0136 - Fungible - 2020.05.11



"Fungibility" is one of those concepts that seems obvious, once you're introduced to it. Of course some things are interchangeable. Obviously, steel is steel, sugar is sugar, as long as it meets the standard criteria, it doesn't matter where it comes from. Why didn't these economics eggheads just say "interchangeable"?

But when you fully grasp the concept, you realize how difficult - if not impossible - it is to buy things ethically in today's late-stage-capitalist economy. Don't want to support a war in the Middle East or a pipeline going through First Nations land? Well, too bad, the fuel at the pump is just untraceable hydrocarbons. Don't want to support overseas sweatshops? Sure, that label says "made in the USA", but that's just where the shirt was assembled. Who wove the cloth, spun the thread, dyed the fabric? Does "made in the USA" include prisoners working for pennies per day? Oh, that chocolate bar says the cocoa is "fair trade", does it? Great. What about the sugar? What about the almonds? What about the ink on the wrapper?

At the end of the day, the only way to ensure ethical commerce in a world of fungible resources is to enforce regulations on industries as a whole (hopefully, on a global level), otherwise, you're always consuming the product of the product of the product of the lowest bidder.

This is why, of course, you should, whenever possible, support non-fungible art like webcomics and robo-cuddling, products with as short a supply chain as possible. I can promise you, if you support me on Patreon, that I will not use your money to put myself into a sweatshop.


0136 - 2167/07/06/15:42 - Lee Caldavera's apartment, front door.
Zoa: Soooooooo... Caleb! You wanted to purchase a cuddle from Lee?
CP: I, uh... yes. Yes, I did indicate that I had wanted that, yes.
Zoa: Well, Mezzer Caldavera's officially no longer in that line of business, but there's another ten-out-of-ten rated cuddler who cuddles for the same rate right here!
CP: Uh... you and Lee are not exactly interchangeable. Cuddling is not.... fungible. You know that, right?
Zoa: Granted, sure, Lee's better than me. Yes. But hey, point-seven millicreds per second! A veritable bargain! Plus tax and applicable fees, of course.
LC: It hadn't occurred to me how cheap that actually is. That's less than I pay for access to CandyDrive. That's... that's very cheap.
CP: Still more than I'd be willing to pay for it.
LC: Hang on.
LC: Hang the fuck on.
LC: Why the fuck not?
CP: Uh...
Zoa [compress text]: Some people window-shop, Lee, that is normal consumer behaviour, and I know you think you're helping but I am going to need you to not do the thing that you're doing right now for the love of C.