When looking at a recent Ron Paul video on the TSA goings on, someone
mentioned "S510" making it illegal to give away food from your garden. I
found that hard to believe, so I looked around on it.
One example article:
"ï¿½If accepted [S 510] would preclude the publicï¿½s right to grow, own,
trade, transport, share, feed and eat each and every food that nature
makes. It will become the most offensive authority against the
cultivation, trade and consumption of food and agricultural products of
oneï¿½s choice. It will be unconstitutional and contrary to natural law
or, if you like, the will of God.ï¿½ ~Dr. Shiv Chopra, Canada Health
It is similar to what India faced with imposition of the salt tax
during British rule, only S 510 extends control over all food in the US,
violating the fundamental human right to food.
Monsanto says it has no interest in the bill and would not benefit
from it, but Monsantoï¿½s Michael Taylor who gave us rBGH and unregulated
genetically modified (GM) organisms, appears to have designed it and is
waiting as an appointed Food Czar to the FDA (a position unapproved by
Congress) to administer the agency it would create ï¿½ without judicial
review ï¿½ if it passes. S 510 would give Monsanto unlimited power over
all US seed, food supplements, food and farming."
There are some interesting comments here arguing a title like this is
"Senate Bill S510 Makes it illegal to Grow, Share, Trade or Sell
Basically a core part of the issues seems to be labeling seeds as "food"
and requiring them to be handled with more expensive new equipment.
But that did lead me to information about "Iraq Order 81":
"Following on the heels of Earth Day (April 22) comes International Seed
Day (April 26). But there is no doubt that it will not be celebrated in
the United States and many countries in Europe. Neither will this be
endorsed by the United Nations or Food and Agricultural Organisation.
The reason is obvious; it is launched by common people, especially by
the ordinary farmers in Iraq who lost the sovereignty not only of their
country, but of their seeds. It was on April 26, 2004 that Order 81 was
passed by the Coalition Authority prohibiting Iraqi farmers from using
their own seeds and forcing them to buy seeds from multinational seed
corporations from the US and Europe."
Again, that seems a little exaggerated. Order 81 seems to only set up
the mechanism to do that if someone registers a variety as something
that they claim ownership of.
As the article says later: "What does the Order 81 say? It says that the
farmers shall be prohibited from re-using seeds of protected varieties
or any variety. The terminology might sound funny, but the intention is
clear, according to the Order the genetically altered seeds are called
ï¿½protected varietyï¿½ and the unregistered or local seeds are referred to
as ï¿½infringing varietyï¿½! The new order gives corporations complete
control over farmersï¿½ seeds. Iraqi farmers have to sign an agreement to
pay a ï¿½technology feeï¿½ plus an annual license fee. Plant Variety
Protection (PVP) made seed saving and reusing illegal as well as
ï¿½similarï¿½ seed plantings punishable by severe fines and imprisonment."
I'm a little unclear on how far that has actually gone. What has been
registered? I don't know.
So many assaults on the public domain are going on, it's hard to keep
track of them all.
A bit related, but we have a lot of what we thought were nice toys, but
we can't give them to local thrift shops because new rules require
anyone selling toys to certify they are free of various substances (and
they can't do the paperwork). You can still give them away it seems though.
Anyway, what is interesting here, from an open manufacturing
perspective, and ignoring that food manufacturing is probably some of
the most important manufacturing in the world, is that whatever laws and
approaches are being put in place to control self-replicating systems in
agriculture could also be put in place to control self-replicating
RepRap 3D printers or whatever else.
Here is a disturbing sort of video about a dramatization of a
hypothetical situation of people in the USA being rounded up at gunpoint
from their subway cars and homes and forced into boxcars and pickup trucks:
"MTV: The Holocaust Happened to People Like Us"
Oh, I see that video copy has been taken down with a notice: "This video
is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Viacom International
Which is a little ironic in a way given I was just about to make the
point that copyright can be used to make criminals of just about everyone.
Ah, another link to a different version (probably soon to go down too?):
People argue in the comments there that this cannot happen to an armed
population, but that ignores police robots, the slow boiling effect like
in WWII Germany, and the hope that things will always get better
eventually through legal means.
So, as I like to ask people I know who have guns and raise this point
about how guns supposedly defend democracy, if you got a polite letter
in the mail asking you to report to the police station or an IRS office
about some legal issue (like growing your own food with saved seeds) or
otherwise police would show up to arrest you and it would go worse,
would you not show up on time? And, if you got such a letter and ignored
it, and five armed police showed up at your door with an arrest warrant
for you, would you really start shooting, or ask your kid to start
shooting, or would you go with them and hope things would get
straightened out eventually? The answer is always a kind of awkward
Japanese interment during WWII was essentially done that way. Laws were
passed. People were rounded up. We have about a million people in prison
in the USA just for trying to escape this messed up culture with drugs
(but such escape has been made illegal). Guns don't really do much in
that sense, IMHO. In fact, they just become justifications for even more
repression. Of course, at some point the military and police might rebel
(doubtful, considering Saddam had a police/military that gassed the
Kurds with weapons technology the USA sold him for that purpose), but,
not being cowards, the US military and police probably won't rebell just
because they are shot at while doing their assigned duties like
enforcing the "seed laws" (whether in Iraq or the USA). Being shot at is
only going to toughen their resolve, if anything.
Gandhi knew that. So he did things differently:
"Gandhi Salt March"
While I had not know about S510 and Iraq Order 81 (although I may have
heard of some of that and forgotten), the part in this video parable I
made about people not being able to grow their own food (mostly just
from general concerns on copyright and patent expansion) is sounding
more and more likely:
"The Richest Man in the World: A parable about structural
unemployment and a basic income "
I guess we all need to be good examples to show another world is
And by being a good example we can try to avoid the future of "A for
Anything". (P.M. Lawrence mentioned that book recently, thanks; I'd
heard of it in passing before but not read it.)
From a review:
"This book explores the societal implications of free, pervasive,
lossless duplication of matter. In short, author Knight proposes that
human nature cannot handle such a technology in a responsible manner;
instead the world plunges into anarchy, from which emerges a feudal
society based around the slavery of expendible, replicated humans. Today
legislatures, corporations, and consumers alike are faced with the
decision of how to deal with the issue of free, pervasive, lossless
duplication of "intellectual property". The analogy is not perfect, but
"A for Anything" provides a very useful viewpoint to help you make a
decision about the issue."
"It's a great premise, but unfortunately Damon Knight was more
interested in the long term effects than he was in that initial power
struggle. Most of the book is dedicated to the coming-of-age journey of
Dick Jones, the son of a Gizmo "Man" who grew up on what feels eerily
like a southern plantation. He's sent off to Colorado as a latter day
foster child, presumably to learn the paths of power. "
But we have other options -- a gift economy, a basic income to ration
land or other things not yet really cheap or motivate those who need
motivating, people just owning 3D printers for themselves
("Distributivism"), and democratic resource-based planning for
infrastructure and accounting for externalities, like I mention here:
So, if we as a society pick more feudalism and more slavery even with
RepRap and ShopBot and Fab@Home and MakerBot and CNC mills and so on,
it's not because there were no other options. We would have just made a
choice at our current level of social development relative to our
current technical possibilities. Related:
"Getting to 100 social-technical points (was Re: a Change)"
The fact is, one of the reasons the world is so abundant now is
thousands of years of cultivation and breeding of ever better
self-replicating systems like corn, dogs, and trees. We already are
living well based on self-replicating artifacts.
As I mentioned here:
"Self-replicating technical artifacts such as dogs, corn, and trees have
been in use by humanity for thousands of years. While humans cannot lay
credit to the original creation of such systems, they can claim the
adaptation and selective breeding of these for defense, food, and
In the past few millennia, many people have become dependent on
technology that is not self-replicating. Primarily this technology
involves fairly pure forms of metals, plastics, and crystals. These
technologies have expanded the earth's human carrying capacity in the
short term, but are not sustainable in the long term. Such technologies
lack the closed resource cycles, independent operation, redundancy, and
resiliency found in natural systems. A symptom of the use of such
non-sustainable systems is the fear that a single problem (like Y2K)
could cause a major disruption of life-support infrastructure in the
So, self-replicating technical systems will just bring that situation
back in balance. :-)
Anyway, to get back to the title of this post, what has been happening
for the past couple of decades is an attempt to control the
self-replicating systems we do have (seeds and genes). So, anything
about that connects with open manufacturing of other things, too, at the
very least as an example. It is likely the same sorts of politics and
reasoning would be used. The same ironies. The same denial of abundance
or the potential for abundance. The same burning up of abundance by
turning most people into "guards".
I was just looking at homeschooling stuff, and seeing this stuff funded
by the US Department of Education (tax dollars!) turned into a for
profit venture which uses artificial scarcity to extract money:
"You have reached this web page because the Eisenhower National
Clearinghouse (ENC) is no longer funded by the U.S. Department of
Education and has discontinued operations as of September 29, 2005. ENC
materials are still available from our new web site, goENC.com.
goENC.com is a subscription service that continues to offer the same
timely, high-quality math and science resources you've come to expect
from ENC. "
So, those tax funded easily copied resources for educating people are
kept artificially scarce.
A free alternative:
And even though this site with 450 interactive educational simulations
has a paid registration, it seems like a private venture and it allows
some free use:
Although it's still pretty nutty that with the hundreds of billions of
US dollars poured into K-12 and college education every year, we can't
have that for free-to-the-user. It otherwise looks pretty nice. It was
what my wife and I aspired to do seventeen years ago:
"Need being met, target audience, and plan to reach audience:
Tools for open-ended science exploration improve scientific literacy."
I'm both excited and heart-broken to see that site. :-)
Instead, for financial reasons, we had to abandon that dream and become
for an insurance company (helping them deny health insurance policies to
people) and then at IBM Research (helping lock up ideas from general use).
Although, now that I think of it, human slavery was also the ultimate in
self-replicating "machines", too, even as we as a global society
eventually decided that was immoral (though defacto wage slavery was
still OK -- work for someone who has enclosed the land or suffer without
We may face the same moral problem soon with smarter and smarter robots,
until eventually robot rights may be an issue:
But human slavery has gone on for a long time (and, sadly, still is
going on, even of the chattel variety). So, we still have a ways to go
as a society.
This claims 27 million people are enslaved on Earth today:
And that's not "wage slaves" (which is a third of us that are not
otherwise retired or children or rich?), that's chattel slaves.
So, maybe Damon Knight will be right and we will be doomed to disaster
by self-replicating 3D printers, used from a scarcity perspective. I
hope not. But, I can agree that is a real possibility. We still have
human slaves. We have ironic nuclear weapons to fight over oil. And we
have laws against saving seeds and sharing music. We have ACTA in the
wings against "counterfeiting".
I guess we can be glad such a phase of using the tools of abundance to
create artificial scarcity won't last long (in terms of euthanasia) with
anti-matter bombs on the way? :-(
"Antimatter Trapped For the First Time"
"99 red ballons - Nena"
Or maybe black hole bombs someday?
If ten years ago teens could make computer viruses at home, and if in
twenty years or so, bullied and alienated teenagers will be able to make
plagues in their garages, then what are we going to do when, perhaps, in
a hundred years teens can make black holes in their basements? We need a
new vision of society, or the people will persish.
And something maybe a bit more optimistic than implied by the name
"Lifeboat Foundation": :-)
"The release of atom power has changed everything except our way of
thinking...the solution to this problem lies in the heart of mankind. If
only I had known, I should have become a watchmaker. (Albert Einstein)"
But its not just nukes etc anymore. I'm sure the Lifeboat Foundation has
a big catalog by now. I put one here a decade ago:
Now it's drone wars and lots of other pointless scarcity-fear-induced
"China's New Drones Raise Eyebrows"
I guess what may have been sanity once can become insanity later when
the environment changes...
But it's likely that most war was always ultimately pointless anyway (or
a racket just for a few, like Smedley Butler says).
So war is a racket. Terminator seeds and Iraq Order 81 are a racket.
More and more of society is a "racket":
Well, at least people here are working on something a lot better.
We can pat ourselves on the back for that. :-)
And then get back to work. :-)
The biggest challenge of the 21st century is the irony of technologies
of abundance in the hands of those thinking in terms of scarcity.
There is a small battle going to add an ammendment that would provide exemptions to groups who make less than 500,000. So all is not lost.
On Nov 19, 2010 8:34 PM, "Paul D. Fernhout" <pdfer...@kurtz-fernhout.com> wrote:
This is a rant on laws about preventing people from saving seeds. I refer to it as an example of how open manufacturing of RepRap-like hardware in the future might be regulated. It has my usual paradigm shift suggestion (from scarcity to abundance) as a way to address that. It concludes with saying it is wonderful people here are working on more good examples.
When looking at a recent Ron Paul video on the TSA goings on, someone mentioned "S510" making it illegal to give away food from your garden. I found that hard to believe, so I looked around on it.
One example article:
"“If accepted [S 510] would preclude the public’s right to grow, own, trade, transport, share, feed and eat each and every food that nature makes. It will become the most offensive authority against the cultivation, trade and consumption of food and agricultural products of one’s choice. It will be unconstitutional and contrary to natural law or, if you like, the will of God.” ~Dr. Shiv Chopra, Canada Health whistleblower
It is similar to what India faced with imposition of the salt tax during British rule, only S 510 extends control over all food in the US, violating the fundamental human right to food.
Monsanto says it has no interest in the bill and would not benefit from it, but Monsanto’s Michael Taylor who gave us rBGH and unregulated genetically modified (GM) organisms, appears to have designed it and is waiting as an appointed Food Czar to the FDA (a position unapproved by Congress) to administer the agency it would create — without judicial review — if it passes. S 510 would give Monsanto unlimited power over all US seed, food supplements, food and farming."
There are some interesting comments here arguing a title like this is overblown:
"Senate Bill S510 Makes it illegal to Grow, Share, Trade or Sell Homegrown Food"
Basically a core part of the issues seems to be labeling seeds as "food" and requiring them to be handled with more expensive new equipment.
But that did lead me to information about "Iraq Order 81":
"Following on the heels of Earth Day (April 22) comes International Seed Day (April 26). But there is no doubt that it will not be celebrated in the United States and many countries in Europe. Neither will this be endorsed by the United Nations or Food and Agricultural Organisation. The reason is obvious; it is launched by common people, especially by the ordinary farmers in Iraq who lost the sovereignty not only of their country, but of their seeds. It was on April 26, 2004 that Order 81 was passed by the Coalition Authority prohibiting Iraqi farmers from using their own seeds and forcing them to buy seeds from multinational seed corporations from the US and Europe."
Again, that seems a little exaggerated. Order 81 seems to only set up the mechanism to do that if someone registers a variety as something that they claim ownership of.
As the article says later: "What does the Order 81 say? It says that the farmers shall be prohibited from re-using seeds of protected varieties or any variety. The terminology might sound funny, but the intention is clear, according to the Order the genetically altered seeds are called “protected variety” and the unregistered or local seeds are referred to as “infringing variety”! The new order gives corporations complete control over farmers’ seeds. Iraqi farmers have to sign an agreement to pay a “technology fee” plus an annual license fee. Plant Variety Protection (PVP) made seed saving and reusing illegal as well as “similar” seed plantings punishable by severe fines and imprisonment."
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But increasing Scarcity increases Profit, and we cannot live without
Profit ... right?
By the way, I wrote about this here:
"'3. Organism genetics are being locked closed by Monsanto and many
other economy minded corporations to increase dependence, lower
security, and guarantee profits. The Iraq COALITION PROVISIONAL
AUTHORITY ORDER NUMBER 81 ensures "patent, industrial design,
undisclosed information, integrated circuits and plant variety" are
LOCKED CLOSED to ensure our domination of this people we have starved
and bombed for nearly 20 years through the UN enforced sanctions
I also read there was a "seed bank" in the Abu Ghraib that was looted
during our invasion of that country - leaving the people there without
much of a choice in whether to accept the User Subjugating varieties.
Well, as I said before, we all need "profit" in the sense of getting
something out of our action, like getting more energy out of eating than
it takes to eat.
The issue here is really "rent". Monsanto and so on on want a "rent"
every time some plant is grown, and they will use the force of law to
get it, even if it means changing the laws.
This is what some pure libertarians and conservatives go on about --
that if government was not so strong, or if it was limited in its
abilities to grant private individuals and corporations monopolies, then
no one could do this sort of rent-seeking. And, I can see the point (up
to the point of "externalities" and "centralization of wealth").
Sadly, in practice, many people in the USA who identify as libertarian
or conservative consider ideas to be "private property" and the product
of "hard work" and so endorse the rent-seeking monopoly-granting status
quo in that sense.
"Libertarians have differing opinions on the validity of intellectual
property laws. Many libertarians don't have a strong opinion on the
topic, while others consider it a minor matter in the light of what they
believe are greater government violations of rights, such as physical
property rights. ... Many libertarian organizations, such as the Reason
Foundation, Independent Institute, Cato Institute, and
Ludwig von Mises Institute copyright their publications. However,
the latter nonetheless makes entire books freely available on the
Internet, making their "non-free" status somewhat irrelevant from the
point of view of someone who merely wants to read them. ..."
You can read them, but not change them. :-) Also, you do so still under
a chilling effect of possible legal threat.
Also, in practice, without government of some sort (which is to some
extent just a bunch of people banding together to say things in some
area are going to be a certain way based on a shared vision of society,
"or else"), individual wealth can grow to the point where it becomes the
government and pass laws favorable to itself (and you are back to rent
seeking). So, in that sense, because it generally takes money to make
money, philosophies advocating minimal government but a thriving
unregulated market have in themselves the seed of their own destruction,
as we see a social pendulum go back and forth, where wealth is
accumulated disproportionally in the market (the rich get richer) and
then it is used, as in the past few decades, to pass laws (such as
copyright extension) to protect itself and continue its increase through
more and more rent-seeking.
Now, in theory that will not happen because the culture will not permit
even the wealthiest to change the laws (or such laws would be found
"unconstitutional"), but in practice, only those with wealth have the
leisure time and the education and the money to engage the political
process in a big way (at least in the USA):
"Q: Then how do they rule?
A: That's a complicated story, but the short answer is through open and
direct involvement in policy planning, through participation in
political campaigns and elections, and through appointments to key
decision-making positions in government."
Of course, then, as with the USA banks, groups can then play the
"terror" card, as in, this organization is too big to fail, and if it
does you will all suffer, so give us trillions of dollars.
Worked pretty well for some people it seemed... :-(
Big banks, big car companies, and big oil companies, are, in that sense,
the worst terrorists around, using economic terror to get their way.
But, rather that dissolve such organizations, they are praised by our
mainstream pundits and the people who run them are admired for their
"The World's Heaviest People"
"Carol Yager in 1994, near her peak weight of 1600 lbs..."
A cure for physical obesity, by the way:
"Eat For Health - Joel Fuhrman, M.D. "
That was easy.
Now, what is the cure for financial obesity? That's a lot harder...
"Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a
needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."
"No results found for "curing financial obesity"."
Same or Google Groups.
Here are some starting points:
Now, maybe the next time someone searches on that term, they might find
this post? :-)
(BTW, I got that "financial obesity" term from a line in one of James P.
Hogan's books "Paths to Otherwhere" I think.)
Actually, physical obesity and financial obesity are intertwined. One
reason US Americans are so overweight is that it has been more
financially profitable to get them hooked into a "pleasure trap" than to
get them to eat healthy whole food. The US meat and dairy industry have
been some of the worst offenders here, as have been the makers of
processed foods and GMO grains. Example:
And there is endless profits in treating obesity, but very little money
in preventing it or curing it with things like sunlight and whole foods.
We need to move to a world where money is not so important, IMHO. Things
like the spread of 3D printing and open manufacturing are part of that
paradigm shift to move beyond money. But, when one calculates how
RepRaps work as part of a system, one will still need to consider
whether there is a net "profit" in terms of new parts produced when one
wears down a RepRap a little to build new ones. So, if a RepRap can
produce 100 RepRaps before it wears out, that is profitable. If a RepRap
system can produce only half a RepRap before it wears out (especially
considering producing the electronics and power generation systems),
then RepRaps are not "profitable" and we need a better design. The same
is true for solar panels -- do you get more energy out of them than it
takes to make them? The answer is yes these days for mass produced ones,
but I don't know at what point the answer will be yes for 3D printed ones?
So, physically and energetically "profit" will probably always be
important in the sense I mentioned of getting more out of some things
than you put in to them.
The big issue is, does that profit to you come out of someone else's
pocket? And if so, what is the underlying ethics of that? When you are
talking in terms of material structure profit or energetic profit, that
usually is not an important question. When we talk about the system we
have now in practice, it often is.
What is the "story" behind any financial profit, which is incurred
generally from some notion of "debt" (because the object was not given,
but essentially exchanged for a formal debt, sometimes settled at once,
but sometimes the second part exchange agreed to is essentially deferred)?
"Without memory, there is no debt. Put another way: Without story, there
is no debt.
The story of debt reached a historic moment this week. An outsized
bubble of interlocking debt burst, leading to the downfalls of prominent
companies. Loans by and to the government, financial institutions and
consumers collided on an epic scale. Still, the idea of what we owe one
another is an ancient theme, and this is just the latest chapter in a
long cultural history.
A story is a string of actions occurring over time -- one damn thing
after another, as we glibly say in creative writing classes -- and debt
happens as a result of actions occurring over time. Therefore, any debt
involves a plot line: how you got into debt, what you did, said and
thought while you were in there, and then -- depending on whether the
ending is to be happy or sad -- how you got out of debt, or else how you
got further and further into it until you became overwhelmed by it, and
sank from view. ..."
Anyway, I continue to think that "rent seeking" is a better way to talk
about this sort of stuff than "profit".
You mention "rent" twice in passing here:
but not "rent seeking". However, you do mention "artificial scarcity"
which seems to be a very connected concept. Artificial scarcity is, now
that I think about it, essentially perhaps synonymous with rent seeking?
I'll have to think about that more, and obvious one is a verb and one is
"In economics, rent seeking occurs when an individual, organization or
firm seeks to earn income by capturing economic rent through
manipulation or exploitation of the economic or political environment,
rather than by earning profits through economic transactions and the
production of added wealth. Most studies of rent seeking focus on
efforts to capture special monopoly privileges, such as government
regulation of free enterprise competition, though the term itself is
derived from the far older and more established practice of
appropriating a portion of production by gaining ownership or control of
"Artificial scarcity describes the scarcity of items even though the
technology and production capacity exists to create an abundance. The
term is aptly applied to non-rival resources, i.e. those that do not
diminish due to one person's use, although there are other resources
which could be categorized as artificially scarce. The most common
causes are monopoly pricing structures, such as those enabled by
intellectual property rights or by high fixed costs in a particular
marketplace. The inefficiency associated with artificial scarcity is
formally known as a deadweight loss.
An example of artificial scarcity is often used when describing
proprietary, or closed-source, computer software. Any software
application can be easily duplicated billions of times over for a
relatively cheap production price (an initial investment in a computer,
an internet connection, and any power consumption costs; and these are
already fixed costs in most environments). On the margin, the price of
copying software is next to nothing, costing only a small amount of
power and a fraction of a second. Things like serial numbers, license
agreements, and intellectual property create artificial scarcity, and
give monetary value to otherwise free copies. Technocrats argue that if
the price system were removed, there would be no personal incentive to
artificially create scarcity in products, and thus something similar to
the open source model of distribution would dominate."
I'm sure there are distinctions one could draw, but it seems like it
might be a fertile ground for exploration?
This attempt to criminalize farmers further is just one more attempt at
rent-seeking, artificial scarcity, and pursuing financial obesity. I
hope Atrus' point about an amendment to the bill is true, but the big
issue is unaddressed and, it would seem, for the most part, underexplored.
> The issue here is really "rent".
Maybe closer to "Economic Rent" [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_rent].
But even more generally can be understood as Price above Cost.
Monsanto and others keep Price above Cost by denying access to Sources.
Sources are the preconditions required to create or express another Instance.
Sources are all of the Virutal and Physical Means of Production needed to Copy.
Wheat seeds copy themselves if itself if given access to their
Monsanto stops copying through laws enforced through legal means,
but also enforces them physically through Terminator(TM) technolgy.
Most ignorantly believe the entire *goal* of Production is to keep
Price above Cost.
Product is the forgotten goal. And it can be the payment when
Investors are Consumers.
There is a special case of Property Ownership that causes Price to be Cost.
When Physical Sources are Owned by the Consumer, and the Virtual Locked Open,
Then the Price we pay for Needs is exactly the Cost of completing that
In this strange realm, employment is no longer a goal, but a thing to
There is no buying or selling of goods, for those who need Olives
co-own those trees.
When Consumers own Sources, Profit is undefined because the Product is not Sold.
> individual wealth can grow to the point
> where it becomes the government and
> pass laws favorable to itself
Wealth is based in Property.
Property is gained during Growth.
Who, ideally, should Own that new Growth?
Tell me why it should not be the Payer.
If it is the current Owners, then Wealth will concentrate.
> Anyway, I continue to think that "rent seeking" is a better way to talk about this sort of stuff than "profit".
> Artificial scarcity is, now that I think about it,
> essentially perhaps synonymous with rent seeking?
Seeking Economic Rent promotes the creation of Artificial Scarcity
because Artificial Scarcity increases Economic Rent.
Now that I think about it, here is where we may agree some.
"Profit" is essentially somehow connected to artificial scarcity. :-)
At least, in theory somehow.
Although, because it is hard to account for so much of what goes into
production, it's really hard to come up with a true "cost" and so decide
what part of "cost" is "profit".
Also, these abstract words tend to assume everything is interconvertible
to a single currency. But that may not so easily be the case.
For example, if I spend one thousand hours at my computer writing a
computer application, what was the cost?
Some reimbursement for my time? At what dollar per hour value?
Or is the cost just what I said it was, 1000 hours of my time? :-)
If I enjoyed what I was doing, should that count as psychic income and I
should be paid less if converting that to a dollar "cost"? Or maybe I
should be paid not at all if I liked what I did? How many people like at
least parts of their work?
Of course, there are other incremental costs like the cost of
electricity for the computer? But others are harder to assign. What is
the incremental cost of the computer? What fraction of it's life was
used? There are accounting rules of thumb for this sort of thing, but
they can be kind of arbitrary. The value of the computer may be higher
when it is younger and fall off in an exponential curve. Or it may go up
as I know it better and configure it more to my liking. :-)
Even for the cost of electricity, what if the electricity came from coal
or oil, and the true environmental and health and social cost was not
being paid for the pollution or risk or corruption of government or
defense of long oil supply lines?
What about the years of other work it took me to get to the point where
I could write that application? And the fact that any technical skills
tend to become obsolete eventually?
For a farmer, what then is the "cost" of their time? How many years did
it take them to become a good farmer? What happens to them after they
can't work anymore? What is the "cost" of the risk they might have an
accident with a piece of farm equipment?
I don't think it is so easy to estimate "cost", especially when you do
the work yourself. It's easier to tally up costs when you employ others
because whatever you pay them becomes part of the "cost".
Yet, even when you pay others, are you paying the true "cost" of their
time? Or are you paying whatever the market will bear? What is the true
"cost" of employing someone who might get their hand mangled in farm
machinery and receive little compensation for that? The cost of
insurance for that, if you have it? But is that even the true cost?
I can wonder how the same thing can apply to equipment? Because
equipment is built by people plus has costs for rent seeking for access
to the land for raw materials or the rent of the fiat dollars involved
in creating it to motivate workers.
Also, there remains uncertainty. If I wrote a program, and no one wanted
to pay anything for it, then I won't get paid in any case.
If a farmer grows tomatoes, and no one wants them and they rot, then
that is a risk too. Also, if the tomatoes get hit by a pest or bad
weather, that is a problem too.
Is this years profit a motivator to do the activity again the next year?
Profit is, to some extent, a cover for uncertainty, and retirement, and
reimbursement for previous learning, too. Is it "fair" in those senses?
How else will those things be paid for? Would we just replace "profit"
with "taxes" in some other system? :-) (I'm not saying that might not be
fairer, just that it may be required.)
So, even though the word "profit" or the word "cost" seems so simple,
and because they are used in such simple but abstract ways in mainstream
economics equations, often assuming a corporation with all paid
employees at market rates (whatever that really means), "profit" and
"cost" can still be very tricky concepts.
So, is "profit" from the creation of artificial scarcity or not? Well,
maybe it is, but, it depends on what "cost" really is. And it would seem
that "cost" may not be so easy to calculate if you have to consider a
lot of externalities as well as a lot of investments in learning, social
networks, and similar things, as well as, now, the risk of jail time for
trying to be productive.
If this is done with a basic income instead (which I support, as long
as there is no better alternative), it comes at a risk of becoming
dependant on the organisation that distributes this income. This kind
of dependency on a central authority tends to create a hiearchical
system with the receivers of the income getting into a more and more
subordinate position and loosing their freedom for financial security,
one that isn't even certain in the end.
> "Libertarians have differing opinions on the validity of intellectual
> property laws. Many libertarians don't have a strong opinion on the topic,
> while others consider it a minor matter in the light of what they believe
> are greater government violations of rights, such as physical property
> rights. ...
"Intellectual property" IS a violation of physical property rights.
It's the collection of a rent on the use of your own physical property
the way you want to use it -- no different from a government tax or
regulation on the use of physical property.
Center for a Stateless Society http://c4ss.org
Mutualist Blog: Free Market Anti-Capitalism
The Homebrew Industrial Revolution: A Low-Overhead Manifesto
Organization Theory: A Libertarian Perspective
But the problem is that all issues of property have consequences beyond
the naive notion that I'd suggest many libertarians have of land
ownership with clear boundaries or ownership of something you can hold
like a gold coin.
For example, when you own the land, do you own the view from the land
onto a nearby valley? Do your neighbors own the view to your land or the
view of your house or lawn from their homes (and so have a right to tell
you to mow your lawn or keep your house painted)? Do you own the solar
access rights if your neighbor builds a structure or grows a tree that
shades your solar panels? Do you own the mining rights? Do your rights
extend all the way to the center of the Earth? If so, could you excavate
all the way down to the core of the Earth even if it caused a volcano?
Do you own access to fresh air? What happens if someone in another state
pollutes your fresh air with mercury and sulfur by burning coal? Do you
have a right to use pesticides on "your" land that leach into common
groundwater or drift into the air on a neighbor's property? How much of
the common groundwater do you have a right to extract? How much of the
common surface waters can you extract? Do you have a right to put sewage
into a stream passing over your property? Do you have a right to visit
an adjoining local library or park or grocery store or homeless shelter?
Do you have a right to say something about the existence of a local
library or park or grocery store or homeless shelter if it effects how
much others would pay to buy your property? Do you have a right to
access the public roadway that passed by your property? Do you have a
right to the air corridor (or even space corridor) above your property?
Do you have the right to burn your property to the ground (both trees
and buildings)? Do you have a right to a common defense of your property
rights? Do you have the right to murder people on "your" property
(whether for "trespassing" or any other reason)? Do you have the right
to store atomic weapons on your property? Do you have the right to
dangerous chemical processes or biological processes on your property
that might in some small change leak out? And so on...
That's why at least "Propertarian" Libertarianism quickly runs onto the
rocks of reality (even if it otherwise has a lot to recommend it in
theory, if only "property" was so easy to define as a gold coin).
"Taxation is theft.
Two simple rebuttals to this take widely different approaches.
The first is that property is theft. The notion behind property is
that A declares something to be property, and threatens anybody who
still wants to use it. Where does A get the right to forcibly stop
others from using it? Arguments about "mixing of labor" with the
resource as a basis for ownership boil down to
"first-come-first-served". This criticism is even accepted by some
libertarians, and is favorably viewed by David Friedman. This justifies
property taxes or extraction taxes on land or extractable resources if
you presume that the government is a holder in trust for natural
resources. (However, most people who question the creation of property
would agree that after the creation of property, a person is entitled to
his earnings. Thus the second argument)
The second is that taxation is part of a social contract.
Essentially, tax is payment in exchange for services from government.
This kind of argument is suitable for defending almost any tax as part
of a contract. Many libertarians accept social contract (for example,
essentially all minarchists must to insist on a monopoly of government.)
Of course they differ as to what should be IN the contract. "
Even for a gold coin, property can be a slippery topic. What if the gold
coin was "stolen"? Do you have to give it back to the "rightful" owner?
What if the material to make the gold coin was "stolen" but was
otherwise minted on the up-and-up? What if environmental damage to the
air, water, or land, was caused in mining the gold to make the coin (and
was never remediated) and so the land value (and sacred space) of some
indigenous people was essentially "stolen" to make the coin you think
you "own"? What if that land of the gold mine was not harmed, but it
still was essentially stolen from indigenous people centuries ago by a
combination of threats, intimidation, warfare, and so on? What if few of
the indigenous people are still around who used to "own" the land that
was "stolen" to mine the gold? (And by what right do they claim the land
when they may have taken it from others or just have been the first
people to claim it?) What if the workers who minted the coin were being
oppressed somehow in the workplace, or exposed to some occupational
hazard that increased their risk of cancer, what future claim do they
have against "your" coin? Do the descendants of the first person to
think of mining gold or to think of minting gold into a coin or who
though of the alphabet used to make the words on the coin have a royalty
claim against "your" gold coin? What about the descendants of those who
developed mining techniques, chemical refinement processes, purity
assaying equipment, or the means by which the gold coin was transported
to you -- do they have a claim against the coin? Even if the original
person who created those technologies was paid something (but maybe not
paid "fairly" given the leverage of big capital)?
By what chain of causality and socioeconomic reasoning do you claim to
have complete ownership of a simple gold coin you hold in your hands?
And I'm not making this up given the history of much gold in the world
"Chapter 1: Columbus, The Indians, and Human Progress"
"But too many of the slaves died in captivity. And so Columbus,
desperate to pay back dividends to those who had invested, had to make
good his promise to fill the ships with gold. In the province of Cicao
on Haiti, where he and his men imagined huge gold fields to exist, they
ordered all persons fourteen years or older to collect a certain
quantity of gold every three months. When they brought it, they were
given copper tokens to hang around their necks. Indians found without a
copper token had their hands cut off and bled to death."
And once you accept that property is some weird social construction,
"The Mythology of Wealth"
then making weird social constructions about putting people in jail for
sharing information with their neighbors, including sharing seeds, can
seem acceptable from some points of view.
Now, with all that said, one can decide that some weird social
constructions about property are probably healthier for a 21st century
society than others. :-) Which is why I like "open manufacturing". :-)
Also, their remains a certain psychology of property, one that is
probably connected to a reptilian part of our brain, that says a small
amount of territory you stomp around and defend with your claws is
"yours", and an object in your physical possession like a shiny lump of
gold from a stream you picked up is "yours", even if, as above, that may
clash with a more nuanced view of property rights in a technologically
or socially advanced society.
And somehow, we need to reconcile our psychological perceptions of
"property" in different parts of our minds (cellular, worm-like,
fish-like, reptilian, mammalian, hominid, human, transhuman) with the
complexity of reality and our technology.