Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Leveraging and inequality

As the teaser for the next Harry Potter film is released, Marginal Revolution considers Harry Potter and the Mystery of Inequality:

Rowling has the leverage of the book but also the movie, the video game, and the toy. And globalization, both economic and cultural, means that Rowling's words, images, and products are translated, transmitted and transported everywhere - this is the real magic of Ha-li Bo-te.

Rowling's success brings with it inequality. Time is limited and people want to read the same books that their friends are reading so book publishing has a winner-take all component. Thus, greater leverage brings greater inequality...
Technology means that the top produce even more and pull ahead while the bottom move less - but they still move. The poorest today, in technological societies, are far wealthier in absolute terms than their counterparts a hundred years ago, but this is not true in less technologically developed societies.

Why this should be considered to be a problem for the technologically developed societies is also a mystery.

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