Tag Archives: capitalism

How free is the free market?

Do you sometimes feel that we humans complicated our world too much for our own good?

As an early career professional, I have been thinking about different types of investments for my personal finance. In the times that we are in, Cryptocurrency does come into one’s purview, especially when you have so many social media influencers pitching it and you yourself understand very little of the complex economics.

Anyhow, today’s rant is based off of a series of YouTube videos I’ve been watching on Cryptocurrency to understand why is Bitcoin so expensive.

To the extent that I have understood, the so called “FREE MARKET” comes to play. It’s basic supply and demand, they say. If someone is willing to pay 10 million dollars for something they deem of that value, who’s to say it isn’t? If there’s someone willing to pay, do we even need a regulator to exist?

I’ll give an example closer home. I’ve lived in Bangalore for years to know how expensive security deposit for renting a flat can be. It’s a norm which has stood its time, at least until Covid, because there’s always demand for renting in Bangalore and there are people who can pay that amount. So the owners can charge what they want. However, not everyone can pay.

For cryptocurrency, you could say it’s okay – no one is forcing you to buy one, so why do you care if it’s expensive? Very true. But when it comes to renting, it does affect me. So it does so for many other people.

The comparison here, between renting and cryptocurrencies, hold valid because at the end of the day, it is the free market that’s allowing this to be. For prices to be jacked up because few players can afford to buy and sell and rest everyone can be forced out of that little, private game.

And I know this isn’t new. For the longest time, this is how human society has operated. It makes you question, how do things get their value? How valuable is water, air to you? How valuable is an iPhone? Especially for crypto, if there’s no underlying value (and when I say that, I mean not many governments today has accepted it as currency – so how is it that it’s getting its value?), then how can it be so expensive today?

Anyhow, it is perhaps on me to do a lot more reading to figure that out myself. But the larger question is, can there be a different world where prices can be controlled for the benefit of the majority and not selected few? If so, would the forces in power today allow that? As humanity, what should our goal be? To thrive as powerful families in a few hundreds or let the majority thrive? Maybe there’s merit to capitalism – maybe, billions of humans are indeed a strain on Earth’s resources, so there needs to be elimination of few in natural, social, economic or political ways. But as I say that, I also know that we can’t know of sure what is right and what is wrong. What is a strain and what isn’t. At any point of time, we are doing the best that we can, but our worldviews are always narrow.

Sapiens – Where are we headed?

The last couple of days, I have been reading Prof. Harari’s book, Sapiens. The book has a bold agenda: to hold the history of mankind within mere hundreds of pages. From my reading so far I feel it is a great narrative.

The trigger for my interest in human history rose with the recent policy changes in the company with respect to timings and food, etc. It is amazing how corporations can change rules without the consent of the majority/any of employees. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that private companies are merely tools of profit-making. We are living in a capitalist world where profit-making drives our economy. So much so that it has had detrimental effect on the society time and again. That got me to thinking, what are world leaders and thinkers thinking about capitalism: where does it stand today? Are we gonna move away from the clutches of capitalism anytime soon? Are there any alternatives for the global socio-politico-economic system?

In general, when we seek answers, we look back in the past for explanations. That seemed like the natural course for me too. I had been watching multiple videos on Youtube, which led me to Prof. Harari.

From my reading so far, my key takeaways have been:

  1. There are no fixed natural rules that apply to man/Sapiens – I have often heard how men are meant to be polygamous by nature. It is not true. Homo sapiens have evolved across multiple continents, in various tribes and bands. They have evolved in multiple ways where each chose a way of living, a culture to co-exist together. These variations are so many that we cannot possibly posit that there are only certain (right/natural) behaviors that a man can exhibit.
  2. Human beings have had detrimental effect on biological ecosystem even in ancient history, so the 19th-21st century mankind are not the only generation to be blamed for climate change or diminishing flora and fauna. If Harari is to be believed, humans had a distinctive role to play in the extinction of the Australian megafauna, which contained many marsupials that are not walking the continent today. Similar was the case in America
  3. It is our stories that has made mankind the potent super species in the world – The day human beings started to spin stories (which might have started as gossip between two people) is the day when humans rose from just another species in the ecosystem to a formidable one. You don’t expect a dog to talk behind another dog. Or, tell tales about some god that has a dog’s body (and maybe a human face?). That is because probably man is the only one who can create imagined reality. It is this quality that drives millions of men and women to fight for a common cause and create a big impact. Imagine any other species being able to do so; it will be utter chaos.

While I feel proud that for humankind, (I am someone who is a strong proponent of science and technology), I cannot but feel sorry for what we have done to this Earth. Today, we are worried about AI and robots rupturing economies taking away jobs. We are making fast progress in making our machines smarter, to the point that we don’t know how it will affect us in the next 20 years. When I think about it, I see a clear parallel in what happened in the world thousands of years ago as Homo sapiens came to rule to planet. Human beings got smarter than any of the living creatures on Earth, and the ecosystem had no time to adjust itself to the same. Similarly, we are on a fast track of development and we probably have no control over what our creations will do to us in the recent future.

As scary as the future is, I am glad I was born in a time that will evidence this change. I am proud of what we have achieved and what we can achieve more, and I hope that a large part of it will go towards undoing all the bad things we have done to the Earth.

What do you think? Does the future scare you? Are you glad you are living on the Earth in this century? If given a chance, which time period in history would you like to be born in?

Until later,