Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Next Meeting - Thursday 12/03/09

Our next meeting is scheduled for:
Thursday December 03, 2009
5:30 to 8:00 pm

Panera Bread
28551 Schoolcraft Road
Livonia, Michigan
Discussing chapter 6, 7, & 8 of Henry Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson, the questions on the corresponding study guide, and a Scott Horton's interview TBD. If time permits, maybe we'll discuss Vedad Krehic's "Modern Day Protectionism" and NewEdit's response.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Adjusted Monetary Base

FRED Graph

Yesterday RM noted that the monetary base is on a skyward trajectory once again, as the chart above shows (http://sn.im/tcd4t). The official reason being to boost the economy. RM's question was if all they have to do is print money to boost the economy, why was TARP needed a year ago. We agreed that it is all smoke & mirrors. This does not look good for the economy.

Another Prediction

At yesterday's meeting, Xorp predicted that Gold will drop in price during January. Somewhat of a broad prediction, but I'm still immortalizing his words here. Other than mentioning price manipulation by the IMF, he didn't divulge much of the reasoning behind the prediction.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Next Meeting: Thursday November 19, 2009

Our next meeting is scheduled for:
Thursday November 19, 2009
5:30 to 8:00 pm

Panera Bread
28551 Schoolcraft Road
Livonia, Michigan
Discussing chapters 4 & 5 of Henry Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson and the questions on the corresponding study guide as well as Scott Horton's interview of Tim Wise.

Scott Horton Interviews Tim Wise
October 23, 2009

Tim Wise, director of the movie Soldiers of Peace, discusses the worldwide outbreak of peace (really!), reconciliation of Christians and Muslims in Nigeria, ending the vicious cycle of tribal retribution, ranking the benevolence of nations with a Global Peace Index and how free trade and open communication decrease the likelihood of war.

MP3 here. (30:05)

Tim Wise is the director of the documentary movie Soldiers of Peace. Tim has freelanced for all the major news networks around the world focusing on ‘Hard Access’ news stories. From his base in London, where he lived for 10 years, Tim worked on a wide range of assignments for such networks as BBC TV, CH4 News, SABC South Africa, EOTV Holland, NHK Hong Kong, ABC Australia ‘Foreign Correspondent’ & ‘Four Corners”, WTN London, DRTV Denmark, Focus Germany, RTL and ZDF Germany.

During this time, Tim traveled to some of the most dangerous countries in the world including Iraq, Bosnia, Northern Sri-Lanka, East Timor, Liberia, Colombia, Southern Sudan, Burma and East India. He also did a series of filming stints working undercover from China, Kurdistan, Burma and Sri-Lanka.

In 2003 Tim was involved in the making of the international award-winning documentary ‘Child Soldiers’ for ABC TV Australia where he spent 2 weeks living with one of the child soldier units of the SPLA rebels of Southern Sudan. In Assam in East India Tim gained unprecedented access to the ULFA rebels, the first western journalist to ever do so in the 18 years that ULFA had been in existence. Tim was smuggled into their secret bases inside Bhutan and went out on operations with the rebels as they fought with the Indian Army. He was also smuggled inside Burma with the ABSDF student rebels while making an ABC Four Corners report.

Tim has also freelanced for the Award winning SBS TV show ‘Dateline’ where he reported from Northern Uganda covering the LRA rebels – The Lord’s Resistance Army of Joseph Kony, that has abducted over 30,000 children and forced boys as young as 10 into becoming child soldiers and girls to become porters, cooks and sex slaves for the top LRA commanders.

Tim is now the CEO of the documentary production company One Tree Films, which was established in 2006 with founder Steve Killelea. The core aims is to produce world-class documentaries focusing on social issues. Soldiers of Peace is their first film together.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Arguments against arguments against intellectual property

The recent article "Modern Day Protectionism" by Vedad Krehic speaks against patents and copyrights. As a group we previously talked about IP and seemed to agree that patents are unjustified. I still strongly favor copyrights*, though, and would like to present some brief responses to the arguments against IP. These aren't fully developed, but perhaps we could address this issue again at a future meeting if others are interested in the subject.

*By copyright I do not mean that a government agency would enforce copyrights. I mean that the artist has a natural right and rule over his IP.
Also, I am not interested in the utilitarian/"practical" argument that copyrights limit creative output, since that assertion is secondary to the moral argument.

1. The author indicates that taking a jacket without paying for it would be theft. However, he says that copying a CD of music is not theft, because the original CD still exists and still belongs to its owner. But this does not make sense to me, because a new copy of the property has been introduced:
Each jacket can only be worn and enjoyed by one person at one time. A jacket owner may sell his copy of the jacket, but then he can no longer wear that copy. Similarly, an individual could rightfully sell his copy of the CD, but then he would no longer be able to enjoy that CD. Now, if two people want the jacket, then the second person has to buy a copy of the jacket and pay its creator. The creator has now been paid to make two copies of the jacket. So if a second person wants to enjoy the CD, then the creator of the CD should get paid for two copies of that CD.
The author says, "If I walk into a store and leave with a jacket for which I have not paid then I have deprived the store's owner of his or her justly acquired, tangible property. They have one less jacket. They are directly harmed by my action."
Likewise, if you copy a CD, the creator has been deprived of one less copy to sell. Someone is getting value from the creator's work without paying the creator. The creator is directly harmed.

1a. Copying art seems to me to be like inflation of the money supply. Only one copy really exists for which the creator has been paid (only one ounce of gold really exists), but we proceed as though all the copies of that value have been accounted for (as though each federal reserve note actually represents something).
The author says, "The original CD is still my friend's property. I return it to him, and while he is no better or worse off than he was before, I am now better off." This sounds exactly like fractional reserve banking: you still have your original dollar, but now I have an extra dollar, too! Well, no, you don't. You've created false "value" out of nothing and proceeded as though no-one is harmed.

2. Those against copyrights often focus on tangible property. They seem to suggest that the value of the CD is in tangible property of the CD itself. But the value is in the sounds of the music. Note that no-one pays a premium for blank CDs or for books that say "alsjksl;jdfasklfjsak." Rather, what they are paying for is the music or the particular arrangement of words and ideas in the book. Many libertarians seem to not acknowledge that property other than physical property is a valid concept.

3. Many libertarians say that it is admissible to make private contracts about not copying art, but that that contract can't extend to a third party. For example, the author says, "It is possible that I could, for example, have made an agreement or contract with [my friend] when I borrowed the disc stating that I cannot copy it. If I were to do it anyway, I'd be in violation of a private agreement."
I see a discrepancy here. Either non-tangible things (music, text) can be property or they cannot. If they can be property, property rights apply. If they cannot be property-- as libertarians often seem to suggest when they focus on the physical plastic CD rather than on the music-- then this concession about private contracts doesn't hold because there would be no real property about which to make a contract. It would be an invalid contract because there would be no real property. So which is it? Either IP is property and is subjected to property rights (as I assert), or IP is not property and therefore you can't make private contracts about something that doesn't exist.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The next meeting is scheduled for:
Thursday November 12, 2009
5:30 to 8:00 pm

Panera Bread
28551 Schoolcraft Road
Livonia, Michigan
Discussing chapters 1-3 of Henry Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson and the questions on the corresponding study guide.

For the current podcast, we'll be discussing Jack Spirko's Survival Podcast #305 - You Can't Lose as a Modern Survivalist and Survival Blog's related article, Preparing for Uncertain Times--A Simple Guide to Getting Ready.

A big reason for picking podcast 305 is that I don't agree with a lot of Spirko's points and I totally disagree with Preparing for Uncertain Times. Maybe someone will be able to change my mind. While I find disagreement with much in podcast 305 and I agree with some of the assessments that Spirko's podcasts aren't very indepth, I think they are worthwhile. He's not a doomsayer claiming the end of the world is at hand and he seems to be implementing a decent version of the Alpha Strategy. Points in the podcast I disagree with include:
  • You can't be free if you have any debt
  • Credit cards are evil
  • Storing food always pays for itself
  • Survivalism creates a better life even if you never need to implement any of it
  • The bank owns your home if you have a mortgage (and related to this is the etymology of mortgage as "death grip"; the actual etymology is dead pledge)

icon for podpress Episode-305- You Can't Loose by as a Modern Survivalist: Hide Player | Play in Popup | Download

The number one question I get from non preparedness minded individuals when I tell them about The Survival Podcast is simply, why?

Why takes many forms such as…

  • Why do you worry about so many things you can’t control?
  • Why do I need to do anything different then I am doing now, I got this far OK, right?
  • Why should I spend money on things I may never need or even use?
  • Why should I sacrifice just to be “debt free” because “you’re no one unless you own money in the nation anyway”?
  • Why should I store food?
  • Why do I need a gun, we have a nice town and a great police force?
  • Why do you feel the need to be an alarmist?

Oh and that list of why’s goes on and on, I assure you. Yet I always answer every single why with the same answer, “because the way I do things my life is better even if nothing bad ever happens”.

Tune in today as we discuss this concept and thoughts on how…

  • Living debt free is the only way to have the freedom we all desire
  • Why most people tolerate things in their life they should never allow
  • Why tax is theft and why understanding it creates freedom
  • Why no matter what people say you do need to prepare for bad times
  • How the media and the government create plastic lifestyles that we choose to live within
  • Why storing food will always pay itself back even if you never have to rely on it directly
  • Why a garden is liberating and a financial gain
  • Why so many people that start to prep fail and fall out and how to change that