POLITICS: Re: Patents

From: KPJ (kpj@sics.se)
Date: Mon Jan 24 2000 - 07:12:14 MST


It appears as if Lee Daniel Crocker <lcrocker@mercury.colossus.net> wrote:
|The question I rarely see directly addressed by patent supporters is
|_whose_ benefit? I wouldn't argue that patents are a short-term (in
|the sense of one human lifetime) benefit to patentholders (who are
|occasionally inventors), just as farm price supports may indeed
|enable supported farmers to make a living they otherwise wouldn't.
|But do they benefit us as a whole, or inventors in the long term?

First, I wish to quote the Anders Sandberg entity:

"We" is often used for manipulation, since it implies that the
speaker/writer and the listener/reader belong to the same group. This
activates subconscious feelings of kinship, clan loyalty and "us against
them"-mentality which can be exploited. Be very careful when dealing with
anybody insisting on talking about "us" when he want you to do something!

That written... stop reading the following text if you dislike entering

|We generally reject subsidies on principle, but not patents. What's
|the difference? People argue for subsidies because we think the
|subsidized activity is a valuable one: the French want good wine, so
|they subsidize vineyards. We want heartland corn farmers to stay in
|business regardless of demand, so we subsidize them. We want Detroit
|auto workers to have jobs, so we levy high import taxes on Japanese

Patents, copyright and subsidies all work somewhat differently, but the
effects of them do not. Patents and copyright appeared late (like only two
centuries ago). Human feel patents and copyright are righteous simply due
to the fact that humans have short memories.

Subsidies simply mean that some power brokers declare their own hidden
agenda as so much more important than those of all the people trading
the products/services/whatever that their own hidden agenda can and should
override those others' needs or wishes.

They nullify the effects of the natural selection mechanism used by humans
in a market economy.

The power brokers can be government, the mob, or some other power junkie type.

a. "the French want good wine, so they subsidize vineyards".


   If the French want good wine, they will buy the good stuff. If the French
   vineyards deliver good grapes, they wine makers make a good wine, and the
   public relations departments of their wine firms inform the market of the
   good stuff, they will sell their good stuff.

   They need no subsidies if they make good stuff.
   If they don't make good stuff, they _definitely_ shouldn't have subsidies.

   The hidden agenda: nationalism. French government define French wines
                                    as better since they are French.

   The goodness of the wine is irrelevant.

b. "We want heartland corn farmers to stay in business regardless of demand,
   so we subsidize them."

   The hidden agenda: nationalism. The U.S. government define the heartlanders'
                                   corn as better since they are made in U.S.

   The quality of the corn is irrelevant.

c. "We want Detroit auto workers to have jobs, so we levy high import taxes
   on Japanese cars."

   The hidden agenda: nationalism and parlamentarism.
                                   If the Detroit auto workers lose market
                                   share, the party can lose voters and the
                                   party people lose their power.

   The quality of the cars is irrelevant.

+ We want there to be lots of inventions and new research, so we
|indirectly subsidize them by granting protected markets. But are
|the benefits those programs unarguably give to corn farmers, auto
|workers, and patentholders worth the long-terms costs? I'd like to
|see this question addressed from something other than a knee-jerk
|"inventions good--give money" attitude. I'd like to see addressed
|the real cost of creating a culture that just assumes information
|should _not_ be shared freely.

In a historical perspective, mathematicians did exactly that in them thar
olden days. Knowledge on how to solver various mathematical problems were
well preserved trade secrets. As you might expect, development of the field
crawled to a practical stand-still.

For those enjoying a static world where nothing really changes and where those
in the know can live like kings on being the guardians of the secret knowledge,
patents and copyright would have been a god-send. Luckily for the development
of science and technology in the Western culture, they didn't have them.

If one really cares about invention, research, etc., then one should examine
those hidden agendas above and see how to remove them, so the price of products
and services follow what people want to pay for them. No more and no less.

Open the borders for free movement of people, products, and services.
Remove all subsidies to pet groups by people in power as corruption.
Stop patents and copyrights being used to stop inventions and information.

If people in some area really prefer their own products for some reason
(e.g. feelings of superiority, or random political or theological beliefs)
let them do so. Those who prefer the best quality will buy that quality
if the price is right, and so on.

Summary: Let the global market decide.


                                - = - = - = -

FAQ anyone?

Say, has nobody really
 (i) read through the Extropian Archives which, according to rumours, really
     exist Out There(tm) somewhere,


 (ii) made an FAQ over standard, recurring issues (such as the one above)?

Now, wouldn't such an FAQ be a rather good idea to create?

I would have made an FAQ myself, but, alas, the Extropian Archives appear to
not work, either because

(a) they simply refuse access from those network places I've tried to access
    them for some reason hidden in the shrouds of History,

or because

(b) they have been stored in the moldy chambers of the great Grand-Wizards
   of extropianism and thus no longer may be accessed by mere mortals.

   /kpj (Oh No! He's Back! :-)

No, my friend, the way to have good and safe government, is not to trust it
all to one, but to divide it among the many, distributing to every one exactly
the functions he is competent to. It is by dividing and subdividing these
republics from the national one down through all its subordinations, until it
ends in the administration of every man's farm by himself; by placing under
every one what his own eye may superintend, that all will be done for the

[Thomas Jefferson to Joseph Cabell, 1816]

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