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I'm no economic expert, and I know hardly anything about distributism except for a few brief overviews here and there.  I have neither the desire nor the time to invest in becoming an expert in the subject, but I do have one question.

It seems that the "think globally, act locally" theory applies.  This is all fine and good, and I do support local businesses and local growers over large supermarkets and stores when I can.  Now to my question - in a distributist economy, how would computer technology ever have been invented and developed?  I can see how it may have been invented at a university lab, but the sheer insane amount of dollars needed to set up an IC fab, clean room, etc, in order to manufacture computers and in general, IC technology, I just don't see how it would have been possible if the economy was entirely distributist.  A local group of workers probably couldn't have pulled it off.  So how, following the distributist model, could it ever have happened?

Makes you wonder if distributism is passively anti-technology.  Maybe it is, and this is fine for people who want to live by the Amish life model. 

If a computer, cell phone, the internet, etc, couldn't have been developed under this system (if it could have please explain how exactly), then I propose that everyone who uses that technology is not a pure distributist, and should either accept the fact that pure distributism is not a workable economy on its own, or they should all unplug and stop using tools and devices created by an economy that they do not support.

The last statement is not specifically directed at you, Belloc.  The question of how computer technology can be developed under such a system, however, is directed at you.  Please explain!

Calicatholic
(07-28-2009, 10:26 AM)calicatholic Wrote: [ -> ]I'm no economic expert, and I know hardly anything about distributism except for a few brief overviews here and there.  I have neither the desire nor the time to invest in becoming an expert in the subject, but I do have one question.

Then would respect, why ask it, if you do not really want to know or look into it....? Not trying to be ugly, but it does beg the question......
(07-28-2009, 10:26 AM)calicatholic Wrote: [ -> ]I'm no economic expert, and I know hardly anything about distributism except for a few brief overviews here and there.  I have neither the desire nor the time to invest in becoming an expert in the subject, but I do have one question.

It seems that the "think globally, act locally" theory applies.  This is all fine and good, and I do support local businesses and local growers over large supermarkets and stores when I can.  Now to my question - in a distributist economy, how would computer technology ever have been invented and developed?  I can see how it may have been invented at a university lab, but the sheer insane amount of dollars needed to set up an IC fab, clean room, etc, in order to manufacture computers and in general, IC technology, I just don't see how it would have been possible if the economy was entirely distributist.  A local group of workers probably couldn't have pulled it off.  So how, following the distributist model, could it ever have happened?

Makes you wonder if distributism is passively anti-technology.  Maybe it is, and this is fine for people who want to live by the Amish life model. 

If a computer, cell phone, the internet, etc, couldn't have been developed under this system (if it could have please explain how exactly), then I propose that everyone who uses that technology is not a pure distributist, and should either accept the fact that pure distributism is not a workable economy on its own, or they should all unplug and stop using tools and devices created by an economy that they do not support.

The last statement is not specifically directed at you, Belloc.  The question of how computer technology can be developed under such a system, however, is directed at you.  Please explain!

Calicatholic

Some things-car manufacturing for instance-do require more than a barn or small shop, of course.....you can still have smallness in bigness, by utilizing co-ops or worker run businesses (on example is Mondragon corp in Spain)....business is not run as a pyramid, supervisors do not dicate and lord over, but merely help to facilitate.....John Medaille has some good examples in his book:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/0826428096?tag=distrandcatho-20&camp=14573&creative=327641&linkCode=as1&creativeASIN=0826428096&adid=0RC5EEPBD3PGKNEXCFMQ&

Computers were also made in garage by Steve Jobs, were they not, at least initially? In setting up Apple,etc, does depend on how corporate structure is run.soe when business went from garage to facilities w/assembly lines, research,etc....did it lose that human touch of valuing the employee and giving them a share of the workbench, as JP2 noted???? that is the question..........

I prefaced my question because I didn't want to get a list of links with the line "go read these books and you'll know how it can be done".

Yes, Steve Jobs made the first computer in his garage, but he used an off-the-shelf microprocessor that was built in a fab.  So, he couldn't have built the first computer without there being a framework of IC manufacturing in place.  I still don't see how it would have been possible.


In any case, the lowest common denominator is price.  Without a severe change in public attitude, the average person is just not going to be willing to spend more money for something they can get for less.  People choose with their buying power, and they choose Wal-Mart.  If they could afford more, they'd still choose Wal-Mart and save the money for something else. 

(07-28-2009, 10:59 AM)calicatholic Wrote: [ -> ]I prefaced my question because I didn't want to get a list of links with the line "go read these books and you'll know how it can be done".

Yes, Steve Jobs made the first computer in his garage, but he used an off-the-shelf microprocessor that was built in a fab.  So, he couldn't have built the first computer without there being a framework of IC manufacturing in place.  I still don't see how it would have been possible.


In any case, the lowest common denominator is price.  Without a severe change in public attitude, the average person is just not going to be willing to spend more money for something they can get for less.  People choose with their buying power, and they choose Wal-Mart.  If they could afford more, they'd still choose Wal-Mart and save the money for something else. 


If Jobs was still building PCs in his garage, I am certain we would not be having this conversation on line around the world at this moment.  We'd be thinking about PCs the way most of us today think about owning a large second home in the mountains or at the beach, except we'd have even less hope of actually getting one.  And they wouldn't be called "PCs" since there would be very little "personal" about something most people could not afford one of, let alone two or three.  Multiply that over thousands of businesses that couldn't purchase them for employees and how that would affect commerce.  In short, as you say, cost matters and that comes, in significant part, from economy of scale.  You have to consider all aspects.  And I still want to know who is going to break up the big companies we have today.

About computes... it is possible for a good PC to have been invented and available in almost any ecomony as long as individuals were free to develop technology. While Microsoft and Apple are large, the actual technology is made by individuals and bought by the evil corporations.

Take software for instance. The operating system I use was originally developed by a university student in Finland. Right now it has a core team in charge of it, but thousands of people all over the world contribute to it. Microsoft and IBM wouldn't be the big corporations they are now, but that is a good thing. Microsoft holds back progress in its attempt to create its monopoly.

Hardware would be something else. Computer hardware is manufactured in parts that are easily available for individual purchace: http://www.newegg.com Even Apple uses such parts, and just has one chip on the mother board which restricts it which is its own (and that chip is useless because it is required for easily installing OS X and only on Apple computers). So large orders of computers would probably go through a middle man which assembles them, like Dell. These middlemen would probably look different, based on the description of distributism of which I'm not well informed (sorry Belloc, I normally don't read your theads ;)).

As long as individual freedom is not stopped, and people can communicate, computers do not require a capitalistic society. Microsoft does more damage to technology and innovation (any technology it has it buys, not creates. The last thing Microsoft actually made without stealing or buying or intimidating was in the 80's)

(07-28-2009, 11:09 AM)epalinurus Wrote: [ -> ]If Jobs was still building PCs in his garage, I am certain we would not be having this conversation on line around the world at this moment.  We'd be thinking about PCs the way most of us today think about owning a large second home in the mountains or at the beach, except we'd have even less hope of actually getting one.  And they wouldn't be called "PCs" since there would be very little "personal" about something most people could not afford one of, let alone two or three.  Multiply that over thousands of businesses that couldn't purchase them for employees and how that would affect commerce.  In short, as you say, cost matters and that comes, in significant part, from economy of scale.  You have to consider all aspects.  And I still want to know who is going to break up the big companies we have today.

Nothing is stopping people from making their own computer businesses except the bigger businesses. It is hard to compete against them, but it is possible. See System76 for example: http://www.system76.com/

As long as the individual components are manufactured and are available, then computers can be made. Microsoft and IBM did contribute to widespread use of them in homes, but they also contributed heavily to stupification of computer users. Being behind in time would result in more educated computer users, less crap on the Internet and more stable software. Microsoft's efforts to be a monopoly are not beneficial to anyone other than Microsoft.
(07-28-2009, 11:59 AM)Rosarium Wrote: [ -> ]About computes... it is possible for a good PC to have been invented and available in almost any ecomony as long as individuals were free to develop technology. While Microsoft and Apple are large, the actual technology is made by individuals and bought by the evil corporations.

Take software for instance. The operating system I use was originally developed by a university student in Finland. Right now it has a core team in charge of it, but thousands of people all over the world contribute to it. Microsoft and IBM wouldn't be the big corporations they are now, but that is a good thing. Microsoft holds back progress in its attempt to create its monopoly.

Hardware would be something else. Computer hardware is manufactured in parts that are easily available for individual purchace: http://www.newegg.com Even Apple uses such parts, and just has one chip on the mother board which restricts it which is its own (and that chip is useless because it is required for easily installing OS X and only on Apple computers). So large orders of computers would probably go through a middle man which assembles them, like Dell. These middlemen would probably look different, based on the description of distributism of which I'm not well informed (sorry Belloc, I normally don't read your theads ;)).

As long as individual freedom is not stopped, and people can communicate, computers do not require a capitalistic society. Microsoft does more damage to technology and innovation (any technology it has it buys, not creates. The last thing Microsoft actually made without stealing or buying or intimidating was in the 80's)


This bolded part is true now.  But I heard just last week that, eg, transistors that cost $1 a piece 30 or 40 years ago, cost less than a penny today.  The affordability seems tied to economy of scale that evolves over time.  Those affordable parts are only affordable today because of the years of competition between these development companies.  But maybe I'm wrong about this. 
(07-28-2009, 12:06 PM)epalinurus Wrote: [ -> ]This bolded part is true now.  But I heard just last week that, eg, transistors that cost $1 a piece 30 or 40 years ago, cost less than a penny today.  The affordability seems tied to economy of scale that evolves over time.  Those affordable parts are only affordable today because of the years of competition between these development companies.   But maybe I'm wrong about this.   

No, the years of competition didn't exist. It was more of years of squashing competition. Quick, name three competitors to Microsoft...

See?

Look at Microsoft's products, such as Internet Explorer. Look at IE 6, which was "standard" for so many years, despite the fact superior browsers existed and had many features, but since Microsoft has a monopoly, no one ever knew about them until they got Firefox. Only as Firefox grew in popularity did Microsoft think to update IE. Microsoft is static and boring and only acts to crush threats. If they actually moved forward and worked to make good products, they wouldn't be so far behind in terms of current technology.

Steve Jobs and Stephen Wozniak used computer parts readily available to them at that time, so it wasn't impossible. He could have remained a small local business, and his ideas could be all over the world if they opened up their hardware so others could contribute. Microsoft makes software, but they got into agreements with other companies to sell their OS preinstalled. By doing this, they excluded competitors with superior products (Microsoft bought a crappy system called "QDOS" and renaimed it "MS-DOS", while many superior systems existed. MS-DOS was trash at that time. No one would actually choose to install it but for it being on the computer already and they not knowing any better.

(07-28-2009, 12:11 PM)Rosarium Wrote: [ -> ]
(07-28-2009, 12:06 PM)epalinurus Wrote: [ -> ]This bolded part is true now.  But I heard just last week that, eg, transistors that cost $1 a piece 30 or 40 years ago, cost less than a penny today.  The affordability seems tied to economy of scale that evolves over time.  Those affordable parts are only affordable today because of the years of competition between these development companies.   But maybe I'm wrong about this.   

No, the years of competition didn't exist. It was more of years of squashing competition. Quick, name three competitors to Microsoft...

See?

Look at Microsoft's products, such as Internet Explorer. Look at IE 6, which was "standard" for so many years, despite the fact superior browsers existed and had many features, but since Microsoft has a monopoly, no one ever knew about them until they got Firefox. Only as Firefox grew in popularity did Microsoft think to update IE. Microsoft is static and boring and only acts to crush threats. If they actually moved forward and worked to make good products, they wouldn't be so far behind in terms of current technology.

Steve Jobs and Stephen Wozniak used computer parts readily available to them at that time, so it wasn't impossible. He could have remained a small local business, and his ideas could be all over the world if they opened up their hardware so others could contribute. Microsoft makes software, but they got into agreements with other companies to sell their OS preinstalled. By doing this, they excluded competitors with superior products (Microsoft bought a crappy system called "QDOS" and renaimed it "MS-DOS", while many superior systems existed. MS-DOS was trash at that time. No one would actually choose to install it but for it being on the computer already and they not knowing any better.

I don't want to defend MS and I favor increasing competition.  But are you saying the parts don't cost less now, or that they do cost less but they were kept high before by a lack of competition, or they were kept high by something else?  Something has to account for the PC I own costing way less today than a less sophisticated, bulkier, slower one cost in 1995.  I'm not sure we disagree too much.  Microsoft was pretty clearly anticompetitive, so my point isn't that they've always been playing in an open market -- only that something led to a reduction in cost to consumers and it's hard to believe Jobs' garage computer, left in the garage, would have done it.
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