Recently, Peter Thiel, a very interesting mover and shaker in today’s most vibrant markets, criticized the upshot of today’s technology: “We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters.” That’s a slam at Twitter, a free service that somehow makes enough to stay afloat.
The lack of flying cars, though: Is that a problem?
Markets only deliver the possible.
And much of what they deliver we hadn’t thought of before: iPods/iPhones/iPads weren’t really dreamed about much, outside of Dick Tracy/Star Trek fandom.
As for Twitter, Gans says it’s “a new communications protocol and more than just social media,” which makes it “more than merely trivial.” I’m sure he’s right. But I still keep kicking myself: whose time is worth so little that it’s worth complaining about free stuff?
Thiel’s focus is on technology, not markets — but it is the market that brings us stuff. Free markets are not “free” as in no price, they are free as in being unencumbered by busybody regulators, prohibitionists, and thieves. Such markets strike me as amazingly effective at providing a wide range of goods to the rich and the poor and everyone in-between. Hobbled, subsidized markets, on the other hand, exhibit Tweetable perversities — and usually serve the rich better than the poor.
Still, a lot of folks complain about what markets have to offer. I don’t get that, either. Hey, I reject most offers. So can they.
I say we stick to complaining about offers we can’t refuse.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.