Quick Roundup 302

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Special Edition of Objectivist Carnival

Kendall J hosts this week's roundup of Objectivist bloggers over at The Crucible & Column. This week's theme is "Best of 2007".

Why "Cornering the Market" is So Hard

The next time you hear someone complaining about the fact that companies in a free market can attempt to nickel and dime consumers through vendor lock-in, stop them dead with this example (HT: Glenn Reynolds) of capitalism coming to the rescue:

Printers are sold using the razor blade business model -- the printers are dirt cheap, but you have to keep buying ink for eternity. And wouldn't you know, it turns out that printer ink, especially for photos, is probably the most expensive substance per volume you'll ever buy....

[T]o stave off competition from low-cost generic refill cartridges, the industry giants circled their wagons and began putting chips into their printers and cartridges to make it so that you had to buy their brand. Lawsuits on both sides have since raged fast and free....

Even at barebones prices, it's now far cheaper to order prints through Flickr, Shutterfly or iPhoto, or if you need them in a hurry, from your local Wal-Mart, Walgreens or even mom-and-pop photo store. At my local drugstore, a small chain, if you order more than 100 prints, they’re 15 cents each and available in a couple hours on archival paper with archival ink. And I can put my order through online. Compare that with the cost of photo paper, ink (which in my case, by the way, has to be used at least once every couple weeks or it dries out) and the time involved, and my venerable i70 simply can't compete. [bold added]
I really, really hate vendor lock-in and avoid it whenever I can. But far be it from me to attack the right of an entire industry to open the doors wide open to unanticipated competition by charging ridiculous prices!

But remember, refuting a common misconception about the ability of capitalism to deliver the goods at cheap prices is no substitute for defending it on moral grounds.

The Impending Collapse of Venezuela?

And speaking of the morality of altruism trumping practical considerations, reader Dismuke points out an eloquent example: recent events and trends in Venezuela.
[A]s if lost in its own incompetence, the Government has decided to hand an empty shell to whomever or whatever is the opposition when this all self-destructs. Except that this is spiraling down so fast, that while they may be thinking they can survive for at least a year, their own actions will precipitate their own and revolutionary demise before the dawn of 2009.
This is the final paragraph. The rest reads like it was lifted straight out of Atlas Shrugged.

-- CAV

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