Categories
Uncategorized

The End of the Free Ride – Free and Underpriced Services Ending

I hadn’t noticed that Craigslist now charges you $5 to sell a car but it’s been that way for more than six months. I just hadn’t been selling a car until now.

It’s been a fun ride as the internet destroyed all the best industries in the world with freebies. All the ‘disruption’ that we’ve been experiencing over the past decade has really been good old fashioned monopoly building. Now that the competition has been destroyed and the moats are dug deep around the monopolies – we’re going to start having to pay and we’re going to start getting gouged.

Newspapers. Dead. Paywalls on news sites – on the rise.

Records with liner notes, CDs with liner notes, music you actually buy once and own forever – gone. Songs you ‘buy’ but have to pay to store on your device – here to stay. That storage fee. Our files are getting bigger and our ‘free’ allocation of storage is getting smaller. 5 GB doesn’t hold many home movies (icloud) or your music, videos, or gazillions of photos. 15 GB (Google Drive) gets used up pretty quick too. It’s only $2.99/month to upgrade…go ahead – and so it begins. The classic pusher line – first one is free.

Starbucks killed coffee houses, Walmart killed mom & pop stores, Amazon killed malls, cable killed broadcast, streaming killed cable, Netflix killed Blockbuster, Budweiser bought all the microbreweries and then Budweiser got bought, and the list goes on and on. CNN and Headline News killed the 6:00 news, streaming buried local news, Whole Foods killed local health food stores, Amazon bought Whole Foods, and so forth. Uber killed buses and taxis.

I liked newspapers. I liked coffee houses. I liked the evening news. I liked small businesses. I liked craft beer. I liked libraries and video stores. I liked record shops and book stores. I liked free local classified ad papers. I liked corkboard bulletin boards in local health food stores.

The internet and tech companies came and killed all these things. They promised leveling the playing field. Free services. Better everything. They lied. They were simply killing the competition and building monopolies. Now they have.

The 1990s were the emergence of computing and internet for the masses.

The 2000s were the decade when people moved into the digital world.

The 2010s have been the decade of disruption which was actually monopoly building.

The 2020s are going to be the most expensive decade people have ever lived – on many different levels.

 

I’m no longer convinced that Bitcoin will be a good hedge against that – I certainly hope so – but the powers in charge have been working very hard to limit it’s usefulness to those not in power.

 

It’s probably too late to stop any of this from moving forward.

Categories
Uncategorized

The State of the World in 2019

To say that things seem to be precarious would be an understatement.

Climate change is having devastating effects around the world.

Totalitarianism and Fascism are on the rise and seemingly ready to march.

The act of simply living has become an increasingly expensive proposition.

Children in the US and other countries spend their childhoods staring at screens and going through lockdown and ‘active shooter’ drills.

And then there is that big fake thing – the economy – along with the other fake things like nations, freedom, and liberty.

Hate and anger rule the roads, the checkout lines, and of course – the main way that people interact with one another now – the online world.

I could go on about the big stuff – but what about the small stuff – Craigslist now charges for ads -after killing all the little free ad papers in America. Starbucks isn’t a ‘3rd place’ to spend time and make friends any more but it killed all the little coffee shops that were. All the ‘craft breweries’ and microbreweries are now owned by big international conglomerates and those hundreds of cereal brands in the grocery store are all made by the same three companies.

People are waiting in line for hours to have a ‘new chicken sandwich’ and literally stabbing each other over them.

Cord cutting is now more expensive than cable.

Not only do you have to pay for your phone but also data and storage plus any apps you might think you need.

All the ‘free’ places that used to be good for kids or a relaxing day are filled with sometimes violent and psychotic homeless – for god sakes don’t leave your kid alone at the park or the library and don’t try to spend a quiet afternoon there unless you want to smell pee and hear someone on their cellphone.

No hike in the mountains is complete without some asshat blasting music on a portable speaker as the go down the trail looking for an ‘epic selfie spot’

A new car costs more than a house did when I was a child (the 1970s) – and yet annual wages are about the same or less when inflation is considered.

A trip to the dentist used to be $100 for a cleaning and checkup, no insurance required and if you needed a filling you would get it that day for $100 more or a root canal for $500. Now, they won’t see you without insurance and your co-pay on the root canal will be $1500 and the cleaning, filling, and root canal will require 4-5 appointments that will total in the thousands at the very least.

As for the doctor – just forget it. Let the sickness run its course and die if you have to rather than leaving your kids with huge medical debts.

Everything is more expensive – and yet our schools constantly are sending home fund-raising notices so the kids can have field trips, drama, music or anything else.

National Parks are no longer free and often require reservations just to see them.

The internet is no longer a reasonable place to search for information because you are so bombarded by paid search results and advertisements that the chances of finding what you are looking for are slim to zero unless you are a highly paid search professional. There are no more random exciting discoveries on the internet – only clickbait.

People no longer write letters – email has become so overwhelmed with spam that it is useless. People no longer answer their phones because of robo calls, no one checks their voicemail – most are over-full, and texting is following the same trajectory. The end result is isolation and loneliness.

Social media is filled with malicious ads, fake news, and mind control material – not to mention trolls and hate mongers.

I could go on. I don’t really need to. Let me just lay it out for you in simple terms.

The world is not as good as it used to be. The world sucks. It’s not your imagination or bad attitude. It really sucks.

We’ve created this world and now we have to live in it. If you pray, you should pray for divine intervention, the arrival of aliens, a takeover by artificial intelligence, or the birth of some sort of viral movement that has the ability to sweep all of the world around us away. Those are the only things that can change the trajectory we are on.

Otherwise, we just need to hang on, keep struggling, and make the best of what has become – at best- a very sucky situation for the majority of us in 2019.