A rather short response but enough to understand where you are coming from. I address below some of your points. I apologize if the response is a bit too long.
"It is clear that the free market tends towards monopoly as the best company, "
It is not clear at all. First, "monopoly" is too broad of a term so we must be careful before we debate it. In reality, we are all monopolists, for none of us can offer the exact same product or set of skills. An engineer working on a particular project or task is a monopolist. He has acquired certain knowledge and experience pertaining to the project that only he possesses. He is not replaceable in the technical sense. No replacement can be found without bearing the cost of having to retrain and reacquire the knowledge necessary to continue from the exact same point. Surely, this cannot be the type of monopoly that you are concerned about. For "monopoly" to be used in a negative connotation as you did, only a coercive monopoly can consistently meet your criteria, such as the case of a supplier that according to you, "is calling the shots", implying that the consumer is forced or coerced into some relationship that does not necessarily serve his own interests according to his own judgement. So for you to have a real case for concern or paranoia, you should claim that a free market tends towards this type of monopoly,i.e., a coercive monopoly. I hope the above reasoning is acceptable to you.
".. or the one with the deepest pockets can often drive all others out of a market. "
I don't see a problem with the hypothetical company driving its competitors out of business because consumers choose to patronize only it and not its competitors. Should we blame consumers for patronizing only those that best serve them? And should we penalize all those that are most efficient and successful at supplying all those things in the cheapest possible way and that are most urgent in eyes of the buying public?
If you have a more elaborate idea on how a company in a free market can expand and acquire greater market share without the voluntary consent of consumers, I would certainly like to hear it. Otherwise, you've just made an assertion, which I contend to be false, certainly from an economic point of view.
I hope you're not conflating influence (power) acquired by government ties using lobbyists with the influence acquired by the voluntary consent of consumers. The former is actually the result of what you are advocating. It requires coercion and you will find that it is always obtained by the government. This type of system gradually paves the way to Fascism. Only the latter pertains to the free market. Much of our current system is based on the former and not the latter.
"Authoritarian monopolies (governments) are a fact of life .."
Are they? (Different topic) , but so are thieves and muggers. Should we therefore, let them decide for all of us on what and how the market should behave? Even if you believe that they are "a fact of life", it doesn't follow that you must you concede the point that they must be beneficial to the market in some way when ever they decide to act.
"..and many put in place competition rules to prevent the excesses of the free market monopoly."
How can this possibly be proof for the need to "prevent the excesses" of the market, or that even such "excesses" exist in the first place? I'm sure you're not, but in general, unless you are so politically naive as to believe that all government action, as even when supported by the populace, must somehow always be beneficial and necessary, then I'm afraid the above assumes too much and proves too little.
Free entry to any field of work and industry is the only correct definition for a completive market that is in line with the real world. No government restrictions or barriers to entry. That is the only thing that will ensure that no corporation, firm, or individual can ever acquire any such privilege of "calling the shots" or as I define it, a coercive monopoly.
I do take your criticism in good spirit.
And your argument about government - any form of government - as an enforced monopoly is consistent.
However, your argument that the free-market is self-limiting is questionable.
It is clear that the free market tends towards monopoly as the best company, or the one with the deepest pockets can often drive all others out of a market. And then as the only supplier of "necessary" good or service can set the price as high as the market will bear.
Authoritarian monopolies (governments) are a fact of life and many put in place competition rules to prevent the excesses of the free market monopoly.
Received in email from Dan Aronovitz
I found your concerns rather curious. I would first like to point out that your paranoia is justified but completely misguided. I hope you take a moment in reading some of my responses to a few of your quotes.
?Google is a single company that is
acquiring far-reaching?some would
say overwhelming?influence over our
use of, and access to, the Internet.?
The complaint is in unwarranted. Is it not true that this influence is acquired by voluntary consent on the part of consumers? And if this consent is ever to be withdrawn, this influence will be diminished?
?If we go down the broad-and-easy path of
putting more of our personal data and
systems control into a single company?s
part of the cloud, we may one day come
to find that a monopoly supplier is calling
I don?t know of any monopoly supplier that is calling the shots except for all government alleged services. Your fear is rather alarming for it shows a complete misunderstanding of the nature of the free enterprise or free market. Google cannot force the consumer to do anything, just as it cannot force anybody to invest in its stocks. Such is the nature of a system, or more accurately, a process, where individuals cooperate and exchange by voluntary means for mutual benefit. This point of confusion about the free market process is further exemplified by your next quote:
?Perhaps at some point we will need
those multiparty committees with their
spanners to make sure PowerMeter continues
to work for the public?s benefit. I
guess it all depends on your degree of
I?m curious on how a private company can possibly stop working for the public?s interest without loosing money? Or more accurately, how can profits possibly become misaligned with the public?s demand? Actually, there are some ways in which this can happened, however, all of them require government intervention into the market, which is exactly what you seem to be recommending. It never occurs to you that the monopolistic power to call shots is exactly what you are subscribing for the cure of your paranoia. Where as in the free market, all that is produced, its quantity, and its quality, is determined by the voluntary buying and abstention from buying on the part of the public, in the hampered market economy, decisions that have nothing to do with consumer demand begin to take place. The government has no such worries for making profits and avoiding losses. This is precisely the reason that makes it not accountable to the public but only to itself. Yes this is what will save you from the hypothetical Google monopoly?
You are paranoid about a company that can only obtain its revenues by providing a service that people want, while seeking refuge in an institution that obtains its revenues by coercion. What is more disturbing is that you feel perfectly fine with the idea that you or other people have some right or claim on what this company (Google) has not even fully developed yet. As if the output of someone?s labor becomes communal property the minute it is produced, or in this case, even before it is produced.
Mr. Clarke, Government is force! When you recommend political solutions in the sphere of private voluntary initiatives, you are ultimately calling for authoritarian dictates enforced by police power. The economic effects are also detrimental from the point of view of consumers. Your recommendations amount to substituting the control over production from market participants to government officials. That is all.
I hope you take this criticism in good spirit.
Sr. Digital Design Engineer
"The issue is always the same: the government or the market. There is no third solution" - Ludwig von Mises, Planned Chaos
To Richard Morrissette
As to how paraonoid I am about Microsoft compared with Google my answer would be ?less so?
In broad-brush terms the difference between Microsoft and Google is essentially one between local machine oriented computing and cloud computing.
As such, and by the nature of that difference, I believe Microsoft knows less about me after 25 years of interaction than Google does after 5 years.
I really start to hate this google company. They already made a hold-up on the content and now we should need them to power meter our consumption but do they fill like god?
First thing to save energy is stopping wasting it and for this no need of additionnal electronics which just starts consuming before saving assuming it does it a day. Trun off the ligths when leaving a room turn off your pc when not used turn off all our home appliances when not in use and then the saving is already important. For your information in Europe just the setop box in idle mode are consuming the energy of more than 2 nuclear power plants.
On top of this we have to open our eyes!!! Energy is important and CO2 impact has to be drastically reduced (and in that respect Europe and even more US have a critical role to play) if we all want to have a descent future. But more important is the disparition of raw resources which will be a bigger issue and much before energy so I am against all of this gadgets we invent just becasue we are no longer all of us able to make very simple things by ourselve. We have to escape being the slaves of tehcnology and really use it to build a sustainable world from which we are extremely far today.
It will be a long, long time (if ever) before power sensors and reporting technology get down to only tens of cents, especially at retail. Hundreds of millions of internet-enabled devices have been shipped and their prices are still relatively high even for the simplest ones.
However, Boulder, CO already has the local power company (Xcel) report each residence's and business' monthly power usage to the city so it can be taxed for their "Climate Action Plan". The city is the first to be Smart Grid wired, and once appliances have sensors in place many people in the city want power to be taxed by use as well as time of day. In other words, using A/C beyond a certain level is "bad" and should be taxed extra. Given that governments always have extra powers in getting your private data, Google's Powermeter doesn't appeal to me. I can already figure out which appliances use what power, and being able to turn lights on or off from across the country just doesn't appeal that much to me.