The nature of the American economy, circa 2018? Nothing natural about it, the Z Man might tell you:
Sure, there are still people coming up with ideas to solve old problems, but most of what is called economic activity is just organized theft. Some clever guy figures out how to monetize the social capital of a part of society and then proceeds to sell it off. Amazon is an obvious example of this. There will be no little league teams sponsored by Amazon. There were always little league teams sponsored by the local store owners. That’s all gone because Amazon cannibalized it.
The internet economy is pretty much just the monetization of existing ideas, along with the artificial creation of bottlenecks. Apple and Google control the mobile space, so they now operate as toll takers. Neither company does anything interesting, in terms of technology or innovation. They just rob helpless travelers on the internet. PayPal is another example of a firm that adds zero value, but gets to operate as a gatekeeper. None of this would be possible without the massive taxpayer subsidies to build and maintain the internet.
And the number of potential victims is staggering. If Something Dot-Com can pry a single American dollar out of every resident with a ZIP code, that’s a third of a billion dollars. Information may want to be free, as the slogan says, but there’s always someone looking to turn a buck, or several bucks, from it.