For a Million Bucks, Would You Give Up the Internet For the Rest of Your Life?


In just five minutes, a complete, brilliant and wildly enjoyable overview of capitalism.  Watch the thing–and then send the link around to everyone you know.  (Especially–need I say?–the high school and college students in your life.)

Really.  Put yourself in a marvelous mood for the weekend.  Watch.

With thanks to the Fund for American Studies for producing the video and to Professor Meir Kohn of Dartmouth for bringing it to my attention.

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    So, is she single?


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    flownover: That is a wonderful way to explain the advances that our kids take for granted. Now taking the phone away, is that easier than stealing a million dollars ? . ยท Jul 8 at 2:20pm

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    I would only give up the Internet in return for a sum of money that would allow me to be unemployed with a high standard-of-living for the rest of my life.

    If I never, ever, ever had to worry about having a job, I would be happy to give it up, receive all my information and entertainment from books, movie theatres, and television, etc, and conduct all my communications by lettermail and telephone.

    The Internet is an integral part of my continued livelihood. Without it, my job becomes much more expensive and difficult.

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    Interesting, though I am reluctant to send it to eldest Run; anything that comes from me must be musty (though I am the one that taught him how to use computers and fix his when he gets virused-up).

    Meanwhile, I had that brick in the late 80s/early 90s; my service plan was 48 cents a minute plus a monthly fee of $40, back then; my bill was rarely below $200/month. Now I have unlimited voice phone and wireless internet for around $140/month. Competition.

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    Peter, this was a great video! Not only did my weekend get off to a great start, but I also got the opportunity to see a much more pronounced version of the “endowment effect” discussed in chapter 8 of Ricochet’s own, Richard Epstein’s book Skepticism and Freedom: A Modern Case for Classical Liberalism. As he explains, there is an ‘endowment effect’ where people are willing to pay (WTP) much less for something than they are willing to accept (WTA) for that same thing. I think the sour grapes fable applies to the internet, if someone were made this offer (of $1 million to forgo ever using the internet) prior to the invention of the internet do you doubt for a second that they wouldn’t have taken the million dollars?

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    Please make checks payable to:

    Sam Gamgee

    1 Bagshot Row

    Bag End, Shire, Middle Earth.

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    I don’t think you can live a modern life without it touching you in some respect. Even peripherally other parts of your life – television, ATMs, etc. are touched by the internet. It’s like the yahoos who hate “Big Oil” and cling to their plastics. It can’t be done.

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    Remember, after taxes that million bucks is really less than $500,000.

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    Excellent exposition of classical economics ideas. The question that opens the video is a clever way of getting the viewer to think about how humans value things and, hence, why capitalism is so successful.

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    Reminds me of reading about Henry Ford years ago.

    Part of his grand design was that poor people would have cars too, by purchasing the used cars of the rich.

    The secondary market made the first purchaser more likely to buy new again.

    Brilliant man, that Henry.

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    W. Michael Cox of SMU, the professor in the video, has been doing work on this sort of thing for years. I saw him speak in the summer of 2001 at an IBD conference at the Reagan Library and he is excellent both in information and presentation. I highly recommend inviting him for a podcast devoted to economics/ technology.

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    This is brilliant, Peter – as we would expect from you – but subtle too. Most of those kids they interviewed think the internet, like liberty itself, descended from the skies. And most Harvard-educated economists would be horrified by the elevation of deflation as the the gold standard of the economy. But it is. I keep pointing out to people: televisions get cheaper in price for only one reason – there’s no government control over the television market. Might as well be talking to… well… you.

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    Only if you gave me enough money so I could pay someone else to internet for me.

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