Saturday, July 10, 2010

Sam's Club™ Capitalism and the Incentives of Outsourcing - or - Making Millions on the Marketplace of Ideas via the Particapatory Panopticon

Everyone has them... Those 'Million Dollar Ideas'.

You'll just be sitting there enjoying a cocktail with some friends when someone makes a passing comment about potato chips, or wine bottles. "Hey, why do they design them that way? So stupid!" And then it hits you: "Oh my god! - If I made a double-dip preventing potato chip dip dispenser, I'd be a millionaire five times over! I mean I would totally buy one of those if they made them. Wouldn't you?"

Of course, half the time we completely forget we even had these ideas - especially when there are wine and/or potato chips involved. The other half of the time, we simply put them away in the back of our minds because, hey: "When am I ever gonna have the time, energy or resources to develop a pull-powered mp3 player for my toilet paper dispenser? Never, that's when."

Nor should you really have to. Not only are you not in the business of developing, manufacturing, or distributing such things, but there are companies out there that are in that business and who have a much better chance of actually getting a new product to market. Of course, unless you beat them to the punch, you'll never see a nickel. The problem is - there is no real marketplace of ideas.

The trope "the marketplace of ideas" exists already -- a rationale for 'freedom of expression' based on an analogy to the economic concept of free markets.

(That the 'truth', or that the 'best policy' can only be found through the competition of various ideas in free, open, transparent public discourse. This is something we desparately need as a species. I bet there's probably some eight year old out who's already figured out how to stop the flow of oil from the Deepwater Horizon.)

But there is no literal marketplace of ideas -- a place where one could go to sell their great ideas to companies that were actually, realistically capable and equipped to develop them.

Why not?

Because corporations don't want that. It's much more profitable to just steal your idea, get it to market as quickly and as cheaply as possible and then to split with the profits before anyone notices that they never even bothered to buy a license for the patent or that the Chinese company that they outsourced the manufacturing to still utilizes Child Labor™, and makes products containing things like lead and asbestos... All before selling the products back to us!


Because that's what's incentivized. Thanks to the mantra of "rational self interest" and the institution of Globalism™, if you - as a budding inventor - hope to see any profits from your widget, you will have to outsource the manufacturing to someone. In fact, if your company wants to get that Venture Capital you're after, you'll be expected to streamline your business model by outsourcing the production to the lowest possible bidder. Thus, the only way left to acheive the American Dream™, is to own the means of production by starting a corporation and then selling the new jobs that you've created - jobs your fellow countrymen could probably use right about now - to a bunch of 'Communists'. And we wonder why we are screwed up as a species.

But that's okay, because apparently Americans™ don't want to work in production labor. According to Arturo Rodriguez - president of the United Farm Workers of America, speaking frankly on the Colbert Report - illegal immigrants are doing the jobs that we don't want. Either way it's foreign labor, which means money flowing out of our economy and into the hands of foreign capitalists (who increasingly live in ostensibly communists countries). It's so ironic that this is the direct result of Republican and bi-partisan economic policies (NAFTA™, 'Free Trade'™, et al.) and yet it's so blatantly anti-American. It only benefits rich capitalists and leaves the American Worker out in the cold (just as it does the poor, hardworking, immigrant farm worker).  

But we're getting off topic here. How do you get your widget manufactured and marketed and make a million dollars so that you too can acheive the American Dream™? Well, if you're Roger von Oech, internationally-known creativity consultant and award winning inventor of The Ball of Whacks™ - a standard convex polyhedron (a Catalan Solid known as the triakis icosahedron) that this guy apparently saw fit to actually patent - you spend the $3K+ required to get a design-patent, then spend andother $20-$30K+ in attorney and consulting fees to get your LLC, etc. - then you license the patent to a Chinese manufacturing firm and sell the product back to Americans. But first you'll probably have to spend another $50-$100K navigating the confusing world of supply chains, distribution networks, trade fairs, gift shows, web developent and human resources. (Better set aside time to seek Venture Capital™) But once you've figured all of that out, you can proceed to write a book about the whole process, get it published and then travel around the country giving lectures on Creativity™ and the wonders of Free Market Capitalism™.

You can't patent a fork - you shouldn't be able to patent a shape that was discovered in ancient Greece - just because it was rediscovered in 1865.

Or if you're like me (or science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke™ - often hailed as the 'inventor' of using Geosynchronous Satellites™ for mass communication), you say screw all of that, I'll just publish it in my blog / article / book and make it an 'Open Source Idea'. Then everyone can see how bloody brilliant I am and I can boast that 'I thought of it first' without having to do a great deal of work to back up the assertion.

Interesting side note:

The first fictional depiction of a satellite being launched into orbit was actually a short story by Edward Everett Hale called The Brick Moon. The story was serialized in The Atlantic Monthly, starting in 1869. The idea surfaces again in Jules Verne's The Begum's Fortune (1879).

Where are these Million Dollar Ideas you keep talking about... Pinko?!

Keep your hat on.

Okay here's one: Don't you hate when you throw a party and people think that they can hijack your stereo and play whatever they want? I know I do! That's why I have equipped my stereo reciever with a biometric fingerprint scanner. Now if anyone wants to change my music, they have to get me to do it for them (this can get irritating). And because this thing can detect the difference between live and dead fingers, no one can even pry access from my cold dead hands.

How is that a Million Dollar Idea?

Because actually integrating a fingerprint scanner into a stereo receiver would help sell mad stereo receivers. Anyone who cares about Pro-Audio™ and has the money to spend on that stuff will jump all over it. My stereo is now just a Love Machine and it don't work for nobody but for me!

That's awesome! Why don't you patent, license and market that shit?

Because we can't! We just said that to illustrate a point! Pinko staff never even built the damned thing. Pinko just knows that it can be done fairly easily with stuff that's available off-the shelf. We can't afford a stereo receiver, much less a fingerprint scanner. Unless of course, they are made some place like China - in which case they will probably be both radioactive or filled with lead and prone to breaking after a week or two of normal use.

Sam's Club™ Capitalism

That's okay, because at $69.99, you can head over to Wall Mart and buy a couple more on the cheap, one for now and one as a backup for when the first one breaks. After buying a stereo receiver every few weeks for a year, you will have spent the exact same amount that you would have spent if you'd just splurged for a decent one in the first place. Or, if you have a truck, you can get a whole pallete of them at Sam's Club™ and then bring them home and sell them to your truckless non-Sam's-Club-Membership™-having neighbors for $120 each! It will save them the trip to the store and with the aproxiate $600 profit you'll make (minus gasolene, car insurance and liability insurance costs... and the cost of your Sam's Club Membership™... And your time), you can almost afford to do it all over again!

Jaguar can process 1.75 petaflop/s, or quadrillions of floating point operations per second

Whores at the Capitalist Gangbang

Besides, if you have a great idea in this country and you so much as think about it too loudly, you're basically fucked anyway: thanks to warrantless wiretaping via global, information-gathering and signals intelligence technologies such as AUZCANZIKUS (aka: "Echelon") - not to mention the ubiqity of the internet. And you thought they were hunting terrorists. Don't think the Corporataucracy can anylize and decypher all of that data? Think again! Thanks to new and improved information-theory based cybernetic techniques like advanced data modeling, neural networks, real-time econemetric simulators - not to mention the new breed of supercomputers (the Jaguar can process 1.75 petaflop/s, or quadrillions of floating point operations per second) - Corporate America can now instantly extract meaning from the vapours of panoptic nuance quicker than you can say "non disclosure agreement".

Now you know why all of your great ideas end up on television a week or two later. Sure it's probaby coincidence or the law of averages half the time - but what about the other half? There's probably a printer attached to a thin client somewhere that spits out great ideas as fast as you can casually mention them to your gaming buddies.

How do I know all of this? Because I thought of it first! Unfortunately, I also opened my big mouth. That's right, Pink0 - being a sort of human Jaguar - has QUINTRILLION DOLLAR IDEAS. And henceforth we am keeping them to are selves ;)

(speaking of which: Readers? Does Pink0 pass the turing test?)

Of course, Capitalists will invariably say things like: "It's the people who work the hardest that are able to bring ideas to fruition". But what they really mean is: "It's the people that are clever, sneaky and rich enough to steal your idea and get there first who are able to profit from ideas." That's because Capitalistsare self-deluded liars, theives and (more often than not) murderers and rapists.

Yeee Ha! Capitalism™!

Who needs authentic communities when we can all just compete with eachother for 'greenbacks'?

(Of course, there's really nothing green about them - they aren't even printed on hemp anymore - cunning and clever trick, calling them that, eh? The power of the elasticity of meaning that 'words' confer - harness the word and you've harnessed the mind of the listener [and if you're persistent enough: even the mind of the speaker])

Pink0 Staff says fuck all that! We have better shit to not bother doing than to run around like a bunch of god-damned chickens with our proverbial heads cut-off, competing with other Americans for an increasingly devalued dollar - a dollar that we'll never actually have enough of to buy anything worthwhile with, anyway. We'll be lucky if this stupid blog buys us a footlong turkey sandwich at Subway where you can Eat Fresh.

What a royal pain in our collective sphincters it is when Capitalists™ 'get their nut'.

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