funds from EPA and similar state level agencies to other "useful" stuff such as subsidizing bottled air producing companies. You know, if you can't clean dirt from all the roads, just wear shoes.
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Old 12-06-2018, 01:36 PM
 
Location: Aurora Denveralis
3,820 posts, read 1,279,461 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mircea View Post
Yeah, so what?

No one is selling anything back to you. They didn't steal or take your time.

Everything has value, including time. What is it worth to you to get 45 minutes of uninterrupted quality sleep?

You aren't compelled to take any action at all, and if it's of no value to you, why do you even care?

It's not really up to you to decide how other people should spend their money.
Yep, yep, yep - Econ/Biz/BizEthics 101, right out of the package. Well, maybe 102, where the tips of the fangs are allowed to show to the already indoctrinated. A business's concern for its customer ends with their ability to pay. Got it.

However, I come at the issues from a considerably different perspective, which does not place the ledgers front and center where they block the view of everything else. All sales are not good sales. All profit is not a positive. Sellers of consumer goods do have a greater responsibility than making sure the dollars match the invoice.

This stripe of consumer selling has always been with us and probably always will, but the modern notion of consumer product business has taken it to heart: not "can I make a better product" or "can I create something new and truly useful" or even "can I outperform my competitors on a fair playing field"... but "how can I shear more pelt from this passing crowd?" It isn't even disguised, if you read business trades and entrepreneur writings. Very few companies come into existence to promote a genuine breakthrough product or improved one or sell the masses something truly worth their money; no, it's all about something akin to consumer-product derivatives, a way to squeeze and cajole money from a place where there wasn't even a wallet last week. Most self-designated entrepreneurs say so, flatly - they don't give a rat's tail anchor about what they actually do, as long as it's a new lever to pry loose money, preferably in a way that becomes insanely popular and is as proprietary or protected as possible. And forget about any ethical considerations about the exchange or the product's real value to the buyer - that all disappears into the smug, self-seving tautological BS you tapped about above. "If people are big enough suckers, it's on them and please pay attention to the carny-booth sign 'DO NOT BOTHER THE PLAYERS.' cuz it jest ain't your business, Vic."

So just maybe a lot of our current problems stem from not only the actual practice of this "shear 'em til they bleed, and then invent another way to shear 'em again" but from the mentality that that's all people are: economic engines, walking bitcoin-poopers, to be relieved of as much wealth as they can earn no matter what it takes. And if the old stuff won't do it, invent some new useless product or service or niche and convince them they can't live without it... ║: lather rinse repeat :║


I am finding 'hypercapitalism' to be the perfect summary description of this nasty, devolving process.
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Old 12-06-2018, 01:42 PM
 
Location: Aurora Denveralis
3,820 posts, read 1,279,461 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Troyfan View Post
Monetizing the trivial, Threepeat, stuff like that doesn't bother me. One is born every minute and it's somebody's duty to advantage of it. I worry about the financialization of the economy. There is too much trading of every kind of security, both real ones and the fictional varieties, by everyone from the biggest banks to the man in the street can't be a good thing. It detracts from the real economy, from making a better mouse trap, which is how real progress happens.

Buying something and hoping to sell it at a higher price than you bought it for without having added any value to it doesn't enhance the total wealth. Appeals to the all-knowing market, to "market efficiency" is fine for academics but they would have explained the tulip bulb mania, too.
See my previous post. Part of the faulty, Econ-101-driven view of things is that only "big money" really matters and the grift and deception of the flea market souk below is irrelevant.

I disagree in that more and more, national finance and macroeconomics are being built on this notion that people have no value except to expend their lives creating wealth to be vacuumed up by any means possible, including outright deception, sale of products that are not only lacking your 'added value' but have none to begin with, and the resonating thought that it's somehow wrong to let us carnival marks walk past without extracting every thin we've got.

But it's damnably difficult to get this point across to the average J. Consumer who is convinced he's a smart, savvy manager of his own choices and wealth, and twice as difficult to anyone indoctrinated in conventional economic theory, where the religious mantras are that all profit is good, all sales are positives, and a transaction is ethical or upright if both sides of the ledger entry balance.

A good place to start chipping away at this fossilized dogma is to consider that consumers don't exist in economic theory. There are only... sales. It's like evaluating the progress of a battle by counting only the number of bullets fired; whatever they hit is just irrelevant, if not the fault of the idiot who got in the way.
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