English libertarian Sean Gabb, Director of the Libertarian Alliance, has just published an excellent book review of Ian Milne’s Time to Say No: Alternatives to EU Membership. It’s appended below.
This little review is chock full of great insights. He explains that the EU, while it does not really infringe UK sovereignty–”this country is governed from London, and by our own ruling class–has “help[ed] make the exercise of power by this ruling class less accountable.” He gives the example of metrification foisted on the country in 1995. Gabb points out that the British Government ignores other EU directives when it wants to (Gabb gives examples). But when it enacts a law based on an EU directive, it provides cover for the politicians who can just point to the EU and blame it on them. This allows special interest groups like the big four supermarkets to lobby the state to pass laws that harm smaller competitors, and the politicians to be absolved of blame by pointing to the EU Directive they “have” to enact (even though the ignore others). The larger grocery stores can afford the expense of retraining but hobble smaller grocery stores.
This is yet another example of how big businesses are actually in support of supposedly “anti-business” regulations since it helps to protect them from competition. Rothbard has pointed this out many times as I note in this post.
By the way, I recommend Gabb’s novel The Churchill Memorandum and also his excellent Literary Essays, both linked at his site. About the latter book I wrote the following for a back cover blurb: “Libertarians have sound ideas but are not always great writers, and are not usually authorities on literature and literary matters. Rarer still is the literary essayist who is not confused or ignorant about politics and economics. It is thus refreshing to encounter Sean Gabb’s literary writing. A long-time libertarian activist and writer who is also a superb novelist and literary essayist, an honest and clear writer, he is our modern libertarian man of letters. This splendid and sparkling collection of essays provides fascinating insights into literature and other literary topics, without the typical leftist baggage and economic illiteracy.”) [Keep reading…]
The next time someone claims that not having intellectual property laws will squash the little guy and let established companies rule the day, I’m going to remember to bring up Netflix. Mike Masnick at Techdirt reports on Blockbuster’s recent decision to file for bankruptcy — after the heroic Netflix has stolen most of their customers:
Late last week, there were a ton of press reports about how Blockbuster was preparing to declare Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September. It’s not shutting down, but just trying to restructure its debt, get out from under a bunch of store leases and try, try again. That said, this is yet another example of the fallacy of the claim of many that if you have a good idea some big company will just come along, copy it, and be successful. It also demonstrates the huge difference between idea and execution.
Netflix had a good idea and executed well on it. But for years everyone thought it was only a matter of time until the company got destroyed, because all these bigger (at the time) companies were just going to copy Netflix and win. First it was Wal-Mart. The retail giant started a service that seemed almost identical to Netflix way back in 2002. Everyone thought there was no way an upstart like Netflix could compete with the likes of Wal-Mart. Fast forward two and a half years and Netflix took over Wal-Mart’s online DVD rental business, because Wal-Mart’s offering couldn’t compete. …
And, of course, there was Blockbuster. It came out with a Netflix-like offer around the same time that Wal-Mart did, and while it held on for much longer, it was just never able to build up the same sort of userbase that Netflix did, and now the company is going to declare bankruptcy and try to restructure once again.
More at the link. It just goes to show that when you give people a little liberty, you never know what someone will come up with. A giant like Blockbuster or even WalMart can spend as much money as they’d like trying to copy an innovative, well-executed idea, but at the end of the day, the one who best pleases consumers will rule.