Uber broke laws, duped police, lobbied officials

“There’s nothing wrong with capitalism. This is a problem of crony-capitalism / corporatism. ”

That is what some people will reflexively say to any analysis that discusses the role of the profit motive and wall street earnings in leading to these outcomes. Whenever scandals like this are discovered, this catch-all deflection is offered and then don’t express much interest to discuss the underlying system further.

The fact that systematic actions like this to amass advantages at expense of the public happen with regularity at Facebook, Google, Apple, Microsoft, Exxon Mobil, General Motors and many other for-profit enterprises, means there may be some room to improve the economic paradigm in which these things are built. And in fact, we have just such a paradigm, and the products of it (Wikipedia, Linux, etc.) are of a completely different character. They don’t have an investor class at all, that needs to recoup their investment by extracting rents forever.

The alternative to for-profit venture funded companies owned by Wall St doesn’t have to be communism or socialism. It can be a gift economy such Science, Creative Commons, or Open Source Software and decentralized permissionless networks based around protocols like HTTP.

For example, Uber can be replaced with an open source, decentralized marketplace that doesn’t take 50% of all drivers’ revenue, but has a free market and ratings / reviews operated by the community.

But if a project is funded by venture capitalists, subsidized by money-losing unit economics through multiple rounds, and then dumped on the public in a Wall St IPO, and subsequently owned by pension funds and other pools of capital, then yes that is a quintessential example of Capitalism. And the result is that there is an investor class that will always tell Uber’s board to maintain centralized control and extract rents from the public, squeeze drivers, as well as try to hack the society around them (as in this article: secretly trick, get around the police, lobby state officials) whereas an open source decentralized system wouldn’t do any of that.

The dream of cryptocurrency was that the developers would sell the tokens to the public and make money on the primary sale, but after that, the network would belong to the public. Even any royalties that could accrue (such as on every transfer of the token) would be above-board and disclosed once, so everyone knows the deal. Sadly, rather than focusing on a “peer to peer cash system” as Satoshi’s whitepaper said, the entire space switched around 2013 to “store of value”, HODL and speculative investment. It’s actually a cop-out that happened because blockchains can’t scale well.

Bitcoin was the granddaddy and it solved the double-spend problem, but in a very brute-force way, by gathering all transactions in the world in one place every 10 mins to search for a double-spend. It’s actually even worse than that, because every transaction has to be gossipped to every miner, and all mined transactions have to be stored forever in an ever-growing history. The tech is a straightjacket but the vision is good. We do need smart contracts to replace privately-owned middlemen, but we need the smart contracts to run on a better DLT than Blockchain. There have been tons of innovation since 2008 but Bitcoin maximalists and Web2 maximalists both deride all of it, so progress depends on open-minded people who look past the grift of utility-less coins long enough to build something useful for the public. (Like IPFS and FileCoin, or SAFE network for instance.)


Who pays volunteers on Wikipedia, Linux, BSD, Webkit, Chromium, PHP, Python and all those other technologies and languages who have taken over the world? Is TimBL rich through extracting rents from all users of HTTP?

Vitalik is mega-rich from selling his tokens once, and now he doesn’t control the network. That is the alternative I am talking about. The developers of a successful project make buck but then the project becomes bigger than them. There were was an article posted the other day from an open source author complaining that they are now being required to use two-factor authentication before they can continue releasing their product. They said “well, I guess I don’t pay for the distribution platform, so I will take what I can get.” But they are missing the point entirely — the distribution platform isn’t supposed to serve the one author/maintainer. It’s supposed to serve the public! Those are the actual customers, and even if the author pays $1,000,000 a month to such a service, the value to the public of NOT having a security backdoor on the next update can become far, far greater. At some point, what you built just becomes bigger than you.

That’s why science has peer review, wikipedia has talk pages and open source commits have reviewers before merging the code. No one wants something to be rolled out at 5am on the whim of one guy, EVEN IF he has two factor authentication.

There is a fundamental, fundamental difference in mindset between on the one hand the celebrity culture we have on Twitter, and various entertainment, and the peer review culture of science, wikipedia and open source. The latter is far more useful to society.

In fact, most of our divisions and strife in democracies is a result of for-profit news media trying to write one-sided outrage articles with clickbait titles because the market selects for that, while our social network algorithms surface this and put us in angry echo chambers because that leads to the most “engagement” (and therefore, profit). Once you see it, the profit motive IS WHAT CORRUPTS these networks. Wikipedia and Linux may have their faults, but not these.

Who pays the volunteers? No one. They have enough financial stability to spend an hour here and there making a commit. There doesn’t need to be a billion dollar investment by any party to advance the thing forward. They’re like ants… and it beats closed profit-driven silos in the end.


Checks and balances are needed to build a sustainability, less corruptible network… and it needs the right tech to scale it properly… Intercoin is doing it the right way, paving the way for communities to empower themselves and for web5 to evolve for the people by the people

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What has to happen is you have to have organizations that are willing to apply and live the examples that prove there are new ways to resolve this problem. One of my favorite mentors from history Benjamin Franklin proved repeatedly that with proper governance and guidance we could easily resolve these issues of corruption and bring benefits to all concerned. Good Community gets to the core and heart of bringing resolutions that work. Hopefully Intercoin can be the example that our country and the world needs to see in this time.

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