Liberty & Power: Group Blog
All this is revealing because it casts doubt on whether Campana, who died a few years ago, ever should have gotten his patents even under existing law. It used to be harder to patent ideas that were"in the air." Campana's patents have been premilinarily invalidated by the U.S. Patent Office. Nevertheless, R.I.M entered into a $612.5 million settlement with NTP rather than risk being closed down by a judge's injunction.
The story demonstrates the problems with patents per se. Given the nature of ideas, when the state gets into the business of granting property rights in them, there is bound to be trouble. The story also shows that within the hardcore computer community there is an aversion to patents. Goodfellow says,"You don't patent the obvious. The way you compete is to build something that is faster, better, cheaper. You don't lock your ideas up in a patent and rest on your laurels."
Hat tip: William Stepp.
Cross-posted at Free Association.
Roderick T. Long
We should never let our admiration for a thinkers virtues blind us to his flaws (or, of course, vice versa). Commenting on past U.S presidents, I recently wrote:
[I]t often seems like the better they are, the worse they are; i.e., when you look at the Presidents who did the most libertarian things, they always seem to be trying their damnedest to cancel out the merits of their pro-liberty achievements by turning around and doing the most horrifically anti-liberty things they can think of. (Jefferson, Jackson, and Lincoln all come to mind.)Todays Mises Daily Article by Norman Van Cott makes a similar point about another founding father with some libertarian credentials, George Mason. When he was good, he was very good; but when he was bad he really wallowed in despicable hypocrisy.
Mason pretended his opposition to the slave trade was based on grounds of justice and humanity, but the fact that he combined opposition to the importation of slaves with support for the strengthening of protections for domestic slaveowners suggests that his motivations were rather more along protectionist lines. As Van Cott writes, the hypocrisy of the juxtaposed arguments is mind-boggling. Read the article.
The author explains how" child sexual abuse" victimology is now applied to this sort of case. He also argues for the existence of innate sex differences between men and women and the psychological ramifications of this biological reality.
So where is this essay posted? At Counterpunch, which is usually labelled as"Radical Left." The publication of this and some other articles, e.g., those against laws mandating hate crimes and gun control, gives the lie to the widespread belief that all leftists embrace a suffocating political correctness. I'm not surprised that Alexander Cockburn who edits Counterpunch calls himself an anarchist. I encourage those who identify as libertarian to peruse the contents of Counterpunch and read what catches the eye. Each week there are essays worth reading. And often Reason's managing editor Jesse Walker contributes a playlist of what he's listening to this week.
It has been war rather than peace that has been largely responsible for the acceptance of planning and technocratic modes in government.Conservatives who sincerely dislike big government might think about that one.
Cross-posted at Free Association.
David T. Beito
Will comes out slugging against big government Republicanism in his column today. He denounces the"betrayal" of free speech by the GOP majority in Congress because of its vote to limit the right of Americans to contribute to 527 organizations. At the same time, Will names and singles out for praise the sixteen GOP dissenters as the"remmant of libertarian, limited- government conservativism" [including, of course, Ron Paul].
"The 211 Republicans who voted for big-government regulation of speech will have no principled objection. How many principled Republicans remain? Only 18. The following, who voted against restricting 527s:
Roscoe Bartlett (Maryland), Chris Chocola (Indiana), Jeff Flake (Arizona), Vito Fossella (New York), Trent Franks (Arizona), Scott Garrett (New Jersey), Louie Gohmert (Texas), Jeb Hensarling (Texas), Ernest Istook (Oklahoma), Walter Jones (North Carolina), Steve King (Iowa), Connie Mack (Florida), Cathy McMorris (Washington), Randy Neugebauer (Texas), Ron Paul (Texas), Mike Pence (Indiana), John Shadegg (Arizona) and Lynn Westmoreland (Georgia).
On this remnant of libertarian, limited-government conservatism a future House majority can be built. The current majority forfeited its raison d'etre April 5.
David T. Beito
Here's a story that provides a cautionary tale for those conservatives, like David Horowitz, who believe they can outwit their opponents on campus by fighting fire with fire.
In a classic Horowitz-style campaign, Malkin and other conservatives took up the cause of students who complained about an idiotic instructor at Bellevue Community College in Washington. The instructor had asked the following math question: "Condoleezza holds a watermelon just over the edge of the roof of the 300-foot Federal Building, and tosses it up with a velocity of 20 feet per second." Outraged conservatives around the country bombarded the campus with phone calls and emails.
The conservatives won.....but at what cost? Seizing on the controversy like a typical entrepreneurial college president, Jean Floten turned it into an opportunity to expand the power of the administration. While she sanctioned the idiot professor, even prompting him to request" cultural sensitivity training," her other changes will enable the campus diversity policemen to impose even more of their one-sided PC indoctrination on all students, staff, and faculty.
Promising to"to redouble" the college's"efforts to improve racial and cultural sensitivity," Floten announced more diversity training and the hiring new staff for this purpose. Most ominously, for those of us who believe in academic freedom, she said that Bellevue will add a diversity [err"pluralism"] component to"program review and employee evaluations." This looks like some sort of loyalty oath. Some victory!
Fortunately, their attorneys were able to have the procedure halted. One of the lawyers, Zenon Peter Olbertz, said “It's shocking that this kind of action by the federal government could be sought and accomplished in secret, without anyone being notified.” He went on to say, “it reminds me of the secret detentions" in cases related to terrorism.
There is a very good but frightening book by Richard Lawrence Miller titled Drug Warriors and Their Prey, which argues that the war on people who use certain kinds of drugs is step by step transforming our justice system into one that will closely resemble the one in place in Nazi Germany. And, he is familiar with that system because his previous book Nazi Justiz dealt with that topic.
When I read a story like the one above I get the depressing thought that Miller may be one of the most prescient writers of our time.
Hat tip to Jeff Schaler
Cross posted on The Trebach Report
I briefly mention in passing one little bit of history that a lot of Americans, including educated libertarians, seem not to know, despite its not being that obscure or esoteric: that the Income Tax Amendment was the dirty work of Republican William Howard Taft. I've often been challenged on this by libertarians who say it was Democrat Woodrow Wilson, but Taft backed the Amendment from 1909 to 1913 until it was finally ratifed by the states, years after the House and Senate approved it with overwhelming bipartisan support, a month before Taft left office. Why is it that people seem to think the Income Tax was Wilson's doing? Could it be because it was under Wilson that the tax really began to take a bite, and especially, at tyrannical rates, during World War I? Or is it just because Wilson was a Progressive Democrat and there seems to be a bizarre misconception, on both the left and right, that the trustbuster Taft was some sort of laissez faire politician, a throwback to the horse-and-buggy days?
“Willful failure to file a tax return is a misdemeanor per IRC Section 7203. In egregious cases, willful failure to file may be elevated to a felony under IRC 7201 Tax Evasion. In addition, a civil penalty for fraudulent failure to file may be applicable per IRC Section 6651(f).”Read the rest of my op-ed at The Future of Freedom Foundation website.
That passage in the Internal Revenue Manual, Part 25 (Special Topics), Chapter 1 (Fraud Handbook), Section 7 (Failure to File) is enough to sober up a drunk. (See it for yourself at the IRS website.) All who buy the fable that what we labor under today is self-government should meditate on that quotation. You must account for yourself to the government each year. If you don’t, you’ll be visiting a federal penitentiary.
Cross-posted at Free Association.
But the illegals broke the law, they say. There's no duty to obey an unjust law. I thought that was established long ago.
As most of you probably know as well, he faces prosecution for his act. But if you want to see something even more remarkable, consider the mess that the Houston Chronicle made of Gibson's story:
No good disaster plot is complete without a triumph of individual initiative over unfeeling bureaucracy, and this one's no exception. At the gates to the Astrodome, Red Cross officials initially tried to turn away the bus because it was not part of the officially sanctioned evacuation of the New Orleans Superdome. Earlier, that rationale had led authorities to refuse to help a young mother with five children and a 95-year-old woman passenger in the car when they sought entrance to the relief center.
Luckily, someone with a heart eventually got involved. After a half-hour delay, Jabbar and his plucky band were granted sanctuary inside the Dome...
Looting and violence are unconscionable but were invited by the failure of federal, state and local authorities to reassert order or even provide basic sustenance for storm survivors. Hurricane Katrina will be remembered less for its rampaging winds and tides than for the inadequate disaster preparations it exposed.
People like Jabbar Gibson show us humanity at its best in trying circumstances. The chaos in New Orleans is a chilling reminder that when government fails to protect its citizens, fear, hunger and desperation can quickly rip the fabric of our civilization.
Beyond the distinctly misplaced warning against looters, note how a story of government mismanagement--and private initiative--got turned into a sermon about the power of the almighty state.
[Crossposted at Positive Liberty.]
This is not the first time Chappelle has spoken on this topic. Two weeks ago I saw him on the program Inside the Actors Studio. During the interview he said something I thought to be very profound. Chappelle asserted that, "The worst thing you can do to someone is to call them crazy because it is so dismissive."
David T. Beito
Speaking in Baltimore on Monday at a fundraiser for Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School, Winfrey told the audience,"I have lots of things, like all these Manolo Blahniks. I have all that and I think it's great. I'm not one of those people like, 'Well, we must renounce ourselves.' No, I have a closet full of shoes and it's a good thing."
Winfrey, 52, who is reportedly worth more than $1 billion, said she doesn't feel guilty about her wealth. "I was coming back from Africa on one of my trips," she said. "I had taken one of my wealthy friends with me. She said, 'Don't you just feel guilty? Don't you just feel terrible?' I said, 'No, I don't. I do not know how me being destitute is going to help them.' Then I said when we got home, 'I'm going home to sleep on my Pratesi sheets right now and I'll feel good about it.'
The title says it all:"If ever there was a nation not to drive to extremes, it is Iran."
"The US and Britain are goading Iran to acquire nuclear weapons, while Blair's jihadist rhetoric is inciting a fourth crusade."
He concludes,"One country in the region that has retained some political pluralism is Iran. It has shown bursts of democratic activity and, importantly, has experienced internal regime change. If ever there was a nation not to drive to the extreme it is Iran. If ever there was a powerful state to reassure and befriend rather than abuse and threaten, it is Iran. If ever there was a regime not to goad into seeking nuclear weapons it is Iran. Yet that is precisely what British and American policy is doing. It is completely nuts."
And, frankly at this point, I don't care what others think of what I'm saying here (and I'm waiting for the first person to question my libertarian credentials and/or call me a closet Neo-Con). So I will say it again, and tie it to the title of this group blog: To endorse M&W's paper is to endorse a paper that makes use of tropes about Jews that have, for centuries, been used to legitimize the systematic use of state power to deny liberty to Jews (and others!).
Endorsing the paper does not make one an anti-Semite, but it does, in my view, mean that you are endorsing modern versions of views that have a long history of justifying the denial of the very freedoms you otherwise passionately support. If some of my friends and colleagues who I really do deeply respect can't see that, I guess I'm going to have to live with it, but I will continue to loudly and frequently point it out. And I promise to do so in ways that do not call their good faith into question. In the conversation so far, I'm not sure that I've lived up to my self-imposed standards about doing so, and for that, I apologize.
David T. Beito
Hat tip, Karen DeCoster.
Is the source of this quote the much debated Mearsheimer and Walt article or an essay on the Holocaust revisionist Institute for Historical Review website?
Tough one, eh?
It's the latter, and it appears as part of a pair of neo-Nazi flyers that made the rounds on walls at Harvard this week. The author of that IHR piece notes that he"makes some of the same points as are made in the 81 page paper by [Kennedy School Academic Dean M. Stephen] Walt and [University of Chicago professor John J.] Mearsheimer." He further notes that he was untroubled by the fact that his essay was paired with a second flyer from the neo-Nazi National Vanguard, which describes itself as"an intelligent and responsible organization that stands up for the interests of White people." Throw in David Duke's endorsement of the M & W paper and it's a crackpot jackpot.
Might it be a huge strategic mistake for libertarians to align themselves with authors whose views are"some of the same" as, and endorsed by, a nice variety of neo-Nazis? I certainly think it is.
By the way, can someone enlighten me on exactly what is the moral--or even the religious--objection to gambling? It can't be just that one might take it too far, since that applies to just about everything in life. So what is it, then?