Friday, 29 January 2010

BEER O’CLOCK: The very best beers of 2009

Direct from The Wellingtonian and the Real Beer blog (well, as direct as I could make it considering it was written on the eve of New Year’s Eve when I was, um, a bit busy--as I’m sure you were too, dear readers) beer correspondent Neil Miller adjudicates magisterially on the best local beers of 2009.  I can’t say I have any complaints about his judgement. [Photo by Kyle Carter]

The Very Best Beers of 2009
    December is the time that columnists reflect on the preceding year and make the traditional spurious “best of” lists. This column is no exception. Here then are my ten best beers of 2009 with last year’s rankings shown in brackets. The list clearly reflects my taste for big hoppy beers but, while they may be hard to find, every beer is well worth trying.

10. Croucher Pale Ale (7) – This is the flagship beer from Paul Croucher’s craft brewery in Rotorua, the Aromatic Capital of New Zealand. It remains a boisterous, flavoursome pale ale with plenty of character and charm.

9. Tuatara Pilsner (NEW) – From the beer-making superstars in Reikorangi, this Pilsner blends the classic Czech style with top-quality local ingredients. The end result is a crisp, dry, approachable lager which can convert people to craft beer.

8. Invercargill Pitch Black (10) – From the country’s southernmost brewery, Pitch Black proves that beers do not need to be strong to have flavour. It showcases a wonderful balance of chocolate and coffee notes before a clean finish.

7. Yeastie Boys His Majesty (NEW) – Newcomers the Yeastie Boys have stormed onto the brewing scene in 2009. His Majesty is a bold and cleverly-made India Pale Ale with bursts of citrus notes before an insidiously refreshing bitterness.

6. Three Boys Oyster Stout (NEW) – A modern recreation of a Victorian recipe, the use of real Bluff Oysters helps create a silky, sweet, decadent stout. It should not work but it really does.

5. Three Boys Golden Ale (NEW) – This seasonal release had never registered on my beer radar before. This year, a few brewing tweaks have produced a zesty, quenching summer delight.

4. Emerson’s Pilsner (2) – Now the only organic beer from New Zealand’s champion brewery, this New World Pilsner is a balance of fruity hops and cleansing bitterness. It is the standard by which others are measured.

EpicArmageddon3. Epic Pale Ale (1) – A rare combination of full-flavour with drinkability, this is rapidly becoming a Wellington beer fixture. The brewer loves his hops and it is evident in every glass.

2. 8 Wired Hopwired IPA (NEW) – One of the first brews from a new Blenheim brewery, this is my new beer of the year. It has a billowing hop aroma, big passion fruit and citrus flavours, late bitterness and subtle power.

1. Epic Armageddon (3) – Easily one of the most highly hopped beers ever made in New Zealand, this huge beer showcases massive orange and grapefruit notes, a solid malt backbone and lingering bitterness. It should be enjoyed as if it was the last beer on earth.

Avatar is “the highest earning film of all-time”? Really? [updated]

“It's official: Avatar is highest earning film of all-time.” Really? Well, no, it isn’t. Not by a long chalk. Despite all the breathless reporting around the place about what amounts to a lame melodrama with some extra-special special effects, the breathless reporting about box office “victory” is neither “official,” nor correct.  John Drinnan in the Business Herald does the fact-checking other so-called journos should have:

    “Movie box office websites have been charting the box office triumph of James Cameron's Avatar, saying it is closing in on Titanic as the highest-grossing movie of all time.
    “It is tempting to think that movies are becoming more and more popular, but the fact is that the box office figures reflect sales revenue, not the number of people who are attending.
    “And sales revenue does not take account of increases in ticket prices. This is relevant for Avatar, which is in 3D with consequently higher ticket prices.”

Still and all, it did get people to shell out that extra sum to put their bums on theatre-owners’ seats.  Nonetheless . . .

GoneWithTheWind     “A list of United States box office takings showed Avatar with a gross of US$558.2 million. When [price] inflation is taken into account, this makes it only the 26th biggest earner.
    “According to the Box Office Mojo report, adjusted for inflation the biggest movie is [still] 1939's Gone With the Wind. It has taken US$198.7 million - which translates to US$1.51 billion today. In second place is Star Wars, which took US$461 million adjusted to US$1.33 billion.
    “Gone With the Wind is also in the top spot for attendance, with 206.4 million tickets sold, 9.4 million more than for second-place holder Star Wars.
    “That brings Avatar down to earth with 60.3 million ticket sales, putting it 53rd behind the 1955 movie Lady and the Tramp.”


Sussing out the SOTU [update 8]

Sarah Palin told Sean Hannity “the fact checkers … are going to be quite busy” after President Zero’s State of the Union passing-the-buck speech last night.

They were.  Here’s Cato’s fact-checkers now.

And here’s the New Zealand Herald’s cartoonist:


I think even my American readers will appreciate that.

UPDATE 1: And the person who bears a lion’s share of responsible for the waves of economic carnage which the ObaMessiah is failing to turn back, Ben Bernanke, still awaits reappointment to the job of Fed Chairman. Alex Epstein of the Ayn Rand Institute reckons Bernanke needs to get real.  He is “the last person qualified to address” the carnage he and his former boss did so much to create. “Get Real,” says Epstein at Fox News, “Bernanke Didn’t ‘Save’ the Economy”:

    “Because his economic philosophy hasn’t changed, his celebrated policies are simply a rehash of the folly [in 2001 to 2003] that created the housing bubble. The Fed is printing more money, lending it more cheaply than Greenspan did, and encouraging Americans (and their government) to borrow and spend far more than they can afford. That such a policy has laid the foundation for an enduring “recovery” has all the plausibility of President Bush’s 2003 ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner.”

UPDATE 2: Too late!

Senate Reconfirms; Bernanke Says, "Come to the Bar, Drinks Are On Dollar-Holders"

Still, as C.W. at Krazy Economy suggested before the reconfirmation was announced, maybe we should be grateful for small mercies. “Obama's appointee would be worse."

UPDATE 3: Cato’s Chris Moody has more good post-SOTU links (which I’m sure he won’t mind me pasting here):

  • Time for the SOTU fact check:  Cato experts put some of President Obama’s core State of the Union claims to the test. Here’s what they found.
  • During this year’s SOTU, President Obama criticized the Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case. Today’s podcast examines the Court’s ruling.

UPDATE 4: The Republican’s chosen official response to President Zero’s  SOTU speech came from new Virginia governor Bob McDonnell. It was wet, it was wooden, but it shows Republicans what like to at least look like they’re listening to Tea Party types. (Quin Hillyer calls it “by far the most effective SOTU response I have EVER heard in 30 years of listening to these things.” Crikey.)

But no matter how wet and wooden it was, and how little McDonnell really means any of what he says – you suspect much of it is said more to attract back Tea Party Independents than out of any real conviction --wouldn’t you like to hear John Boy Key invoking Thomas Jefferson, talking about freedom and liberty, and the urgency of reducing the size of government.

In A Declaration Of Independents Paul Hsieh said, "Politicians had better start listening to the independent voters who want "the Democrats out of their pockets and the Republicans out of their bedrooms." Maybe some of them are.  A little.

But this time, “can independents finally make it clear that they are for limited government?"

UPDATE 5: The Ayn Rand Center (ARC) summarises the State of the Union speech in one sentence.  That sentence:

“We need to rise above fear, hesitation, and partisan politics--to give the government all the power it needs to solve all our problems.

The President named dozens of problems in America, notes the ARC’s Alex Epstein, and not once suggested that individual rights, liberty, or freedom were the solution. From a quick reading of the speech, some statistics:

“Number of times President Obama said ‘I’: 105--mainly pushing for the government programs he seeks to pass.

“Number of times President Obama said ‘individual rights’: 0.

“Number of times President Obama said ‘liberty’: 0.

“Number of times President Obama said ‘freedom’: 1--but it was freedom for Afghanistan.”

UPDATE 6: That wasn’t a SOTU address, says Jeff Perren, it a STFU address:

    “Last night, Barack Obama decided to skip the SOTU Address and give instead the STFU Address. He told the American people in essence to STFU, that everything he's been doing the past year is the right thing, and then some, and that anybody who disagrees is an obstructionist, opposed to what's best for Americans.”

Task Force to clear the way for more affordable homes [updated]

I’m almost speechless. Here’s why:

    “Environment Minister Nick Smith has announced two new taskforces to look at Resource Management Act (RMA) reform, issues surrounding urban design, metropolitan urban limits and housing affordability. . .
    “ ‘I don’t think we have the incentives right for developers to do the best urban design in our largest cities. There are also questions about the policy of metropolitan urban limits, the effect they have on section prices and the negative flow-on effects to the broader economy. . . ,” he said.

See what I mean?  I’m astonished.

After seventeen years of having to endure the Resource Management Act, after a decade of evidence showing that restricting the supply of urban land is sending house prices through the roof, there’s finally a “taskforce” to “look at” it.

Slow progress.  But progress.

    “The Urban [Task Force] will be chaired by barrister Alan Dormer and includes planning consultant Adrienne Young Cooper, research economist and consultant Arthur Grimes, architect and urban designer Graeme McIndoe, Chief Executive of the Property Council of New Zealand Connal Townsend and Ernst Zollner of the New Zealand Transport Agency. It has a report date of 31 March 2010.”

I don’t know much about the others on that group (anyone able to shed any light?), but Alan Dormer and Arthur Grimes have both been upfront about their opposition to the RMA and to metropolitan urban limits respectively—Dormer’s submission on the original RMA Bill back in 1991, for example, was a cracker, and Grimes’ Centre for Housing Research has said very cogent things on housing unaffordability and the reasons for it.

That’s astonishing.  So something might even come of this.  Not RMA repeal, it’s still too early for that, but this could be a very good baby step.

So I’m excited. Excited in a guarded fashion, because this is being announced by the same chap who calls the RMA “far-sighted environmental legislation, and who said just before the election that he intends to “review” the Resource Management Act to, quote, “look at how companies win the right to take private land.” 

So while I’m still getting my composure and my breath back, and wondering whether to be excited or concerned, read a little about the issues from previous posts to see what’s at stake:

All posts on Urban Design here and here.

    “The [advisory]  groups are stacked to give Gary Taylor’s Environmental Defence Society (EDS)what they want.
    “Townsend and Grimes will be outvoted.
    “Alan Dormer Chaired the [advisory] group for the first round but everything was hugely diluted in the Select Committee by submissions from EDS etc.
    “So I am not so optimistic - much as I would like to be.
    “If he was serious why put Adrienne Cooper on BOTH groups.
    “Subject: The Cooper History
    “It is worth noting that when I wrote my report for the Reserve Bank in which I predicted all these negative outcomes; the Auckland Regional Council (ARC) appointed Hill Young Cooper ‘to prove it wrong.’
    “They accepted the commission and Adrienne Cooper and David Hill wrote a truly disgraceful report.*
    “She has been a strong supporter of Smart Growth ever since.
    “From the Business Roundtable document ‘Turning Gain into Pain’:

The Growth Strategy recognises that with intensification house prices would
be higher than otherwise. This acknowledgment seems to be an about-face by
the ARC and other councils that previously dismissed Owen McShane's view
that restrictions on the supply of land for urban development were putting
upward pressure on house prices.**
Policy-induced increases in house prices lead to higher interest rates and distort consumption and investment patterns.
The policy would adversely affect housing options available to people,
particularly those on low incomes and with few resources, and is inequitable.
It could be expected to accentuate overcrowding and reliance on
accommodation provided by caravans and garages.
3.6 For these reasons, the Growth Strategy provides an unsound basis for the Transport Strategy. In particular, the emphasis placed on urban intensification and reliance on passenger transport services is mistaken and should be reconsidered by the Forum.

**Cooper, Adrienne Young and Hill, David (1996), A Local Authority Response to the McShane Report, a report commissioned by the Auckland Regional Council, Auckland City Council, Franklin
District Council, Manukau City Council, North Shore City Council, Rodney District Council
and Waitakere City Council, Hill Young Cooper Ltd, Newmarket.

** McShane, Owen (1996), The Impact of the Resource Management Act on the 'Housing and Construction' Components of the Consumer Price Index: A 'Think Piece', a report prepared for the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, Reserve Bank of New Zealand, Wellington.

    “Papakura (with their ACT Mayor David Hawkins) refused to contribute to the Hill Young Cooper report, the saying surely the ARC should ask for a review, not instruct the consultants to prove me wrong.
    “The report does not turn up on the web - on the wrong side of the Digital Time line.
But Arthur Grimes should be able to get it from the ARC library.”

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Goff’s Speech

Lindsay Mitchell saves me a lot of time, for which I’m very grateful. “Don't waste your time reading Goff’s Speech,” she says. “It’s been spun to be something it wasn't.”

    _quote In a nutshell:
    “The recovery. All should share in it. Every NZer wants to work and should be paid at least $15 an hour. State sector chiefs shouldn't be paid more than $400,000 though. Rich bankers and CEOs of finance companies should be dealt with. The rich should pay their way and benefit fraudsters should be cracked down on (so National can't use them to cut social services.) No child should be left behind because all parents want the best for their children. But the community is responsible for stepping in where parents fail. Three strikes sucks and a promise to address Maori and Pacific educational failure. Tax reform must be fair. Beat the R&D funding drum.”

Blah, blah, and more blah.  Nothing to see, nothing to hear, nothing at all being said. As Lindsay says, If Labour lost the last election because voters became bored with them, then nothing in this vapid grab-bag of bromides is going to change that.

BTW: How do Goff’s “many” “ordinary” New Zealanders differ to Don Brash’s “mainstream” New Zealanders? And if they don’t, how long before the blogs of the left start bleating about “the politics of division”? Answers on a postcard, please.

‘The year of deleveraging’

Bernard Hickey and the commentators he quotes reckon "2010 is the year of deleveraging.”  Let’s sure as hell hope so, since until it happens the world’s economies will remain in that zombie state between dead and un-dead, between collapse and un-collapse, with everyone standing around reading entrails while businesses struggle under a debt burden they can’t pay while they wait for the recovery they were told was just around the corner.

For each and every struggling business, deleveraging has to happen. And it has to happen before recovery –indeed, it’s one of the primary means whereby recovery is going to happen.

So what the heck is deleveraging, you ask? Basically, it’s when “money goes to money heaven.”  More accurately, it’s what happens when a bank, or a company, or a lot of banks and companies, attempt to decrease their financial leverage—especially by either calling in or paying off debt.  In an economy in which debt is organised into currency, you can imagine that if lots of banks and companies do that all at once it’s going to have some very real implications.

But are they all bad ones?  No, they’re not. It would be foolish to think that what is bad in the singular is foolish en masse, but it takes a special kind of Keynesian foolishness to think so. Frank Shostak explains:

    “Is it true that if every bank were to attempt to ‘fix’ its balance sheet, the collective outcome would be disastrous for the real economy?
    “On the contrary, by adjusting their balance sheet to true conditions, banks would lay the foundation for a sustained economic recovery. After all, by trimming their lending, banks by implication also curtail the expansion of credit ‘out of thin air.’ As we have seen, it is this type of credit that weakens wealth generators and hence leads to economic impoverishment.
    “Contrary to the proponents of the ‘paradox of deleveraging’ we can only conclude that if every bank were to aim at fixing its balance sheet, in the process curtailing the expansion of credit ‘out of thin air,’ this would lay the foundation for a healthy economic recovery.”

If a “year of deleveraging” worries you, then read (or re-read) Frank Shostak’s article and put yourself out of your misery:

Nats Bottle Out On Minimum Wage

Richard McGrath says what I would have liked to say:

Nats Bottle Out On Minimum Wage

Libertarianz leader Richard McGrath today attacked the government for “further dissociating pay rates from productivity”, and asked John Key to produce X-ray films “to prove that he actually has a spine.”

“Once again, our Prime Minister has capitulated to the moochers and looters, those who want something for nothing, and who believe private contractual arrangements between employers and their employees should be subject to the whim of politicians.”

“The Nat's 'Labour-Lite' administration has done almost nothing to deregulate the increasingly Muldoonist economy they inherited a year ago,” he added.

“There must be tens of thousands of disillusioned voters out there who regret being sucked in by John Key’s promises. As with Barack Obama, a fresh face doesn’t always mean fresh ideas.”

“The Libertarianz Party believes the concept of wage floors is incompatible with a free economy. And because the most prosperous national economies are those closest to free market capitalism - where property rights and voluntary interaction are protected by law - we recommend the minimum wage be abolished.”

“With the implosion of the ACT Party, people who want to vote for a freedom-based political party in 2011 now have one clear choice: Libertarianz. Anything else is a vote for interventionism, for economic Keynesianism, Big Government policies and lower standards of living.”

“I feel sorry for Phil Goff - it must be so frustrating watching the National Party rolling out the socialist platforms to which he wanted his name attached.”

“If John Key is so concerned about inflation eroding the value of wages – just as it erodes the value of people’s savings – he should shut down the Reserve Bank’s printing of fiat money and slash government spending.”

“Unfortunately this government lacks the fortitude to make the sort of hard decisions that the Lange government made in its first term.”

“It’s enough to make you vote Libertarianz!”

Ding dong, the witch is gone [update 3]

A_260209NZHDPFITZSMONS10_220x147 Which old witch? The Fitzsimons witch of course. 

The former Green co-person leader thingy steps down from parliament, effective immediately, having handed the party over to a new generation of communists young leaders who show all the signs of running the Fitzsimplesimons/Donald party vehicle into the ground.

We can but hope.

It’s certainly true that with the departure of Jeanette, the Greenwash is gone for good: the last real environmentalist is gone, and the Greens are down to their communist rump.

Now you’re probably wondering why I’d be calling her a witch when she’s everyone’s favourite Mrs Nice.  Fair question.  The problem is that while she cooks a mean lentil bake, and can even be great fun when she isn’t also being Mrs Worthy, the anti-industrial policies she and her party espouse will send us straight to hell. 

You wouldn’t buy an insurance policy from someone just because they smiled nicely.  You’d ask to look at their policies. So it is, or was, with Jeanette. While she smiled nicely, the policies she was pushing were always pure poison.*

_Gareth It’s so much easier with the youngster replacing her in Parliament, one Gareth Hughes. It’s so much easier to ‘see the joins.’ Jeanette at least had a brain. Gareth has . . . well, see for yourself.  His CV “boasts” such accomplishments as “being arrested dressed as Ronald McDonald,” climbing buildings and “unfurling a protest banner in Tiananmen Square.” Well, one out of three ain’t bad. He has a blogSort of. And he employs “Climate Campaign Interns” for Greenpeace.

Promoting himself before the last election the baby-faced Gareth Hughes told his adoring audience his “motivation for standing [for the Greens] is my new baby son.”

     "He deserves, when he is older, not to have to ask for the right to bring a child into this world."

Whatever the hell that means. Perhaps he still thought he was back in Tiananmen Square. Passing over that inanity he concludes, to canned applause,

    "In 2008, we're going to show that future generations are bigger than politics..."

And obviously bigger, too, than things like basic logic.

Oh, and just to show that Gareth’s house has the full set, you might like to know that Gareth’s wife Meghan released her own informal law and order policy at the Green Party blog before the last election, announcing that for any "proud activist ... within reasonable limits a bit of trespass, a bit of property damage, a bit of general disruption is fine. Quite fun, too."

Since one searches in vain for a law and order policy at the Greens' site, one can only assume that this is at least this is indicative of the Greens' general attitude to people and their property, if not their general approach to law and order.

It almost makes Hone Harawira look sane.

* * * *

* The oddity here is that despite their obvious lunacy, Green Party policies are now “mainstream” with every other parliamentary party.  Which just shows you how, if you run on ideas (even bad ones), you can’t but help to have a victory.

UPDATE 1: Whale Oil puts it bluntly:

    “The last real envi­ron­men­tal­ist has resigned from the Greens leav­ing the Com­mu­nist takeover of the Green part complete.”

UPDATE 2: Blunt offers a ‘tribute’ to the New Greens.



UPDATE 3: ‘Headline of the Day’ award goes to Keeping Stock for their welcome to young Gareth:

Send in the Clown


Pylon pressure – more State bullying

Does Transpower have freely negotiated easements over farmers’ land, or does it not?

If not, then it owes an apology to everyone from farmer Steve Meier on down for using the powers of the state to march unwanted onto someone else’s property.  And for relying on such bullying as their primary means of protecting Auckland’s power supply.

Frankly, if any part of that is true then the whole situation is a disgrace from arse to elbow.
Just what the hell does Transpower CEO Patrick Strange think he’s doing bad-mouthing those whose property he is so shamefully abusing.  Just what the hell is he playing at relying on the good will of those he’s abusing to maintain a secure power supply to the country’s biggest city. The arse he’s sitting on needs kicking from here to Matangi.

Janet Wilson reckons Transpower's bullying of farmers over access shows the organisation as “a bureaucratic monster that embodies the worst faults of a giant government-owned corporation.”  And who could disagree.  She says:
    “Dr Strange may think he can ignore public opinion because he has the power of the state behind Transpower in what it does.”
That would appear to be precisely the case.  As I’ve said here many times before.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Don’t reappoint Fed Chairman—abolish his bank [update]

A recent letter on the reappointment of Ben Bernanke, sent to the Denver Post.  So good it’s being republished here [hat tip Mises Economics Blog:

The Denver Post on January 26, in "Fresh Term for Fed's Bernanke", endorsed Ben Bernanke for a second term as Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board. This recommendation was based on his "decisive leadership in preventing the collapse of credit markets ... late 2008." The Federal Reserve Board according to the Post is an "institution that has served us well for decades ... ." However, The Fed is not an institution that has served us well. It was set up to protect the value of the dollar and to avoid boom and bust cycles. Since inception of the Fed, the dollar has, in real terms, declined over 87%, now having a purchasing power compared to a 1913 dollar of less than 13 cents. Just since the mid 1990s overly easy monetary policy has caused or enabled two significant boom-bust periods with accompanying bubbles in first stocks and then residential and commercial real estate. The Wall Street Journal in a January 25th editorial which argues against confirmation partially because of Bernanke's and the Fed's complicity in the causing the most recent boom and resulting bust and financial crisis, unwittingly gives the one legitimate short run reason to retain Bernanke; other potential nominees would be even worse. In the long run, instead of celebrating the Fed and central banking, true financial reform would, following Nobel winner F. A. Hayek look seriously at proposals to "denationalization of money" including the recent suggestion by economist Richard Ebeling to end the Federal Reserve.

John P. Cochran
Dean School of Business
Professor of Economics
Metropolitan State College of Denver
=> Professor Cochran, with Fred R. Glahe, Professor Emeritus, University of Colorado Boulder is the author of The Hayek-Keynes Debate: Lessons for Current Business Cycle Research.

And speaking of that celebrated Hayek-Keynes debate, begun in the 1930s and said to have been played out ever since  . . . here’s a rap version.  Surprisingly good.  For rap.  [Hat tip Thrutch]

UPDATE: And speaking of Hayek, the Mises Store has a special offer on the book that started the Hayek-Keynes debate, and in which the fullest and most cogent explanation of Hayek’s business cycle theory resides, beautifully bound in a 536- page hardbound book:


Or download it in PDF.

The Statist Of The Union Address (First Draft) [update 2]

Everyone’s been talking about what’s going to be on President Zero’s teleprompter when he delivers this forthcoming State of the Union speech. Fortunately for readers, your waiting is already over. Jeff Perren has managed to hunt down an early copy of the upcoming State of the Union Address from whatshisname's speechwriter. Thought you might be interested...

Read The Statist Of The Union Address (First Draft) – SHAVING LEVIATHAN

UPDATE 1: Does Obama really think we’re stupid when he tells us he plans to “to Seek a Spending Freeze to Trim Deficits” –- when the “freeze” exempts spending on defence, foreign aid, the Veterans Administration and homeland security, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security (i.e., all “the biggest and fastest-growing parts of the federal budget”) -- when it amounts to a “freeze” of just $25 billion a year –- which the New York Times calculates is “less than 3 percent of the roughly $9 trillion in additional deficits the government is expected to accumulate over the next decade? 

Wait. Strike that.  Of course he thinks we’re all stupid.

Still, even that little that late was enough to turn Paul Krugman apoplectic.

UPDATE 2: Budget figure corrected [Thanks Graeme E.]

Some propositions on property rights – and IP

There’s been a lot of recent discussions around the traps questioning the legitimacy of intellectual property, much of it based on what I would characterise as based on a complete misunderstanding of the basis of property rights per se.  And not just the basis of property rights—and not just misunderstanding: today’s “libertarian” attackers of intellectual property appear completely ignorant of the arguments and justification for individual rights in general—and unwilling to understand them.  And further, they specifically target Objectivists’ understanding of intellectual property, but evince no sign they’re even aware of Objectivist arguments, and offer no evidence of any familiarity with them.

It’s almost like they figure a full understanding will undercut their arguments—or preclude their wish to steal other’s intellectual property.

Objectivist Greg Perkins has a fantastic article defending intellectual property that I once again thoroughly recommend:

Don't steal this article - Greg Perkins, Noodle Food

That article itself however rests on those very ideas that the “libertarian” opponents of intellectual property fail to understand, or to address-or even to look like they want to.

I don’t propose to give the full Objectivist account of property rights here—not in a simple blog post.  (Well, what began as a simple blog post.)  What I propose instead is to offer some of those basic propositions about property rights you should have under your belt before you wrestle with the “libertarian” arguments against intellectual property—propositions that when integrated will help indicate why property rights are right, and by extension why today’s momentarily fashionable arguments against intellectual property fall so wide of the mark (and in my view take advantage of people’s ignorance of many of these more fundamental points).

These points, in essence, are the lines of argument that today’s “libertarian” opponents of intellectual property wish to ignore.  As Greg Perkins says in his article:

    “What is particularly striking is that none of the contemporary [anti-intellectual] heavyweights like [Tom] Palmer and [Stephen] Kinsella grapple with the meaning of individual rights in general, nor their still-deeper basis in ethics, epistemology, and human nature. [Even] their chief observation begs the question: is the splendid characteristic of conflict-prevention the central purpose of property rights, or merely a benefit -- is it the cause or an effect? To determine this, we need to investigate the source of rights in general. These scholars seem hesitant to do so, but Ayn Rand wasn't, and her perspective illuminates the central difficulty in their case: they have missed the essence of all rights.”

Rights are right.

Individual rights are ultimately based on the needs of man’s life—they frame the “moral space” within which we can take the actions as of right that are necessary to sustain our life.  Unlike other animals we cannot survive as we come into the world; in order to stay alive and to flourish we each need to produce and to keep the fruits of our production. If our minds are our means of survival – as Julian Simon used to say, our Ultimate Resource – then property is the result of applying the creative potential of our minds to reality in order to enhance our lives.

Other animals survive by acting automatically, instinctively; man survives by using his mind. Animals survive by repeating their actions of the past, by doing what worked yesterday; man survives by by looking towards the future, by using reason.

The protection of individual rights makes the world safe for reason. 

    “The concept of individual rights is so new in human history that most men have not grasped it fully to this day. In accordance with the two theories of ethics, the mystical or the social, some men assert that rights are a gift of God—others, that rights are a gift of society. But, in fact, the source of rights is man’s nature.
    “The Declaration of Independence stated that men ‘are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.’ Whether one believes that man is the product of a Creator or of nature, the issue of man’s origin does not alter the fact that he is an entity of a specific kind—a rational being—that he cannot function successfully under coercion, and that rights are a necessary condition of his particular mode of survival.
    “The source of man’s rights is not divine law or congressional law, but the law of identity. A is A—and Man is Man. Rights are conditions of existence required by man’s nature for his proper survival. If man is to live on earth, it is right for him to use his mind, it is right to act on his own free judgment, it is right to work for his values and to keep the product of his work. If life on earth is his purpose, he has a right to live as a rational being: nature forbids him the irrational.”
                           - Ayn Rand, ‘Man’s Rights,’ in The Virtue of Selfishness

     “The influence of reason shows up in the development of the individual’s conceptual ability to give a sense of present reality to his life in decades to come, and in his identification of himself as a self-responsible causal agent with the power to improve his life. This combination of ideas is what produced in people such attitudes as the realization that hard work pays and that they must accept responsibility for their future by means of saving. The same combination of ideas helped to provide the intellectual foundation for the establishment and extension of private property rights as incentives to production and saving. Private property rights rest on the recognition of the principle of causality in the form that those who are to implement the causes must be motivated by being able to benefit from the effects they create. They also rest on a foundation of secularism—of the recognition of the rightness of being concerned with material improvement.”
                          - George Reisman,
                            ‘The Philosophical Foundations of Capitalism and Economic Activity,’ in         Capitalism

    “Man is creative only in thinking and in the realm of imagination. In the world of external phenomena he is only a transformer. . . Only the human mind that directs action and production is creative. . . Production is not something physical, material and external; it is a spiritual and intellectual phenomenon. Its essential requisites are not human labor and external natural forces and things, but the decision of the mind to use these factors as means for the attainment of ends.  What produces the product are not toil and trouble in themselves, but the fact that the toiling is guided by reason.”
                           - Ludwig von Mises, ‘Production,’ in Human Action

     “Patents and copyrights are the legal implementation of the base of all property rights: a man’s right to the product of his mind.”
                           - Ayn Rand, ‘Patents and Copyrights,’ in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal

Property rights are the fundamental right.

    “They who have no property can have no freedom.”
                            - Stephen Hopkins

    “The right to life is the source of all rights—and the right to life is their only implementation.  Without property rights no other rights are possible.”
                           - Ayn Rand, ‘Man’s Rights

    “Man has to work and produce in order to support his life. He has to support his life by his own effort and by the guidance of his own mind. If he cannot dispose of the product of his effort, he cannot dispose of his effort; if he cannot dispose of his effort, he cannot dispose of his life. Without property rights, no other rights can be practiced.”
                           - Ayn Rand, ‘What is Capitalism

    “Recognizing the right to bodily sanctity while denying the righ tto act to maintain one’s life would be pointless.  This is because life is sustainable only through action.  (Indeed, life is action.) [There is] as an analogous observation: the right to act to maintain one’s life should protect the goods obtained in the course of doing that.  The reasoning is that sustenance of life requires the production and consumption of goods.  If the food that a farmer produced were not morally secure from any raider’s plundering, how could she be expected to live. . .
    “Since material goods keep people alive, individuals must be entitled to control the use of the goods that they produce.  Without this, the right to life and the freedom would be empty; they would no longer serve rights’ telos.  Shylock captures this thought in The Merchant of Venice: ‘You take my house, when you do take the prop That doth sustain my house; you take my life, When you do take the means whereby I live.
    “The right to property is the means whereby we live.”
                            - Tara Smith, Moral Rights & Political Freedom

    “Where there is no private ownership, individuals can be bent to the will of the state, under threat of starvation.” 
                           - attrib. to Leon Trotsky 
                            (quoted in Tom Bethell’s
                                            The Noblest Triumph: Property & Prosperity Through the Ages)

      “All civilizations have up to now been based on private ownership of the means of production. In the past civilization and private property have been linked together. . . If history could teach us anything, it would be that private property is inextricably linked with civilization.”
                           - Ludwig von Mises, ‘Capitalism,’ in Human Action

Property is a relationship

It’s important to remember that property cannot simply be equated with objects. More accurately, property refers to a relationship—something tangible (or intangible) in which we have property.  “As long as this is understood, we may use the term ‘property’ to refer either to the object owned or the relationship of ownership.” [Tara Smith.] It’s more accurate, strictly speaking, to say we have “property in” this or that than it is to say that this or that is property.

    “We frequently speak as if property denotes goods that a person owns. (‘Leave that alone, it’s my property.’)  Yet property does not refer to objects per se.  For an object is just that. . . An object qualifies as property only insofar as it stands in a certain relationship to some person.”
                            - Tara Smith, Moral Rights & Political Freedom

    “A man is said to have a right to his property, he may be equally said to have a property in his rights.”
                            - James Madison

   “Bear in mind that the right to property is a right to action, like all the others: it is not the right to an object, but to the action and the consequences of producing or earning that object. It is not a guarantee that a man will earn any property, but only a guarantee that he will own it if he earns it. It is the right to gain, to keep, to use and to dispose of material values.”
                           - Ayn Rand, ‘Man’s Rights

Property must be created

The stuff that sustains human life has to be created--property has to be created--wealth has to be created.  All the wealth in the world that now exists in the world had to be created.  The very act of creating new wealth brings it into a property relationship with the creator. 

When we create new wealth, we create new values. Those new values have an owner.

    “Individuals do not possess property rights simply because material goods are part of what life requires.  The other essential leg of the case stems from the origin of goods’ value.”
                            - Tara Smith, Moral Rights & Political Freedom

    “The source of the goods-character of things is ultimately within us. Goods derive their character as goods by virtue of their ability to benefit human beings.”
                         - George Reisman, ‘Wealth & Goods,’ in Capitalism

    “The power to rearrange the combinations of natural elements is the only creative power man possesses. It is an enormous and glorious power—and it is the only meaning of the concept ‘creative.’ ‘Creation’ does not (and metaphysically cannot) mean the power to bring something into existence out of nothing. ‘Creation’ means the power to bring into existence an arrangement (or combination or integration) of natural elements that had not existed before.”
                            - Ayn Rand, ‘The Metaphysical Versus the Man-Made

    “It was once customary to distinguish between the production of tangible goods and the rendering of personal services. The carpenter who made tables and chairs was called productive; but this epithet was denied to the doctor whose advice helped the ailing carpenter to recover his capacity to make tables and chairs. A differentiation was made between the doctor-carpenter nexus and the carpenter-tailor nexus. The doctor, it was asserted, does not himself produce; he makes a living from what other people produce, he is maintained by carpenters and tailors. At a still earlier date the French Physiocrats contended that all labor was sterile unless it extracted something from the soil. Only cultivation, fishing and hunting, and the working of mines and quarries were in their opinion productive. The processing industries did not add to the value of the material employed anything more than the value of the things consumed by the workers.
    Present-day economists laugh at their predecessors for having made such untenable distinctions. However, they should rather cast the beam out of their own eyes. The way in which many contemporary writers deal with various problems—for instance, advertising and marketing—is manifestly a relapse into the crude errors which should have disappeared long ago.”
                            - Ludwig von Mises, ‘Production,’ in Human Action

    “We inherit the products of the thought of other men. We inherit the wheel. We make a cart. The cart becomes an automobile. The automobile becomes an airplane. But all through the process what we receive from others is only the end product of their thinking. The moving force is the creative faculty which takes this product as material, uses it and originates the next step. This creative faculty cannot be given or received, shared or borrowed. It belongs to single, individual men. That which it creates is the property of the creator. Men learn from one another. But all learning is only the exchange of material. No man can give another the capacity to think. Yet that capacity is our only means of survival.” [Emphasis added.]
                              - Ayn Rand, ‘The Soul of an Individualist,’ in For the New Intellectual

    “Wealth is the result of human labor. Labor is the means by which man’s mind transmits his designs and purposes to matter. It is man’s application of his bodily and mental faculties for the purpose of altering matter in form or location and thereby making the matter thus altered serve a further purpose. . .
    “The physical matter of which natural resources a composed is, of course, not made by man—it is nature-given. Nevertheless, the wealth-character of natural resources is man-made: it is the result of human labor.  It is the result of the labor that discovers the uses to which the natural resources can be put, and of the labor that enable them to become accessible in ways that they can be used gainfully. Thus, it is labor [mainly of an intellectual character] that establishes the character of natural resources as goods, and thus as wealth.”
                         - George Reisman, ‘Wealth & Labor,’ Capitalism

    “Things that can be placed in a causal connection with the satisfaction of human needs we term useful things [“Nützlichkeiten”]. If, however, we both recognize this causal connection, and have the power actually to direct the useful things to the satisfaction of our needs, we call them goods.
     “If a thing is to become a good, or in other words, if it is to acquire goods-character, all four of the following prerequisites must be simultaneously present:
     1. A human need.
     2. Such properties as render the thing capable of being brought into a causal connection with the satisfaction of this need.
     3. Human knowledge of this causal connection.
     4. Command of the thing sufficient to direct it to the satisfaction of the need.
     “Only when all four of these prerequisites are present simultaneously can a thing become a good.”
                          - Carl Menger, ‘The General Theory of The Good,’ Principles of Economics

Mixing labour? Or rewarding good judgement.

The most well-known justification hitherto for property rights was put forward by John Locke, whose brilliant analysis of how property rights are applied is somewhat undercut by his flawed argument for their justification.  Tibor Machan explains the flaw, and indicates that the fundamental justification for property rights is an entrepreneurial one--it is not based on a “labour theory of value,” where labour is identified only on its purely physical component, but on the crucially important identification of the role of the mind in production. It’s in this sense that we can understand the saying that “all property is intellectual property.”

    “John Locke advanced the theory that when one mixes one’s labor with nature, one gains ownership of that part of nature with which the labor is mixed. Thus, for example, if I gather wood from the forest for a fire, or for materials to build a shelter, I have a ‘natural right’ to what I have gathered, inasmuch as I have ‘mixed my labor’ with it and to that extent put some of myself into it. Since I have a self-evident right to my own body, including my labor, that part of nature that includes myself (i.e., my labor) is also mine. Though Locke held that nature is initially a gift from God to us all, he argued that once we individually mix our labor with some portion of it, it becomes ours alone.
    “This idea, though perhaps commonsensically compelling when limited to simple examples of physical labor such as gathering wood, has not carried wide conviction, mainly because the idea of ‘mixing labor with nature’ is too vague. Does discovering an island count as an act of labor—never mind ‘mixing’ one’s labor? Does exploring the island? Fencing it in? Does identifying (discovering) a scientific truth count as mixing labor with nature? What about inventing a new device based on scientific information available to all? Or trade—should the act of coming to an agreement count as mixing one’s labor with something of value? Challenging examples to Locke’s principle abound.
    “A revised Lockean notion has been advanced in current libertarian thought by way of a theory of entrepreneurship, an idea advanced at about the same time by philosopher James Sadowsky of Fordham University and by economist Israel Kirzner of New York University. The novelist-philosopher Ayn Rand, perhaps the modern era’s most fervent advocate of capitalism based on a theory of the inalienable individual right to life, liberty, and property, also emphasized the moral role of individual judgment and initiative or entrepreneurship.
    “According to the entrepreneurial model, it is the judgment—no small matter in human affairs where instincts play hardly any role—that fixes something as possessing (potential) value (to oneself or others); and therefore the making of this judgment and acting on it—the alertness and attentiveness of it all—is what earns oneself the status of a property holder. The rational process of forming a judgment is neither automatic nor passive; neither does the process involve more than a minimum overt physical effort, but it is an act of labor nonetheless. What gives the judgment its moral significance is that it is a freely made, initiated choice involving the unique human capacity to reason things out, applied to some aspect of reality and its relationship to one’s purposes and life goals. One exerts the effort to choose to identify something as having potential or actual value. This imparts to it a practical dimension, something to guide one’s actions in life. Whether one is correct or not in any given instance remains to be seen, but in either case the judgment brings the item under one’s jurisdiction on something like a “first come, first served” basis.
    “For example, assume that George identifies some portion of unowned land as being of potential value. Having made this judgment, George now has rightful jurisdiction over the property, so that others may not (rightfully) prevent him from exploring it for oil or minerals, or simply using it to build a museum or a private home. His judgment may have been in error: the land may turn out to be infertile or otherwise unsuitable for his purposes. Even so, given that people require for their lives a sphere of jurisdiction, by having first made and acted upon the decision to select the land, he has appropriated it in a way that cannot be objectionable—indeed, is a prudent effort, at least.”
                     - Tibor Machan, ‘The Right to Private Property

Property creates new value

Ultimately, what we’re creating with our good judgement is new values.  By identifying and rearranging what nature has given use, we raise materials from a lower value (in relation to us) to a higher value (in relation to us); they move from being materials to being resources; from being things things to being goods. It is their creation as new goods that is the economic component. It is their creation as new values that is the moral component.

    “Consider those things that people hold as property.  What makes the possession of these things desirable is that they serve human purposes. . .  All the things that individuals own … are valuable insofar as they contribute to the fulfillment of some purpose. . .
    “The point is, the goods that individuals own are valuable because of individuals’ efforts. [Individuals had to figure out, for example, that coal could be burnt to produce energy, how it might do so, what ends this might accomplish, and then proceed to locate, extract, transport, and burn coal under suitable conditions to serve those ends. Individuals had to figure out that rubber could be converted into tires, how to do so, why that might be useful, and proceed to harvest and treat the rubber in order to make it serve that function.] These goods are not intrinsically valuable.  Their value is not buried within them, like gifts in boxes, simply awaiting our discovery.  Things’ desirability does not precede individuals’ molding resources to accomplish various purposes.  It is individuals’ deliberate employment of materials to serve certain needs that supplies things’ value.  Before that human contribution, naturally available resources hold merely the potential to be of value to people, if they are tapped in appropriate ways.
    “The relevance of all this to the defence of property rights is straightforward.  If objects’ value is the result of individual efforts, them objects are valuable only because particular individuals have worked in constructive ways to make things serve some ends.  When this realization is teamed with the egoistic premise that a person is entitled to live for her own benefit, it becomes clear that the value a person creates should be hers to keep and control. 
    “Since human effort creates the value that any object possesses—since individuals are responsible for all of a thing’s value—it is appropriate to recognise property rights belonging to the individuals who generate the relevant value.  If a person is entitled to act to promote her own eudaimonia and through her actions creates something that is valuable to her, we have no grounds for denying her right to that product.”
                            - Tara Smith, Moral Rights & Political Freedom

The general benefit from private ownership of the means of production

So property rights are inherently bound up with production.  Indeed, they are essential to the human method of production: which is his mind.

"Whether it's a symphony or a coal mine, all work is an act of creating and comes from the same source: from an inviolate capacity to see through one's own eyes—which means: the capacity to perform a rational identification—which means: the capacity to see, to connect and to make what had not been seen, connected and made before. That shining vision which they talk about as belonging to the authors of symphonies and novels—-what do they think is the driving faculty of men who discovered how to use oil, how to run a mine, how to build an electric motor? That sacred fire which is said to burn within musicians and poets—-what do they suppose moves an industrialist to defy the whole world for the sake of his new metal, as the inventors of the airplane, the builders of the railroads, the discoverers of new germs or new continents have done through all the ages?"
                        - Ayn Rand, ‘The Nature of an Artist,’ For the New Intellectual

But it is not just the owners of the means of production who enjoy the benefits . . .

    “Private ownership in the means of production serves equally the interests of owners and non-owners.”
                         - Ludwig von Mises, ‘The Forms of Class War,’ in Socialism

   “The advantages of private ownership of the means of production are so overwhelming that it is actually of secondary importance precisely who the initial private owners are and how their ownership is established.  Whatever the specific method or methods of establishing private ownership of the means of production, the institution will function to the benefit of everyone—owners of the means of production and non-owners of the means of production alike.  It will do so, however, only to the degree that the individual private owners possess full and secure rights of ownership.
                         - George Reisman, ‘The Tyranny of Socialism,’ in Capitalism

    “To have production goods in the economic sense, i.e., to make them serve one’s economic purposes, it is not necessary to have them physically in the way that one has consumption goods . . . To drink coffee I do not need to own a coffee plantation in Brazil, an ocean steamer, and a coffee roasting plant, though all these means of production must be used to bring coffee to my table.  Sufficient that others own these means of production and employ them for me.”
                         - Ludwig von Mises, ‘The Nature of Ownership,’ in Socialism

    “The influence of the division of labor on the institution of private property of the means of production is almost universally ignored.  Typically, people think of privately owned means of production in terms that would be appropriate only in a non-division-of-labor society. That is, they think of them in the same way that they think of privately owned consumer goods—namely, as being of benefit only to their owners.  They believe that before the non-owners can benefit from the means of production they must first become owners. . . .
    “The first thing that must be realized is that in a division-of-labor society, all private property that is in the form of means of production—i.e., of capital—serves everyone, non-owners as well as owners. In a division-of-labor society, the means of production are not used in producing for their owners’ p[personal consumption, but for the market. . .  The physical beneficiary of this private property—and it is the far greater part of the capitalists’ wealth—are all those who buy the products it helps to produce.  In other words, it is the general buying public who are the physical beneficiaries of the capitalists’ capital. . .
    “It cannot be stressed too strongly: the simple fact is that in a division-of-labor society, one does not have to own the means of production in order to get their benefit. One only has to buy the products. . .”
    “There is a conclusion that follows from this which will appear highly paradoxical to many people, because it totally contradicts all they have been mistakenly led to believe—by the educational system, by the media, and by out culture in general—but which is nonetheless perfectly logical and correct.  That is, the more the private property rights of capitalists are respected, the greater are the benefits to non-capitalists. Because to the extent that their rights are respected, the capitalists are encouraged to save and accumulate capital. . .  Also, of course, the more the property rights of the capitalists are respected, the more powerfully do eth incentives of profit and loss operate to make the capitalists satisfy the demand of the consumers . . .”
                         - George Reisman, ‘Private Ownership of the Means of Production,’ in Capitalism

If that which one buys with formal purchase is one’s own,
If usage confers title to things, as the lawyers maintain;
The the farm which feeds you is yours; and the farmer,
when he cultivates the field which soon gives you grain, feels you are his master.
You pay your money: you get in return grapes, chickens, eggs, a jar of wine.”
Horace, 2. Epistol., 2, 158-163 [quoted in L. von Mises, Socialism]

Does the argument for property rights rest on the “scarcity” of natural resources ands tangible goods?

According to today’s “libertarian” attackers, the argument for property rights rests on scarcity. “Let us take a step back and look afresh at the idea of property rights,” begins Stephen Kinsella in one of his many diatribes against intellectual property. “Libertarians believe in property rights in tangible goods (resources). Why? What is it about tangible goods that makes them subjects for property rights? Why are tangible goods property?  A little reflection,” which is all apparently that Mr Kinsella can manage, “will show that it is these goods' scarcity -- the fact that there can be conflict over these goods by multiple human actors. The very possibility of conflict over a resource renders it scarce, giving rise to the need for ethical rules to govern its use. Thus, the fundamental social and ethical function of property rights is to prevent interpersonal conflict over scarce resources. ...”

But as we’ve already seen, that is not at all the fundamental social and ethical function of property rights. 

    “Contrary to the view of ‘libertarians’ opposed to intellectual property, the essential basis of property is not scarcity—it is production.  The complaint that intellectual property is an oxymoron because ideas are not scarce in the same way as apples has no merit, for the concepts of property and ownership lie fundamentally in the need for man to produce and enjoy values in support of their lives—not merely in the narrower and subsidiary need to avoid conflict with one another in that enjoyment.”
                           - Greg Perkins, ‘Don't steal this article,’ Noodle Food

And as George Reisman explains, “the problem of natural resources is in no sense one of intrinsic scarcity.”

    “The problem of natural resources is in no sense one of intrinsic scarcity. From a strictly physical-chemical point of view, natural resources are one and the same with the supply of matter and energy that exists in the world and, indeed, in the universe. Technically, this supply may be described as finite, but for all practical purposes it is infinite. It does not constitute the slightest obstacle to economic activity—there is nothing we are prevented from doing because the earth (let alone the universe) is in danger of running out of some chemical element or other, or of energy.
    “The problem of natural resources is strictly one of useability, accessibility, and economy. That is, man needs to know what the different elements and combinations of elements nature provides are good for, and then to be able actually to get at them and direct them to the satisfaction of his needs without having to expend an inordinate amount of labor to do so. Clearly, the only effective limit on the supply of such economically useable natural resources— that is, natural resources in the sense in which they constitute wealth—is the state of scientific and technological knowledge and the quantity and quality of capital equipment available. Because the supply of resources provided by nature is one and the same with the supply of matter and energy, the supply of economically useable natural resources is capable of virtually limitless increase. It increases as man expands his knowledge of and physical power over the world and universe. . .
    “The essential principle pertaining to natural resources can be summarized as follows.  What nature provides is a supply of matter and energy that for all practical purposes is infinite.  Yet at the same time, nature does not provide a single particle of natural resources in the form of wealth.  The bestowal of the character of economic goods and wealth on what nature provides is the work of human intelligence.  An essential economic task of man is progressively to apply his intelligence to achieve a growing understanding of nature and to build progressively more powerful forms of capital equipment that give him growing physical mastery over nature."  [His italics removed, mine added.]
                         - George Reisman, ‘The Limitless Potential of Natural Resources,’ in Capitalism

    “Contrary to the ‘argument from scarcity,’ if you want to make a ‘limited’ resource available to the whole people, make it private property and throw it on a free, open market.
    “The ‘argument from scarcity,’ incidentally, is outdated even in its literal meaning . . .”
                         - Ayn Rand, ‘The Property Status of Airwaves,’ in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal

Does the protection of property rights grant a so called “monopoly right”?

It’s said that the protection of intellectual property is somehow the protection of a monopoly.  It is not, and more than the protection of any other legitimate property right represents the protection of a so-called monopoly.  Their protection is simply the protection of what is right.

    “Individuals may help themselves to unowned materials. A person need not receive permission from anyone else in order to be entitled to take or use an unowned object.  Recognising something as a person’s property, however, removes it from the field available for anyone’s use. . . Like all rights, property rights entail obligations on others. Once an object becomes one person’s property, others may no longer use it without the owner’s permission.”
                      - Tara Smith, Moral Rights & Political Freedom

    “Patents on new inventions, copyrights on books, drawings, musical compositions, and the like, and trademarks and brandnames, do not constitute monopolies.  True enough, they reserve markets, or parts of markets, to the exclusive possession of the owners of  the patents or copyrights, or trademarks or brandnames, and they do so by means of the use of [the government’s] physical force inasmuch as it is against the law to infringe on these rights.
    “None of these rights represent monopoly, however, because none of them is supported by the initiation of physical force.  In all of these cases, the government stands ready to use physical force in defence of a pre-existing property right established either by an act of personal creation or by the fact of distinct identity.. .
    “The fact that the government is ready to use force to protect patents and copyrights is fully as proper as that it stands ready to use force to protect farmers and businessmen in their ownership of their physical products [or once used to] and to come to their rescue when they are set upon by trespassers or attacked by robbers [or once used to].”
                      - George Reisman, ‘Patents and Copyrights, Trademarks and Brandnames, Not Monopolies,’ in Capitalism

    “Congress, treatise authors, courts and scholars [now] agree that patents are a unique form of property that secures only a negative right to exclude others from an invention. . . The conventional wisdom is that … patents secure only a right to exclude . . . 
    “This claim is profoundly mistaken. For much of its history, a patent was defined by Congress and courts in the same conceptual terms as property in land and chattels, as securing the exclusive rights of possession, use and disposition.”
                     - Adam Mossoff, ‘Patents as Property: Conceptualizing the Exclusive Right(s) in Patent Law

   “The great chief end therefore, of Mens uniting into Commonwealths, and putting themselves under Government, is the Preservation of their Property.” 
                     -John Locke, Two Treatises of Government

    “The existence of patents and copyrights, and trademarks and brandnames, like all other protection of property rights, serves to increase the supply of goods and service—by making it possible for those who are the cause of the increase to benefit from the improvements they make.  It thus serves to reduce prices and to increase everyone's buying power as time goes on. [What patents and copyrights protect comes under the heading of something new that is more efficient: namely new more efficient methods of satisfied in other ways, by different goods. . . Even if the price does not drop at all for the time being, the reinvestment of profits made by virtue of the cost-cutting improvement will operate to increase production and reduce prices somewhere else in the economic system.]
    “Contrary to [the case with] monopoly, patents and copyrights, and trademarks and brandnames operate to increase supplies and reduce prices, while their abolition would result in the opposite.  Indeed their existence must be considered a requirement of the freedom of competition, and their abolition as constituting the establishment of monopoly!  Their existence upholds the fundamental freedom of individuals to be secure in their property and to compete on that basis.  TGheir abolition would reserve markets to the dull and incompetent by means of the the initiation of force against the intellectual property of those who had new ideas and something better to offer.  Their abolition would thus serve to establish the monopoly of the dull and incompetent by forcibly depriving the intelligent and competent of the benefit of their intelligence and competence, and thereby forcibly excluding them from the market.”
                       - George Reisman, ‘Patents and Copyrights, Trademarks and Brandnames, Not Monopolies,’ in Capitalism

Am I the only one who enjoys the picture of Mr Kinsella and his colleagues being the standard-bearer of the dull and incompetent? In this context, no more appropriate image could be imagined.

Would taking intellectual property lead to prosperity?

Ludwig von Mises -- whose name is borne by the Institute at which Mr Kinsella has smeared most of his diatribes in favour of parasitism and free downloads –- was himself a strong exponent of the protection of intellectual property. “With the abolition of patents and copyrights,” he pointed out, “authors of inventors would for the most part be producers of external economies.” (By which he means that the gains, benefits and other advantages of their work would go to others – i.e., to the dull and the incompetent and the lumpenly ignorant.  Or as Mises’s bibliographer Bettina Bien Greaves summarises: “Without copyright protection, musicians, authors, and composers are in the position of having to bear all the costs of production while the benefits go to others.”) 

As George Reisman explains above, following von Mises, the taking or abolition of intellectual property would lead to “a monopoly of the dull and incompetent,” and with it a diminution of supply and and rise in prices.  He goes further.

    “It is true that at any given time, taking for granted the existence of the most recent batch of improvements, introduced in the expectation that hose responsible would benefit from them, it might be possible to achieve a temporary acceleration in the increase in the supply of goods and services by abolishing patents and copyrights. Such a temporary increase would be comparable in its ultimate significance to the abolition of the property rights of any other group of producers, such as storekeepers and manufacturers, and allowing mobs to sack their stores and warehouses.  A very short-lived gain would be followed by a permanent loss of future supplies—in this case, further new inventions and new ideas.”
                      - George Reisman, ‘Patents and Copyrights, Trademarks and Brandnames, Not Monopolies,’ in Capitalism

And now?

And now, once you’ve integrated all you’ve read here (sometime next week or so) you’ll be ready to read Greg Perkins article again and do it proper justice:

Don't steal this article’ - Greg Perkins, Noodle Food.