Everything is free now
That’s what they say
Everything I ever done
Gonna give it away
Someone hit the big score
They figured it out
That we’re gonna do it anyway
Even if it doesn’t pay

-Gillian Welsh

It seems that the philosophy of free is overtaking the world.  The old adage that “nothing is for free” is being replaced with the ideology of everything for free. This perception is influencing the relation that we have with music, movies, services, taxes, information, and even travel. Is this a shift in ideology or just laziness or being cheap? How does perceiving material that we used to pay for such as music or movies influence our relationship with travel as in the case of fare jumpers in Stockholm and other metropolitan areas or with taxes when Tea Party patrons seem bent on dismantling government infrastructure or the individual tax fraud ? As cultural forces push on our economy, systems of commerce choose to either fight back with law or different models of revenue generation. The obvious example is the music industry which currently is 60% smaller then it was at it’s peak in 1999. Even as it legislated against Napster and it’s users, it developed new models such as downloads and now online streaming services.

Is this a symptom of feeling disconnected to community? For example, in a small town if you stole an album from the local five and dime, eventually you would be found out, either through a mistake, a parent noticing, a friend wondering how you afforded all those new albums. Community not only polices its patrons, but influences people to police themselves. When you steal from the local store, you know who it is you are stealing from, not some abstract corporation or corrupt city government but the family you go to school with, that you see at church.

All of this is pretty obvious but, the need for community drives people and is part of the reason that kickstarter is so popular. People have a need to belong and it is one of the factors that self regulates our selfish tendencies. When we feel invested, we are more likely to do the opposite and give money to those we feel committed and care about. For example see the video below by Amanda Palmer.

[ted id=1682]