Monday, April 1, 2013

Initial Report on Debate

Okay, I won't spoil all the fun, but the debate went for two plus hours.

Some highlights:

Kinsella is clueless about Rothbard's view on IP.

It is clear that Kinsella didn't even read the paper he cites here. He couldn't tell me a damn thing that was in it.

I told him I had a formula dealing with getting a link on the Drudge page, yet he wouldn't grant me that this formula was scarce. I naturally, asked him what the formula was, which of course he didn't know. But still he wouldn't grant to me that it was scarce.

I was only able to cover about 5 points of the major problems in the views Kinsella has, so I will put together a booklet covering all 16 points, but rest assured that they are as damning as the ones I brought up in the debate.

All those following Kinsella and Tucker on their nutty IP views should listen to the interview closely and notice how he attempts to dance away when I have him cornered.

Hopefully, this starts to expose Kinsella-Tucker IP theory for what it is: Two glib guys talking out of their hat.

The booklet, should further bury the sloppy, poor thinking views of these two characters.

25 comments:

  1. So obviously you didn't get a chance to use all 5 scholars...mind sharing with us who they were? (unless of course, you did in the debate...but I'm guessing "no" if you only got 5 points in)

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    1. I used Murray Rothbard, Hans Hoppe, Ludwig von Mises and David Gordon.

      There was a neat way I was going to use Alan Greenspan, but I didn't get to it. It will be in the booklet.

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    2. Well, Hoppe agrees with Kinsella on IP.

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    3. Drat.

      But you know, speaking of Greenspan, it's funny how the people guessing socialists as jokes weren't too far off.

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    4. I use Hoppe against Kinsella. Kinsella quotes Hoppe when Hoppe references superabundance in contrast to scarcity. Most of Kinsella's arguments are about so-called non-scarcity but are also not superabundant. So why does Kinsella quote Hoppe on the superabundance point? He's either confused or wants to mislead.

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    5. So Kinsella quotes Hoppe when his arguments are about non-scarcity. I guess what you're trying to say is that the argument made in relation to superabundance cannot be applicable in the context of non-scarcity. Again, I wait for the text or recording.

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    6. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    7. Actually, I just realized that was closer to my alternate list. Oh well, 3 out of 5 ain't bad.

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  2. You seem to be equivocating on the word "scarce," using it in the popular sense, not the economic sense, but I'm certainly interested in checking out the full debate when it's posted!

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    1. Yes, that was my reaction as well. I'll be surprised if Kinsella allowed Wenzel to use 'scarce' in such a way, though, since it's such a crucial economic concept, and especially if they're using Rothbard, Hoppe, and others who would not misuse the concept in that way.
      The reason the formula for getting a Drudge headline is not scarce (in the economic sense) is that one person having the formula does not make it more difficult for anyone else who doesn't to obtain it. By contrast, if I hold a certain amount of gold (or any other physical object), then the amount of gold available for others to possess is diminished. But this is not simply a difference between limited and superabundant quantities. Mental ideas, like the Drudge formula, are actually anti-scarce in that, the more minds that have it, the easier it is generally for a mind that doesn't have the idea to get it. That's easy to see if the idea is a song; it's easy to learn the Happy Birthday song if you don't know it because hundreds of millions of other people know it, and you're likely to hear it just randomly several times a year.

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    2. "By contrast, if I hold a certain amount of gold (or any other physical object), then the amount of gold available for others to possess is diminished."

      Really? What if I include the universe? Is gold "scarce" then by your definition(a limit on those that can possess it)?

      "The reason the formula for getting a Drudge headline is not scarce (in the economic sense) is that one person having the formula does not make it more difficult for anyone else who doesn't to obtain it."

      I almost have to laugh...but there are many people that believe this.

      Let's review the definition of "scarcity" from wiki:

      "Physical goods are likely to remain inherently scarce by definition. Also some non-physical goods are likely to remain scarce by design, examples include positional goods[2] such as awards generated by honor systems, fame, and membership of elite social groups."

      Yea....keep trying to convince everyone that "scarce" is something other than scarce. When you can come up with the formula for landing a Drudge headline without "difficulty" let us know that too.



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    3. Nathan: "By contrast, if I hold a certain amount of gold (or any other physical object), then the amount of gold available for others to possess is diminished."

      Nick: “Really? What if I include the universe? Is gold "scarce" then by your definition(a limit on those that can possess it)?”

      Hi, Nick, thanks for the response.
      I take it you’re talking about when a good becomes superabundant vs. simply available? (If I’m misunderstanding your point, let me know.) The amount of an item is finite, whether we’re talking about what amount there is on Earth or what amount is in the universe as a whole. In economic terms, if something exists but no one can own it, then it doesn’t really exist in terms of describing economic activity. If 99% of the universe’s gold is on the other side of the nearest quasar, then that makes no difference to how much gold is worth in our markets or how willing someone may be to trade it for other things.

      My definition of scarcity is not directly about how many people can own it. With gold, for example, there are enough gold atoms on Earth that there is enough for everyone on Earth to have at least one gold atom in their possession. (Not saying this is realistically feasible, just that there’s no theoretical reason why everyone on Earth couldn’t own some gold.) But what happens when you accumulate more gold? At least someone, somewhere on Earth must now have less gold than they did before. It would be impossible for you to gain more gold and have no one else’s supply diminish at the same time. (Of course, after the fact, someone could dig up more gold, and gold is mined. But I’m talking about what happens at the instant of transaction when ownership is transferred.)

      Contrast that with learning the Happy Birthday song for the first time. You obtaining that idea does not in any way imply that at least someone else somewhere on Earth has now lost the idea. Your possession of that idea in your mind is unlike the possession of gold in a very fundamental way. Gold ownership is a zero-sum game; learning a new song is not.

      Nick: “Let's review the definition of "scarcity" from wiki:

      "Physical goods are likely to remain inherently scarce by definition. Also some non-physical goods are likely to remain scarce by design, examples include positional goods[2] such as awards generated by honor systems, fame, and membership of elite social groups."

      You can certainly create scarcity in positional goods, but there is a good reason for that, and it is not because ideas are inherently scarce. A positional good is not an idea so much as an opinion. It would not be possible to legitimately own anyone’s opinion any more than it would be legitimate to own a person’s body (i.e., slavery). Can you give me a specific example that you think is the best example of a positional good that would/could count as property?

      Nick: “Yea....keep trying to convince everyone that "scarce" is something other than scarce.”

      I would think you’d agree that economic terms often stray from conventional usage. Just because people think of ‘scarce’ as ‘rare’ doesn’t mean an economist has to. They should be careful with terminology, of course, but there’s a reason for technical jargon, too.

      Nick: “When you can come up with the formula for landing a Drudge headline without "difficulty" let us know that too.”

      My point is that the difficulty of coming up with it is not made more so by Wenzel having come up with it already. Imagine two worlds, that are identical except for one thing: World A, in which Wenzel has not come up with the idea yet; and World B, in which Wenzel has come up with the idea but refuses to say anything about it to anyone and keeps it entirely in his own head. How can you show that it is more difficult for me to come up with the idea in World B than in World A?

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  3. I wait to hear the debate before formulating any view as to who came out on top.

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  4. the so called 'drudge' formula is not even an economic good available for consumption as long as it is in your head.the moment you reveal it is out there in the world,it is not scarce anymore.
    if this debate was based not on first principles,but on appeals to authorities or what rothbard or mises said,it was an opportunity wasted

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    1. Which, if the anti-IP crowd got their way, is why information would be pushed underground.

      I once needed to engineer a solution to get around the weaknesses in a standard BIOS bootstrap (I'm being intentionally vague here). In a couple of hours of working with one of my engineers I had a plan that seemed pretty solid. When we actually went to implement the plan, it turned out there were LOTS of problems from timing issues to fitting hardware within the chassis, etc. About 3 weeks and $15,000-$20,000 of engineers' salaries later, we had it working. The basic plan was intact, but the implementation was much more difficult than I'd imagined.

      For me, the cost of implementing the solution was very significant. However, once the solution is in place, it could be copied for almost nothing just by looking at the hardware in the box. I wasn't interested in the expense of patenting the solution, so, I had my employees remove all the labeling for the hardware within the box (if you don't know what the items are named, they are very difficult to find via Google), and I told them outright that I would fire anyone who leaked what we were doing to the outside world. In other words, I pushed the information underground.

      I strongly suspect that's what would happen in the absence of copyright. I also believe a lot of IP creators would stop creating IP if there were no way to protect it.

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    2. What I think you'll discover is that the people most against IP don't actually produce any themselves. It's just peachy by them to steal the fruits of other people's labor.

      But suppose that our thoughts are just so much information. The same arguments they use to justify stealing someone's IP can also be used to justify stealing a person's most intimate thoughts. Should anyone have exclusive use of their thoughts? Why should their thoughts be kept private when they aren't by definition property? Thoughts have no value because maybe they can be reproduced...

      Suppose I have technology that will read their mind, discover their most intimate thoughts, and copy them. Shouldn't I be able to broadcast them or use them as I choose? After all, as they claim, no one should be able to own information. I suspect they would find a way to draw the line when the issue of IP hits much closer to home.

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    3. So... you weren't paid for your time in developing the solution?

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  5. I can't wait to find out on what you believe IP should look like. I get Kinsella, he is against IP. I don't get yours yet, hopefully you lay out what you believe the correct view is. I'm sure it's not the other extreme, i.e. everything is IP and IP lasts forever.

    Hopefully the debate was substantive and productive, I will be disappointed if much time is wasted on silly attacks.

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  6. I am the only person to hold X idea; therefore the idea is scarce; therefore I may now use force to keep others from using X idea with their own property.

    Even if it was true that one person holding an idea rendered the idea "scarce" in the economic sense (it does not), the following conclusion is a non sequitur.

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    1. The whole notion that IP is just about protecting an "idea" is reductio ad absurdum.

      IP is created as a product of labor and resources meeting the Lockean definition of property. IP (like a movie or software) can involve 1000's of manhours and millions of dollars at-risk.

      And people like Kinsella, Tucker and Moly would say it's OK for a teenager to rip a 1000 copies of a video game, for instance, in a day and sell it. Really? This is a gross injustice. IP producers should be justly compensated for the value they create.

      What Kinsella fails to understand or acknowledge is that all property is just an abstraction. The whole purpose of giving the concept legal substance is to make for a more civil and just society. But property can be whatever we want it to be in a society. Humans used to be property until people realized it was wrong.

      What Kinsella proposes is to enslave everyone's mind by making it the property of everyone and no one. With respect to IP, Kinsella is a collectivist.

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  7. Don't know if Wenzel made this point since I stopped listening 40 mins in (too much arguing, not enough argument) but if you are against IP, you must also be against self-ownership.

    Self-ownership is the principle that you own You. And You is the information contained in your brain (like your ideas!). If you are against IP, then you should have no problem with anyone reading your thoughts or even changing them without your consent since you believe information can't be owned.

    What will you argue when the technology emerges that will allow someone to read, copy and even alter your thoughts? That somehow that's different? A special exception to your anti-IP position?

    So if you are anti-IP and therefore against self-ownership, I don't see how you can also be a libertarian or anarchist.

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    1. If you were able to remotely read my ideas/thoughts/memories and could do it without modifying them, needing to plug something into my skull or make any other type of physical invasion, I'm cool with it.

      This is pure sci-fi fantasy though. Google an article titled "MIT discovers the location of memories: Individual neurons" which says in part:

      "The main significance here is that we finally have proof that memories (engrams, in neuropsychology speak) are physical rather than conceptual."

      The brain is very similar to a hard disk in this sense. Anti-IP libertarians can argue that computer hacking is a rights violation and still be anti-IP. A hacker will have to change the configuration of magnetic 1's and 0's on a scarce thing, the memory, hard disk or whatever.

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    2. You may be cool with just anyone being able to gain access to every memory, every intimate thought, every bank account number, etc. but I suspect 99.99% of people aren't.

      And to say that scanning the brain is pure sci-fi I don't agree with either. You just pointed out that memories are "physical rather than conceptual" meaning they are reproducible. It's coming - not if but when.

      And to copy information from a harddrive doesn't require changing the harddrive.

      Do you have a rational argument to make here or are you just going to pull a "Kinsella"?

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    3. 99.99% of people would call you a madman if you told them you thought that science was on the verge of being able to remotely view, copy and interpret your thoughts. I don't need to try to use an argumentum ad populem like you though.

      Tell me how you are going to access MY hard drive right now without modifying it or some other piece of hardware along the line to my hardware. You have no clue who or where I am, and I am not giving you physical access to my hard drive.

      It would be a lot easier for science to "read my thoughts" if I agreed to be part of a study, let them stick stuff in my head or whatever. I'm talking about somebody being able to read my thoughts without doing anything invasive. That includes stuff like shooting beams of particles at me which disrupt how my neurons are operating.

      At best, you need to hope that my brain is emitting something you can interpret. Science isn't even close to being able to interpret what is going on with invasive methods. So good luck with hanging your whole theory on this fantasy and how, if it were even possible, it would make the alternative, anti-IP theory unpalatable as if that is some sort of proof.

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    4. >> 99.99% of people would call you a madman if you told them you thought that science was on the verge...

      You argue like Kinsella. If you can't respond to the point, change the subject.

      YOUR point was that if anyone could read your mind and copy your thoughts, you didn't care if they did. MY point was that 99.99% (or really 99.99999%) of people WOULD care whether the tech exists currently or not.

      To say that it never will is nonsense. Even today tech exists to read brain wave patterns and interpret them. Don't tell me it won't be possible one day.

      Regarding the hard drive, the point again is not whether I can *gain* access to it, but whether I can copy it without modifying it. If I can gain access, then yes I can copy it without you ever knowing I did. There is no reason the bits can't be duplicated without changing them. Thus in principle based on Kinsella's odd definition of property, the bits on your hard drive are not property.

      Having access to something is not the same as having the ability to copy it. The argument Kinsella makes is that ANY thing that is not scarce is not property (in contradiction to Locke).

      Thus your thoughts no longer become your property if and when the time comes they can be copied based per Kinsella's argument. Which is why his argument is idiotic. Period. Now knock yourself out by changing the subject and attacking it...

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