Ron Paul Was Right

I ran across the video while I was trolling through Twitter.  It’s a Ron Paul speech from 2002, the year I graduated high school.  I had no idea who he was back then, but his words sort of hit me like a knuckle sandwich to the nose.  It’s not that I don’t already know about these things, but hearing it condensed into a five-minute speech that was made ten years ago really puts the hook in you, to use a phrase from a favorite film of mine.    Ron Paul may not be the only person in Washington who understands what has been going on, but he’s the only person brave enough to stand up and repeatedly tell us the truth.  Unfortunately, all of his predictions made in this video have come true.  All the more reason we need him to be the last man standing.

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LED Bulbs: The Wave of the Future?

Have you ever noticed how some movies use different color filters to achieve various cinematic effects?  An example of this that always stands out in my mind is the movie Traffic, which used blue and yellow filters to great effect, if my memory serves.  Of course, this is hardly the only movie that does this, but it sticks out most clearly in my mind, for whatever reason.  Have you ever viewed things through a blue filter in real life?  If you’ve ever used an LED bulb, the answer to that question is probably yes.

I hate LED bulbs.  Yes, I know that they save energy.  Yes, I know that incandescent bulbs are single-handedly responsible for the downfall of mankind.  You know what?  I don’t give a toss.  I hate the unnatural, dim glow of LED bulbs.  It reminds me of being surrounded by the glow of a computer screen.  It makes me feel like a nerd in a Tron-like movie where I’m about to be sucked into an alternate universe and then chased by guys on really cool motorcycles, probably also lit by LED.  While this description may sound somewhat cool, it really isn’t.  Brushing my teeth in a blue-filtered, white-washed reality isn’t pleasing or nice; it makes me feel like I’m going insane.

Incandescent bulbs?  Totally different story.  We have an incandescent bulb in our hall that literally lights our entire apartment.  We have an LED in the bathroom and the incandescent in the hall.  The LED barely manages to illuminate our tiny bathroom, which is approximately 7’x2 1/2′, including the bathtub.  Believe me, it’s hardly asking the moon to light this closet-like space up, but that light bulb fails miserably at the task.  The incandescent bulb illuminates the majority of our living area and kitchen in a warm, yellow, inviting glow that makes me think of summer and/or 1975.  In other words, it makes me feel happy and at peace.  LED blueness makes me feel like I’m stuck in Alaska (Land of Winter and 18+ Hours of Night) on a permanent basis.

Why is this even mildly relevant?  Well, fortunately for you US readers, it really isn’t.  There was a move last year to ban incandescent light bulbs, but it failed to pass the Congress.  However, the area several other countries that are now facing bans on our yellow friends, including the whole of the EU, Australia, Canada, Taiwan, Japan, China, and South Korea.  Since I’m currently a SoKo expat, that would include me.

I had passingly followed the debate in the US, quickly decided that I was in favor of whatever the free market would do by itself, and didn’t think much more of it.  It seemed like there were bigger fish to fry, although the government telling you what bulbs you can and can’t use is about as close to telling you when to wipe your butt as you can get.  Unfortunately, if there was any debate in South Korea about the bulb wars, the incandescent bulb lost.  By 2013, incandescents will be totally phased out in Korea.

I went on a light bulb run about four months ago.  At that time, there were a few, though not many, incandescent bulbs available at our local discount store.  I picked up a bunch and a fluorescent for our overhead and went on my merry way.  Because we use the incandescent bulb a lot, they go quickly. We don’t turn on the LED or fluorescent lights, if we can avoid it, since we prefer the glow of the incandescent and don’t need a lot of lights on at night.  When I returned to buy another big ol’ box last weekend, they had mysteriously disappeared.  My husband and I were perplexed, until I thought of the proposed ban in the US.  I figured if the US was attempting to do it, there was a good chance it had already happened in other places.  Sure enough…

A lot of people have made the argument that we shouldn’t be using incandescents because they are so inefficient.  We should all be doing our part to save the environment.  Others make the argument that nobody should be forcing our choices on things like this.  The free market should decide.  Guess where I fall?

Here’s the thing.  I like the idea of saving money on lighting.  The thing is, I don’t use tons of lights, anyway.  At any given time, we have a maximum of three lights on in our apartment.  According to a nifty little calculator I found on the Internet, we could stand to save about $321 per year if we could switch to an LED bulb.  And another thing! In order to the get the same amount of light from one incandescent bulb, I need about three LED lights.  Seriously, they suck.  I read constantly at night, and they are terrible for reading.  Part of this is due to the fact that they tend to emit light in a direct beam, rather than radiating outward like incandescents.  Not brilliant for someone who spends a good 2-3 hours in any given night reading.

Before you jump all over me, no, I don’t think it’s a good idea to pollute the Earth.  I’m as big on trees and critters as the next person.  However, I also value a well-lit house, particularly in my reading nook.  I understand that people think we need to get away from incandescents, but are LED lights really the future of lighting technology?  Am I really going to have to view myself in blue for the rest of my life?

At the end of the day, I think the market should be making these decisions, not the government.  I don’t like LED lights.  I would prefer to buy incandescent bulbs, especially give that I am in a somewhat transient position now.  Korea is not my “forever” home; this is just a temporary stop.  Paying about $40 for a light bulb, at this point, means that I’m paying $40 for another year of use on the bulb.  I might need to replace the incandescent three or four times in that year-long period, but they only cost like, $3.  At most, I’d be paying $12.  So somewhere in there, my energy savings would have to amount to about $28 over a year on one light bulb for me to be able to break even.  Whether or not it would do that, I’m not sure.  Current estimates seem to suggest that it takes about two years to see a return on an initial LED bulb investment, which would indicate to me that I probably wouldn’t see a return on my investment.  Couple that with the facts that I really need three of the little buggers to sufficiently illuminate the same amount of space and I hate the blue glow and what it comes down to is this: I’d really rather just leave the LED on the shelf, at least for now.

I think LED technology is perhaps a transitional technology.  I know I’m not the only person who doesn’t feel 100% love for the Smurfs of the lighting world.  At this point, they’re quite expensive, which may make them somewhat inaccessible for folks in certain income brackets who don’t have the luxury of waiting to see returns on an investment.  Many people right now could not afford to be spending this sort of money on a light bulb.  Thankfully, the US government mandate failed.  This might be the one instance when government has worked in the favor of our pocketbooks recently.

In any case, I hope that the cost of these things comes down and quality improves over time.  I feel that eventually the mandate will be revived and will pass, which is usually what happens to this sort of thing.  I also wish that, at least here in Korea, we were being given the option of choice.  Let the two bulbs duke it out on the market.  If the LED bulb is not a worthy competitor, perhaps it should be replaced with something else that is – something cheap that lasts a long time and doesn’t make my house look like a scene from Tron.  Allowing a competitive market to force innovation: what a novel idea.  It’s working wonders in the tablet industry.  Why can’t it work in the lighting industry?

Read more about the blue wonders below.


“LED bulbs: The end of the lightbulb as we know it?” – BBC World News

“Congress overturns incandescent bulb ban” – The Washington Times

Cough Drops: The Mandate

This video I found on Reason TV brought a few LOL moments for me, so I thought I’d bring you guys something a little light-hearted for Saturday night.  I also posted this to Twitter.  I think it pretty accurately describes what happens when the government gets involved with anything that is anywhere near your body: somebody is getting probed!  Enjoy!

Cough Drops: The Mandate

My Two Cents on the Birth Control Debate

I know, I know, I haven’t been posting much lately, and for that I’m sorry.  I seem to go through slumps with my writing, and I’ve definitely been in one lately.  I think I’m going to fancifully call it an “intellectually lazy” period because that sounds better than saying I’ve just been plain lazy.  I’ve been equally lackadaisical about following the bruja on birth control that has been swirling around the US as of late.  I’m sure it’s just as (intellectually) lazy to admit this, since I have no solid evidence to support this other than Facebook observations, but truthfully, it seems like a bunch of progressives getting miffed because a religiously affiliated university doesn’t see fit to provide students with birth control.  Maybe that’s why I didn’t blink: it’s a Catholic institution.  Didn’t everyone already know that, generally speaking, the traditional Catholic stance has been against birth control?

Of course, then it seems like the religious right proclaiming that nobody should be on birth control, since they don’t believe in it.  And if it’s morally wrong, then nobody should have the right to do it.  I don’t know if that’s exactly what they’re driving at, but it sounds like the sort of knee-jerk statement that would come out of the mouth of someone like, for example, Rick Santorum.  Being as how neither side makes any sense, I’m going to assign both of them a dunce cap and tell them to go sit in the corner.  Much like my student whom I’ve dubbed “the scarecrow” – brains made of straw and a face to match – they probably will neither sit down nor shut up.

Both sides are wrong for a similar reason: they are attempting to force their beliefs on those who don’t share them.  In the case of the left, they are attempting to coerce a group or groups of people to financially support something with which, for whatever reason, they do not agree.  In the case of the right, they are attempting to deny a group or groups of people something that they desire from the marketplace.  Neither has any real legitimate claim to coerce another group, regardless of all the well-intentioned arguments and ideas behind it.

Let’s start with the progressives.  From what I’ve gleaned, they support insurance companies and businesses forcibly providing birth control for medical reasons, such as cystic ovaries.  They have also argued, essentially, that society benefits from the effects of more women being on birth control.  One friend of mine also argued that providing birth control, rather than not providing it, ends up costing the insurance providers and businesses in question less over time.

There are very few, if any, insurance companies that will refuse birth control if it is necessary to save one’s life or prevent more expensive procedures further on down the line.  I find this to be a rather weak argument, so I’m going to leave it where it is.

The argument that “society owes it to itself” is a huge fallacy that was exposed by the late, great Murray Rothbard.  Simply stated, society doesn’t exist.  I know that sounds like a claim from outer space, but let’s look at the facts.  Society is frequently treated as though it is some entity that actually exists, and it doesn’t.  Rothbard, in his brilliant work For a New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto, provides us with the example of a band of ten robbers.  Those ten robbers show up to a home, break in, and take whatever they please.  They are caught and, when brought to court, make the argument that they are a “society,” and they were robbing other people because it was in their best interests to do so.  Naturally, this idea would not hold up in any respectable court.  However, when the number multiplies and suddenly we are speaking of a large number of people seeking to rob another large (or small) number of people, the argument suddenly becomes cloudy and more difficult to perceive.  Interestingly, this argument about “society” can also be used to take blame away from a person or persons who most properly deserve it, thus removing the need for accountability.

I view the argument that “society” owes it to itself to be a completely erroneous and frankly illogical argument.  In order for a “society” to truly exist, it must be homogenous with identical beliefs, hopes, and standards.  Obviously, this “society” or utopia, if you will, has never and will never exist.  Even if everyone else were in favor of doing something, if one person doesn’t consent, then that person has a right not to be coerced.  Put differently, it is not moral or ethical to force me or anyone else to pay for something that you want, if I do not wish to provide it of my own free will.  This applies to taxes just as easily as birth control and a host of other things.

The savings argument is an interesting one, and I have not seen any articles or statistics on it, though I will freely state that statistics can be skewed to go the way the person reporting wants them to go, in many cases.  One might ask why, if there are such great savings to be had, businesses and insurance companies are not already taking advantage of these great savings.  Honestly, why?  The only reason I could think would be if there were some sort of government subsidy that provided more money and thus negated those potential savings.  Knowing how heavily government is involved in the medical and insurance industries, this would not be unexpected, though I have no evidence to back it up; it is merely a hazarded guess.

Ultimately, birth control specifically and reproductive rights generally are a deeply personal issue for most, if not all, women.  Women should have the right to choose, of course.  Nobody should be asked to cosign another individual’s beliefs, whatever they may be.  However, being forced directly or indirectly to subsidize those choices is demanding that acquiescence.  The only way to forever settle this issue is to forget this notion about what is good for society and let people take care of themselves with their own money.  Leave the government out of it.  Leave the church out of it.  I have the right to decide for myself, and so does everyone else out there.  Don’t let anyone, left or right, tell you otherwise.

Rethinking Global Warming

I have always been somewhat skeptical about the issue of global warming.  Part of that is because I’m flat-out contrary.  When a large group of people believes something to be true or likes an idea or even a movie (ahem, “Twilight”), I have a tendency to pull staunchly in the opposite direction.  This is not necessarily logical thinking.  I think it actually ranks somewhere between “crotchety grandfather” and “blackguard-cynic.”  Whatever the case,  I always think that there is no such thing as too much evidence, and in the case of global warming, I’m not convinced by the evidence that is generally available for mass consumption.

Now, I’ll admit up front that I’m no scientist.  I find science interesting, but I would never claim to have an aptitude for it.  That said, I have heard other theories of global warming that involve sunspots and periodic cooling and heating of the Earth’s surface due to natural climate change.  I think it’s hard to argue that the Earth’s climate changes naturally, independent of any human influences.  See the Ice Age for proof of this one.

I found the theory about sunspots to be compelling, though I’m not going to go too far into it today.  Basically, what it states is that the sun goes through periods of heightened sunspot activity.  This is known and documented by NASA.  In fact, we are currently entering an “active” period for the sun.  During this period, the extra radiation emitted from the sun actually blocks gamma radiation coming from space that would heat up the Earth.  This would result in a cool-down.  Now, whether or not this has any merit is beyond me, but it is interesting.  From what I can tell on the Internet, many institutes think it’s a crock.

I was checking in at Mises today, and there was a new article called “The Skeptic’s Case” by Dr. David M.W. Evans, and it has a lot of really interesting information on global warming and why some (most?) scientists might be getting it wrong.  This is one of the more scientific looks into the possible fallacies surrounding global warming that I have come across, and I found it a worthwhile read.  Again, I do not claim to be any kind of climate change expert; I am not savvy on the subject by any stretch.  That said, I think it’s healthy to explore all points of view.

I don’t think that pollution is a good thing, so don’t misunderstand me.  I hardly think we should be poisoning our drinking water or killing off all the bees.  Again though, I think it’s worthwhile to explore all angles of the argument, and this article struck me as a very good place to start with the counterargument.

Freedom Watch Booted from Fox Business

I am so disappointed to be writing this to you, readers.  Freedom Watch on Fox Business has been cancelled.  For those of you who don’t know about it, Freedom Watch was a show hosted by Judge Andrew Napolitano.  Judge, as he is commonly known, showcased Austrian economics, libertarian philosophy, and real news issues.  Judge was probably the only libertarian on the news, and now he’s been cancelled.  If you’ll allow me a moment of perfect candor, the first thought that I had when I was saw this headline was, This is bull$h1t!  I’m angry.

Judge was shining a bright light on the Fed, the NDAA, and the tomfoolery that goes on daily on the Hill.  Judge was the only host bringing us real straight talk about the economy and the state of the world today.  I watched his show often in clip version, as we don’t get it in Korea, and found every segment to be enjoyable and informative.  I will admit, of course, that he was preaching to the choir.

Why can’t libertarians have a newsman of their own?  I don’t believe that there weren’t enough viewers, because there are plenty of libertarians, and more are coming to the fold every day.  Judge was a great voice for liberty, and that voice has been silenced.

I, for one, don’t intend to take this lying down.  I love Judge’s show, and he is probably the only person on Fox – or TV, generally – for whom I have any respect.  If you are libertarian but you haven’t watched his show before, I suggest you head to Fox and watch some clips before they get removed.  I’m sure there will be plenty of devotees who have him on YouTube, as well.  I will continue to reuse and distribute his clips, as I think they are interesting and informative.  I’m also going to send an angry letter to Fox and tell them exactly what I think about this.  If you love Judge and refuse to let him go quietly into the night, I suggest you do the same!

Freedom Watch: Ron Paul Will Be On GOP Ticket

Continue reading on Examiner.com FreedomWatch with Judge Andrew Napolitano has been cancelled – Wilmington Civil Rights | Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/civil-rights-in-wilmington/freedomwatch-with-judge-andrew-napolitano-has-been-cancelled#ixzz1m4uTqKet

**Addendum: Fox has apparently been inundated with emails about Freedom Watch.  Judge has posted on his Facebook page that, while he appreciates the show of support, the people at Fox are getting pretty irked about the constant emails, and he is requesting that people stop immediately.  We must respect Judge’s wishes on this matter.  Please DO NOT email Fox News about Freedom Watch.  I have taken down the links to the Fox exec’s emails.  

Judge has also stated that the decision was based purely on business and not on the content of the show.  He says that he accepted the decision cheerfully and feels that there will be another opportunity or project for him some time in the near future.  I can only hope this is true.  In any case, please don’t email Fox anymore, guys!

Against Intellectual Property

It seems like the Internet is up in arms today, protesting SOPA and PIPA.  Wikipedia is going on a 24-hour blackout, and even WordPress here seems to have put up “censored” versions of peoples’ blogs.  I’m all for it, frankly.  Protest the heck out of this thing.  I can’t decide whether or not SOPA/PIPA is really about intellectual property issues, or whether it’s about control.  I suspect the latter, but the government seems to be touting it as a blow in favor of the former.  I thought you all might appreciate a post on intellectual property and why it might not be such a great idea, given the current goings-on.

Most all libertarians espouse a firm belief in property rights.  Libertarianism is firmly rooted in property rights, in fact.  Property rights, according to the core libertarian ideals, include tangible things, such as security of your person, your home, your land, your car, etc.  Intellectual property rights include the rights to intangible things.  According to author Stephan Kinsella, these are divided into ideas expressed as copyrights or as patents, which represent practical implementation.  So what’s wrong with protecting your ideas?  Don’t you have the right to do that?  Not every libertarian might agree on this point, but I am here today to argue against intellectual property and therefore the foundations upon which the government is trying to control portions of the Internet.

Copyright comes into effect the minute something is put onto a tangible item, such a book, movie, or script.  The copyright lasts for the duration of the author’s life, plus seventy years after his/her death.  In the case of an employer owning the copyright, it would last an additional ninety-five years.  (I have no idea why it would last longer in the latter case.)  Patents are property rights on inventions, and they will typically grant the individual who owns them a limited monopoly on manufacture, use, and sale of the item in question.  Interestingly, according to Kinsella, the patent actually only grants rights of exclusion and doesn’t actually grant the patentee the right to use the invention. Patents last twenty years from the date of the original filing.  Things such as “natural phenomena,” “laws of nature,” and “abstract ideas” may not be patented, though why people honestly need the Supreme Court to tell them this is beyond me.  Patents can be disadvantageous to trade secret holders, since a person or company that independently discovers a trade secret held by another person or company can patent it and exclude the other from using it.

Trademarks differ from the two forms of IP mentioned above in that they use a symbol, word, or phrase to identify the company.  For example, the “half-eaten fruit,” as my husband calls it, has become a well-known symbol for Apple computers.  Trademark basically prevents rival companies from copying identifying symbols of another company and attempting to pass it off as their own.  A good example of trademark infringement might be seen at the cheap Asian markets I like to frequent, where guys and gals can buy any number of knockoff designer items that range from ridiculous to excellent in quality.  Though they weren’t made by Louis Vuitton or Chanel, they do a pretty darn good job of looking the part, but they weren’t manufactured by the actual company.

In any case, intellectual property rests on the notion that not only does the creator own the idea, but they also own the tangible forms of the idea.  Kinsella provides a novel as an example.  The author holds the copyright to the novel and everything contained in every printing of the book.  (Hence the word “copyright.”)  That means that even if another person buys a copy of the book, they don’t own the novel – the pattern of words – contained therein, and they have no right to copy any part of that book using their own computer, pen, paper, etc.

There are a lot of ways that libertarians could choose to look at intellectual property.  The first is from the perspective of natural rights.  Simply put, a person subscribing to this system would believe that because a person owns his body and the instruments used to create the idea, that the idea is his.  He/She would be entitled to own their own creations.  That seems reasonable enough.

The utilitarian ideal sets forth the supposition that it creates more wealth or utility to have IP laws.  More creative, artistic endeavors lead to more wealth.  It also states that if there are no copyright laws, there are fewer profits reaped, and therefore it is beneficial to have IP laws.  Utilitarians will usually hold that restricting an individual’s complete freedom to do with his property has he wants is justifiable because of the wealth created by preventing him from exercising his will.

Kinsella argues that this is faulty reasoning.  One could redistribute part of group A’s wealth to group B and argue that the net wealth increases, though this would not actually be the case.  The amount of wealth is the same, but it is merely being stolen from group A and given to group B.  Nothing about this transaction implies the creation of greater wealth.  Kinsella further argues that the goal of law of not wealth maximization but rather justice – “giving each man his due.”  That means that wealth generation does not give a moral pass to limitation of personal rights.

The most important thing to consider, though, from a utilitarian standpoint, is whether or not IP actually provides a net increase in wealth.  Are patents and copyrights really necessary to foster innovation and creativity?  Do the immense costs of implementing IP law outweigh the comparatively marginal cost of innovation?  Is is possible that companies would have a greater incentive to innovate without twenty years’ reliance on patents?  What if companies had to constantly continue improving their products in order to stay on top of the market?  Would consumers lose out in such a situation?

Economically speaking, it has never been proven that IP laws result in net gains in wealth.  What we do know for certain is that companies and individuals seeking copyrights, patents, and trademarks must spend an awful lot of money employing lawyers to navigate the often murky waters of IP law.  Could this money not ultimately be put to better use in R&D.  In any case, it is unsound to argue that increasing wealth is a legitimate reason for depriving others of their rights.

If you look at Rand’s take on natural rights, she essentially cosigns on the idea that certain philosophical and scientific discoveries cannot be copyrighted, since certain truths have always existed, even if people don’t realize it.  She argues that only things created by the individual in question could fall under IP law.  Of course, if you take this down to its minutiae, nobody creates matter; they just manipulate it according to their will and skill.  Kinsella also presents an interesting conundrum whereby a scientist discovers a scientific theory or principle that was previously unknown to mankind.  This individual would not be rewarded for his/her creative thinking and intellectual ideas, but the engineer who uses that law to create a new invention would be.  Hmm.  Doesn’t it seem a bit silly to reward Beyonce for writing “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)” but not reward Einstein the theory of relativity?

At the end of it all, we also come to the conclusion that IP laws are essentially monopoly grants.  My husband made the point to me that IP laws protect the “little guy” from big competition, but I argue the opposite.  In fact, IP laws create barriers to entering the competitive market.  For example, if a young entrepreneur/inventor comes up with an idea, it would be relatively simple for big business to copy it.  Big businesses know this and do it.  The fact of the matter is that they can claim that they invented it first, and they have the resources to drain the inventor in an IP suit.  This effectively eliminates the competition, for the big business in question doesn’t even have to win the case; they merely have to wait until the little guy runs out of cash to fight the legal battle.

You can continue by pointing out that a big business could steal the idea once the idea has been presented to them by an inventor.  Kinsella has argued that this can be solved with non-disclosure agreements.  I am not a lawyer, but I can see how the same issue might come into play, at this point: if the entrepreneur sues the big company, the company is able to win by playing the waiting game.  I would certainly welcome further thoughts and comments on this end of the subject, since I haven’t come up with what I would consider to be a final and useful answer on this matter.

However, all things considered, at the end of the day, the cross-licensing and defensive patenting that is rampant in business today effectively amounts to serious barriers to entry for potentially budding companies.  It has come to the point that, because businesses are so happy to suit for infringements on their IP, that other businesses will actually file “defensive patents” to keep the lawsuits at bay.  Nobody really profits from this except lawyers and government – the lawyers because they are garnering outlandish fees and the government because it is revenue that doesn’t come from taxation.

Let’s take a look at the situation with SOPA/PIPA.  The government has created this intellectual property legislation to prevent people from downloading music, movies, etc. for free on the Internet.  It would effectively give the government the ability to shut down unwanted sites that allow pirating.  There are several points to make about why this legislation is misguided.

The first is that it will not solve the problem.  Firefox is already talking about making a SOPA-proof platform.  Basically, the software developers will write into the code a way to avoid SOPA software detection.  It will contact the website via an offshore server – in Europe, Asia, Australia, or wherever – and users will automatically be redirected to that website.

The second problem is that this act is essentially propping up an outdated business model.  The entertainment industry has been lobbying hard for Washington to do something about all this pirating.  What the industry doesn’t seem to realize is that the people who pirate files online also tend to buy more of these same music or movie files than those who don’t pirate the files.  Another flaw in this thinking is assuming that those who pirated, say, a movie file would have bought the movie, were it not for pirating.  This is hardly a foregone conclusion.  When the entertainment industry argues that they are losing money, they are making an assumption that may not, in fact, be true.  I have some friends who rip movies and shows, and let me tell you, I haven’t run out and bought a single one of those TV shows or movies.  Not a one.  Why?  Simple.  They weren’t entertaining, and I wouldn’t pay money for them.  Does it really make sense, from a free market standpoint, to prop up entertainers, music, and shows that suck?

The final issue that is quite interesting is the potential of this act to create a black market for Internet rips.  Look at the drug war and the black market for drugs in America today.  Making drugs illegal has done nothing more than lead to extremely high prices for black market drugs, which in turn leads to massive drug-related violence, both in the US and south of the border.  I’m not saying that violence would be the ultimate result in this case, but it certainly has the potential to increase profits for purveyors of the desired good – that is, free music, movies, books, etc.

One last point that I might make is that, for the music industry, most of the profits are made on tours, anyway.  Most of it is made from things like merchandise sales.  Besides that, for struggling artists and those looking to enter the marketplace, free downloads are a great way to get their music heard.  I will honestly admit that if I hear something I genuinely enjoy, I don’t mind paying for it.  I want to see my favorite artists succeed.

Ultimately, I see SOPA/PIPA has yet more government regulation that we don’t need.  It will harass the people who least deserve it, and will fail to meet its supposed goals.  Besides that, I just can’t get behind intellectual property, at least not 100%.  You be the judge, but speaking for myself, I believe that we stand to benefit the most from a free exchange of ideas, and it would pain me to see the Internet falling under government control.  I love the Internet if for no other reason than there is a vast amount of information and ideas available right at my fingertips, and that is something that is truly incredible about this point in history.  I would hate to see the government attempting to turn back the clock on so great an innovation.

If you are interested in reading and hearing more from Stephan Kinsella on intellectual property law, check out these links:

How to Slow Economic Progress
SOPA, Piracy, Censorship, and the End of the Internet? – Freedomain Radio w/ Stephan Kinsella
The Case Against IP: A Concise Guide
The Fight Against Intellectual Property
Against Intellectual Property (PDF)

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