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The Foundation for Peer to Peer Alternatives

In the west (and particularly in Europe) we tend to settle for the less-than-inspiring experience: the experience with the product that we cannot configure and use;

the experience with the train service that sells us the long distance ticket on the sardine-packed train with no seat;

and the experience with the institution that takes no extra step to realize the goal in such a way as would benefit everyone: the applicant, the civil servant who's getting paid to perform the job, and the group of people who are benefiting from the existence of that very institution.


Each of us have, I believe, had a truly great service experience at some point: one where we walked away energized and optimistic, with renewed faith in humanity's strange but nonetheless remarkable ability to excel. In my own life, I can speak of a few examples of exceptional service (Thai Airways) where everything from check-in to layover to final destination ran like comfortable clockwork.

Same goes for the product that "just works" (I found that many Sony products fit this) - we want to go out and buy the whole catalogue. And as far as institutions go, both Estonian Migration and Health administrations proove - hands down - that you don't actually need a huge budget to run a successful, relatively non-abusive "in-the-black" public organisation (Estonian corporate Tax: 0%; Individual tax 20%, population 1.34 million). Nor do the consumers of these institutions need to deal with demeaning sniping, general incompetence, abuse of power, and intellectual violence which unfortunately so typifies nearly all other western European bureaucracies). It's a more-than-reasonable institutional experience that doesn't cost much! It rather seems like the cooperative spirit between the client and the civil servant is built-in from the start of the relationship.

In short, the positive experience teaches us that the great product/service/institutional experiences are well within the range of the possible.

Of course, those of us who have had terrible experiences (product, service, or institutional) know well the anger, depression, loss of motivation and energy that these experiences can lead to. We complain to our friends and family (Note: the people in our lives who deserve that grief the LEAST), and it changes absolutely nothing. My point? Such substandard treatment is not only unacceptable, it is dangerous for human endeavor (ALL of us are consumers).

Not to mention unnecessary.

Too often we are told by employees of those who provide substandard goods and service experiences (particularly monopolies or state institutions in Europe) that "that's all we can do" or "I can do no more for you". And we must be resigned - forced to accept this at face value. This wouldn't be so bad if, regulatorily at least, there weren't an element of personal disempowerment built into the arrangement as well.

Fortunately for us, we really don't have to go there.

In a P2P network, we always have potential to access to the best that this network in question has to offer. If one company's monopoly on a particular type of service and lack of accountability for poor performance leaves us in a bad spot, if we wanted to, we could a.) Petition the company or the consumer organisations with meaningful numbers to force the quality of service to improve (or else a better solution will be sought) b.)force the institution into obsolescence, or best yet, c.) create a new framework that disrupts the current model and leaves it obsolete. All with the strength of numbers that the P2P network provides.

When we move to a new country and get established, isn't it as much our network of sympathetic friends and coworkers, who helps us get set up and established - (as opposed the disjointed band of utilities, public organisations, product retailers with whom we must deal)?

P2P, if I may conjecture, is all about empowerment. It is about having (and sharing with all) access to the best that the public and private sector have to offer, and about demanding change, in representative numbers, from those organisations that fail to deliver what is needed - the great, and failing that, superior consumer experience.

If you want it that way, and are willing to do what it takes, of course.

Views: 96

Comment by Sepp Hasslberger on May 13, 2008 at 14:16
Hopefully we can distill some of this and start another post that is not so long (I think most people coming to read this page will not have the patience to read so much).

Well, I tried but I must say that it got long nevertheless. I have attempted to frame the question and the conversation we have so far had around this in a new post:

Can Consumers Collectively Own 'Producers'?

If you have any changes you'd want me to make, tell and I will incorporate them.
Comment by Sepp Hasslberger on May 18, 2008 at 19:31
Talking about gallons of milk ...

there is a Canadian farmer with thirty cows who sells raw milk. He's in trouble because the Canadian health authorities do not want to hear about people drinking milk without it having been pasteurized.

The interesting thing is that he's having a "cow-share" program that approaches your idea of a consumer owned farming operation.

The people who line up for milk say they are not doing anything illegal. All of them participate in Schmidt's cow-share program and have paid $300 to buy a bit of one of his cows. The money they hand over for a jar of milk – it costs $3 a litre – is simply the cost of boarding the cow at Glencolton Farms.

Check it out here:

Raw versus the law
Comment by AGNUcius on May 18, 2008 at 22:59
This is fantastic. When the consumers are the literal owners of the sources of production (cows), then they are the owners of the outputs (milk) even before it is produced, so there is no 'sale' because the product is already the property of the person who will consume it.

I've wondered if we could use this same tactic to avoid the Codex Alimentarius and that new Canadian legislation that makes many healthy things illegal.

Unfortunately the "they" are already ahead of us here in Utah and have explicitly made cow sharing illegal.

http://le.utah.gov/~2007/bills/hbillint/hb0311.htm reads in part:

prohibits cow-share programs
"Cow-share program" means a program in which a person acquires undivided interest in a milk producing hoofed mammal through an agreement with a producer that includes:
(a) a bill of sale for an interest in the mammal;
(b) a boarding arrangement under which the person boards the mammal with the
producer for the care and milking of the mammal; and
(c) an arrangement under which the person receives raw milk for personal consumption.

See also http://senatesite.com/blog/2007/02/raw-milk-regulations.html

Terrorists (usurists) hate freedom because it is bad for their market.

I wonder if it is illegal for me to own an entire cow for myself. If I cannot share the output - not even with my children, and cannot divide a cow into shares, then I would need an individual cow for each child - but that is just far too much milk. Usurists hate sharing.

Can anyone in the universe explain the reasoning for this restriction beyond the obvious benefit to the dairy board in keeping us dependent upon them?

Owner profit requires consumer dependence. Perpetuated profit is usury.
Comment by AGNUcius on May 18, 2008 at 23:27
HB311 makes me so angry I am seething.

Why are the lowly "we" allowed to own any capital whatsoever?

Why don't the feudalists disallow apple trees? How can they possibly let us raise vegetables? Why are chickens not long since ill-eagle?

These pigish, putrid, immoral, usurist parasites will only tighten their grip as long as we continue to fund ConAgra, Monsanto, Nestle, etc. when we buy their products and pay the profit that they then use to purchase yet more legislation to subjugate we the consuming and working people.

Consumers are workers and workers are consumers. We are being taken advantage of, and boxes are being built around us with the intention of making us more literal slaves.

Here is a film showing Monsanto's attempt to patent DNA sequences that appear naturally. Notice in the last clip the farmer talking about GMO corn causing his cattle to become sterile. Sterility will increase the profit of those that caused it by enabling them to sell newborns each year. This is along the same lines as Monsanto's terminator technology and some of the other tampering with wheat and rice genetics for the purpose of increasing profit through dependence.

Patently Piggish:
Comment by Michel Bauwens on May 19, 2008 at 23:25
I'm not sure if I should say this or not, but here I go, while I understand entirely your feelings and opinions on this issue, I think we should still try to maintain some kind of discourse that does not use such heavy laden words as parasites, brutish etc... This occasion may justify it, but other people may then start doing that as well, and before you know it, the whole atmosphere of our communication changes ... So I would say, say what you want, but let's try to say it a little differently ...
Comment by AGNUcius on May 19, 2008 at 23:45
I see what you mean, and I agree it is distracting and unprofessional.

I'll try to not post during such emotion, but delay until I can cool off.

Thanks for trying to not be a heavy-handed censor and for explaining.
Comment by John Hammink on May 19, 2008 at 23:55
I wanted to personally apologize for not responding more - I've been on the road for the last two weeks. I'm really excited to see the examples that people are coming up with here. Michel - I should be grateful if you'd come back to me on email with deets I'd need to post this to main P2P forum, as you mentioned. Thanks.
Comment by John Hammink on May 20, 2008 at 0:05
Regarding the Train network comments - I agree that it would be harder to collectively own something like this. However - most rail systems are subsidized by governments - so people have the opportunity, in numbers - to vote with their wallets as far as which national/regional rail systems they might support (think tax competition in the EU - incorporating in a different country etc.)

Also there may be possibility for commuters at large to insist that there be more than one competing service on a given rail network. This enables free market competition (which carrier is running for best times, most destinations, sells you the seat with the ticket, etc). We certainly already see this with things such as airlines - where the airports themselves are the supporting infrastructure. And we already have regional carriers vs. local carriers on the train network - with some overlap, thus competition for the same space.

Also, even if trains themselves were difficult to introduce competition; we still have service organisations (ticket staff, conductors, route schedulers, etc)., who could compete - thus hopefully bringing the level of THOSE services to a more acceptable level.

I hope my rambling above makes some kind of sense :)
Comment by SamRose on May 20, 2008 at 0:40
A bit of Drift:

I think that natural selection ("nature") itself will end up negating human-created "patents" on nature. Because, a genetic system is more than just "genes". It is "gene/organism/environment". Patents really cannot cover "things" that can dynamically change themselves over time, depending on their environment, and other factors. Patents can only work for statically-defined "things", human creations that will largely stay a certain way over time.

The same could be said for "patents" on evolutionary technology that is not derived from biological "nature". Anything that is a true complex adaptive system will negate patents placed upon it over time. Thus, there can only be one patent for them: a single universal patent for all complex adaptive systems, for anything that displays the ability to adapt dynamically over time to it's environment, and to change it's own "design". Who would own such a patent?
Comment by Michel Bauwens on May 20, 2008 at 6:48
Thanks for your gracious reaction Patrick, sorry to have put you on the spot, the same could have happened to me. John, thanks for having posted this and started the discussion. I'm not sure what you are referring to with deets ... I'm back myself after nearly 3 full months, and need to be back into the thick of things myself. Generally speaking all stimulating thought capsules are welcome!!

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