Key Concept: Optimizing For Scarcity

So the other day, someone (a reporter) asked:

“why is it that wifi coverage in disaster-zones, war-zones, slums, refugee camps is better than what I can get in my classy hotel?”

To which I replied “Because your classy hotel is interested in creating “billable events”, so they optimise for scarcity

Now Optimizing For Scarcity” is a concept I first heard in the video below – John Perry Barlow speaking at a conference hosted by one of the world’s most repressive “IP” regimes, for the benefit of large corporations – the gist of the entire event being “how can corporations and govts control the web?”. They invited JPB by mistake.

So that’s where it’s from.

Optimizing For Scarcity.

This is what corporations tireless and relentlessly do – they are completely about “making the maximum amount of money while delivering the smallest amount of value.

This is why the American Health “Industry” is fucked – this is why it delivers the lowest value at the greatest expense, of any country in the world. This is why 60% of US bankruptcies are due to medical bills. This is why 875,000 people in the US died of poverty in the US alone… before the crash of 2008.

The reason hundreds of millions of people die of… well, lack of these…


is because the institutions that deliver them are privatised, and therefore optimised for scarcity… and for those that aren’t privatised, there is a relentless pressure for them to be privatised. This is the end-goal of IMF colonialisation… to privatise the basic life support system, because when you do, you’ve basically got the population over a barrel.

Which is why in Bolivia it was illegal for people to collect rainwater from their rooves.

Which is why the first thing the US imposed on Iraq was a law making it illegal for farmers to plant seeds from the previous year’s crop.

Which is why in London, Rent is over 50% of the average income.

Which is why education has gone from being a basic human right, to an “investment”, the cost of which is geared to barely justify itself.

This is why the chocolate bars are so much smaller than they were when you were a kid. It’s not because you got bigger… they actually ARE smaller. It’s because there are people who’s only job it is, to pour over spreadsheets to see how more money can be charged for delivering less.

The purpose of bean-counting is to deliver fewer beans, for the same money.

The purpose of “IP” is to stop you re-planting the beans.

We need to recognise that optimising for scarcity is killing more people than Mao, Stalin, Hitler, and all of the religious nuts in the whole of human history put together (which for the record, is 67M + 47M) (Christianity was only marginally less dangerous than the black death).

We need to recognise that while corporations are good for providing soap and laptops, when they get into a position where they control life-support, they (systematically) become extremely dangerous.

We need to recognise that the bias towards optimising for scarcity is actually built into our currency – which is lent into existence as a scarce resource, rather than representing value created.

Or, in a nutshell, we need open-source everything.


1 Comment » for Key Concept: Optimizing For Scarcity
  1. It’s even worse than you are painting it. Those seeds they are insisting that be used instead are genetically modified in multiple terrifying ways, pesticides built in, nutrition diminished, etc.. I don’t think there is a chance to put things right. Game already over long ago. All there is to do is find whatever meaning remains.

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