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Old 12-04-2018, 03:44 PM
 
Location: Aurora Denveralis
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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.
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Old 12-04-2018, 10:54 PM
 
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Blame (credit?) Milton Friedman, for the idea that anything has a price. Recoil in disgust from the holiest and most fundamental things having a monetary value? Friedman would aver, that your disgust is over the price being insultingly too low, rather than there being a price per se. It is a bit gauche to agree with him, but his point has merit. Suppose that we have a life-threatening defect in some new product (Ford Pinto?). Perhaps it really does make sense to estimate the litigation-value of a human life, and to decide if it’s financially worthwhile to correct the defect (thus saving lives), or to abide the potential deaths, paying the cost in court, but saving money on redesign of the product? Friedman’s point was that this shouldn’t be a moral question. It’s strictly a financial question. The right answer is the one that makes the most money for the shareholders. Callous? Probably. But do we seriously ask any question, beyond the question of what maximizes profits? Maybe Friedman wasn’t being a jerk at all, but instead, he was merely being honest?

In a hectic and frenetic city, sleep is precious, and commutes are stressful. So, it makes sense to monetize sleep. After all, we’ve monetized pets, as companions… and monetized grooming them, walking them, boarding them. I read somewhere that in Japan, one popular scheme for improving one’s chances in dating and romance, is to rent a dog. There’s a service that rents dogs by the hour. Enterprising bachelors will rent the dog, walk him/her around the park, and thereby hopefully look more appealing to a potential (human) mate.

There’s an unavoidable escalation. If we face being charged for this or that service, it makes sense to retaliate by charging for everything that we can charge, which formerly we rendered for free. But… who would be the first, to offer their time, their expertise, their good advice free of charge? If no one, or hardly anyone, then the “hyper-capitalization” will escalate.

But by some measure, things were actually more capitalist in the past, and remain more capitalist in other societies. In some countries – call them second-world countries – entry to a shopping mall isn’t free. Admission is charged. That keeps out the riffraff. Until something like the late 19th century, public school wasn’t free. Instead of collecting taxes, building and running schools, education was left to the private sector.

It may well happen soon, that America’s infrastructure crisis will be “solved” by turning all highways into turnpikes, with fees assessed in proportion to need (density of traffic, time of day, etc.). This is already happening in some cities (DC, LA) in the express lanes; it may happen in all lanes. And if Betsy DeVoss gets her way, maybe free public school will be abolished, returning us to circa 1830?

Is there a solution? Again I ask: who will be the first to volunteer to offer services/goods for free? Who will talk (and act!) like the anti-Friedman?
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Old 12-04-2018, 11:01 PM
 
Location: Holly Neighborhood, AUSTINtx
3,475 posts, read 5,131,698 times
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You are not onto something profound or revolutionary.

Hard to tell from the article but it actually sounds like this is on someone's private property and there are actually employees (the steward) that probably want to get paid. If this was in a public space I am sure the NYC gov't would have a problem with it (e.g. like selling public parking spaces for a fee). That this is different from a standard hotel is irrelevant as one still has the option of sleeping at a park, library, underpass, employer, your own or a friend's bed.

The idea that more things are being monetized is more interesting but that just means that people are endlessly creative about extracting value from their property (think AirBnB which is predominantly made up of individual homeowners) and the fact that to provide a service almost always requires inputs of labor or capital that must be recouped. If you don't like the idea of someone making money off this type of endeavor then you just came up with the idea for a new non-profit that would still require donations to pay for their costs.
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Old 12-05-2018, 07:16 AM
 
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Do vending machines for food and drink upset you?

The bottom line is they have a space that has value. They may use that for a hot dog stand, or an atm machine, a newspaper rack, or maybe a space that rents you a bike. Why not sleep? Didn’t they even sell period pads in woman’s restrooms?

That’s the beauty of capitalism. If you don’t want it, don’t buy it. If enough people agree with you, those business should and will disappear.

I don’t see what’s so sinister about renting you a space to sleep. That’s valuable. My last employer had nap pods available as an employee benefit. People travel. People have stressful jobs with down time to recharge. The evil capitalists aren’t taking your sleep. Hell, you could roll out a blanket and sleep on the ground in the park if you wanted.

Last edited by Thatsright19; 12-05-2018 at 07:39 AM..
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Old 12-05-2018, 08:23 AM
 
978 posts, read 478,360 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thatsright19 View Post

Thatís the beauty of capitalism. If you donít want it, donít buy it. If enough people agree with you, those business should and will disappear.

"When the left and right speak of capitalism today, they are telling stories about an imaginary state. The unbridled, competitive free markets that the right cherishes donít exist today. The left attacks the grotesque capitalism we see today, as if that were the true manifestation of the essence of capitalism rather than the distorted version it has become."
https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/ar...talism-exposed
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Old 12-05-2018, 10:26 AM
 
2,319 posts, read 1,457,284 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunbiz1 View Post
"When the left and right speak of capitalism today, they are telling stories about an imaginary state. The unbridled, competitive free markets that the right cherishes don’t exist today. The left attacks the grotesque capitalism we see today, as if that were the true manifestation of the essence of capitalism rather than the distorted version it has become."
https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/ar...talism-exposed

Hmmm. There’s no competition yet....only 12 percent of the firms who were on the Fortune 500 in 1965 remained in 2016. The average length of time in the Fortune 500 is down to 15 years, which at one time was well over 30 years.
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Old 12-05-2018, 10:53 AM
 
5,911 posts, read 3,150,528 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thatsright19 View Post
Hmmm. Thereís no competition yet....only 12 percent of the firms who were on the Fortune 500 in 1965 remained in 2016. The average length of time in the Fortune 500 is down to 15 years, which at one time was well over 30 years.
That in itself doesn't say anything about whether there is or is not more or less competition.

Even the word "competition" is misused/overused today. When many speak of business and competition, they are still thinking like the lemonade stand, small business vs small business competition where if Mrs Olson charges to much for eggs in the Mercantile, you go across the track to Sam Drucker's store. And your business is significant enough to cause an impact to Mrs Olson to adjust her pricing policies. In today's world that doesn't happen. Your business just isn't significant enough for the decision makers forty levels up and a thousand miles away from the Giganto Megamart to care. Even if everyone, everywhere left Giganto Megamart, those decision makers simply take their Giganto Mega severance and move to SuperUltra and repeat the process. The decision makers and money changers make their money regardless of what happens to the business. When a business is "too big to fail" then that business is really too big to exist -- it is no longer operating under the rules that govern capitalism and is under a different set of rules than everyone else.

Unlike Mrs Olson and Sam Drucker they are just as disconnected from the results of their decisions as they are from their customers. Historically there were always at least two correcting forces at work -- the classic business forces and social ones. Because socially Mrs Olson and Sam went to the same churches as their customers. Their kids went to the same schools, played on the same teams. The coach of the kid's Little League team was also a customer and probably a supplier as well. Today the decision makers are removed and shielded from all that.

Friedman was wrong. There is a social cost to everything. The fact that the decision makers and money changers have shielded themselves from it, both community wise, and in terms of the legal system, doesn't change that. My fear is when that bill can no longer be pushed off, the cost to pay it will be very high.
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Old 12-05-2018, 11:52 AM
 
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Right. So the churn suggests to you that the leaders get to just coast and exist without threat?



Of course grandma mily and her cookie hut doesn’t compete with Nabisco. But you bet your ass Nabisco faces pressure from their competition...or their retailers.

Competition is ruthless.

Name me an industry that is not loaded with at least 3 to 5 major players with the resources to attack each other?
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Old 12-05-2018, 11:53 AM
 
6,933 posts, read 4,513,401 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tnff View Post
Unlike Mrs Olson and Sam Drucker they are just as disconnected from the results of their decisions as they are from their customers. Historically there were always at least two correcting forces at work -- the classic business forces and social ones. Because socially Mrs Olson and Sam went to the same churches as their customers. Their kids went to the same schools, played on the same teams. The coach of the kid's Little League team was also a customer and probably a supplier as well. Today the decision makers are removed and shielded from all that.
Massive, faceless corporations have been dominant since the time of Carnegie and Rockefeller. There have perhaps been stronger countervailing forces throughout most of the 20th century - forces that today are weaker, compromised and maligned. But the idea that it's only mom-and-pop businesses that primarily enter our lives, other businesses being peripheral and abstract, hasn't been viable since around 1880 or so.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tnff View Post
Friedman was wrong. There is a social cost to everything. The fact that the decision makers and money changers have shielded themselves from it, both community wise, and in terms of the legal system, doesn't change that. My fear is when that bill can no longer be pushed off, the cost to pay it will be very high.
Friedman was indeed wrong, if we use his analysis as the only or even the primary scheme for structuring society. But his specific point was about whether businesses have a social/moral responsibility, or not. If they do not, we can still have Friedman-endorsed capitalism, provided that there are controls and interventions by other means, and that these controls and interventions don't themselves become too gargantuan or intrusive.

But I think that there's a deeper problem here, deeper than Friedman or "capitalism". American society has never adequately addressed the tension between its two main roots: religious piety and business-adventurism. We think that these two ought to counterbalance, but they really don't. America has always been the land of zealous faith, and zealous desire to make money. Modern issues of inequality, of monetization of everything, etc., really are, I think, the consequence of never having adequately resolved this tension.
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Old 12-05-2018, 01:22 PM
 
1,760 posts, read 407,231 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by verybadgnome View Post
You are not onto something profound or revolutionary.

Hard to tell from the article but it actually sounds like this is on someone's private property and there are actually employees (the steward) that probably want to get paid. If this was in a public space I am sure the NYC gov't would have a problem with it (e.g. like selling public parking spaces for a fee). That this is different from a standard hotel is irrelevant as one still has the option of sleeping at a park, library, underpass, employer, your own or a friend's bed.

The idea that more things are being monetized is more interesting but that just means that people are endlessly creative about extracting value from their property (think AirBnB which is predominantly made up of individual homeowners) and the fact that to provide a service almost always requires inputs of labor or capital that must be recouped. If you don't like the idea of someone making money off this type of endeavor then you just came up with the idea for a new non-profit that would still require donations to pay for their costs.
Maybe not.

But what would be profound and revolutionary is if the general public would eschew such highly congested areas and build out instead of up. This hypercapitalism is taking place in hyper-dense areas with very little privacy. The first-world equivalent of selling clean bottled water in 3rd world countries, because there is no accessible comparable alternative.
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