Comments on 2019-05-26 The Quality of Capitalism

When I think about capitalism I think about the specific mechanism by which those who have it can invest it in order to make more. Making something and getting paid is not enough for there to be capitalism. Getting compensated is fair. But there’s the trouble with money: if you have a surplus that you can invest in marketing, things change. Most musicians are poor. Michael Jackson was extremely rich. How much better was he, though? On a scale from zero to many millions? That’s what I mean.

Or to put it back in the context of the tyranny of excellence: folk music is about grabbing an instrument and joining the performance even if you can hardly play. Just play this note. Just clap your hand. Just join in on the chorus. Simple stuff. And how unlike rockstars and stage performances. What do you want your hobby to be: grab some dice and start playing, or watch professionals write for you, play for you?

– Alex Schroeder 2019-05-27 04:50 UTC


Music records, then Radio, TV and the Internet, led to an increasing and global winner takes it all effect. A 100 years ago, there used to be more than 10,000 professional pianists in New York City alone. Nowadays everyone can listen to the “world’s best pianists”, so their income gets a massive multiplier and all the other “mediocre” ones can barely live from their passion for music.

The bigger the Network effect, the more extreme is the distribution of incomes. Nassim Taleb’s “Fooled by Randomness” covers this topic well.

Same with sports, like football. All the kids in Switzerland are now wearing shirts of Barcelona, Liverpool et al. and their parents are watching Champions league matches, not of the local 2nd or 5th tier clubs like it used to be a 100 years ago.

The interesting thing about D&D: The multiplier effect may apply for the sale of products like adventures, here you have to compete with the “best in the world”. But it does not apply for the actual gaming experience, we can’t all game with Matt Mercer or other celebrity DMs.

D&D is totally anachronistic in that regard and at the same time a good antidote against all this consumerism and increasing loneliness or maybe insularity of experiences (everyone watching Netflix or Champions League matches alone at home instead of playing games, making music or going to the stadium together).

– Peter 2019-05-27 18:27 UTC


Yes! I forgot the network effect had a name, but this is exactly what I mean. Thanks for that story about the piano players.

– Alex Schroeder 2019-05-27 18:32 UTC


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