What is that?
It's a duck pond.
Why aren't there any ducks?
I don't know. There's never any ducks.
Then how do you know it's a duck pond?

Monday, May 22


97 Economic Facts The Doctor Who Episode "Oxygen" Got Wrong

1. Oxygen is recyclable.  It doesn't disappear when you breathe it.
2. They're mining copper ore.  You know what a major component of many copper ores and other rocks is?  Oxygen.
3. You know what the process of refining oxide ores does?  It produces oxygen.
4. They're murdering the maintenance staff of a refinery to save money on oxygen.  Do you have any idea how expensive it is to restart a refinery after a shutdown?
5. They're rationing oxygen, but not the resources required to produce oxygen.
6. They're sending out an entire new crew of employees on an interplanetary spaceship.  The energy for orbit-to-orbit transfer alone would make the cost of maintaining oxygen for the existing crew an unnoticeable blip on the balance sheet.
7. The actions depicted are not saving money, but wasting it.  Such a company under capitalism would swiftly be outcompeted and either be sold or go bankrupt.  This sort of thing is far more likely under state capitalism or socialism than anything like laissez-faire capitalism.  (Indeed, it's endemic in socialist states.)
8. Capitalism is not a "mistake".  Capitalist theory is descriptive, unlike socialism, which is prescriptive (and normative, i.e. a fairy tale).  Capitalism is simply how people exchange goods and services when they are free to do so.  Our understanding of it might be incomplete, but it's not something that was created by mistake.  Socialism, of course, is exactly that.
9. Murdering 90% of your employees is not a good way to improve productivity, nor do we see this in capitalist economies.
10. They're mining copper ore in situ.  Why?  Just move the whole damn rock.  Might take a little longer, but what's the rush?
11. If the suits can perform the manual labour - even complex operations as we see later in the episode - then why the hell are the crew out in space in them, using oxygen?  Burning money again.
12. They're shipping out a new crew at great expense because the old crew wasn't sufficiently productive, and they expect the new crew not to notice that there's no old crew?  You don't think the ever-growing piles of corpses might have some impact on worker efficiency?
13. There's a substantial crew on an automated refinery.  The refinery is still in operation with 90% of the crew dead.  By what measure were they unproductive when there was no point of them being there in the first place?
14. If the original crew wasn't needed, what was the point of spending a fortune to send out a replacement crew?
15. A company that routinely murders its employees will not tend to have the first pick in hiring new ones.  In fact, unless they're a protected monopoly, no-one would work for them at all.  What is illustrated is not only not a problem of capitalism, it's something that capitalism corrects.
16. That crew vessel is going back anyway.  You seriously have no way of extracting value from the old crew who are already trained and experienced workers?  Again, in a capitalist economy, you're headed for the corporate scrapheap.
17. If a resource is valuable, a capitalist economy doesn't destroy new supplies of that resource; instead it seeks to recover that value.  A cartel would seek to control the supply.  When you do see that sort of destruction, you find a state behind it, and most often a socialist one.
18. Oxygen is not actually scarce in space, not if you're in a planetary system.  Breathable oxygen, yes; oxygen itself, no.  You just need a power source to break it out of whatever incovenient molecule it's formed - H2O, SiO2, CO2, Cu3(CO3)2(OH)2, whatever.  They have a nuclear reactor.
19. The society we see has access to artificial gravity.  This is so far beyond any technology we have today that their worries about oxygen are like us fretting that our neighbours might sneak in while we're at work and steal the secret of fire.

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