Friday, December 30, 2016

The Market Is 'Self-Correcting' in the Way That Science Is 'Self-Correcting'

Stuart K. Hayashi


Circa 1788, Jacques-Louis David did this portrait of Antoine Lavoisier and his wife.


If science is "self-correcting," then science is to Divine Revelation what the free market is to government control. Most of the scientists I know dislike anyone pointing that out, because they are left-wing statists and philosophically inconsistent. But here goes.

To say that science is self-correcting doesn't mean everybody stands idly by and then some erroneous misunderstanding magically reverses itself. Rather, insofar as there is freedom, a scientist is free to look into other people's conclusions and double-check them. Some people say that science is inferior to Divine Revelation because scientists are admittedly fallible in their conclusions, whereas Divine Revelation is infallible. But they miss that the reason why Divine Revelation is infallible is that arbitrary postulations cannot even be right or wrong.

The majority of scientists I know absolutely hate the free market. They want the government to be their sugar daddy and supply them more taxpayer funding. But there is a limit to that; the taxation and regulation they favor does have some inhibiting effect on economic growth, and there is that danger of reaching the point where the goose will be killed and lay no more golden eggs.

Many scientists who properly praise science for being "self-correcting" make it a point to ridicule those who observe that the free market is "self-correcting" as well. They employ the straw man that one who considers the market to be self-correcting presumes that everyone can sit idly by and do nothing, and then some problem will magically disappear. That is indeed a false impression that the term laissez faire gives as long as laissez faire is taken to mean "let it alone." Politicians hate referring to themselves as laissez faire because they think that if they call themselves that -- if they say they know how to leave people alone -- that makes such politicians sound passive and lazy, whereas politicians gain fame by developing a reputation for being proactive (which, in real life, translates to that politician being meddling). But in the free market, a peaceable entrepreneur improves living standards exactly because she is not letting something alone.

A more precise translation of laissez faire, and one that applies more closely to what happens in the market, is "let you do" -- emphasis on the DO. That is free enterprise. Insofar as peace is maintained, people are free to enterprise -- you are left free to DO. A free-market entrepreneur is proactive in the way that a meddling government cannot be -- she remains peaceful and obtains help from others through their voluntary consent. A peaceful market is self-correcting in the way that science is self-correcting: someone who notices a problem has the freedom to take action and do something about it. Insofar as peace is maintained, financial profit is often a good impetus to motivate someone to devise some solution.

We often hear the misleading phrase market failure. The implication of it is that even when no one is being violent as some problem occurs (say, no one is being violent but someone at some company made an error resulting in unsafe units of some product being sold), the problem is inherent to those people being left free to cooperate or not, and only the initiation of the use of force on the government's part can solve the problem. But no, the error is not a market failure but a human failure -- people make the same errors both in private organizations and in government-controlled enterprises. The difference is that insofar as people are free and peaceful, a company continually making a dangerous error is ultimately penalized by losing customers, whereas, if a government-controlled enterprise makes the same error, taxes still pay to support that government-controlled enterprise's staff anyway. The notion that government force is necessarily more competent than free individuals to perform any nonviolent enterprise -- say, mail delivery or educating children -- is an article of faith.

No matter how statist any scientist becomes, science and free enterprise are connected. Science is the peaceful pursuit of empirical knowledge, and free enterprise is the peaceful application of that knowledge.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

An Invention Takes Years of Commitment and Tangible Resources; It's Not Something You 'Just Pull Out Your Ass'

Stuart K. Hayashi

Preface:  The following essay is an adaptation of a Facebook Note I published on December 29, 2016.  As of my posting this here, two Murray Rothbard-influenced libertarian anarchists informed me over Facebook that they didn't even need to read the following essay to know it is wrong and foolish.  One cannot help but marvel at their ESP powers of precognition.  😒


Since Howard Hughes was an inventor and entrepreneur, I have long been fascinated by his life story.  This drawing of mine is supposed to be of him in his younger days, complete with the flight goggles.


Some libertarians on my Facebook Friends List have approvingly Facebook-shared this insipid image:


The story in the image is as follows. The caveman inventor came up with the wheel -- rather easily, apparently, and showed it to a copycat caveman. In just a day, the copycat was able to produce another unit of the invention with no payment to the caveman inventor. To employ the crude sort of slang that normally accompanies memes such as this one, the copying got the caveman inventor quite "butt-hurt"[!!!]. The caveman inventor thus wishes the government could use force on the copycat to prevent him from producing any units of the caveman inventor’s invention if the copycat does not obtain the caveman inventor’s permission first.

But, implies the image, that would be an initiation of the use of force on the caveman inventor’s part; in producing his own unit of the wheel, the copycat was peaceably doing what he wanted with his own private property, hurting no one; it is not as if the caveman inventor lost his prototype unit. The caveman inventor is unjustly demanding a government-enforced monopoly on the industry that is the production of units of wheels. Besides, the caveman inventor can simply go invent something else; he pulled this invention out of his ass quite easily -- just as the copycat duplicated it so easily --and now the inventor can quickly dream up his next invention. Easy!

That is a typical straw man employed by opponents of intellectual property rights (IP rights or IPRs) -- it is also found in The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible -- and it is built on lies.

The meme above practices what it preaches in an important respect -- very similar to the Facebook Libertinius page, it flagrantly disrespects a specific party's intellectual property. The meme is a vandalization of a work by the cartoonist Baloo, and it doesn't even credit Baloo.

What Baloo's cartoon looked like before being vandalized.


The argument, such as in the meme above, conflates vague general ideas with patents. Going by the worldview of those who denigrate patents, we are to believe that patents are legal claims of exclusive ownership over vague general ideas that anyone can pull out of his ass. If it were true that patents were on vague general ideas that anyone could come up with, then it would indeed be petty for a patent holder to sue you for using the same obvious idea that the patent holder pretends to have devised on his own. That is the imagery that opponents of patents rely on -- they want you to believe that anyone who enforces his patent is petty and a bully. “Who is this petty party,” we are expected to ask angrily, “to use the force of law to deprive other people of using simple ideas?”

But a patent does not attempt to claim legal ownership over a general idea for a category of product, and it is not a government-enforced monopoly on an industry.



The Myth of “IP As Monopoly”
Ponder something as relatively simple as paperclips. You might think that if a man obtained a patent on his paperclip, he would then monopolize the paperclip industry for at least seventeen years. If you think that, you would be wrong. Since the late nineteenth century, in the USA alone there have been many patents on the paperclip, often granted in intervals shorter than seventeen years. That is, prior to one party’s paperclip patent expiring, a patent on yet another paperclip would be granted.

Notice that in every instance on this table where a new paperclip patent is granted, it is fewer than 17 years subsequent to the approval of the paperclip patent immediately preceding it. (Click on the image to get a magnified view of the table.)


The reason for this is that a patent is not a claim of ownership over a general idea or a whole category of product. A utility patent protects the aspects of your specific original design for a product pertaining to how that product functions. A design patent, on the other hand, protects the aspects of your specific original design for a product pertaining to that product’s aesthetic qualities. When George Lucas obtained a design patent on his “Boba Fett action figure,” for example, it meant that you would need to obtain George Lucas’s permission if you were to produce a toy that carried an obvious deliberate likeness to the character of Boba Fett from The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

Your receiving a patent on your paperclip does not preclude others from patenting or selling their own paperclips. Every time a patent is granted on a paperclip, it is not on the general idea of having a device that holds more than one sheet of paper together. Rather, the patent is on a specific original aspect of the design. The reason why there are so many patents on paperclips is that different designers have made them from different materials, arranged them in different shapes, and employed new methods of producing units of paperclips in bulk quantities.

A common straw man used to denigrate patents is “Two separate parties, completely unbeknownst to each other, can each come up with the exact same invention at the exact same time.” As is typical of opponents of patents, this argument relies on a misunderstanding. Many parties, each working independently, can each arrive at the same general idea at separate times that are within relatively close proximity to one another, but that general idea is not what they patent. Each of those parties arrives at a different specific design, and each party’s patent has features distinct from the others’.  A party patents not a general idea, but instead patents its own unique new method for implementing that idea. All the while, there remain myriad different methods whereby this idea can still be implemented. 

Where two separate parties’ patents are similar -- where there is “overlap” in their function-related features -- the common result has been for those separate parties to pool their patents in a single trust, such as when Robert Noyce invented one aspect of the microprocessor at Fairchild Semiconductor while Jack Kilby invented another aspect of it while at Texas Instruments. None of that evinces anything unjust about the principle of intellectual property as such.

When Jack Northrop received his patent on his “flying wing” design for airplanes, that did not grant him a government-enforced monopoly on the production of airplanes; other parties still designed and patented their own airplanes. Not even the Wright brothers had a patent on the general product category of “airplane”; their patents were on the method of steering. Their innovation was steering the airplane by means of warping the shape of its wings. This did not stop their competitor, Glenn Curtiss, from making his own airplanes. Before the Wright brothers’ patents expired, Curtiss patented the way in which he arranged his ailerons on airplane wings. Ailerons are fins on the wings of airplanes that change direction in unison and thereby change the direction in which the airplane is to head. (The Wright brothers did ultimately use ailerons, but their patents didn't describe them in the same manner that Curtiss's did.)

A general idea for a product is something that can be dreamt up quickly, but that is not something that is patentable.  One does not need a working physical model -- a prototype unit -- as a condition for obtaining a patent, but patents that lack an accompanying working model are relatively difficult to enforce in court.

If you actually want to be able to sue other parties successfully for patent infringement, such a strong patent normally includes a detailed model.  Throughout the rest of this essay, when I say model, I do not mean it as physical model synonymous with prototype unit. By model, I mean "theoretic model," such as what is explained in the series of diagrams that is frequently found in patent applications.  In any case, a patentable invention requires some model that can, in scientific terms, plausibly function as promised and can be operated by someone skilled in the art, skilled in the trade. That is, if you invent a new sort of furnace for steel-making, obtaining a reliably enforceable patent for it calls upon you to provide a detailed theoretic model (this often includes diagrams) that produces steel as promised, and the explanation for how it is to be used must be understandable enough to steelmakers so that they can operate the prototype successfully once this prototype is produced. Contrary to the insipid caveman image at the top, as well as The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible, that is not something you can just pull out of your ass.



What It Takes to Produce a Design Both Patentable and Reliably Enforceable in Court
Consider Chester F. Carlson and the development of the xerographic photocopier -- what is more conventionally known as a Xerox machine. He first came up with the idea in 1934 working at a law firm. He found it tedious to copy documents in his own penmanship, and wished there was an effective low-cost method for making clear, legible duplicates of documents. He spent hundreds of dollars on equipment (money he could have instead spent on other amenities, such as better housing) and hours of his life each week (hours he could have spent earning money at a second job with steadier prospects for supplementing his income) to run experiments to test his theories on how this device could accomplish its intended task. It was not until 1938 when he finally finished a detailed theoretic model ready for patenting. This patent was granted in 1940.

Even then, nothing was easy for Carlson. He approached multiple big, capital-heavy corporations with his proposal to license this technology to them, hoping they would develop units of this device. Twenty of these big firms turned Carlson down. It was not due to a lack of capital on their part -- far from it! They had enough money to produce multiple units of Carlson’s design. Rather, for them the issue was that they judged that there would not be enough demand for this product to justify allocating their capital for this purpose.

Carlson’s fortunate break came in 1944 when Carlson finally -- finally! -- was able to license the invention to the Battelle Memorial Institute. in 1947, Battelle turned over this technology to Joseph Wilson’s Haloid Corporation -- a company whose name Wilson would change to Xerox.

It was not until 1949 when Xerox had developed a model that it felt confident about putting on the market -- the Xerox Model A. This turned out to be a commercial flop. Upon a cost-benefit analysis, the target market for this product -- corporate offices, law firms, and schools -- decided that this machine was not even worth renting. Joseph Wilson had to go back to the drawing board to find a method of producing a model that would satisfy consumer demand adequately while remaining cost-effective for Xerox to manufacture. This led to the firm unveiling the Xerox 914 in 1959. This was the first model of a xerographic photocopier to generate a profit for any party. Carlson’s original patent had already expired before Xerox could profit from xerographic photocopying. Fortunately for Carlson and Xerox, Joseph Wilson was able to obtain patents on other design aspects on the Xerox 914 that the company had developed during its own R and D process. In the 1960s, royalty payments made Carlson one of the richest people in the country -- well-earned.

Examine those durations. It took Carlson four years to develop a model that he could patent. The duration between Carlson’s initial inspiration and the introduction of any xerographic photocopier in any market was a whopping fifteen years. And the time it took between Carlson’s generation of the idea and the moment that this idea first generated a profit for any party was twenty-five years.

What happens in all those years? What happens is research and development and experimentation. In the four years it took Carlson to make his original vague general idea into a patentable model, Carlson had to purchase his own equipment -- tangible goods can only exist as a finite number of units -- to test his models to determine whether they functioned as he intended. The same happened in the twelve years between the moment in which Joseph Wilson first gained access to this technology and the moment on which anyone profited from it. Xerox spent thousands of dollars employing engineers and technicians to run tests on how they could minimize costs while still producing units of this technology that were able to satisfy consumer demand. To run such experiments, they too had to acquire tangible equipment coming in a finite number of units.

Here is why that point is important. Yes, your patent is on something that is intangible -- a theoretical model on how a product is to be structured physically and how it is to function. But, by that same token, you would not have been able to come up with the intangible model if not for your using up tangible goods that come in finite units -- units that are, more often than not, relatively perishable. That is an important point overlooked by opponents of intellectual property, such as Arnold Plant and Timothy Sandefur.  The fact is glossed over by those who claim that private property rights revolve entirely around settling disputes over who gets to access and use up goods that are necessarily tangible and which necessarily come in a finite number of units.


Yes, Timothy Sandefur and Arnold Plant, Intellectual Property Rights Do Address What Economists Call “Scarcity” of Units
Timothy Sandefur is a lawyer widely beloved by Objectivists and I have met him face-to-face in Honolulu, but he rejects the very Objectivist foundation for private property rights and propagates the usual pernicious misconceptions about IP. Timothy Sandefur says,

In the case of tangible property, real or personal,…the property is naturally exclusive, meaning that if I have it, you simply cannot; if I take it, you no longer have it -- you have been "disseissed." Intellectual property, however, is not like this. I can "take" it from you, and yet you still have it. If, for example, you are the greatest musician in the history of rock and roll (that is, John Fogerty) and you have written the greatest song ever (that is, "Born on The Bayou"...), then I can sing "Born on the Bayou" in my shower, and you can still, at the same time, use and enjoy your "property" as you wish: you can perform it, sell it, or leave it alone.

We will come back to this later: Sandefur's example of singing a famous copyrighted song in the shower is a straw man. For now, note the similarity between Sandefur’s statement and the assumptions of the people who Facebook-share that caveman cartoon: when the copycat makes his own unit of a wheel, that does not deprive the caveman inventor of his prototype or any other unit of wheel that the caveman inventor produces. Therefore, the caveman inventor lost nothing, right?  That same idea comes across in this Facebook meme:



Timothy Sandefur’s misrepresentation, as well as the arguments of most IP-denouncers from the twentieth century onward, derives from this statement from University of Chicago economist Arnold Plant:

It is a peculiarity of property rights in patents (and copyrights) that they do not arise out of the scarcity of the objects which become appropriated. They are not a consequence of scarcity. They are the deliberate creation of statute law, and, whereas in general the institution of private property makes for the preservation of scarce goods... property rights in patents and copyrights make possible the creation of a scarcity of the products appropriated which could not otherwise be maintained.

Here is a rephrasing of the argument that Timothy Sandefur and Arnold Plant present. Private property rights, primarily being the law’s method of resolving disputes over how finite resources are distributed and allocated, are applicable exclusively to tangible goods coming in a finite number of units. If apples and apple trees are commercialized, then private property rights apply to them. If widgets are machines made for human consumption, then private property rights apply to them. As there is presently a finite number of units of widgets in existence, then if you acquire more units of widgets, that is fewer available for me. If you have more apples, that is fewer apples for me. I could grow my own trees and then graft my own branches on them to grow more apples (all apples on the market are clones from the same ancestral branch; wild apples grown from wild apple trees are not uniform in quality). More units can be produced in the future -- this would take time and resource inputs -- but the fact remains that in this precise moment, there is a finite number of units of apple trees and widgets in existence.

That is what conventional economists mean when they say that economics is about “scarcity.” (Contrary to the fears of many Objectivists, when conventional economists say that markets address “scarcity,” they are seldom ever implying agreement with Rev. Malthus that humans just use up nonrenewable resources and one day will be left with nothing; they just mean that there is presently a finite number of units on the market.)

If there were no private property rights, say Arnold Plant and his followers, people would always be violently fighting over who gets what -- over who gets this apple orchard. Once private property rights are established, it reduces the risk that such fights will break out. Private property rights, say Arnold Plant and his followers, mean that you and I agree that this-and-that belongs to you, whereas this-and-this belongs to me, and we leave each other be. On that interpretation, then, private property rights are nothing more than a means of settling disputes over who gets to access and use up highly tangible goods that are finite in number.

Then Arnold Plant and those who argue in his vein, such as Timothy Sandefur, continue that because intellectual property rights are intangible, they cannot be authentic private property rights. This is question-beginning on their part. To “win” their argument, they decide that, from the outset, they have to define private property rights as referring exclusively to tangible goods that come in a finite number of units. Upon pretending that that arbitrary premise is some well-established fact, they then point out that intellectual property rights are intangible and that, by their own (arbitrary) definition of private property rights, patents and copyrights are precluded from being authentic property.

 First off, the government’s attempt to resolve some potential dispute over the allocation of tangible goods -- goods coming in a finite number of units -- is not the main justification for private property rights. The main justification is that you should maintain legal control over the very economic value that you have created -- I explain that in this blog post. You deserve to maintain control over your art and inventions for the same reason that you, as a homesteader, deserve to maintain control over the patch of land that you have rendered inhabitable.

The economic value that a homesteader wrings out of a patch of land is an emergent property. Emergent property refers to what happens when, once the same old components are arranged in a particularly fortuitous fashion, some new (sometimes even wholly unprecedented) phenomenon occurs. For example, there was a time when there was no life on Earth; for billions of years, it was the same old chemicals lying around.   But one day, those same chemicals were arranged in a new fashion, and what was nonliving matter became the first primitive living matter, some proto-micro-organism.

Similarly, when a homesteader improves a plot of land --meaning she makes it inhabitable for human use -- she is not creating any new matter; she is rearranging the matter that already exists.  But this new arrangement has rendered this land, once previously uninhabitable, into land that is inhabitable, and that habitability is the new phenomenon, the emergent property.  It is also the new economic value created.  That same principle applies to patentable inventions.  The patent for a highly profitable invention is a set of instructions for arranging already-existing matter in a fashion that produces some effect that satisfies consumer demand, and what makes this patent lucrative is that the patent's instructions allow for a manufacturer to educe this demand-satisfying effect in a manner that is cost-effective enough to allow the manufacturer to sell units of this arrangement at a net profit. This invention produces a net increase in utility in the economy, utility that previously had not existed.  That net increase in utility, that unprecedented economic value that has been created, is also an emergent property.

Both (1) a homesteader's improvement in the land and (2) an inventor's contribution of a net increase in utility, are emergent phenomena whereby new economic value has been created, economic value previously unexplored.

For the law to recognize this newly created economic value as being the private property of the party that created it does both of the following: (a) it justly allows the party that created this value to sustain itself while (b) it also signals to other market participants that they, too, will be free to reap the rewards of their own value creation if they, too, produce these new forms of utility. 

Secondly -- and this is what Arnold Plant and Timothy Sandefur conveniently elide -- intellectual property rights do address the allocation and usage of tangible goods that are finite in number. They do address what Arnold Plant calls “scarcity” and what Timothy Sandefur calls the fact that tangible goods, coming in a finite number of units, can be “disseised.”

In the four years it took for Carlson to develop a xerographic photocopier model worthy of licensing, he had to acquire equipment for testing this model. That equipment came in the form of perishable tangible goods that always had, and always would, come in a finite number of existing units. As Carlson used up these goods in his experiments, they depreciated in value, meaning that if other people tried to use these units of goods afterwards, they would not be able to derive the same value from those goods if Carlson had not acquired and used them up first. After all, tangible goods are frequently perishable in the long run. When, in the development of his model for a xerographic photocopier, Carlson used units of tangible goods for his experiments, it meant that those units would not be used by anyone else.

The same principle applied in the twelve years it took for Xerox to produce a model of xerographic photocopier that satisfied enough consumer demand to generate a profit. In its own testing, Xerox employed engineers and technicians running their own tests, again using tangible equipment that came in the form of units that would always be finite in number. For any firm to run its own tests in R and D, it must use up resources, and those are units of resources which other parties are not able to access. Even if those resources remain intact once R and D is done, those resources have usually depreciated, meaning the same value cannot be wrung out of them as was wrung when the R and D process began.


The Tragedy of the Public-Domain Commons
Recall that before Carlson won a deal with the Battelle Memorial Institute, he approached twenty corporations for licensing and got rejected by each of them. Imagine what those twenty firms could have done if there was no intellectual property protection for the xerographic photocopier:once the Xerox 914 hit the market in 1959 and finally generated a profit for Xerox -- after a quarter-century of being in development and profiting no one -- those twenty corporations could pirate that model with legal impunity.

Arnold Plant’s followers would celebrate that as wonderful, as they proclaim that patent protection imposes an artificial “scarcity” on the number of units of xerographic photocopiers on the market. With the Xerox 914 having patent protection, Xerox did not even have to sell these units; organizational clients had to pay rent to use any units. By contrast, continues the reasoning of Arnold Plant’s argument, if the twenty corporations that rejected Carlson were able to pirate Carlson's design, then that would put that many more units of xerographic photocopiers on the market by the early 1960s. The increased competition would lower prices; maybe Xerox Corporation would be motivated to sell units of the product rather than be stingy and only lease them out.

Such an argument is shortsighted.

An intellectual property is intangible -- it is a theoretical intellectual construct. But it is a theoretical intellectual construct that generates a financial profit for a party only to the extent that this theoretical construct is scientifically accurate enough to produce the practical results that it purports to produce. And putting together that theoretical intellectual construct requires experimentation whereby the IP holder or her investors must invest in tangible equipment that exists on the market in the form of a finite number of units.

It took four years of Carlson’s life to come up with a model that was patentable. It took a span of twenty-five years for Carlson’s initial vague idea to become a profitable unit. In that span, Carlson and Xerox Corporation used up and depreciated thousands of dollars worth of units of tangible goods, which they paid for themselves. If there was no IP protection for xerographic photocopying, and the twenty corporations pirated the Xerox 914, those twenty corporations could use their extensive capital exclusively on turning out units of Xerox 914 knockoffs while not having spent a penny on the man-hours and perishable equipment that Carlson and Xerox Corporation labored to acquire and employ to develop the Xerox 914's useful design.

By pirating Xerox’s intellectual property, those twenty corporations would, in effect, be stealing the tangible goods that Carlson and Xerox needed to use up and depreciate in the process of developing the Xerox 914. That, Timothy Sandefur, is what gets “disseised” when someone pirates intellectual property.

The four years that Carlson spent on his model would be for naught. The twenty-five years it took for Carlson’s idea to come to fruition, culminating in the first profitable xerographic photocopier, would be for naught. Would-be inventors who saw what happened to Carlson after twenty-five years of this work would be discouraged from coming up with their own practicable original designs for useful products.

The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible treats inventions and artworks as if they can easily be pulled out of one’s ass. That can be done with vague general ideas, but that is not what patents protect. Patents protect viable specific models -- models that come with diagrams and detailed explanations for how members of the intended market can use the device in its intended purpose. And such models are developed from years of experimentation that require using and depreciating tangible goods that always exist in units that are finite in number.

That creating such a model -- such a practicable design -- takes up so many man-hours and material resources, is the reason why such models themselves come in units that are finite in number. People have billions of throwaway ideas every day. By contrast, patentable designs that satisfy consumer demand and change the world are much fewer in number, numbering in thousands per year at the most. And if inventors could not profit from such models, or could not even recoup what it cost them to produce those models, then there would be fewer such models still.

If the law did not protect an apple grower’s right to the orchard he homesteaded, and anyone could trespass onto the orchard and pick off the apples freely, then in the long run there would be fewer apples grown. Likewise, if the law does not protect Chester F. Carlson’s right to have exclusive control over the model he produced, and any capital-rich corporation can pirate his model, then in the long run there will be fewer such practicable models being thought up by inventors. This will happen:


If an inventive party's right to exclusive control over its own specific original design is not recognized by law as the rightful private property that it is, most inventors will be Atlases who "shrug."

There is a reason why so many people who claim to be free-marketers stubbornly reject recognition of this. It is because the economist who most influenced them on this issue, Arnold Plant, failed to observe that intellectual property protection does address what Arnold Plant would call a preexisting “scarcity” -- a finitude in the number of available units that existed prior to the legal establishment of patents and copyrights.


Artwork -- IP That Is Copyrighted and Trademarked -- Also Cannot Be Created Without the Usage of Tangible Goods Coming in a Finite Number of Units
The same principle applies to the pirating of artwork. No matter how easy it is to duplicate an artwork, the original version of it was the product of many inputs of tangible goods that always existed as a finite number of units. If Justin uploads an image of a painting he did, it might take me a second to make a JPG or GIF of the image and pay him nothing for it. But the painting did cost Justin. He spent hours on that painting, hours he could have spent on a more secure form of employment. He used units of tangible goods, units finite in number. Natural resources went into the creation of the paint he used; those are units of natural resources and paints that other people will not have.

The same principle would apply to someone who does professional-quality artwork in Photoshop or Microsoft Paint. It takes years of practicing one's craft to reach that level of quality, and that is time one could otherwise spend on some steadier source of income.

Consider Justin making a feature-length motion picture that takes place in a haunted house -- one that is very low-budget but which he intends should still be of professional quality. Either he must construct the set himself or he must rent a set that was already constructed. Either way, that involves tangible goods that will always be finite in number. When Justin uses the set, other people cannot use the set. When specific objects are added to the set to give it the needed ambiance, those objects are not being used by other people. Maybe this process costs Justin and his investors $10,000, and they plan to recoup the costs by selling DVDs of the movie. Now imagine people pirating this work, producing perfect digital copies of the movie and paying nothing to Justin and Justin’s investors. According to the argument of Timothy Sandefur and the caveman image, no theft occurred. After all, Justin and his investors still have the set; they have not lost any of the props they purchased and which remained intact once shooting had been completed. That the movie was pirated does not deprive Justin and his investors of the original print of the movie.

But that is a lie.

When various parties decide to pirate Justin’s movie and pay nothing for it, they are stealing the thousands of dollars worth of value of the tangible goods that Justin used up and depreciated in order to make the movie a reality. And once Justin and others like him realize that they will not be able to recoup the costs they incurred from using up such tangible goods, such independent-but-still-professionally-produced feature-length motion pictures will become scarcer.

When an artist puts out a copyrighted work for commercial purposes, he does so on the contractual condition that any time another party obtains custody over another unit of this artwork, this is done with the permission of the copyright holder.  Normally such permission is granted on the condition that the copyright holder receives the monetary compensation it sets as its price.  Likewise, when an inventor puts out a patentable design for commercial purposes, she does so on the contractual condition that any time another party obtains custody of another unit of a contraption that is designed according to the patent's novel specifications, this is done at the permission of the patent holder.  Here, too, usually such permission is granted on the condition that the patent holder receives the licensing fee that it sets as its price.  Suppose I hire you to do manual labor for me. Then you do it. Then I refrain from paying you.  This contractual breach would, in effect, involve me stealing the value of your time and labor -- time and labor you otherwise could have spent on some other endeavor. The same principle applies to the pirating of IP.  To pirate IP is to breach contract with the IP holder, stealing the value of the time and labor and tangible inputs that the IP holder had used up in the process of availing the artwork or invention to the market.   

In sum: if I make an unauthorized duplicate of Justin's motion picture, that does not deprive Justin of the master copy of that motion picture; he still has it.  What I have stolen, though, is the monetary value of the tangible units of resources that Justin invested, consumed, and destroyed for the purpose of making that motion picture.  These are tangible units that Justin invested for the movie's consumers -- its viewers -- on the implicit contractual condition that those consumers financially recompense him for the expenses of using up and destroying those resources.  After all, Justin and his other investors had to trade away their own belongings to gain access to the resources they invested and destroyed in producing a motion picture that I have opted to consume (the experience of viewing the motion picture is the experience of consuming it).

At this juncture, those desperate to continue disparaging IP might equivocate IP protection with protectionism.  If I make an unauthorized duplicate of Justin's movie, I don't deprive him of the original copy of the movie but I have rendered him unable to recoup the wealth he invested to make this motion picture available to me in the first place. One might say, "Isn't that the purpose of protectionism? If Chrysler demands tariffs against automobiles imported from Japan, isn't this on the basis that Chrysler already invested lots of capital -- fixed costs -- on producing units of its product, and that, without tariffs, Chrysler's ability to recoup its investment will be jeopardized?"

Someone who advances such an argument would not be doing anything new, because this rationalization for undermining IP was common in the 1800s.  It was advanced by a Member of Parliament -- John Lewis Ricardo, nephew to free-trade economist David Ricardo.  As University of Chicago historian Adrian Johns phrases it, John Lewis Ricardo maintained that patents are "the equivalent, in effect, to the navigation acts or the Corn Laws themselves."

Here is the reason why that comparison fails.  It is true that, in both examples, filmmaker Justin and  protectionist Chrysler are trying to protect their investments.  Moreover, both Justin and Chrysler expect to be recompensed financially by customers who consume their respective products.  The difference is this: if Chrysler goes out of business because Americans all purchase Toyota cars instead, the reason why Chrysler is not receiving money from Americans is that Americans are not using Chrysler's product. Chrysler received money from no one, but that is because no one consumed Chrysler's product.  No one stole the fruit of Chrysler's labors. By contrast, if Justin goes out of business because all his potential customers made unauthorized free downloads of his movie, people are using Justin's product but still refusing to pay him, violating the implicit contractual terms upon which Justin made his movie accessible at all.

If the absence of tariff enforcement allows Chrysler to go out of business, it's the case that this happens because no one bothered to exchange money for -- and then consume -- Chrysler's product.  If the absence of copyright enforcement causes Justin to go out of business, it's the case that many people consumed Justin's product and then refused to pay him anyway.  The reason the motorist never paid money to Chrysler is that the motorist didn't initiate a business contract with Chrysler to begin with. Conversely, the reason the movie buff never paid money to Justin is that the movie buff did enter a business exchange with Justin but then stiffed him on what he was billed. Chrysler is unable to recoup its investment because the customers it desired discern no value in what Chrysler is trying to sell; Justin's movie business is unable to recoup its investment because its customers got value out of Justin's work and then cheated their way out of paying for that value.



Notice How Opponents of IP Resort to Caricatures and Straw Men About IP Enforcement? They Have No Case Without the Caricature: A Case Study
Let us go back to Timothy Sandefur saying, “If, for example, you are...John Fogerty...and you have written...‘Born on The Bayou’..., then I can sing ‘Born on the Bayou’ in my shower, and you can still, at the same time, use and enjoy your ‘property’ as you wish: you can perform it, sell it, or leave it alone.”

The activity of singing in the shower is generally regarded as comical, and therefore this example might seem to be just levity on Timothy Sandefur’s part. Whether or not that was his main conscious intention, this statement of his happens to be misleading in a way very convenient to Sandefur and other opponents of intellectual property. It is convenient for their straw man. If you sing a famous song in the shower -- off-key, as is common for those of us who are not professional musicians -- and then the recording artist behind the song sues you over it, that would be rather petty on the part of the recording artist, wouldn’t it? This is in keeping with the same theme as the caveman cartoon above -- the attempt to caricature anyone trying to protect his IP as petty. On some level, opponents of IP recognize that their argument will fall apart if they do not construct this straw man wherein they caricature enforcement of IP as generally something very petty.

In real life, no professional musician -- not even Lars Ulrich or Roger Hodgson -- will sue you for singing his song in the shower. My father is a musician who had paid gigs in his younger days, but I still sing off-key (my refusal to learn about music was part of my rebellion against him). No one is going to pay to hear me sing “Born on the Bayou” off-key. Fans of the song will still pay money to iTunes to hear the original recording of this song; my singing in the shower is not stealing any of the value of the tangible goods that were inputted when Creedence Clearwater Revival recorded the song. By contrast, if people make perfect digital copies of the original Creedence Clearwater Revival recording and pay nothing to the owner, that is stealing the value of the work of Creedence Clearwater Revival and the value of the sophisticated equipment, which could only exist in a finite number of units, operated to produce such a sharp recording.

Likewise, if a professional musician, who has had years of his own musical training, is paid to perform in front of large paying audiences while he performs John Fogerty’s songs without John Fogerty’s permission, that is stealing the value of the perishable tangible goods that John Fogerty had to use up as he wrote those songs. If a professional musician got paid to perform John Fogerty’s songs at packed houses against John Fogerty’s consent, there would be nothing petty about John Fogerty having his lawyer send a letter to that professional musician.

When Timothy Sandefur conflates enforcement of intellectual property with John Fogerty suing you for singing “Born on the Bayou” off-key in the shower, that conflation amounts to a propagandistic "package deal." You are to associate IP enforcement with pettiness. Then, when you hear about a plausible instance of IP enforcement -- say, John Fogerty suing a professional musician for performing his songs, against his consent, at a paid gig in front of a crowd of paying fans -- you are expected, by extension, to think, “That’s petty, too.” But it isn’t.

By the way, this disclaimer appears on the bottom of an authorized reproduction of the chapter of "The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible" that denounces intellectual property rights protection as invalid.




Conclusion
When someone implies that intellectual property rights enforcement is petty, here is the principle behind what is really going on. Suppose you own a huge apple orchard. One night, I trespass onto the orchard and fill up just one basket with your apples. Before I leave, you catch me. I then reproach you for your self-righteousness. “What's the big deal?” I say. Then I point out, “You still have an entire orchard full of apples; I just took a basket's worth. You still have the trees and the branches you grafted onto them. You can always grow more apples.” That defensive retort ignores all of the inputs you had to pay for when growing your apples. Likewise, those who say that pirating IP is no big deal  are people who just as easily and just as conveniently ignore all of the "scarce" inputs that the IP holder had to pay for in producing or acquiring the IP.

Protecting your inventions and artworks from piracy is not petty. What is petty is how the enemies of intellectual property rights have resorted to caricatures and straw men to misrepresent the creators and holders of intellectual property. It is petty how they pretend that invention is easy or accidental and something anyone can do without effort. There are no accidental inventions. The initial inspiration for an invention is often accidental, such as how, during the wintertime, Frank Epperson absentmindedly left his fruit drink outside overnight, only to find it frozen the next day, which inspired him to see if he could market his own frozen snack. But that was not the patentable invention. The invention was the culmination of years of R and D that Frank Epperson did afterward to develop what came to be known as the Popsicle.

Also petty is the crude manner in which IP holders are relentlessly caricatured as whiny control freaks who just hate that they might not be able to micromanage other people’s applications of their obvious ideas, such as in the caveman cartoon we started with.

But no, the production of a patentable invention or copyrightable artwork is an arduous process, and we owe it to those who produce these designs that we recognize that they deserve to exercise legal control over the new value they have created.



On March 9, 2017, I added the second meme about copying (the one that mentions Netflix) and I added the explanation about protectionism, John Lewis Ricardo, and the difference between a pro-tariff company going out of business versus an IP holder going out of business.  On Sunday, March 12, 2017, I added the table showing the different years wherein a new patent on the paperclip was granted in the United States.  On Monday, April 3, 2017, I added an updated version of the table, this time including entries from 1867,1877, and 1889.  On June 5, 2017, I added the image of what the original Baloo cartoon looks like.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Psychology Experiments Evince That Negative Humor (Self-Effacing, Cynical, Morbid, or Derogatory) Harms Your Health

Stuart K. Hayashi



Lately the State of Humanity has been on my mind...


You know that saying that laughter is the best medicine? Psychology experiments confirm that life-affirming humor has a beneficent effect on your long-term happiness. By contrast, psychology experiments evince that morbid humor, cynical humor, self-effacing humor, and put-down humor do have a deleterious effect on the person dispensing such humor; those types of humor do not mitigate long-term unhappiness but instead reinforce it ultimately.

Whereas positive humor styles increase feelings of self-worth and conscientiousness, and possibly even improve longevity, negative humor styles have the opposite effect. People who use self-defeating humor tend to experience depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem, and those who use aggressive humor [putting others down] often adopt poor coping mechanisms.... 
In short, humor can either improve or harm our health, depending on how it’s used. Dealing with conflict in positive ways, such as laughing to put ourselves in a good mood, is probably as important as getting on that Stairmaster three times a week. Laughing negatively at ourselves or taking a dark, sardonic attitude — well, you might as well starting drinking and smoking, too.

—Scott Weems, Ha!: The Science of When We Laugh and Why, (New York, NY: Basic Books, 2014), p. 147, citing Paul Frewen, et al., “Humor Styles and Personality — Vulnerability to Depression,” Humor: International Journal of Humor Research 21, no. 2, year 2008: pages 179–195; Vassilis Saroglou and Lydwine Anciaux, “Liking Sick Humor: Coping Styles and Religion As Predictors,” Humor: International Journal of Humor Research 17, no. 3, year 2004: pages 257–277; Nicolas Kuiper and Rod Martin, “Humor and Self-Concept,” Humor: International Journal of Humor Research 6, no. 3, year 1993: pages 251–270; and Nicholas Kuiper, et al., “Humor Is Not Always the Best Medicine: Specific Components of Sense of Humor and Psychological Well-Being,” Humor: International Journal of Humor Research 17, no. 1/2, year 2004: pages 135–168.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

It Is My Business

Stuart K. Hayashi


Once you have taken the initiative to shove your suicidal and homicidal gestures in my face, you don't get to say it's none of my business.  An issuance of a violent threat is everyone's business.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

My Policy on Objectivists(?) Friendly to the 'Alt Lite' (Semi-Mainstream Normalizers of the Alt-Right)

Stuart K. Hayashi






It’s sad that I have to write this. Objectivists have a long history of unfriending and blocking each other on Facebook for petty, stupid reasons. But there is now something serious enough to warrant shunning other people over: the alt-right is in neo-Nazi territory. There is no way around it.

There is something called the "Alt Lite," which does not go as far as the alt-right (it often stops short of making eugenicist claims about race and IQ on its own; it leaves that dirty work to the alt-right), but still treats the alt-right as just having another opinion worthy of respect.  The racist and eugenicist claims are presumed, at the worst, simply to be an as-of-yet-unproven but plausible hypothesis. (Here is a mostly reliable overview some well-known people of the “Alt Lite.”) Paul Joseph Watson and Milo Yiannopoulos are in this “Alt Lite” category. Even when someone from the Alt Lite refrains from explicitly endorsing the eugenicist claims about IQ and race, the Alt Lite still normalizes and reinforces the alt-right's pathology. If I think you are promoting Paul Joseph Watson's normalization of this, I will unfriend or block you. Zero tolerance.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Why 'Existence Always Existed' Is Likelier Than 'Something Created All Existence,' or: The Conjunction Fallacy in Cosmology

Stuart K. Hayashi

Fall-Winter 2009 semester at Hawaii Pacific University




Two Questions
Question 1: Suppose there is a woman named Linda, and here is what we know about her: She writes a lot of poetry about capitalists exploiting the masses. In her free time, she wears a beret and attends performance art shows. She reads Noam Chomsky books and is trying to be a raw food vegan. Which of the following is likelier?:


  • A. Linda is an executive at a big bank.
  • B. Linda votes for left-wing progressive political candidates, owns a Che Guevara shirt, and works at a big bank as an executive.


  • According to a psychology experiment by Keith Stanovich and Richard F. West, people who score high on the SAT are more prone to answer B than are people who scored average on the SAT.


    Now here's another question.

    Question 2: Which of the following scenarios is likelier?:

    • A. Some entity always existed. If you try to pinpoint some moment in the past when this entity began to exist, you won't find it; its existence is eternal.
    • B. Some entity always existed. If you try to pinpoint some moment in the past when this entity began to exist, you won't find it; its existence is eternal. In fact, this entity is beyond sapient; it makes choices. Moreover, this entity created all other entities existing; everything that exists, exists because of this entity. This entity created all of Existence; there was a time when there was absolute nothingness, and, at the same time there was absolute nothingness, this entity already existed. This entity is also responsible for all morality. It is the final arbiter of moral judgments, and it is the final arbiter of all purpose. If you have a purpose in your existence, it was decided by this entity.

    In both cases, the likelier answer is A.



    Overcoming the Conjunction Fallacy
    Here is the reason. When it comes to the first question, both of your options say that condition X (Linda is a bank executive) is present. The notion that Linda is not a bank executive is not an option. However, option B says that not only is Linda a bank executive, but she is also a political progressive (condition Y). Many people who score high on the SAT notice from the description that Linda fits the stereotype of a political progressive, and therefore they select option B. But in terms of formal logic, A is likelier, because only condition X must be present for A to be true, whereas B requires both conditions X and Y to be true.  The likelihood that X is true is greater than the likelihood that both X and Y are true.   It can be mapped out as follows:

    • If X is true, then A is true.
    • If X and Y are both true, then both A and B are true.

    Logically, then,  A is likelier. That option A does not refer at all to Linda's political progressivism does not stop A from being likelier than B, because B being true presupposes A being true, whereas A being true does not presuppose B being true. When people who score high on the SAT answer that B is likelier, they fall prey to a logical fallacy called the Conjunction Fallacy.

    It is for that same reason that in Question 2, answer A is also the likelier option. For either option A or B to be true, some entity always had to exist. Once again, option B cannot be true unless option A is also true, but option B does not have to be true for option A to be true.



    Option A: Existence Always Existed; That’s It
    Option A refers to an idea from Aristotle's heyday that the Totality of Existence does not need to be created by some external source. That is, Existence does not have to be created by God; something always existed and, if you try to pinpoint some time in the past when Existence emerged into existence, you will not find it.

    Some people proclaim that the Big Bang disproves option A, as the Big Bang created the universe. That reflects a misunderstanding of the Big Bang. When physicists talk about the Big Bang, they do not mean that there was absolute nothingness and then an explosion happened, from which all Existence emerged. The idea behind the Big Bang is that at one time, "the universe" was in a particular physical state unalike what it is presently. Then "the universe" underwent some change that altered its form; this change is described rather metaphorically as an "expansion." The use of the term expansion is metaphorical, as it is not exactly the same as the type of "expansion" we normally talk about in our everyday lives; it's not the same as a sponge expanding or a bread loaf expanding.

    The Big Bang Theory therefore does not refute the idea that Existence, in some form, already existed. If there was a great "expansion," it presupposes that there was already some entity there to "expand." If we say that the Big Bang created the universe, that statement only makes sense if we make a distinction between "the Totality of Existence" and "the universe as we presently know it," with "the universe as we presently know it" being a subset subsumed under the greater category of "the Totality of Existence." If the universe had to "begin," that universe had to begin within the greater Totality of Existence, which already existed and always existed.

    In The Elegant Universe, Cornell University physicist Brian Greene seriously entertains this idea:

    ...[Maurizio] Gasperini and [Gabriele] Veneziano suggest that there may be a whole prehistory to the universe... In this so-called pre-big-bang scenario, the universe began in a vastly different state than it does in the big bang framework. ... because the pre-big bang epoch involves its own inflationary expansion, [Alan] Guth’s solution to the horizon problem is automatically built into the pre-big bang cosmological scenario [New York: Vintage, 2003 trade paperback second edition, p. 362, emphases author’s].



    There Was a Time When Nothing Existed, But At the Same Time Something Existed Before Anything Existed and Then It Made Everything Else That Exists?
    Since Thomas Aquinas's time, many theologians and also lay believers scoff at the notion that some entity (the Totality of Existence) always existed. They call it highly improbable, ridiculous. Rather, they say, there was a time when there was absolute nothingness and then God had to put something there. Hence, God created somethingness, as opposed to the nothingness.  But this is a self-contradiction, because anything that exists counts as an entity. If God always existed, then God counts as an entity, and this means that there was already an entity that always existed. Therefore, in Question 2, both options A and B are premised implicitly on the understanding that some entity always existed and did not need to be created by some external creator.

    For option A to be true, we only need to say that some entity always existed. For option B to be true, option A must be true -- some entity always existed -- and, in addition to that, the entity necessarily possesses some other traits: it is sapient, it makes choices, it created every other entity, and it imbued those other entities with purpose.

    There is another manner in which this can be worded:

    Question 3:  Which is likelier?

    • A. The Big Bang happened.
    • B. The Big Bang happened, and it was caused by an entity that is all-knowing, all-powerful, all-benevolent, and the source of all ethics and the final judge of everything. 


    Many people laugh at those of us who say that for Question 2, option A is likelier -- those of us who say that some entity always existed, and that we need not presume this entity to possess so many anthropomorphic traits, such as making choices and creating. We are mocked for thinking Existence always existed and then leaving it at that. Those who laugh at us dismiss that scenario as unlikely. But those laughers overlook that they themselves are saying some entity already always existed and did not need to be created, and then their belief requires assigning various other traits to this entity. People who presume that option B is likelier are falling prey to the conjunction fallacy.

    Tuesday, December 06, 2016

    America, The Globalist Republic

    Stuart K. Hayashi



    Apologists for Donald Trump and the new nationalist movement overtaking the West are fond of shouting that they are for "Americanism, not globalism!"  Trump said it himself.  It appears that the crusade of anti-globalization, long the darling of the political Left, has been usurped by the Right.

    This alt-right crowd frequently applies this globalist label to liberalized immigration and international trade, as if those impose a net reduction in the USA's well-being.  Yet a close reading of America's founding documents evince that our republic was founded on openness to peaceful trade and to people and of moral principles transcending ethnicity and government-drawn borders.

    The alt-right and its nationalist "alt lite" fellow travelers apply the globalism  tag as a sort of "package deal," conflating liberalized immigration, free trade, and unsavory international military treaties together as if these fall in the same category.  A peaceable and free movement of goods and people across borders is a unified whole; freedom of trade and of migration do go together, but these are not part of any misbegotten collaboration on the part of the U.S. federal government with illiberal regimes on military affairs.

    To the degree that "globalism" alludes to the United Nations placing delegates from the USA and from the Syrian government on the same panel and expecting them to "hash out their differences" on national security, as if these two sides have equally valid points, the founding philosophy of the United States was definitely not "globalist."  Yet it does not follow that there is anything anathema to the USA about those other phenomena with which the alt-right and white nationalists try to conflate militaristic collusion.

    America was founded upon the very principles of unrestricted migration and openness to international trade.  Insofar as the peaceable movement of goods and people across borders is globalism, the United States was conceived, from the very outset, as the globalist republic.

    Indeed, the immigrants into the USA presently being derided by the current anti-globalists are behaving in manner similar to the best of the generation that founded the U.S. republic, down to their very prioritization of their right to live peaceably over any and all statutes.




    Morality Versus "The Law"
    When nationalists heap scorn upon undocumented immigrants from south of the U.S.-Mexican border, they initially cite the fact that these undocumented immigrants have already willingly violated federal U.S. statutes.  Like the eighteenth-century American colonists before them, these undocumented immigrants know better than to confuse morality with federal law.  The right to live peaceably is paramount, and any statute that obstructs this right is corrupt and deserves to be broken.  The undocumented immigrants' abrogation of such corrupt statutes evinces that, at least on an implicit level, they have some understanding of this.  Rush Limbaugh huffs that "the current crop of illegals" is greatly inferior to prior generations of immigrants, as those prior immigrants "actually obeyed the law." Limbaugh's assertion definitely does not apply to the founding generation.  Eight immigrants broke the law by signing the Declaration of Independence.



    They had a good reason to demand independence. They, like the undocumented immigrants who came after them, resented the government hassling them when they peaceably crossed borders that governments arbitrarily drew on maps.

    A major impetus to the Revolutionary War was the Royal Proclamation of 1763.  King George III and Parliament feared that by venturing into southern territories, European colonists ran the risk of inflaming further conflicts with American Indians.  In 1763 the British government drew a border on the map, indicating that this was a line that colonists were not to step over.  The colonists illegally crossed that border anyway -- migrating from north to south -- establishing the settlements that ultimately became Kentucky and Tennessee. "Illegally moving and settling," notes Brown University International Studies professor Peter Andreas "...is an old American tradition, even if it was not called ‘illegal immigration.’" Consonant with what today's nationalists want done at the U.S.-Mexican border today,  King George III militarized the border he drew. In Peter Andreas's words, the crown "deployed thousands of troops to the western colonial frontier to enforce the law."

    As Austin Petersen reminded me, that crackdown is something that the Declaration of Independence cites as one of its grievances against George III:
    The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world. ... 
    He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
    That passage is so glaringly contrary to the clichés of the "immigration skeptics," that it warrants a re-reading: the Founding Fathers cite, as one of the major reasons for disobeying the government, that the government has been "obstructing" American "Naturalization of Foreigners" and this government has been "refusing to...encourage their migrations hither..."  That is, the Founding Fathers cited, as a significant reason for rebelling against King George, the valid evaluation that King George was not sympathetic enough toward open immigration into America.  Indeed, the courage to stand up for rightful illegal border-crossing played a significant role in the founding of the American republic.

    As Edward Snowden correctly observed, "We're a country that was born from an act of treason against a government that had run out of control. . . . The law is no substitute for morality."  One reason that government was out of control was its measures running concomitant to its restrictions on the free flow of people: its restrictions on the free flow of goods across borders.




    The American Revolution As a Revolt Against Those Obstructing Americans From Globalist Trade
    Recall that what agitated the colonists about the British government was its assault on trade in the form of the Navigation Acts. The colonists resented that the British government hindered the colonists from importing goods produced by people from other European countries.  If anyone told the colonists that they were obligated to purchase solely from the British so as to provide more job security to their fellow British citizens, the colonists would reply that other people's job security was not a sufficient reason to use the force of law to obstruct a colonist from purchasing goods peaceably from whomever he wanted, regardless of what country the goods were peaceably produced in.

    That they be allowed to trade freely across borders, with whomever they wanted peaceably, was so important to the colonists that the Founding Fathers listed, as another major grievance against the king, his "cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:..."

    The nationalists have been working so hard to bury this fact that that passage deserves another look. For the American revolutionaries, the government "cutting off our trade" was so abhorrent that it merited the revolutionaries disobeying that government entirely. Now that is a commitment to global trade, and it comes straight from the Founders.




    "Everything America Is About"
    Rutgers University global management professor Farok Contractor reminds us that global exchange had established itself in the colonies much earlier.  Turkeys are genetically related to peacocks, and they look much different in the wild than they do in captivity.  Europeans learned about turkeys when Conquistadors encountered them in Mexico.  These birds were imported into Europe and farmed there.  The pilgrims in Massachusetts were so accustomed to Mexican-descended domestic turkeys that, upon discovering wild turkeys where they lived, the pilgrims eschewed those birds and instead preferred the Mexican-descended breed.  Moreover, the American Indian Squanto proved an enormous help to the pilgrims exactly because of his prior experiences with varying cultures. Professor Contractor wants us to realize that "the story of those early settlers’ struggle, which culminated in what we remember today as the first Thanksgiving feast, is also a tale of globalization, many centuries before the word was even coined."

    America was about globalization from the day of its settlement, and it continued to be so throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.  Osama bin Laden knew that to strike at the heart of America, he had to take down a landmark that epitomized American strength.  It was thus no accident that that symbol of Americanism and American strength was the World Trade Center.  The screenplay for an unproduced Jackie Chan movie gets to the essence of why the center of world trade would be a perfect target: "It represents capitalism. It represents freedom. It represents everything America is about."    This means that the World Trade Center succeeded in living up to the vision of the New York City Port Authority officials who conceived it, implementing the principle of American free enterprise insofar as it facilitated global commerce. Minoru Yamasaki, the architect for the twin towers, explained,
    World trade means world peace, and consequently the World Trade Center buildings in New York ... had a bigger purpose than just to provide room for tenants. The World Trade Center is a living symbol of man's dedication to world peace ...the World Trade Center should, because of its importance, become a representation of man's belief in humanity, his need for individual dignity, his beliefs in the cooperation of men...
    A study by Skyler J. Cranmer et al., published in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science, confirms the veracity of Yamasaki's observation that American facilitation of world trade contributes to fostering peace.  As PsyPost summarizes it,"economic trade relationships...play a strong role in keeping the peace among countries."  Bin Laden recognized that America is about world trade, and to attack world trade is to attack the very spirit of America. In his Open Letter to America, Bin Laden cited its promotion of global capitalism as one of his main objections to the country:
    You are the nation that permits Usury, which has been forbidden by all the religions. Yet you build your economy and investments on Usury. As a result of this, in all its different forms and guises, the Jews have taken control of your economy... You are a nation that permits gambling in its all forms. The companies practice this as well, resulting in the investments becoming active and the criminals becoming rich. ... You are a nation that exploits women like consumer products or advertising tools calling upon customers to purchase them. You use women to serve passengers, visitors, and strangers to increase your profit margins. You then rant that you support the liberation of women. 
    Nor is it surprising that in a 2007 video communiqué wherein he cites Noam Chomsky by name, bin Laden demanded that Americans
    liberate yourselves from the deception, shackles and attrition of the capitalist system. If you were to ponder it well, you would find that in the end, it is a system harsher and fiercer than your systems in the Middle Ages. The capitalist system seeks to turn the entire world into a fiefdom of the major corporations under the label of "globalization" in order to protect democracy.
    Besides Chomsky, bin Laden placed various other anti-globalization authors on his bookshelf, such as Greg Palast. Even The Guardian took note of bin Laden's fixation on "the evils of financial capitalism" in influencing international markets.

    The role of the United States in financial globalism carries on from what the American revolutionaries started. The thirteen colonies broke away from King George's control not because they wished to isolate themselves in some ethnic enclave, but because they sought to open themselves up to goods and immigrants from the rest of the globe, exchanges in culture and production and peaceful human relocation that an arrogant Head of State would deny to them.  Given that even in the years following the Constitution's ratification, each state was considered a separate country under the larger federal Union, the USA has a history of being, paradoxically, an internationalist nation.

    The United States also began as globalist when it came to matters of state and diplomacy.  In Hawaii for years I was beguiled by a Rothbardian anarchist.  To garner more support for his blame-America-first foreign policy, this Rothbardian liked to recite this quotation from Thomas Jefferson as proof that the USA had rightfully obligated itself from refraining from any diplomatic or military interventions with foreign countries:  "peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none..."

    That Rothbardian's citation of Jefferson on that count was misleading, as the republic would not have formed if not for a strategic alliance.  The colonists sent John Adams and Benjamin Franklin to France, where they won the favor of the king, who sent troops to assist against the British.  Insofar as foreign military alliances are globalism, globalism enabled the colonists to win the Revolutionary War.




    No, Vox Day, These Ideas Didn't Start in the Nineteenth Century; They Were Present At the Founding
    I am not the first to have made the points above in defense of open movement of people and goods. For that reason, anti-immigration nationalists such as Theodore "Vox Day" Beale claim to put forth various rebuttals to these points. Vox Day, for instance, says that in the early years of the American republic, the Founding Fathers had not conceived of it as a "melting pot" where immigrants settle into this new republic and freely adopt peaceable customs at their own choosing.  "The problem that most white Americans have, and that most conservatives have," Beale tells a fawning Stefan Molyneux,
    is that they were sold a myth: they were sold the myth of the melting pot.  They were sold the myth of the "nation of immigrants." ...  All of those things are lies. All of those things are either middle-nineteenth-century or early-twentieth-century concepts that have been sold and propagandized to people in the United States so that they would believe that America was not a white nation, that American was not a Christian nation. It's completely bogus.   
    Subsequently Beale/Vox Day adds,
    The very clear historical fact of the matter is that all of those [conceptual] inventions about America being a nation of immigrants and "the melting pot" and that sort of thing, those were all concocted much later [than the founding, around the late nineteenth century] in order to make the second-wave immigrants -- which was mostly the Italians, the Irish, and the Jews -- to make them feel like they were real and proper Americans, just as American as anyone else, but it wasn't true. It's a self-serving immigrant myth. 
     He goes on,
    I was shocked to find out that "the melting pot" was actually fundamentally conceived and popularized by Israel Zangwill, who was a Russian Jew living in Britain. I mean, it had nothing to do with the United States. It was basically a play about the United States from somebody who didn't really know very much about it. And here we have adopted it [the melting pot idea] as what [eugenicist] Steve Sailer calls the Zero-eth Amendment, which is "The Founding Father Emma Lazarus carved it on the bottom of the Statue of Liberty in 1776."
    It is true that the exact phrase melting pot to describe the United States was popularized in 1908 as the title of a play about different ethnic groups learning to live together in the USA. But it does not follow from this that the concept was unfamiliar to Americans prior to then. The idea does indeed go back to the era of the Founders, and a similar expression -- "individuals of all nations are melted into a new race of men" -- was used for it.

    The idea was expressed publicly in America at least as early as 1782 -- over four years prior to the ratification of the U.S. Constitution -- by J. Hector St. John de Crèvecœur in Letters From an American Farmer. As Hector St. John de Crèvecœur puts it in his "Third Letter From an American Farmer,"
    What...is the American, this new man? ... He...who leaving behind him all his ancient prejudices and manners, receives new ones from the new mode of life he has embraced... Here individuals of all nations are melted into a new race of men, whose labours and posterity will one day cause great changes in the world. ... The American ought therefore to love this country much better than that wherein either he or his forefathers were born. Here the rewards of his industry follow with equal steps the progress of his labour; his labour is founded on the basis of nature, self-interest; can it want a stronger allurement? ...This is an American [emphasis added].

    This photo is from January 21, 2017.  See if "Letters from an American Farmer" is in your local library system, as it is in mine.


    No, Mr. Beale/Vox Day, the idea of the American melting pot is not something invented just in the nineteenth century; it slightly preceded the U.S. Constitution going into effect.




    No, Vox Day, The Founders Agreed With Emma Lazarus 
    The common rationalization that "immigration skeptics" provide is, "Immigration was different then."  Immigration was OK back when the immigrants were mostly Europeans, proclaims Stefan Molyneux, but these days immigration amounts to "Third World immigration." Poor (dark-skinned) immigrants from poor countries, having suffered under political repression, are not to be trusted, says Stefan Molyneux, for this reason:
    Just because they're running away from an abusive authority, it doesn't meant that they're not going to re-create it.  I mean, that's like saying a teenage girl that runs away from an abusive household is going to automatically [sic; split infinitive] end up in a peaceful marriage.  They tend to bring their trauma with them and re-create it.
    Likewise, Molyneux goes on, because dark-skinned, impoverished immigrants have known nothing but violence and repression, they will impose this same sort of dysfunction upon their richer native-born neighbors.

    Rationalizations such as Molyneux's were not good enough for Emma Lazarus. You may recall that these words from her sonnet, "The New Colossus," are inscribed on the pedestal of the statue to which the poem's title refers:
    Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
    I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
    To that, Mr. Beale/Vox Day scoffs that this is a "historical absurdity, and yet we act like it's more important than the Constitution or any of the early acts of the early Congresses." Vox Day wants us to believe that Emma Lazarus's championing poor non-WASPs from poor countries was not consistent with what the Founders hoped for.

     Beale/Vox Day's sniffing evinces his ignorance of the fact that George Washington agreed entirely with Emma Lazarus's sentiment. Quoting George Washington's December 2, 1783 address to the Volunteer Association and Other Inhabitants of the Kingdom of Ireland,
    The bosom of America is open to receive not only the opulent and respectable Stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all Nations and Religions; whom we shall wellcome to a participation of all our rights and previleges...
     Once again, an idea that Vox Day falsely imputes as merely a nineteenth-century revision was actually present among the Founders in the Revolutionary Era.




    Founded on Philosophic Principles That Apply Globally
    In keeping with the theme of promoting Vox Day's white nationalism and ethnic segregationism, Stefan Molyneux has taken to referring to Europe and the English-speaking countries, including the United States, as "the white countries":
    You can be against nationalism -- fine -- but then you have to be against the nonwhite countries who are the most nationalist and the most ethnocentric. . . . Whites are the least nationalistic people. . . . You can disagree with the argument that whites should have some kind of homeland, sure, but if it's only whites who shouldn't have a homeland [he means the United States], you're a racist. If everyone else is allowed to have a [racially homogeneous] homeland except whites, you're a racist.
    He says that left-wing politicians "carve up white countries and hand them out to Third-Worlders for votes."

    Let's get something straight: even if all nonwhites voluntarily vacated the United States and no one was left in it but white people, the USA still would not be a "white country." The reason, as I have said before, is that, as Margaret Thatcher has noted, the republic was founded not on ethnicity but on a philosophy: the universal rights of man, rights belonging to all men, not just white men. Yes, we know about many legal institutions in the USA that contradicted that; the U.S. republic could not live up fully to the principles expressed in its founding documents as long as there was slavery and then Jim Crow and then as long as women were denied the vote.   Even the U.S. Constitution itself, sadly, contradicted the principles of equal rights the Declaration defended, in that the Constitution, upon ratification, deemed that if you were of a particular race you would be counted as three-fifths of a person.  In that respect the Constitution codified racial discrimination, and it was not until the Fourteenth Amendment's passage that this was reversed.

     To America's credit, the movements of abolitionism and civil rights and women's suffrage and, yes, liberalizing immigration have all been about applying the Declaration's philosophy farther and more consistently, helping America live up its ideals and thus maximize its Americanism.



    Stefan Molyneux's proclamation that whites have historically been deprived of a homogeneous racial "homeland" is asinine -- all countries existing prior to the United States were founded as homogeneous racial "homelands."  France, for instance, was already the ethnic homeland for the Francs.  In cases where a new nation-state was founded by the union of several smaller countries, such as Germany being the unification of such places as Bavaria and Prussia, it was a union of separate countries where the inhabitants were still closely related.

    This is not to deny that, prior to the United States, there were some countries and cultures that established important precedents in advancing the truth that moral principles in governance should transcend ethnicity and race.  The city-state of Athens benefited to the extent that it was open to immigrants such as Aristotle -- metics, they were called --  coming into the city and engaging in cultural and commercial exchange. Sadly, even Athens fell prey to xenophobia, as Macedonian immigrants such as Aristotle were violently threatened, prompting Aristotle to flee.  Thankfully, Aristotle's Macedonian protégé, Alexander the Great, established a political system that sought to rise above the xenophobia that drove out Aristotle.  Upon being made the capital of the domain Alexander established, the Egyptian city of Alexandria reduced xenophobia somewhat by allowing for many people of different religions and ethnicities to live together:  Egyptians, Africans, Persians, Greeks, Romans, and Jews.  Despite practicing brutality in war, the Roman government allowed the many ethnic tribes its conquered to obtain Roman citizenship and to take part in Roman civil society.  Again, Africans and Egyptians and Persians and Greeks and Germanic people could be citizens alongside the Romans.

    In the 1600s, allowing for peaceful openness to foreign goods, foreign migrants, and foreign ideas is what allowed the Dutch Republic to thrive.  The Dutch Republic's openness to foreigners gave shelter to John Locke, then in exile from his native England, as he penned the Two Treatises of Government that would inspire Thomas Jefferson and the other Founding Fathers. That is, globalism is what enabled the formation of the philosophic ideas that gave rise to the American republic.

    In spite of the strides they had made against racism and xenophobia, it was the case that the governments of ancient Greece and ancient Rome and the Dutch were still founded as an accident of history by a particular ethnic group upon splitting off from some larger ethnicity-based union or by some one ruler annexing, to his own dominion, some tribes nearby that were already closely related to his own tribe.  What set the USA apart was that its founding documents stated explicitly that the new republic was founded not on some people deciding to have their own ethnic enclave, but on particular philosophic principles. Moreover, the founding documents make explicit that these philosophic principles apply to all human beings, not one ethnicity.

    Whereas most countries were founded upon notions of blood and soil -- what Vox Day would have us believe the USA was also founded upon -- Thomas Paine makes clear the USA's founding broke away from that tradition:

    The revolution of America presented in politics what was only theory in mechanics. So deeply rooted were all the governments of the old world, and so effectually had the tyranny and the antiquity of habit established itself over the mind, that no beginning could be made in Asia, Africa, or Europe, to reform the political condition of man. . . . 
    But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks, -- and all it wants, -- is the liberty of appearing. The sun needs no inscription to distinguish him from darkness; and no sooner did the American governments display themselves to the world, than despotism felt a shock and man began to contemplate redress. 
    The independence of America, considered merely as a separation from England, would have been a matter but of little importance, had it not been accompanied by a revolution in the principles and practice of governments. She made a stand, not for herself only, but for the world, and looked beyond the advantages herself could receive. . . .  Its first settlers were emigrants from different European nations, and of diversified professions of religion, retiring from the governmental persecutions of the old world, and meeting in the new, not as enemies, but as brothers.  . . . 
    The revolutions which formerly took place in the world had nothing in them that interested the bulk of mankind. They extended only to a change of persons and measures, but not of principles, and rose or fell among the common transactions of the moment.  . . . Conquest and tyranny, at some earlier period, dispossessed man of his rights, and he is now recovering them. And as the tide of all human affairs has its ebb and flow in directions contrary to each other, so also is it in this. Government founded on a moral theory, on a system of universal peace, on the indefeasible hereditary Rights of Man, is now revolving from west to east by a stronger impulse than the government of the sword revolved from east to west. It interests not particular individuals, but nations in its progress, and promises a new era to the human race.

    That is, the USA was founded on globalist principles that are not merely global but universal. In this respect the United States, by being founded upon, and standing up for, specific consistently applicable philosophic principles is not only the globalist republic but the universalist republic. Consider that, despite the Constitution originally defying equality with its three-fifths-of-a-person rule, the Fifth Amendment nevertheless says,
    No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger;...nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use... [emphasis added].
    The Bill of Rights does not say "No citizen shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime...nor deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process..." It says no person.  We know that the U.S. Founding Fathers interpreted the Fifth Amendment as applying to non-citizen, non-slave foreigners, and not merely U.S. citizens, because Thomas Jefferson himself stated this.  The Alien Friends Act of 1798 was supposed to give the U.S. President sweeping powers to deport allegedly dangerous foreigners residing in the USA. Thomas Jefferson opposed that, saying:

    The imprisonment of a person under the protection of the laws of this commonwealth, on his failure to obey the simple order of the President to depart out of the United States, as is undertaken by said act intituled [entitled] "An Act concerning aliens" is contrary to the Constitution, one amendment to which has provided that "no person shalt be deprived of liberty without due process of law," and that another having provided that "in all criminal prosecutions the accused shall enjoy the right to public trial by an impartial jury, to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation, to be confronted with the witnesses against him, to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense," the same act, undertaking to authorize the President to remove a person out of the United States, who is under the protection of the law, on his own suspicion, without accusation, without jury, without public trial, without confrontation of the witnesses against him, without heating witnesses in his favor, without defense, without counsel, is contrary to the provision also of the Constitution, is therefore not law, but utterly void, and of no force.

    James Madison, father of the U.S. Constitution, explains that himself:
    If aliens had no rights under the Constitution, they might not only be banished, but even capitally punished, without a jury or the other incidents to a fair trial. But so far has a contrary principle been carried, in every part of the United States, that except on charges of treason, an alien has, besides all the common privileges, the special one of being tried by a jury, of which one-half may be also aliens. ... Alien friends [meaning foreigners from nations that the USA has not declared war against] except in the single case of public ministers, are under the municipal law, and must be tried and punished according to that law only.

    What this means is that, outside of the context of wartime -- as wartime requires extreme measures if war is to be ended -- the United States government is supposed to recognize the rights of everyone, regardless of whether they are citizens or not, consistent with the republic's appreciation for the universality of individual rights.

    The very notion of a government recognizing the universality of rights among all humans was unprecedented, and the absence of precedent is what prompted the Founders to describe their achievement with the phrase Novus Ordo Seclorum -- meaning "New Order of the Ages" and often mistranslated by conspiracy-theorist anti-globalists as "New World Order" (that would be Novus Ordo Seculorum).  Both the real translation and the mistranslation describe very well what the U.S. founding was in practice.  It set a new standard for the world to follow.

    To the degree that the USA lived up to its founding principles of reason and liberty, the USA grew mighty and exerted an influence on other powers that have, on the net balance, been a positive one.  Recognizing the salutary innovation in politics that the U.S. founding represented, Thomas Paine celebrated it as the most energizing and beneficent effort
    to begin the world over again. A situation, similar to the present, hath not happened since the days of Noah until now. The birthday of a new world is at hand, and a race of men, perhaps as numerous as all Europe contains [Thomas Paine is praising the American colonies as more diverse than any one European nation], are to receive their portion of freedom from the events of a few months.
    Paine found it splendid that there be a new nation started not as just another enclave for one ethnic group, but as republic based on "the rights of mankind" as a whole. He understood what Stefan Molyneux and Ted "Vox Day" Beale wish for everyone to forget.  The United States was never, nor will it ever be, a "white country"; the USA was founded for all men and women, white and any other race -- globally and universally.

    Thus, to the extent that globalism refers to the peaceable free movement of products and migrants and ideas across its borders, the United States was conceived as the globalist republic, the universal republic.  If peaceful and unfettered commerce and migration are globalism, then to be against globalism is to be against the republic and what it represents.  Anti-globalism is anti-Americanism.



    On January 28, 2017, the photograph with the library copy of Letters From an American Farmer was added.  The photo was taken on January 21, 2017. On January 24, 2017, I added the quotation from Thomas Paine about the USA breaking with the tradition of how nation-states were traditionally founded.  On February 12, 2017, I added the quotation from James Madison about how the legal presumption of innocence applies to U.S. citizens and resident aliens alike.  On March 9, 2017, I added the quotation from Thomas Jefferson citing and explaining the Fifth Amendment.