What do you think: Do social media threaten democracy?
The Economist
54822

Aren’t we just looking at a yet another example of what happens what some player(s) get large enough so that their actions have the capacity to influence the rules of the same?

The line between “have the capacity” and “inevitably doing so at scale” is blurred. Since the latter is obviously something we, as the society, are better off tackling, we should not ignore the former.

Yes, I am saying the above largely as a utilitarian/libertarian. Amazon’s HQ2 is, while great for the economy, job creation, etc., is clearly a bad move in the long run if it happens in an unregulated fashion. Think of what Walmart did to blue collar workers and to the nearby neighborhoods. We may or may not agree it’s a natural and even “well-deserved” course of events (which I do believe is the right explanation). But we likely will agree that if there were a way to get to a comparable result without the negative externalities we are looking at today, such way would be a preferred one.

I think the best solution here is through education. Generations change, and people see the economy differently. Walmart was great a while back, and today it’s a massive machine that can not not exist, but there are more people who despite it than who love it. Many of us use Walmart out of necessity, and are not really happy that we have to.

Amazon will most likely reach the same stage some time in the near future. One can argue it already happened.

The next generation is thus our best bet. Quite frankly, I’m just happy with Amazon, and am unlikely to switch any time soon. Amazon has unified payments, is delivering delivering my orders promptly, and has amazing customer support. But this applies equally to an average Walmart customer as of some 1995.

We’re talking democracy here. The democratic solution in the mid- and long-term is to empower those who are passionate enough to make the change. It won’t happen overnight, and Amazon will most certainly rack quite a few trillion dollars in revenue in the next several years; Walmart, after all, does so successfully even today. But it will happen.

The only danger I would urge us to keep an eye on is the risk of Amazon playing the evil game by aggressively making it harder and harder to compete with itself. But HQ2 isn’t such a move. Not even remotely close. Extra licenses to be obtained for the new means of some AR- and VR-enabled online shopping would be really bad. Complicated taxation mechanisms would be terrible. But we’re nowhere near this red zone.

Let small players in, in quantities. Let Walmart fight with Amazon, and help eBay stay afloat. Welcome Alibaba warmly and wholeheartedly, because that’s how you give customers options. Push for grossly simplified taxation, so that a schoolkid in a garage has a real chance to disrupt the industry.

And increase the awareness of the next generation of the very fact that being acquired for ten digits at twenty something is not at all sexy. At least not so if the acquirer is Amazon itself.

Because Amazon will try. And no regulations can possibly prevent that.

But future us being more conscious about making economically sustainable choices will inevitably steer this world in the right direction.

We abolished slavery. We got used to recycling. We will learn that business is a cooperative positive-sum ever-lasting game of satisfying customers’ needs better and better.

Don’t teach kids that monopolies are bad. Teach them monopolies are far from optional in the long run. The rest will follow.

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