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Friday, September 11, 2009

Economics of opinions

Damn inflation, I remember when you used to be able to give an opinion for 2 cents!

I take it you've never studied economics. Instead of boring you with lots of technical terminology and theory, I'll restrict my comments to real world transactions and use commonly understood terms.

In the marketplace of ideas, opinions typically come in two forms. The first is worth 5 cents (as in "Not worth a plug nickel"), and the latter is a premium product valued at 10 cents ("I wish I had a dime for every time ..."). And like in all markets, there are "wholesale" prices and "retail" prices. Those numbers represent the retail prices.

When exchanging goods or services, there is an underlying cost for each transaction that must be bourne by one or more of the participants. The difference between 10 cents and your two cent idea is, of course eight cents. This is the "markup" or "overhead".

Put simply, when you manufacture your idea, its wholesale price is two cents, but is sold in the marketplace at either 5 or 10 cents. Small amounts, to be sure, but that doesn't prevent entrepreneurial resellers from making much more, or for those with sufficient legal resources, from securing a patent and making millions!

My idea (for this post) was similarly worth two cents. That's not to say, however, that in the marketplace of ideas known as Slashdot, the laws of supply and demand don't apply. That means that there's high probability it will end up being worth zero cents. Or to use the English formative of Latin origin, nonsense.

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