Adam Liptak and Richard Epstein discuss the most efficient way to rob people.
After listening to Epstein run his ivory tower mouth, my fury over his nonsensical bullshit hath runneth over. A video reading of the following article can be found here for those of you that don’t have the patience to read long text articles.
Epstein admits that, “There is no coercive action by government which will have the same beneficent effects of voluntary transactions in competitive markets,” yet flushes his own statement down the toilet when he adds, ”but you can’t get competitive markets with respect to the provision of public goods and you can’t get competitive markets with respect to the operation of network industries.”
Epstein never bothers to explain why “public goods” are of such necessary importance that VIOLENCE against PEACEFUL PEOPLE should be advocated in order to pay for them.
Epstein lists off a few so-called libertarian economists that support the initiation of violence against the innocent to pay for public goods, including Locke and Hayek, but he never bothers to mention the rest of the libertarian economics field, the majority of which disagree with the legitimization of the initiation of violence.
Let’s start off with the parable of the robber by Rothbard to demonstrate why any violent theft can not lead to a more productive society. The following citations all come from the essay The Myth of Neutral Taxation, by Murray Rothbard:
238. Lew Rockwell Attacked By a Parasite, LewRockwell.com Podcasts, Dec. 2, 2011 (“Ron Smith talks to Lew Rockwell until a federal employee intervenes”. In the podcast, Lew quotes a great line from a recent Gary North column: “Europe’s game of kick the can will continue. The best summary of the outcome was made by a Spanish government worker on Sunday, November 20, the day of national elections. The socialists were thrown out of office. He said this: ‘We can choose the sauce they will cook us in, but we’re still going to be cooked.’”).
Land Registry: Land Certificate, from A Short History of Land Registration in England and Wales
Opponents of intellectual property often point out that modern patent and copyright are purely legislated, artificial schemes. For anarcho-libertarians and libertarians opposed to legislation as a means of forming law, this is yet another stake in the heart of IP. (See my post The Mountain of IP Legislation, and my article “Legislation and Law in a Free Society.”)
So it’s not surprising that one retort of the IPers is to argue that patent- and copyright-like rights “could” evolve in common law courts. Even though they didn’t; even though the idea of statutorily enacted schemes arising from judicial decisions is more than implausible: it’s ridiculous. Some of them simply posit that there could be private “title” offices in a free society akin to real property title records in use today: you just go down and “register” your “idea”; later, when you sue an “infringer” of “your” idea in court, you can prove you “own” it by introducing evidence from the IP title records office. For example, in a recent Mises blog threat, someone suggested there might be some private invention title office (my reply). And the anarcho-libertarian Tannehills, in their classic The Market for Liberty, argue (pp. 58-59):
Ideas in the form of inventions could also be claimed by registering all details of the invention in a privately owned “data bank.” Of course, the more specific an inventor was about the details of his invention, the thought processes he followed while working on it, and the ideas on which he built, the more firmly established his claim would be and the less would be the likelihood of someone else squeezing him out with a fake claim based on stolen data. The inventor, having registered his invention to establish his ownership of the idea(s), could then buy insurance (from either the data bank firm or an independent insurance company) against the theft and unauthorized commercial use of his invention by any other person. The insurance company would guarantee to stop the unauthorized commercial use of the invention and to fully compensate the inventor for any losses so incurred. Such insurance policies could be bought to cover varying periods of time, with the longer-term policies more expensive than the shorter-term ones. Policies covering an indefinitely long time-period (“from now on”) probably wouldn’t be economically feasible, but there might well be clauses allowing the inventor to re-insure his idea at the end of the life of his policy.
One problem with the Tannehills’ reasoning was the question-begging assumption that it’s “theft” to use an idea if it’s “unauthorized”; this presupposes there is property in information. [Keep reading…]
Right on cue, the vigilant bureaucrats at Protect-You-From-Yourself-Central, A.K.A., New York City, have launched a volley for concerned tax-feeder busybodies everywhere. Writes LRC Blog reader, James Nellis:
The linked piece is chock-full of statist brilliance, and I don’t want to spoil it for you, but here is the bottom line. Folks in NYC who smoke have found a way to circumvent the gargantuan taxes levied against packaged cigarettes, by rolling their own. Smoke shops in NYC enable this circumventing by providing their customers with automatic cigarette rolling machines. (Gawd, I love free enterprise.)
Keynesian economic policy is a negative-sum game: They essentially believe that you can take water from the deep end of the swimming pool with a bucket, carry it to the shallow end while sloshing water out onto the deck along the way, dump it back in, and somehow the water level of the swimming pool will rise.