File puptcrit/puptcrit.0811, message 313

Date: Wed, 19 Nov 2008 06:12:03 -0800
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] Gift Economy

This does not sound like a paean to gift economies, but praises sung  
to the virtues of a competitive capitalist economy. As for Apple  
computer, I know quite a bit about its history. OS upgrades and  
software have always been but a very small percentage of their sales.  
Read their quarterly reports, if you want a picture of what they make  
their money on. In fact until about OS 8 or so the system software was  
free. They've traditionally provided cheap computers to students to  
develop brand loyalty and OS commitment, not because they wanted to  
give their hardware away. Do you actually think that Steve Jobs  
believes in a gift economy?

Cellphones are never free. The cost is hidden in a two-year contract  
with the service provider. Even the $200 "price drop" of the iPhone is  
subsidized by AT&T and buried in the costs of their mandatory 2 year  

All of these price drops, Radio Shack's included, have resulted from  
the desire to increase profits in a technologically enabled, capital  
driven economy. They have been accompanied by the less visible  
failures and bankruptcies of competing companies and technologies.  
None of them owe anything to your "gift economy."

Also, I thought that the Germans and the Japanese started WWII. I've  
heard economists facetiously say that WWII was the WPA that followed  
the 1937 recession, but I sincerely doubt that FDR urged us into the  
war to save the economy.

Aside from this mishmash of suggestive "facts", you've yet to explain  
how a "gift economy" would actually work with regard to solving  
specific problems in a complex, heterogenous world. After all, we  
don't live in the Trobriand Islands or within the isolated confines of  
a religious cult's compound. So how would it work?

-Bill Elston

On Nov 18, 2008, at 11:36 PM, Michael Moynihan wrote:

> But even in the depth of this mess there are glimpses of change away
> from the old rules that have dominated the world exchange economies.
> Example, between 1971 and 1989 a standard 17-cubic foot refrigerator
> declined in price by a third while becoming 27% more energy efficient
> and adding new features, such as ice-making. In 1988 Radio Shack sold
> a cell phone for $1,500. Ten years later they list a better one for
> $200. Now an even better one, sometimes with a camera, is less than
> $50 or even offered free as a come-on for a cell phone plan. Here in
> Milwaukee, Cricket Communications is setting up and offering prices
> for phone and broadband that are giving Ameritech and Time warner a
> run for their money. Many if not most people under 30 do not even have
> a wired phone, just a cell.
> In California, Apple wanted to give computers away free to students
> because they knew the money was in software and OS upgrades. The state
> would not let them. Someday the state will get out of the way, maybe.
> - moynihan

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