You are browsing the archive for 2014 May 27.

Avatar of admin

by admin

Patents Are Not Economical

May 27, 2014 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

TM158_Strong_Calico_Loom_with_Planed_Framing_and_Catlow's_Patent_Dobby

Well, they’re often economical for the patent holder in the short-run. But over time, a legal regime that discourages information-sharing simply closes off advances in technology. Defenders of government-granted monopolies (i.e. patents) often rely make broad claims that allegedly show that inventions would not be made were it not for patents. True history, on the other hand, generally shows the exact opposite as in the case of William Gilmour and the power loom. James Bessen writes:

Although Gilmour and Lyman directly helped competing mechanics and textile mills, they weren’t fools. For two decades, machine shops and textile mills made high profits. Machine shops could charge high prices for textile equipment because few mechanics knew how to build them; textile mills could make high profits because it was much cheaper to use the new loom. Imitation didn’t substantially reduce profits because there was a shortage of mechanics who could build the machines, of entrepreneurs who could run the new type of enterprises, and of skilled workers who could make the new contraptions productive.

At the same time, there were significant benefits to sharing knowledge. Gilmour might have the best loom design, but many other mechanics had better designs for some of the other devices used to produce cloth. In addition, mechanics continually made improvements. By exchanging ideas for two decades, the textile equipment mechanics rapidly improved the technology, doubling the cloth a weaver could produce in an hour compared to the first power looms.

Most of the important weaving inventions during this time were not patented. Because imitation did not destroy profits, it simply didn’t pay to use patents. (This wasn’t limited to the loom: Only 15 percent of the U.S. inventions shown at the 1851 World’s Fair in London were patented.)

But after the 1830s, almost all significant weaving inventions were patented. The textile mills still exchanged information about best practices, but critical knowledge was more often protected by secrecy or patents. Conditions had changed. There no longer were shortages of skilled mechanics, managers, and workers. Market competition was fierce, and profit margins shrank for the textile mills and machine shops.

The patent dogmatist will read this and conclude “See? Times have changed so now we need patents.” But such a claim relies on consequentialist and utilitarian logic, and if we use that standard, we quickly see that such claims fail.

The economy, of course, involves much more than the one industry of power …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

Avatar of admin

by admin

Why Ukip? The Answer Is In History – Not Bigotry

May 27, 2014 in Blogs

By Robin Koerner

Many people regard Magna Carta as the first Constitutional guarantee of the basic liberties of the English-speaking world.

Fewer people know that Magna Carta wasn’t imposed on King John just because he abused his power (which after all has been true of most kings and governments throughout history), but because he had handed away the sovereignty of England to a foreign governing institution in Europe. That institution was The Holy Roman Empire.

John had unilaterally had handed England to Pope Innocent consent because earlier arguments with Rome had left England under an interdict (a kind of nationwide ex-communication), so John was facing the possibility of an invasion from a strong, Catholic France with a papal blessing that would have made finding allies impossible and inevitably led to John’s defeat. To split his enemies, and peel away the Church from France, John gifted the pope sovereignty over his entire country and leased it back as the pope’s vassal. For a time, Britain was ruled from Europe.

For the barons at Runnymede, that was the last straw: they responded to the fundamental transfer of power out of their country and forced Magna Carta on John.

More than 500 years later, the (British) founders of the USA, in the very tradition of which Magna Carta was an early part, would make explicit the intuitive principle on which the Barons had acted then, and many have acted since: that the power to govern is delegated by the people governed, in whom it entirely resides. But that principle is so deep in the Anglo cultural psyche that even the barons who faced King John at Runnymede time not the first to state it in some way or another: the Charter of Liberties of Henry I, had already formally established in the year 1100 that the rule of the king was by consent and that those who made the Law were not above it.

By this long-standing principle, power is lent by the people, in whom it resides, for a limited time to those in government for the purpose of protecting the rights of those people. A British prime minster today has not more right to give his country away to a foreign power than King John had to give the country away to a pope, and it makes no …read more

Source: ROBIN KOERNER BLOG

Avatar of admin

by admin

Video: Mark Thornton explains “Silver Money and Inflation”

May 27, 2014 in Economics

By Mises Updates

Mark Thornton explains how silver money keeps inflation in check.

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

Avatar of admin

by admin

The Biggest Employers in America

May 27, 2014 in Economics

By Jeff Deist

bvn-largest-employers-map

Are Fedgov and state universities, according to Business Insider.  The private sector, not the state, is withering away.

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

Avatar of admin

by admin

The VA Scandal and Socialized Medicine

May 27, 2014 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

Department_of_Veterans_Affairs_Logo

The Obama Administration has claimed to be outraged by the shabby treatment that veterans receive at the hands of the VA. But as Ron Paul points out this week, it’s a bit unconvincing when the administration claims to care deeply about veterans while simultaneously sending American soldiers to receive third degree burns and mangled limbs in far away lands that are no threat whatsoever to the Americans who are paying all the bills.

Indeed, as Lew Rockwell has noted, a great way to combat the abuse of veterans is to quit creating new veterans.

The other troubling aspect of this controversy is the VA health care system itself.

Why is it that government is so interested in the direct provision of health care? Why is there not a government clothing program or a government cell phone program? That is, why does no one ever say “I’m off to the VA clothing store!”  or “I’m going to the VA cell phone store.” Certainly clothing and communications devices are pretty basic and necessary.

If one felt that veterans deserved some sort of lifelong benefit for military work, one could simply provide veterans with a stipend that they could use to procure health care. But this is not done.

The reason for this of course is that by providing health care directly through VA health care and VA hospitals, government can more easily subsidize and favor certain corporations and other government contractors who provide drugs, equipment and services to VA providers. If veterans were simply given stipends, then the veterans themselves might choose the “wrong” (i.e., not-politically-favored) providers.

We see this same process in the food stamp program which is designed to subsidize agricultural interests. This is partly why the food stamp program is administered by the Ag department and not by Health and Human Services.

Consequently, the real constituents of the VA are the corporate providers of health care supplies and services, not the veterans themselves. So who can be surprised when we find that the veterans are being treated like garbage? The political cost of doing so is quite low, while the political cost of running afoul of the corporate lobbyists who largely dictate VA contracts and services is quite high. Any intelligent VA official quickly figures out how to thrive in that system.

This is all classic socialism, of course. When a government bureaucracy controls vast amounts of resources,  the government quickly becomes the playground of …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

Avatar of admin

by admin

Obama Welcomes Debate on Terror War as a Means of Avoiding It

May 27, 2014 in Economics

By Gene Healy

Gene Healy

A year ago Friday, President Obama took a break from waging perpetual war to warn Americans that “perpetual war … will prove self-defeating, and alter our country in troubling ways.”

The post-9/11 Authorization for Use of Military Force ”is now nearly 12 years old,” Obama proclaimed, and “this war, like all wars, must end. … That’s what our democracy demands.”

He, for one, welcomed this debate: “I look forward to engaging Congress and the American people in efforts to refine, and ultimately repeal, the AUMF’s mandate.”

The Obama administration hopes to dodge the issue of perpetual war with pious blather and obfuscation.”

Actually, the Obama administration hopes to keep “welcoming the debate” until it goes away. Wednesday’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the AUMF made that clear — if just about nothing else.

As the U.S. terror war spreads throughout Africa and beyond, plenty of questions remain. Among them:

Does the Obama administration support repealing the AUMF?

“We did not come here this morning equipped to answer that question,” admitted Pentagon General Counsel Stephen Preston. Nor did the administration’s two witnesses come prepared to answer other fundamental questions, like:

If it isn’t repealed, how should the AUMF be “refined”?

That’s not clear either, as this exchange between Preston and Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., revealed:

Johnson: Is [the president] going to provide a proposal we can review… or are we supposed to come up with it? … What’s the process going to be?

Preston: I think, as he said in May of last year, that he envisions the administration’s engaging with Congress, with this and other —

Johnson: That was a year ago.

Preston: I understand that.

Before repealing or “refining,” it would be helpful to know how Obama interprets the post-9/11 AUMF. As Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., put it:

“What [do] you feel the AUMF gave you that you didn’t have otherwise constitutionally?”

Committee members pursued at least a dozen variations on that theme without getting a straight answer. But Preston’s partner, State Department legal adviser Mary McLeod, eventually folded under questioning from Sen. Bob Corker., R-Tenn.

Corker: “[Y]es or no, if the 2001 AUMF was undone, can the president carry out the activities that he’s carrying out right now?”

McLeod: “Yes, I believe he could, Senator Corker.”

“So we really, as a Congress, don’t need to be involved in this subject at all,” Corker spat.

Maybe not. Further inquiries tortured out a view of presidential war power nearly as broad …read more

Source: OP-EDS

Avatar of admin

by admin

Thur: House Voting on Bipartisan Amendment to Stop Federal Medical Marijuana Raids

May 27, 2014 in PERSONAL LIBERTY

By drosenfeld

More Than Half of All States Have Some Kind of Medical Marijuana Law

Support for Changing Federal Law at Unprecedented Level in Congress

As early as this Thursday the U.S. House could vote on a bipartisan amendment to the Commerce-Justice-Science spending bill that would prohibit the federal government from wasting taxpayer money interfering with state medical marijuana laws. The amendment is being offered by five Republicans and five Democrats. A vote several weeks ago on allowing Veteran Administration doctors discuss medical marijuana with their patients received 195 yes votes. Support for letting states set their own marijuana policy without federal interference is rising quickly.

May 27, 2014

Drug Policy Alliance

read more

…read more

Source: DRUG POLICY

Avatar of admin

by admin

Should It Be against Law to Criticize Harry Reid?

May 27, 2014 in Economics

By Trevor Burrus

Trevor Burrus

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has launched a campaign against the Koch brothers from the floor of the Senate. He has mentioned them approximately 140 times, and has gone so far as to call them un-American. Now Reid has gone from rhetoric to action by endorsing Sen. Tom Udall’s (D-N.M.) proposed amendment that would give Congress a free hand to regulate and limit political spending.

Giving elected representatives the power to regulate the process by which they get elected is a terrifying proposition. A cursory look at history shows why.

Giving elected representatives the power to regulate the process by which they get elected is a terrifying proposition.”

Wars on political speech are a predictable and time-honored tradition in Washington, D.C. From the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, which made it illegal to say anything that would “bring members of the government into contempt or disrepute,” to the Sedition Act of 1918, which prohibited “disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language” about the U.S. government, to modern campaign finance laws, politicians have long tried to silence critics in the name of the “public interest.”

Standing between the base motives of politicians and total censorship of dissent, however, was the First Amendment. Now, Udall’s amendment hopes to give politicians the power to brush aside that inconvenient little freedom.

When the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act was first debated, senators chomped at the bit for the opportunity to squelch their critics. Apparently, anyone who criticizes a sitting senator is a public nuisance who must be stopped.

Former Sen. Jim Jeffords (I-Vt.) complained that “negative attack ads” caused a candidate’s “20-percent lead to keep going down” and, although “what they are saying is totally inaccurate, you have no way to refute it.”

The obvious solution is censorship, because Jim Jeffords’s “20-percent lead” is more important than free speech.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) complained that political ads just “drive up an individual candidate’s negative polling numbers and increase public cynicism for public service in general.”

McCain’s polling numbers and positive views of “public service” are certainly more important than free speech.

McCain also told his fellow senators that political ads just “demeaned and degraded all of us because people don’t think very much of you when they see the kinds of attack ads that are broadcast on a routine basis.” Those ads “are negative to the degree where all of our approval ratings sink to an …read more

Source: OP-EDS

Avatar of admin

by admin

Natural Disasters Don’t Increase Economic Growth

May 27, 2014 in Economics

By Mises Updates

6762

Frank Hollenbeck writes in today’s Mises Daily: 

Hurricane season is nearly upon us, and every time a hurricane strikes, television and radio commentators and would-be economists are quick to proclaim the growth-boosting consequences of the vicissitudes of nature. Of course, if this were true, why wait for the next calamity? Let’s create one by bulldozing New York City and marvel at the growth-boosting activity engendered. Destroying homes, buildings, and capital equipment will undoubtedly help parts of the construction industry and possibly regional economies, but it is a mistake to conclude it will boost overall growth.

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

Avatar of admin

by admin

Today: New York State Assembly to Vote on Compassionate Care Act – New York's Comprehensive Medical Marijuana Bill

May 27, 2014 in PERSONAL LIBERTY

By mfarrington

Patients and Caregivers from Across New York Come to Albany to Attend Floor Vote and Demand Passage in Senate
Patients, Service Providers, and Caregivers Available for Interviews

Albany – Today, The New York State Assembly will vote on the Compassionate Care Act — A.6357-B (Gottfried), New York’s comprehensive medical marijuana bill. The bill will help provide relief to thousands of New Yorker’s who are currently suffering with debilitating medical conditions such as, cancer, multiple sclerosis, severe seizure disorders, and other serious conditions. Traveling from New York City, Westchester, and Central New York, patients will gather in Albany for an advocacy day and to hear the Assembly debate and vote on the bill.

May 27, 2014

Drug Policy Alliance

read more

…read more

Source: DRUG POLICY