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Life as a Service


"You'll own nothing and you'll be happy."

World Economic Forum tweeted that back in 2016, predicting that our future would entail consumers of the world to rent products and services instead of own them. Essentially, dear reader, you're not a citizen of the world anymore, you're a subscriber.

Take music, for example; it used to be that you were more freely able to purchase albums without much thought to it. Now, in place of that, you have subscription services that allow you to rent access to your favorite tracks instead of owning the thing you're paying for.

In contract law, there is such a thing as consideration. Both parties are supposed to get something out of the contract they agree on. In this scenario, we're talking about giving temporary access to something for a monthly fee. The moment you stop paying for X is the moment you lose access to X, even if at that point, you've already paid thousands of dollars in rental fees. In theory, it's convenient, but when it comes to practicality, you're actually losing money.

The next example that comes to mind is paying for a fixed amount of cloud storage for a monthly fee. Let's say that I choose to pay $9 per month for 1TB of cloud storage. That's about $120 per year. Eventually, I will have paid over $1,000 for that same amount of storage that doesn't grow with my investment. It just doesn't make sense. Now, if I paid $100 once for a 1TB external disk, that makes more sense. You pay once and own that piece of technology for as long as you want. You're not losing out on your investment. Over time, that $1,000 could serve you really well. You could afford multiple 1TB disks, or invest in something else. 

You pay more to rent an item than you do if you were to buy and own that item. The problem is in your ability to wait or find cheaper one-time-payment alternatives.

As Borat said in complete shock, "Screw me in the anoos, that's my daughter!" In this case, it's "Screw me in the anoos, this actually exists?!"

What I'm about to share with you blew my god-damn non-existent socks off.

You're now able to rent washing machines! Yes, you read that right. For just a few dollars under $300 per year, you're able to rent a washing machine where detergent and the like will be delivered to you. Again, while this seems convenient, you could just save up $300 and buy yourself a pretty neat washing machine that you own. Heck, in two years of renting one machine that you don't own, you could buy and own 2! They get you by setting a seemingly cheap monthly rent price, but if you do the math, it really doesn't make logical sense. 

The notion of owning something is invaluable. On the other hand, ownership is an ephemeral concept. It's an illusion. A ticking-time-bomb. No one owns anything. You don't even own your body, forget about possessions. If you owned your body, you would be able to control aging, prevent cancer, and death. But you don't own your body. Nature owns your body, or something more divine, if you believe in a deity.

I think this all ties into the concept of Copyright laws, which hinges on two interrelated ideas.

A) Scarcity.

B) If we want a section of our society dedicated to making products, services, and other things we enjoy and use, then we have to keep the people who make those things alive, happy and well, so they could do what they do best. 

A one-time fee is no longer sustainable in a world where you could literally make thousands of dollars just by owning a smartphone. Heck, you don't even have to leave your apartment anymore! Everything is deliverable. (Even dates)! It's an incredible time we live in, but it's also one of the most confusing as well because we're in the transitional period. Future generations will grow up with more balance, order, and knowledge than we seem to have right now.

So, let's get back to discussing renting access to things.

While it's extremely convenient for some things (like music and movies), it's not practical for other cases, like the washing machine. Renting, as it is, makes you lose on your investment; but hey, for the convenience of it all, some people don't mind it (I'm not one of those people).

Anyway, this can be a long-winded discussion, so I'll end it here. Renting is convenient but also cunning. Make sure you do the math to see how much you're losing and if it's worth it for you.

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