Monday, 19 April 2010

A Long Strange Trip

When The Atlantic ran the 'Management Secrets of the Grateful Dead' it must have seemed to deadheads that the time was due and respectable company was inevitable. The band was (are) 'visionary geniuses in the way they created customer value, promoted social networking, and did strategic business planning.'

The Atlantic is respectable liberal, that's US 'liberal', company to be in. But how about Mises? This shrine to the School of Austrian Economics, ultra free-marketers, ran recently a short blog post 'Doing Business The Grateful Dead way' - February 17, 2010 by Douglas French

Doing business The Grateful Dead way — Mises Economics Blog

Back in '94 the Dead's writer John Perry Barlow wrote in Wired that in the information economy, “the best way to raise demand for your product is to give it away.”

In 2010 he explained to Joshua Green of The Atlantic: “What people today are beginning to realize is what became obvious to us back then–the important correlation is the one between familiarity and value, not scarcity and value. Adam Smith taught that the scarcer you make something, the more valuable it becomes. In the physical world, that works beautifully. But we couldn’t regulate [taping at] our shows, and you can’t online. The Internet doesn’t behave that way. But here’s the thing: if I give my song away to 20 people, and they give it to 20 people, pretty soon everybody knows me, and my value as a creator is dramatically enhanced. That was the value proposition with the Dead.

Here in the UK 'sixties hippiedom soon turned to statism. The view from here was that in the US equality always seemed subservient somehow to liberty. We might have expected Mises to join Murdoch: show me the money and we'll show you the goodies. But there's a real tension here as the free-est of free marketers pledge alliegence to a smaller state, one that doesn't spend blood and treasure on war.

Is the 'Austrian' view that intellectual property is theft? Theft by government fiat? If so then the biggest media guns of today don't have many friends amongst the purest of capitalists. Strange days make for strange bedfellows.

If the work of Austrian economics is new to you then seven minutes of time is worth spending here: not with wonderful Dead but with music made for talking money: Frederick Hayek v John Maynard Keynes...