Charles Petzold

The Commercial Market Failed Me, So ...

October 15, 2007
New York, N.Y.

You know what I hate about capitalism? As economic systems go, capitalism is pretty much the best. But way too often it violates my sense of entitlement and instant gratification.

Don't get me wrong: I'm no commie. I'm an American. And as an American I feel I should be able to buy whatever I want whenever I want it. That's what the free market is all about. Read The Wealth of Nations if you don't believe me.

But capitalism is not perfect, and sometimes the commercial market fails us. I don't know: Maybe the invisible hand has an invisible broken finger. So what are we supposed to do? Just live with deprivation? Are you kidding me? That's not the way I was raised!

An example: Just the other day I was at a diner ordering a burger. I wanted bacon on my burger, but all they had was that stupid Canadian bacon. What's next? Canadian fries? Reluctantly I accepted the Canadian bacon, and even got them to throw in an extra slice. But the commercial market failed me so I had no choice but to skip out without paying the check.

The other week I made a special trip to a local electronics store to buy some CDs. But the store was closed for some holiday nobody told me about. The commercial market failed me, so I had no choice but to break into the store and take what I wanted.

Then I was on the subway and I thought "Why am I buying CDs? What I need is an iPod!" I looked around the subway car for a store selling iPods, but I couldn't find one. The commercial market definitely failed me, but fortunately a few other passengers had iPods, so I was able to snag one right as the car pulled into a station and make a quick dash out. (That lady sure had the worst taste in music. I probably should have hit her harder.)

Another example: Like Jeff Atwood, I'm a major fan of the seminal television series Boomtown. Alas, Boomtown was way ahead of its time, and the audience back in 2002 was just too naive to grasp its complex narrative techniques. The series was cancelled midway in its second season, orphaning the episodes and preventing their appearance on DVD. Once again, the commercial market failed me.

Fortunately, flaws in the free market are easily remedied with BitTorrent, which is such a totally cool piece of technology that it transcends copyright law and lays waste to whiny content creators. Think of it this way: If I wasn't able to download the abbreviated second season of Boomtown, then the terrorists have won.

BitTorrent is also great for downloading books. Don't even get me started on how the commercial market fails us with books.