Saturday, July 12, 2008

The music business: the death of retail

Anyone who persists in believing the fiction that downloading music for free only hurts big corporations and is therefore morally justifiable should really read this piece from last week's Newsweek. There's a Sal -- an independent music retailer / small businessperson -- in every town. I don't want mine to go away. What about you?


Mike said...

That was perhaps the worst puff piece I have ever read. If anything, this is evident that people demand a new form of delivery for their music. How can you argue at all with that logic.

People stop going because they demand a new delivery method, REGARDLESS of whether it is piracy, through iTunes legally, etc.

If you've got people on the edge of whether to pirate music or not, they sure as hell will not go to these independent stores that most likely have a higher price than Walmart, Best Buy, etc.

Why is this a problem? This is what people want. There is a demand for a new delivery method. If independent stores were still profitable, people would still start them and still run them. But obviously, transaction costs are so low with digital delivery, to most people it makes no sense to go out of there way to physically get the product

Jason Warburg said...

Where to start.

It was not a "puff piece" -- that's a fawning article a reporter writes about someone else. This was a first-person narrative by a guy who lost his business and livelihood.

You keep saying "people this" and "people that" as if everyone agrees with you. You might want to consider the possibility that some don't. I don't demand a new delivery method. I still go to my local music store almost every week and buy my music from real people and know that I am compensating them and the artist appropriately for the value added.

And by the way, the DV does not accept digital submissions from artists -- only CDs. So there's another example of what "people" want. I want artwork and lyric sheets and a physical product. And I enjoy the opportunity to talk to a human being about the product as I'm considering whether to buy it.

Finally, you seems to have either accidentally or purposely sidestepped the main point of my post, which had little to do with LEGAL downloading and everything to do with ILLEGAL downloading. If you're one of those folks who sees no moral or ethical issues with stealing the artistic output of musicians, then we have nothing further to discuss.

Mike said...

However, you also miss my point. I understand you wish to concentrate on piracy, but piracy and iTunes are much in the same. Piracy just has a much lower cost, but basically the same delivery method. Let me ask you a question. Why is iTunes, digital delivery, and piracy so prevalent? (I'm assuming you would say that this is a truth nowadays, especially since you consider piracy's impact immense)

Answer: Because it has low transaction costs associated with it, and people's time preference rates are extremely high nowadays. It is incredibly easy for people to use technology now to get the entertainment they desire. Just because YOU don't like it doesn't mean that there is not a definite trend in consumer demand for digital delivery. Frankly, and I mean no offense, I could give a crap if your favorite indie record store goes down because I can get the same exact music for cheaper, and quicker, through other methods (including piracy). I, personally, find no reason to drive to the Exclusive Company (basically the only "record" store around me), pay 15 bucks for THE EXACT SAME MUSIC I could get at Best Buy for 9.99.

Piracy and such isn't a phenomenon where young kids are being pirates for the hell of it. I can point to NUMEROUS studies that say piracy has a negligible impact on CD sales (namely one by researchers at Harvard and UNC, who even thought that they had it wrong when they found the results). Now you might say that there are plenty of studies that also show it may harm record sales (however, those are usually done by the RIAA, a quite biased source). If anything, this shows that there is no set answer. One cannot definitively say that piracy == the death of independent retail stores.

Regarding compensating the artists and such, you compensate the same amount when you buy from iTunes or other method as well. You will probably say, "Well, piracy doesn't compensate at all". That is very true, I concede that. But if one were in the habit of pirating, and decided to change, he would most likely switch to a service like iTunes, because it's lower cost and less time than a store. And you probably know that this is INCREDIBLY little regardless. Most musicians get their money from concerts, not the album itself. You can find numerous artists who go "Hey, steal my album, but come to my concert".

Tom Brokaw really said it best. "Any appearance of "piracy" is market correction. ". He is not saying it's right or wrong. He's showing that people demand a different way of getting their entertainment. If people do it because it's free, that shows that things are priced too high. If people do it because it's quicker, that means that they do it so they don't have to drive to the store and get it. If piracy has such a HUGE affect on the music market, don't you think that the RIAA and co. should start adapting and catering to the trends that consumers desire, rather than just butchering people with what they obviously think is an incredibly high price for music? Especially with gas being even more expensive today, and other factors, it makes more sense why these independent record stores close. There is a change in the way people want their music, and the economic state of the country makes it all the more appealing to just sit at home and download from iTunes, or even pirate.

Shortened Version: It makes complete sense why independent record stores are failing. Other than environment, there is really no reason to go there anymore. Digital delivery, through piracy or not, is the trend right now. It's easier, and hell, with DRM artists even have more control over copyright with their music. While piracy may be ethically wrong, there is a reason WHY it's happening, and it's mostly due to the RIAA, the record labels, and economic conditions. It is quite unfortunate that the artists really have no say in this, it really is.

Jason Warburg said...

I was trying to think how to respond to someone who so passionately espouses a view that I can't relate to at all. I'm even having a hard time picking out exactly what it is about your perspective that I find so alien and unfathomable. Is it the implication in your tone that all forward progress and change is de facto a good thing? Or the implication that the market is never wrong, so despite the lives wrecked and lost human connections, who cares if independent music retailers go bust? I'm not really sure, but I did immediate draw the connection between my feelings and a recent statement by Pete Townshend on the subject of the music industry, record labels and iTunes (

"...As for the record industry, I'm stunned at how many fools there are who don't see that it operated once just as literary publishing houses did - the pop hits were like the crime pot-boilers that paid for the poetry. Without the pop, the seriously adventurous composers would never have been recorded at all. Without a record company I would not have been able to survive awkward periods of my creative cycle, the simple ups and downs of life. I don't sack someone just because they have a baby or get sick or depressed. My record company allowed me the same license to fail to show up for work sometimes. They stood by me. iTunes simply doesn't have the heart, it is software attached to a bank, nothing more, nothing less. Brilliant, but heartless."

Mike said...

Not gonna let you off that easy :). BTW, thank you for having a constructive argument with me.

Anyways, so you found Townshend saying that. Here's David Byrne, equally as respected saying the COMPLETE OPPOSITE of what your argument is.
Not to mention I can name countless MEGA-huge bands that think iTunes people are true artists (like U2). However, you have your opinion.

I'm still not quite sure what you are trying to say here. I'm gonna take a stab and say that you are saying that piracy is closing down these independent record stores, which offer a enjoyable environment that allows for more personal connections and discussion, potentially.

If this is the case, the argument is not about music at all. Let's take a look at this from two angles. First we have a mom and pop furniture store being bought out by Walmart. The other a music store being shut down by whatever we want, iTunes, other digital delivery, piracy, whatever...

In the first case, I can go to a mom and pop furniture store and probably get a higher quality product than at Walmart. Maybe a bit higher in price, but might be worth it because it is a different product.

In the second case, let's say I want to go buy the Disturbed CD. Whether I go to the record store or Walmart, i am getting the EXACT same product. There is no difference whatsoever. The ONLY difference is that I can maybe make some friends at the record store. There's no difference in the music, only in the way it is delivered. And that is why it makes perfect sense why these stores are closing down. People will take whatever option has a lower cost associated with it.

You personally value your experience in the record store. I have no problem with that, and in fact, if I had a record store, I would probably enjoy the environment like you do. The fact remains is that it's not worth an extra sometimes TEN DOLLARS to buy the exact same product, but have it given to me by someone who knows a lot music and that I can talk to about it. If you do, that's great, but it's obvious due to statistics and the trend in piracy, or legal digital delivery, that this is not the case with a majority of people these days.

This is what people want. That's the fact. I don't see how you can really argue with demand.

In specific, to help me clarify, cuz I almost feel like I'm rambling, but what is really the crux of the argument? Is it that piracy is bad, indie record stores closing down is bad, or digital delivery is flawed?

Mike said...

BTW, correction, David Byrne doesn't say the "complete opposite". But he merely is pointing out the way an album is made, the different flaws in delivery methods, etc. BTW, he's a huge fan of the way Radiohead treated In Rainbows, and he has an obvious understanding that music cannot have a set price set by the RIAA.

Dan said...

But Mike, what about the indie record store owner? Didn't you read the article? He's SAD! You don't want more people to be SAD, do you? At the very least, his new prescription for Prozac is going to raise taxes and insurance rates for everyone else! We must all become his bestest, bestest friend and spend our money on his music - not health insurance - so that he won't be sad anymore.

Jason Warburg said...

Mike: The first two, not the third. I buy individual songs digitally on occasion. But I prefer albums and I prefer physical product and I prefer having the option to talk with real live human beings about the music I may be interested in buying.

Dan: Thanks for that. No doubt your friends are all very proud, and will be there to stand by you if you one day lose your job and livelihood to societal forces completely beyond your control. A question, though: does this mean you're laughing at all the autoworkers in Detroit who're getting laid off, too?

Mike said...

You know, maybe those auto workers should've specialized in their own comparative advantage or a special skill, instead of banking on living on putting/screwing Part A into Box B, hoping the union would cover their asses once auto companies figured out that they should be having machines do those jobs, not humans.

There is a reason I'm in school looking for a profession that can't be replaced. Fact of the matter is, many autoworkers can be replaced, and they should've realized it going into the job instead of thinking that they will never be replaced cuz of the almight union.


I'm not trying to say that piracy is right or wrong, because I don't think that is the argument here. All I'm saying is that there is a reason piracy exists, and it is not "I like to steal". Piracy, whether right or wrong, is a form of defiance. If piracy has such a massive impact, this shows that there is a strong discontent with the way the music industry handles its business, and that a new form of delivery is more liked and cheaper. Artists have begun to realize this (Radiohead, NIN, etc), and have bypassed labels completely as to better deliver their product to consumers. The Radiohead and NIN experiments were MASSIVE achievements, with the artists receiving even MORE money than they usually do from releasing a physical product. It's just the way times are changing.

Bruce Rusk said...

Mike, I enjoyed your posts, but I need to clarify a truth that escapes you.

The reason piracy exists is; "I like free shit and if I can get it I will, and fuck whoever gets screwed by it, because I want more free shit".

Lets not paint any fuzzy philosophical bullshit about defiance or rebellion on it, it's a method for greedy, lazy people to get free music. It's theft. Regardless of the issue with the indie record store owner or CD sales, it's theft. Next time you come out to your car to see the hole where your stereo once was, or your SSN gets phished and you just bought 10K worth of chrome rims for the guy who hijacked it, remember it's just a factor of the market, and an act of defiance.

Jason Warburg said...

"A form of defiance?" So, if you run a little corner store and it gets torched during rioting you're cool with that, because it was just collateral damage from a justifiable act of defiance? You can rationalize all you like and call it whatever you want; stealing music is still stealing, and stealing is still wrong.

As for your and Dan's lack of compassion for others, I'd be interested to see if your perspective would change if you were to walk a mile in the shoes of the people you're so quick to judge. You may have heard the old gag that a Republican is a Democrat who got mugged. You may not have heard the reverse: a Democrat is a Republican who got laid off.

Finally, the Radiohead/NIN examples are ridiculous ones to call upon here. Sure, you might be able to make money giving your music away if you already have an established global fanbase in the millions. However, that example sort of leaves out the 98% of artists who don't.

Mike said...

I'm not saying piracy ISN'T stealing. Of course it is. I'm not trying to argue that it is justified. But it is incredibly shallow to just say that piracy is only caused because suddenly younger kids today like to steal and think it's awesome. I'm saying that piracy has become prevalent for many reasons. Mostly, because of the attitude of the RIAA, the high price of CDs (in my opinion, at least), the economic state of the country right now (gas is a factor now when someone decides whether to drive or download), and the attitude of many artists. We all saw, in an extreme example, how Metallica was treated after the whole Napster thing. Fans tore them apart, burned their CDs, etc. If "I like to steal shit" was the attitude, why aren't all these pirating teens going out and doing just what you say, jacking cars, etc.

Regarding my lack of compassion, that's the way it works. Don't you at all believe in some sort of accountability? Any at all? There's a thing called specializing in a skill. For you, it might be writing. Writing isn't something that can be replaced by a machine, so that would probably be a good thing to get into. But factory workers who work on an assembly line for 8 hours a day putting a widget into a socket aren't specializing in anything. ANYBODY can do that. And they sure as hell shouldn't be getting paid union wages, especially when their marginal productivity of labor is a lot lower than the wage.

I think you guys misunderstood my point. Believe me, I'm all about property rights. Artists are entitled to control their property. That doesn't mean that piracy doesn't stand for something other than "HAR I LIKE TO STEAL". If someone torched my corner store, of course I'd be pissed, but 1. I'd have insurance 2. In your example they aren't rioting about my corner store or what I sell. I was just unfortunately caught up in the riot, so of course I'd be pissed. Piracy has a pretty direct correlation to the music industry, I would say.

I agree, stealing is wrong, believe me. But you can't just stick by that claim, and ignore perhaps the reason why people are stealing. If you want to stop stealing, you have to fix the root cause of stealing, and in this case, it's not as simple as "stealing is fun" like you guys claim it is.

Jason Warburg said...

And I think maybe you misunderstood my point as well. Let's be clear: the RIAA has been dumb as a pile of rocks in it shortsighted, ultra-defensive response to downloading. Metallica said a bunch of equally dumb things. And the problem is not "young people" -- a phrase I certainly never used, but you tried to put in my mouth for whatever reason -- the problem is stealing. There's nothing simplistic about calling stealing what it is, just as there's nothing rational about trying to rationalize the act of taking someone else's property without permission or just compensation. It's wrong. Period.

"That's the way it works." Again, I'd be interested to see if you'd be that laissez-faire in your attitude if it was you losing your livelihood instead of some person you'll never meet. "I'd have insurance" is another rationalization that assumes everyone else would be as fortunate as you and me. What if your economic circumstances were such that you had to choose between carrying insurance and feeding your family? What if you ended up an unskilled laborer because you never got to go to college because your family couldn't afford to have you stop working and helping to support the household? These things happen every day to regular hardworking people in America. These people aren't thinking "I'd better go into a profession that's going to give me a comparative advantage in the market ten years from now," they're thinking "how am I going to feed and clothe and house my family next week?" It's easy to cast harsh judgments on people when you don't have to deal with the circumstances that they do. And the world has never suffered as a result of people having too much compassion for one another; only the reverse.

Finally, many would argue argue that the "root cause of stealing" in our society is too many faceless corporations with super-rich CEOs laying off too many unskilled workers in order to boost that month's stock price. Maybe that's where we should start addressing the "root cause of stealing."

Bruce Rusk said...

"why aren't all these pirating teens going out and doing just what you say, jacking cars, etc."

Easy, stealing music has ZERO RISK of being caught, and if you do get caught, the penalties are puny or non-existent. And it's not just teens. I'm in my 40s and many of my peers do this, and yes I rag on them for it and guilt them into buying CDs.

"Stealing because I can" is the attitude. People are largely clueless and lazy. The sad part is the high degree of ignorance. People don't think of it as stealing because "Hey my buddy Mike gave it to me!"

Our society (In the US anyway) has trained us to be opportunistic and to believe we are obligated to anything they can get as long as "no one gets hurt", and in this case, the hurt is intangible and invisible to them. We are a people who believe we are entitled to whatever falls in our laps. I got mine! is the mantra, and more fool the guy who got the short end of the deal.

Also, there are plenty of people who just don't get it. And those who say "We used to copy tapes for our friends and no one cared." Yeah but you couldn't dupe 1000 tapes without a lot of expense and time. Now you can share music in minutes and it costs nothing.

The whole file sharing idea was probably more altruistic in its infancy. "Hey, we can listen to music and if we like it, we buy it!" A nice idea that was quickly engulfed by the idea of "FREE MUSIC FOR LIFE"!

So instead of download/listen/buy, we download/burn a CD or populate our iPod/and never buy. Who needs to buy?


Then, we give it to our friends, and they give it to their friends. Soon you have 1000 illegal copies of a CD.

As for the widget tighteners you dis so cavalierly, you'd not be posting this if not for them, not be driving your car, listening to your iPod, etc, etc. You think these people planned to become obsolete and get laid off? They need to eat, so they get a manufacturing job that pays good, stick with it for a few years, excel and get raises, etc. What do you do? Give up a viable livelihood in our shitty economy because you
might become obsolete?

And when that production line closes, along with the widget adjusters goes line supervisors, a production manager, a faculties manager, accountants, HR people, QA Engineers, sales, marketing etc, etc. A lot of degreed, white collar professionals along with the unskilled laborers. You seem to easily devalue the proles, how about the suits that get canned alongside them?

Less than 30 years ago every single page of newsprint in the country was typeset by hand. Typesetting was a skilled task and was considered an excellent career. Along comes computerized typesetting and then came the pink slips. Those people weren't setting screws or inspecting a pair of BVDs on a line, they were highly skilled professionals, in many cases with decades with the same organization.

When was the last time you had to choose between a possibly questionable job and
hungry kids?

“No Martha, I can’t attach switches for a living even though it will provide us a better quality of life, they might lay me off in 20 years!”

How about a little humanity? You think we all can go get MBAs, and have the luxury of a carefully planned out career path free of potential layoffs?

Sometimes it’s just about where you next meal comes from.

Mike said...

Regarding my humanity, how about you go work on the assembly line for a couple years, live a simple lifestyle for a while, earn some money, go to school (it is incredibly easy to go to school, and it is incredibly easy to get loans. Just look at our financial situation right now and you will see how easy it was to get loans). Go work on the assembly line, I don't care. But if you plan on making that your living knowing damn well that you could get replaced, don't whine to me when you do. You have all the power to go to school, specialize in a skill, and prosper. School/College is an investment, if you don't want to make that investment, that's your choice. Just be prepared for a limited job market with high chance of being replaced. For some people, they don't need college and it works and they become multi-millionaries, for others it doesn't. But that's the choice the individual makes.

While I'm tempted to continue our discussion on the evil rise of the machines putting people out of job (or outsourcing), I say we scale it back to music a bit....

"Stealing is easy" isn't the attitude. It's incredibly narrow-minded of you to say that, and you damn well know that. You are applying anecdotal or individual reasoning to a widespread consumer trend. It's incredibly easy to steal a candy bar from my gas station. It's incredibly easy to steal food from a grocery store. It's incredibly easy to switch price tags on products. It's incredibly easy to steal candy from a baby. I can walk into my neighbors yard right now and steal their grill, and they would never know. I don't see every pirate doing it though because it's "easy". Despite what you may think, people do steal for reasons other than "it is easy". It's usually "because I can't afford it" or "I don't want to pay for it". That doesn't make it right, but that's the case. You are correct in saying pirating music is easy, but is that really the underlying reason? No, it's because they don't want to pay for it. Again, that doesn't justify the stealing, but when this is becoming so widespread and is hurting the record industry so much (which apparently it is, according to the RIAA), you'd think you would want to try and gain back some of that market. You will want to lower your prices. You will want the artist to determine how much he wants to sell his album for. You will want to do everything to get those people to buy those CDs. It's just no one does it, and for the most part, any artist who is deathly hitched to a label isn't allowed to, which is INCREDIBLY unfortunate.

I believe piracy is wrong. I agree that it is stealing. I AM NOT TRYING TO DISAGREE WITH YOU ON THAT POINT. I am merely explaining why piracy is happening. You two seem to not understand that this widespread trend is happening for a reason, other than that it is "easy". While it's a factor, it's certainly not the main one. People do things because they analyze the cost associated with it. Pirate analyzes the situation and says "I don't want to pay 15 bucks for this CD". He knows he won't get caught, so he will steal it. But the thing that prompted him to do so was the cost, not the easiness surrounding it. The RIAA and the artists would be more prosperous if they offered a lower price point, to try and capture back those lost profits. It would be in the RIAA and the artists BEST interest to try and allocate that producer surplus into consumer surplus.

Nice to chat with you all. However, I'm starting to get the impression that I have somehow quite offended you with my statements. I would be dissapointed if that were the case, it is certainly not my intention.

Jason Warburg said...

I am going to try to keep this focused and constructive since, like you, I have enjoyed this discussion, however much we may disagree. That said, I find some of your comments – yes – borderline offensive.

Let’s tackle the stealing music discussion first. You agree that file-sharing is stealing, you agree that stealing is wrong, but you want to be absolved of guilt for that wrong (or something like that, I can’t quite tell) because “this widespread trend is happening for a reason.” And I am saying that the reasons, while they may pass muster as an explanation, will never be good enough to serve as an excuse. Stealing is wrong. Stealing with an explanation – still wrong. Stealing with a lengthy justification pointing out what greedy counter-productive boneheads the RIAA are -- still wrong.

Do I wish the music industry would lower prices? Sure, I’d be happier paying less. I’d be happier paying less for a lot of things, but that doesn’t justify stealing them, even as a strategy to try to convince them to lower their prices. (I don’t think it would be either inaccurate or overblown to refer to the latter strategy as economic terrorism. Of course, I don’t believe any such “strategy” is at work here… I’m with Bruce, people just want all the free stuff they can get.)

I know you wanted to set aside the broader economic discussion, and believe me, I’m tempted, but I just can’t let this statement go unanswered:

"… it is incredibly easy to go to school, and it is incredibly easy to get loans… But if you plan on making that your living knowing damn well that you could get replaced, don't whine to me when you do. You have all the power to go to school, specialize in a skill, and prosper."

Over and over again you say that people get to where ever they get in life based on the choices they make. This indicates to me – correct me if I’m wrong -- that you come from a socio-economic background where you have had access to a wide range of choices. Good for you, but that doesn’t mean you can project your experience on the rest of the world. You appear to be -- and I say this not to offend, but simply as a conclusion I’ve reluctantly reached based on what you've written here – na├»ve about the way much of America lives. Your example of student loans as the solution made me laugh, since I used to work in that industry and know firsthand how easy it *used to be* to get loans, and how many hundreds of thousands of students have ended up declaring bankruptcy within a few years of graduation after discovering they've racked up more nondischargeable student loan debt than just about any postgraduate entry-level job could support the monthly payments on.

And that was before the credit crunch; in today’s loan market, the higher-interest unsubsidized private loans students used to rely on to cover the difference beyond the maximum federal student loan of about $3000 to $4000 a year and the actual cost of attending a four-year college are frequently unavailable to anyone who doesn't already have good credit, i.e. anyone not from an already well-to-do family. End result: the rich keep right on going to college and the poor get lectured about self-reliance by people who have never faced most of the daily challenges they have had to overcome just to stay solvent, housed and fed. Regardless of what you believe, millions of working people in America do not find it “incredibly easy to go to school” and learn a specialized skill, not because they're dumb or unmotivated, but because their family’s financial circumstances simply won't allow them that freedom. They have to work, and they have to start at 16 or 17, and they *don’t* have other choices.

In addition to showing a serious lack of compassion, your willingness to write these people off as “whiners” is a lousy solution to the problem. Dismissing people’s actual problems and expecting them to just “suck it up” and/or “get a job” is how we’ve ended up with millions of homeless people – many with children, many mentally ill – eating out of dumpsters and sleeping under overpasses in the wealthiest society on the face of the earth. Most of the people who respond to that sad reality with “tough” don’t have the first clue what “tough” is really like and wouldn’t last a week on the streets.

There’s one other point you’ve made a couple of times in a couple of ways that simply doesn’t reflect reality. You appear to believe that unskilled workers are at fault for not picking a more specialized trade in which they would be harder to replace. Never minding the whole discussion of who has choices and who doesn’t, let’s talk about replaceability, because the truth is, unless you’re the last person on earth with a very specific skill, everyone is replaceable. Everyone. I mean, the most visibly successful capitalist bootstrapper of his generation -- Bill Gates -- just got replaced. And lo and behold, when I checked the news this morning, rather than drying up and blowing away, Microsoft had just upped its buyout offer for Yahoo.

Finally, to hopefully end this too-long post on an upbeat note, it’s worth noting how Gates is planning to spend his retirement years -- giving away his billions in an effort to help people less fortunate than himself. *He* has choices. And I believe the ones he’s making are both compassionate and admirable.

Mike said...

Funny, I can name off many private loans that give loans just based on student merit alone. MyRichUncle for example...

"We’ve always looked at the usual criteria for approving loan applications. We ensure that our borrowers are creditworthy

Creditworthy borrowers have a history of borrowing responsibly and paying off debt in a timely manner. Your creditworthiness is typically determined by your credit history.
, or that they have creditworthy co-borrowers

If you don’t have sufficient credit history, applying with a co-borrower for a private loan can greatly increase your chances of approval and lower the cost of your loan. Your co-borrower should be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident over the age of 18 who agrees to make payments on your behalf should you default on your loan.
. But we’ve also taken a more holistic view of the student: your GPA, school, and program of study.

With the introduction of our PrePrime™ approval system, even more students can now be funded by MyRichUncle. If you lack a credit history, the PrePrime™ evaluation system automatically engages, giving you a chance to be approved on your merits as a student. We are the first student loan company to consider this information.

MyRichUncle created the PrePrime™ approval system to serve the growing number of students who need a loan but don’t have a credit history or creditworthy co-borrower. Before PrePrime™, these students would be denied. Now students have a chance to be considered as students. "

Yeah, I know, it's so hard to find loans. Google searching is REALLY tough work. And believe me, I can attest to this service. I've seen numerous people from terrible income families use it, and get SUBSTANTIAL loans.

And funny how you pretend to sympathize with those that are poor as you sit here on your most likely high speed internet line posting on your blog. There's something worse than being ignorant to a situation, it's pretending to know about it like you apparently are doing. At least when you are ignorant you can be educated. If you have the free time to write your reviews, I highly doubt you've known what it is like to be poor. But wait, here is the exact part where you can prove me wrong. Maybe you did come from a poor family. But in that case, seeing where you are now, I assumed you got here through hardwork and dedication. In which case, you actually just proved my point.

Just because I come from a good background, doesn't mean that my arguments can't come from SOUND ECONOMIC THEORY proposed by Nobel peace (PEACE, mind you) prize winning Economists that have been proven to increase the standard of living across the world. You know, the same people who PRAISE globalization because it has given millions and millions of jobs to even poorer people outside of the US. I suppose that's all bullshit though.

Let's have another side-debate here. I want to argue with you about jumping. If I jump, I will come down, correct? I can assume gravitational theory in that it pushes me back down, correct? According to you, no, because I don't fully understand it's complexity. Neither do you, but yet we assume it every day. You don't understand how gravity works, just like how I apparently don't understand what it's like to be poor, but in one case it's alright to assume truth without understanding and in the other it's not?

For god's sake, how many times have I re-iterated that piracy doesn't justify stealing. I have said it time and time and again. I'm merely explaining the reason WHY people pirate. While I tend to agree that record prices are grossly overpriced, I still am not justifying stealing it. I don't steal, despite my beliefs. I'm merely saying why. I have said that time and time and again, yet you have not understood that. I never said anyone should be absolved of the guilt (now it's you that are putting words in my mouth).

Also, please, I'm gonna step you through the absolute most logical example I can.
1. I am at my computer
2. I want to hear the new Disturbed album
4. I decide I don't want to pay that much for the album
5. I go and download it because it's easy

Why did I download it? No, it's not because it was easy. While it is easy, I did it because I originally did not want to pay for it. THAT is the root cause of stealing. Not wanting to pay. Everybody makes decisions based on marginal benefit and marginal cost. While easiness and time/preference are factors, they are factors into marginal benefit and marginal cost. For god's sake, take an intro economics class. No matter how liberal or conservative your teacher is, THATs what he will tell you, and it makes PERFECT SENSE. Whether they are psychic benefits or just opportunity costs, they are costs regardless.

And you know what doesn't help those homeless people? Unchecked and very lamely monitored welfare. Why work when you can get more in government handouts than private school teachers make in a year? I sure as hell wouldn't. Some people deserve it, but the government doesn't have NEAR the amount of oversight or capability to determine such things, so they try and simplify it down. For god's sake, it's called moral hazards and incentives. If you want to help these people, give them jobs for which they build their income and can move onto other practices, rather than just getting checks. Just like you can help foreign countries by not giving them oodles and oodles of money. How bout you set up a factory overseas, and give those poor people jobs? Hmm? But no, WE WILL LOSE AMERICAN JOBS!!! So, we can only help American poor people, not other poor people! That sounds quite selfish to me.

Sure, everyone can be replaced to an extent (btw, Bill Gates retired, he wasn't "replaced" in that sense of the word. A void was filled). Let's extend this to the dailyvault, but we will make it a business (I'm pretty sure you don't pay your staffers). Obviously, because you are a business, you will only keep running your business as long as the income you recieve is at the very least equal to the cost (Zero Profit, but no loss either). You've got workers getting paid 10/hr, they work 10 hours, and you bring in 100 bucks a work day. AKA, you produce 100 dollars in goods, your costs are 100 dollars, so zero. I come strolling in, can churn out the same exact quality of a product, but I say I will do it for 8 dollars. Why wouldn't you do it? You'd gain a profit, and churn out an exact same product. That person who was replaced is unemployed. Why should I feel anger towards a company who can do something just as good or better for lower costs? Please tell me why? Should I only feel bad if he is replaced by an evil machine (which is basically the same as another unemployed person?). Hell, now with your lower costs, you can lower your price to compete with other companies because of that additional profit, and gain even more revenue. People lose jobs, get over it. And you know what happens as those EVIL CORPORATIONS gain more profits? They invest them into more companies and more warehouses, more shipping factories, more production facilities, to even make more money, and what do you know, THAT GIVES PEOPLE MORE JOBS. Hell, maybe that unemployed person can go work at this new factory!

And here, Mr. Roger and Me, let's go look at this auto-workers example. We've got GM, let's say. GM's costs are skyrocketing because of factor input costs rising. They have two choices. Lay off workers to keep their prices the same. Or, they can jack up the price of their product. How would you, mr. consumer, like having to pay 35,000 for a new car instead of 25,000? Hmm? I sure as hell wouldn't. And I'm pretty sure other people would agree with me on that one. Sure, Michael Moore might be able to afford that new car, but how about the THOUSANDS OF POOR PEOPLE that you say exist. It's even MORE inhumane to keep those workers around to make goods even more inaccessible for poor people. Decisions decisions eh?

The problem you have is that you have your obviously liberal anti-business bias, and refuse to take that next step into understanding what happens next. You may say "well you obviously have your conservative free-market bias". While my bias is definitely not conservative (at least in the modern sense) At least my views are backed up with hundreds of years of PROVEN theory.

Disregard my many grammatical mistakes. This was too long a post. I'm done here though, for sure, so you prolly don't need to waste your time replying, because I definitely wont be reading it. Not out of spite, but just because I can't do this to myself anymore :).

And BTW, great site. I will of course continue to keep reading and checking in on the blog. I'm sorry if I drew this way off topic. But it was an awesome conversation nonetheless. I know it sounds odd after our seemingly anger driven discussion, but we have actually kept it mostly constructive compared to the rest of the intertubes.

Jason Warburg said...

LOL! Peace out. Enjoy the music.

Eric W. said...