Sunday, January 13, 2008

Capitalism Is The Real 'Agent Of Change'

by Mark Steyn - January 13th, 2008 Orange County Register

"In 2006 EMI, the world's fourth-biggest recorded-music company, invited some teenagers into its headquarters in London to talk to its top managers about their listening habits. At the end of the session the EMI bosses thanked them for their comments and told them to help themselves to a big pile of CDs sitting on a table. But none of the teens took any of the CDs, even though they were free."

"That was the moment we realized the game was completely up," an EMI exec told the magazine. In the United States, album sales in 2007 were down 19 percent from 2006.

The driving factor in the death of CDs and their replacement with MP3s is the convenience of downloading the songs that you care about rather than buying a CD with some songs you don't. It is interesting that MP3 music is even worse than CD music at playing high end tones, so the best music to play on MP3 is loud blasting music. That is compatible with listening to music while walking, jogging, shopping, etc, the exact place where drowning out background sounds is a part of the goal of listening. In those environments you don't want to have to fiddle with the player to get rid of a song you don't like. That simply becomes a distraction.

The new attitude about not buying CDs is a problem since music industry economics have been based on the concept of megahits with huge CD sales. Though a lot of profits have been driven off of the catalog of music for enduring artists, the big profits were off pop and rap megahits from new artists or big tours from rock stars. In this environment 1 or 2 good songs were used to sell an entire CD, filled mostly with average music. When the big sales end, the economic system on which it is based cannot be sustained. That is why the music industry is suffering such huge losses.

Steyn uses the music analogy to talk about new technology driving upheaval in the constantly moving world of free enterprise. He then compares this real change with the world of politics. It is an interesting idea that helps explain some of what is happening in politics.

His analogy is nearly perfect since much of the problem in politics is the same as the problem in the music industry. Politicians don't want to change the system to respond to the real world changes that are happening. They want to talk about change rather than accept the change to their world. However Steyn is correct when he says that we have started some government entitlement programs that cannot survive with what is happening in the real world. They are economically unsustainable. Politicians don't want to hear that.

Add to that a refusal by liberals to accept that our world is still dependent on cheap energy which liberals have chosen to not produce. This makes us dependent on those parts of the world which have decided to produce the cheap fuels, primarily oil and nuclear. That choice is damaging our country. The solution of the socialist party is to try and pretend that we can pass laws to make the problem go away. We can even justify our previous stupidity by passing new laws to ban using the cheap fuels and rely on . . . What? The illusion is that we can warm our houses with global warming.

Much of what made Ronald Reagan so successful was he asked people to accept reality and deal with it, rather than wish it to go away. He predicted that dealing with it would return us to greatness. It turned out Reagan was right. That is not what liberals believe or they would not have so sabotaged our economy with their ridiculous opposition to producing energy here in America.


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