Public vs. private goods, or why there’s no Bugatti-comp.

Beginning in-channel :

asciilifeform: Humour me — why does bugati exist while bugati-comp – not ..?
pete_dushenski: Even uneducated rappers understand that cars are a visible sign of wealth at least as much as performance machines. The performance writes the cheques saying that “I could” but of course there’s essentially nowhere that these cheques might be cashed where anyone is watching. Veyron and other ‘hypercars‘ like it are little more for rich dude to get brownie points with friends and strangers in a way that’s less likely to cause resentment so much as envy,i at least compared to jewelry, designer clothes, very large houses, and the rest of the gauche trappings of the arriviste class described by TLP and others. Where can you drive 400kph outside of Ehra-Liessen (VW’s private high-speed test track) ? Nowhere. But you could! Just like you could roofie girl and drag her into back alley but instead you ask her to ‘role play rape’ with you. This is why armchair ‘enthusiast’ types focus so obsessively on ‘0-60 times’. Because that’s about what public roads permit (without Republican fender flags). Personal computers, by contrast, are hermetically hidden away. They’re ~private~ whereas cars are as public as the nose on your face.

As you can well make out, the question over the marketability or unmarketability of certain goods has everything to do with whether they’re public or private. Not in the “taught controversy” sense where property “rights” are somehow intermixed, mind you, but rather in the sense that goods held privately can be subdivided into one of two camps : a) Those that receive public exposure, and b) Those that are of an exclusively individual nature.

The chasm in marketability between these two should be obvious, viz. that there’s far readier demand for a) than b). So it is that there’s no Bugatti-comp for the same reason there’s no Bugatti-dental-floss, Bugatti-gardening-spade, or Bugatti-rectal-thermometer. How would you even begin to show off such things, to peacock your unabashed supremacy over the mud-encrusted plebes, to signal your far-reaching successes and discerning eye for the exceptional ?ii It’s very much a necessary prerequisite for the marketability of ultra-exclusive goods that they have a public-facing aspect to them.

But that’s just the consumer side of why there’s no Bugatti-comp in particular, which should be obvious for anyone on the street to see.iii What’s less obvious is the perspective from the manufacturing side. How is it that Volkswagen Führer Piech, somewhere around the end of the last millennia, devoted himself for the better part of a decade to pushing a selected group of very sensitive, special, sensitive doods to the utter limits of their abilities in order to manufacture a car with mind-boggling specifications,iv losing $5-6 mn for every $1-2 mn car sold in the 450 car run ? Hm ? Because now his name is forever emblazoned on one of the most audaciously over-developed four-wheeled conveyances ever conceived and manufactured. More than just another worthless doodle in the margins of a school kid’s textbook, the Veyron is. And everyone (who knows) knows it when they see one (AND THEY CAN), be it on the street, at a car show, or on YouTube.

Not only that, but cars – or, say, residential interiors – are public goods with clear and present use-cases : transportation and entertainment, respectively. The clear and present use-case for a small-batch-uber-ordinator is, to me at least, opaque. Now if a man worth the mention wants to write a spec for the mythical million-dollar machine that’s more comprehensive than “Stan’s Seven Laws compliance,” the floor is yours. Though given the nascent developmental stage of computing science as a whole, we can’t rule out that the Piech of computers hasn’t even been born yet. The automotive one wasn’t born until 50 years after the Daimler patent.

___ ___ ___

  1. Because maybe you’ll get a ride in the passenger seat. And wouldn’t that be fun! []
  2. You might contest that, say, electron microscopes are suitable examples of million-dollar machines with no public exposure, but the bezzle-flush institutions who gleefully pay through the nose for such devices, and in fact quite prefer it this way for the merit-washing that it affords, are anything but private. In the end, electron microscopes aren’t consumer devices anymore than is heat shielding for Buran space shuttles, though the comments are open to other examples the alert reader has. []
  3. Because they can’t! []
  4. Piech’s Veyron HAD to have the following : 1000hp, 400kph top speed, and a cost of not less than €1 mn. He was obviously told that this couldn’t be done but he equally obviously made it happen anyways. Some men just have that kind of willpower ; it’s to them that the rest pledge their fealty and allegiance. []

One thought on “Public vs. private goods, or why there’s no Bugatti-comp.

  1. […] quality, scarcity, and publicness should also further cement the logic behind the fact that there’s no Bugatti comp for pretty good peacocking reasons. […]

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