[arin-ppml] simple question about money

Tom Vest tvest at pch.net
Sat Jun 14 15:32:26 EDT 2008

On Jun 14, 2008, at 2:03 PM, Milton L Mueller wrote:

> Tom
> This dialogue has reached if not passed the point of diminishing
> returns. Let's agree to talk f2f some time it's too labor-intensive  
> this
> way.

Hi Milton,

Will look forward to having that f2f when circumstances permit. Do you  
use Dopplr?

>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Tom Vest [mailto:tvest at pch.net]
>>> The resources are already alienable, for any economic definition of
>>> alienable.
>> I'd be very interested to read something resembling argument rather
>> than assertion here; references to real observations or data too.
> You made a one-line assertion about alienability. Now you ask me for a
> full-fledged argument, observations and data. Tell you what: Apply the
> same standards to your own argumentation as you do to mine.
> Alienability in economics simply means you can give up a resource. You
> can do that with or without address transfers, since you can always
> return them to the RIR.

So, in effect, you're suggesting that the fact that LIRs can always  
return address space to an RIR means that there's nothing new and  
different about the "alienability" that an address transfer market  
would create? Hmmm...

>> ... and it basically completes the functional definition of
>> "privatization."
>> I'll be happy to discuss the hypothetical benefits if you'll confirm
>> that you are, in fact, advocating the full privatization of IPv4.
> More rhetorical games. Not interested. I said that an ARIN-authorized
> transfer policy was _not_ full privatization, and made an argument to
> that effect, which you ignored.

I honestly don't see that. I see your assertion that things would be  
different (apparently contra the claim above) and that the difference  
would be good, but I don't see any rebuttal to my claim that a  
transfer market would be equivalent (functionally, then formally once  
the suits are done) to the privatization of IPv4. If you will kindly  
refer me back to the right argument, I promise not to ignore it ;-)

> The issue is whether v4 address management is aided by decentralized
> transfers. All you've done is reassert that you want to call it
> privatization.
>> I believe that there are other
>> potentially viable mechanisms for facilitating the "recirculation" of
>> IPv4 as necessary, as part of a transition to IPv6 -- mechanisms that
>> will not have the same risks (i.e., non-reversibility) or perverse
>> incentives as a transfer market is likely to have.
> Tell me what they are. That would be useful.
>> Can you point to a market for any other industrial input anywhere/
>> anytime that has the following characteristics:
> Yes, I could if I wanted to spend the next 2 hours writing about it  
> and
> going down your list. Right now I don't.
> I will say that markets are applied to fairly limited pools all the
> time, e.g., auctions for desirable phone numbers or license plates,
> auctions for specific domain names (no other perfect substitute  
> exists),
> etc. Real estate markets also come to mind.

These things may come to mind, but they're not relevant. The "fairly  
limited" nature of the good is not at issue -- it's the non- 
substitutability for the purposes of entry into a very broad set of  
critical industries, coupled with the exclusive possession of the good  
by incumbents in said industry. For your examples to have any bearing,  
one would have to grant that the industry composed of firms called  
"bakery.com" or the industry composed of law firms that can only exist  
if they are located in the 400 block of Main Street are equivalent to  
the global industry of firms that can independently provide Internet  
access for their own requirements or third parties.

The different between having to negotiate with incumbents for access  
to critical market entry inputs and having *any* other kind of (for  
lack of a netter term) "open" or "non-adversarial" access to said  
inputs is not a difference of degree, or a matter of imperfect  

>> In the mean time, if you're suggesting that the Internet is somehow
>> trivial as an economic phenomenon relative to the individual  
>> countries
>> that have been mentioned,
> Apparently you didn't understand my point. My point was that  
> Internet is
> already deeply embedded in a commercial market economy and so a
> transition to a few more market incentives in a very narrow context  
> was
> not comparable to disruiptive capability of the total transformation  
> of
> the entire political economy of some of the world's biggest countries.

I understood it the first time; I just summarily rejected it.  
Longitudinal comparisons across jurisdictions where IP address  
resources are/are not available on (for lack of a netter term) non- 
adversarial terms reveal profound differences in growth rates,  
industry structures, concentration levels, etc. That fact was one of  
the primary factors that drove the emergence of *regional* Internet  
registries. So just saying that some things are sold, so selling some  
other things -- things that happen to be both foundational and non- 
substitutable -- makes no difference is simply false.

However, if you disagree I'll be happy to have my boys over to collect  
your liver later this weekend ;-)
Remind me again how much you said you wanted for it?

>> If you're suggesting that IPv4 is, at present, something less that  
>> the
>> Internet's only global medium of exchange -- and I do mean that quite
>> literally -- then I will also categorically disagree.*
> You have a tendency to slide into weirdo economics.

Apologies -- it's a bad habit that comes from observing real economic  
processes in the wild, in this particular sector even.
I confess it can leave one with a very unorthodox perspective -)

> It's particularly
> strange here. You want to call IPv4 a "medium of exchange" but you are
> making panicky arguments against allowing people to exchange ipv4
> addresses. Interesting.

> I'll wait for the paper, but remember that media of exchange are more
> commonly called "money." And its value hinges precisely on its
> transferability. And IP addresses are technical resources and not a
> "medium of exchange." Try to find a vocabulary for your ideas that
> works.

Okay, so what's the actual components of the definition of "money"  
according to the weirdo source Wikipedia?

1. Unit of account
2. Store of value
3. Medium of exchange

So perhaps one cannot be reduced to the other, and you should try to  
find a rhetorical strategy for your rebuttals that is somewhat less  
diversionary and abrasive.


For the rest, I agree; you can wait for the paper.

>> immaterial. There are many things that I would like to see survive  
>> (at
>> least) this transition -- most importantly the capacity of the
>> Internet to support new entrants,
> Me too. I think your policies kill it.
>> new applications and services, on
>> terms that are (at least) no worse than those enjoyed by past and
>> current stakeholders.
> It is impossible to equalize opportunities across time.

I suppose that's true in some trivial technical sense. Usually in  
contexts like this, however, facts like the differences in size  
between the IPv4 vs. IPv6 pools, or the effects of Moore's Law on  
processing and network capacity are cited in defense of rising rather  
than diminishing expectations for the future of the Internet. Are you  
resigned to a future of unequal -- and reduced -- opportunities, or  
was this really just a trivial technical point?

>> I think that the system of self-governance (the
>> alternative to which is sometimes called "arbitrary partition" by an
>> illustrious industry colleague) is useful to that end, and I even
>> think that the RIRs have been a useful element of that system of  
>> self-
>> governance.
> So do I. I want to see non-national-state governance survive.
> Institutions that ignore the economic forces driving their governance
> problems will certainly not survive, and we all know that governments
> will be willing and able to step in.

We are in full agreement here. However, the consequences of "ignoring  
economic forces" will be no different from those of misdiagnosing the  
problem, or of prescribing the wrong remedy; self-governance (at  
least) will be just as dead in each case.

But we're not dead yet!


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