Why full blown competition is not the answer

If you haven’t already, you should probably watch this video. To state the obvious, the video presents a satirical, extreme version of some areas in the US. Particularly the big metropolitan areas like New York, or San Francisco/Silicon Valley.

Competition, is it good? Should all resources be given to people based on competition? Is competition really fair?  So we know that without competition there is no incentives to push ourselves to create ever bigger things. The stanched economies of USSR, Cuba and North Korea has proven that at least that type of communism does not lead to a more prosperous nation. However the real question is whether to abandon every and all communist ideas. Whether competition alone driving every decision would be the best for any society.

The answer is no. Letting competition drive all of societies incentives and regulations would be a disaster. There are many problems to this idea, however the biggest is the fact that competition is unstable at equal allocation of resources. Competition is like balancing a pencil on a table. If we were to put two players in an economic competition, a small advantage for one of them will lead to an ever increasing difference between both. The more resources one has, the more it can invest to be better, and so the further away it can go. Stability is only reached once either side has acquired all the disputable market.

In other words, unbounded competition leads to monopolies. And monopolies are not only bad for competitors, but for the society in general. Once a monopoly acquires sufficient market, it can lower its standards without any fear of competitors ever taking away market share.

While monopolies are probably the worst part about it, I should also mention the fact that excessive competition leads to stress, a lot of it. A stressed out society living on pills and other drugs to alleviate the anxiety is not healthy. If on top of that you add expensive healthcare, then people’s standard of living gets reduced significantly.

Competition is great in good levels, it is a sign of life and it drives further than we ever imagined. However leaving it alone to competition leads to unhealthy societies. Like an overheated motor, high competition in societies starts to be detrimental after some threshold.

Now a counter argument is that competition is natural. Competition is the way of life. We can see it in plants, we can see it animals. Why are we so surprised to see it in humans? The problem is that unbounded competition is a trait of uncivilized societies. So why do we need civilized societies? Not only because the general standard of living is much better, but in the long term civilized societies lead to much better performances. The resources wasted in inefficient monopolies, and distributed security enforcement are detrimental to the long term economic performance of a society. Besides we are intelligent enough to grasp these topics. Are we not intelligent enough to go beyond what we see in nature?

Global warming – High energy consumption is not the problem

First off, the planet is warming up. For those skeptics out there, here is the data from Wikipedia:

So we are slowly approaching 1ºC increase with respect to 1880.

Now to the point; Whenever people talk about global warming, inevitably the conversation drifts off to greenhouse gasses. Just do a Google search for global warming, and count how many articles immediately start talking about CO2.

However it seems too incredible that nobody ever talks about the direct contribution to this temperature increase by humans just burning stuff (oil mostly).

According to the IEA the world estimated daily consumption of oil is 93 million barrels. Each barrel releases 1.7MWh. Doing the maths:

93e6 * 1.7e6 * 3600 = 5.69e17 Joules daily. Convert this to W/m2:

5.69e17/24/3600/510e12= 0.0129 W/m2

Note that I am using 510 million squared kilometers as the Earth’s surface (taken from Google web answers).

Now this other Wikipedia page says that the Earth receives from the sun 235 W/m2… WHAT?!?!? Even if we were to use all types of human energy consumption we would only get three times as much as from oil alone (around 0.037 W/m2). So humans directly heat the Earth around 6000 times less than the sun.

Our direct contributions are so small, that it would be worth more studying the Sun radiation emission variations across time, than people using energy.

But you know what this means right? This means we can still increase our energy consumption at least as much as 100 times more without really affecting the planet. This means you could keep your AC on all the time you want, as long as you use renewable energy. You could even use your electric car day and night, and still nothing bad would happen. And, yes, even though you probably won’t believe: we could have the whole planet using as much energy as an average person in the US.


Why Facebook is stealing from you


Picture yourself for a moment. You just came home after an incredible trip to Alaska. You have a ton of pictures and good stories to tell.
So now you decide how to tell your friends about this awesome adventure you had. Some ideas pop into your mind about maybe printing some photos, but we all know most of them will end up on Facebook. So you upload them with maybe some tagging and some descriptions. And this all seems fine except that by doing so you are unknowingly giving away money that could be yours to Facebook.

As shocking as it may seem to you, those silly awkward family pictures are worth money.

Why? People who have their own website probably already know the answer: Content. Web content (such as text or images) is the key resource which all social media websites are based on. Think for a second what would happen to Facebook if users suddenly stopped posting their personal life? Do you think people would keep visiting their site? Probably not. Content gives social websites the means to attract people to their domains. More people means more views. More views means that ads will be looked at more often, which in turn leads to money.

How much money exactly are we talking about? Well let’s do the test. Here is a website which tells you roughly how much money you could be doing in Youtube. Now choosing the average CPM (more on what’s CPM here) and around 10 daily views, you could be receiving $0.07 to $1.20 a month. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but when multiplied by a billion Facebook users, you get 70 million to 1.2 billion a month…

So is this whole thing really bad? By now you probably are thinking ‘Yeah but it’s simply very convenient to post to Facebook’. And, seriously, who would go through the hassle of creating and posting on their website only to gain 1$ a month? And sites like Facebook or Google+ not only give you a place to post your stuff, but also networking and privacy lists to keep your information secure.

I am not arguing that everyone should go on a blog opening-frenzy. However I do want to make the point that people are not really aware of how social media websites work, and so may end up unwillingly passing the opportunity to make some money with all the posting that they are doing on Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Youtube, Google+ etc. So to all of you addicts to social media: