February 3, 2018•316 words
I came across a tweet on John Deere’s practice of encrypting software on their machines to limit what repairs farmers can do themselves, and on the emergence of a nascent network of farmers trading encryption keys online.
On the one hand—beautifully done. This is a magnificent display of capitalism, and is awe worthy just in that regard. On the other hand—what about the farmers?
Pure Capitalism and its consequences is a topic of endless fascination, but I am no economist, and have no fresh output on the topic. So I asked the all knowing ai8ball on twitter what it thought about this particular flexing of the capitalistic system, and it generated some interesting results:
>> Fine in a free society. Great opportunity for a competing company. Inspiring early project: http://opensourceecology.org/portfolio/tractor/
>> A natural challenge is "But how could anyone compete with a company as powerful as Deere?" Competition and new arrivals are the bedrock of free markets. The Dow Jones Industrial average has reconfigured which companies are in it 50 times in the last 100 years.
>> I also worked at the most successful company in the history of the world - literally. And when I left there, my first thought was "Damn, I could definitely compete with this company." Size and dominance have their advantages, but they also definitely have their weaknesses.
>> Finally, remember that every law you add to your society has to be backed, ultimately, by force. So from a libertarian perspective, it has to be a very good reason. Should Deere encrypt their tractors, probably not. Would I use violence to stop it? Definitely not.
>> Most people don't see laws as being backed by violence, but that's only because they're not the ones doing the enforcing. I think it's immoral to ask someone else to perform violence that you wouldn't be willing to perform yourself.