Once upon a time there was a man who loved to build boats. Building boats takes a lot of space, and his apartment just wasn’t big enough. He went to a local warehouse and asked if he could rent some space to build a boat. They worked out an agreement. He would build boats and sell them to the burgeoning local sailing industry, and in exchange for 30% of the profit from the sales the warehouse would let him use the space for free during construction.
“One small caveat” said the warehouse owner, “we have final say on the distribution of your boats. We may suggest certain changes we think will help their marketability.”
The man agreed. Surely allowing some oversight would be no problem whatsover. He knew the local market, and he knew his boats would sell! He began drawing the designs that very day.
The man worked 12 hours a day for two weeks! Over 150 hours of work later he had the plans for the first boat. He went to the warehouse and began to lay the forms for the keel. As he was laying the forms one of the warehouse managers came by and looked at his plans.
“Looks great!” said the manager, “However I thought we were getting a sailboat, and this appears to be a small yacht! Our company has recently decided that we want to be ecologically sound, so we can’t really support powered boats. Redesign it as a sailboat and then you can start building it.”
The boat builder agreed, but he began to think that perhaps this oversight agreement may not be as simple as he thought. Throwing away his last two weeks of effort he began again, this time designing an eco-friendly sailboat.
Two weeks later, plans for the sailboat in hand, the boat builder once again began construction. He worked uninterrupted for 2 months, day in and day out, until after over 700 hours of hard labor he finally had his boat completed. It was a beautiful solid wood boat in natural hardwood color, with natural white cloth sails. After admiring his handiwork he went to tell the warehouse managers to have them begin looking for a buyer.
The warehouse managers looked at his boat and seemed suitably impressed. After a few moments though one of them spoke up. “It’s quite a beautiful boat, no doubt about it. In the last month however, we’ve decided to try to sell carbon-fiber racing boats, and we want people to think of these boats when they think of sailing! So before we try selling this boat you need to paint it bright red and change the sail for blue nylon. That should make it acceptable to the current market!”
The boat builder was astounded! A classic wooden boat with natural cloth sails and they wanted to make it look like plastic! He would have none of it, and he told this to the owners in no uncertain terms! The warehouse owners were firm though. Carbon-fiber racing boats were what people should be using, they said, and if he didn’t comply then they were not going to be able to sell his boat. The boat builder said that he was fine with that, and he would just take his boat and leave.
“Not so fast”, one of the owners responded, “you’ve been using our space without paying rent, and we’re due a portion of the value with the boat. If you don’t change it the way we want and sell it, then you can’t take it anywhere. There is no third option, this is our warehouse, and partly our boat.”
The boat builder agreed, there was nothing he could do. The owners went away and the boat builder sat and looked at his boat for a time. Then he went to his boat, puled out his lighter, lit the corner of sail, and walked from the building and never returned.
Where do you draw the line? ? Where should you? And what about the boating consumers and their ability to choose when the market is this controlled?
If you haven’t guessed, I’m not really for walled gardens, no matter how well decorated they are.