We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

‘…If there are not… …great private fortresses… …to which you can flee from the State, …’ . And then the Patreon/Mastercard question….

The words of economist and philosopher Anthony de Jasay, in a long interview on YT. The full quote, as I transcribe it:

‘…The State can starve you if it has sufficient power over the economy. If there are not (as Schumpeter put it) great private fortresses in the economy to which you can flee from the State, when all these private fortresses are demolished, then you are utterly delivered to the State….’.

. He also said

‘…the State can starve you if it has sufficient power over jobs, over the economy, because it can decide that you will not get a job…’

But with the Patreon and Mastercard blacklisting of certain ‘right wing’ voices on YT, such as the brave Robert Spencer and where no state appears to have done anything, we have a situation where private companies are choosing to end contracts with individuals on what can only sensibly be termed political grounds. This might be the thin end of a very broad wedge. In a cashless society, it could make like very difficult indeed for certain individuals.

Now a libertarian might say that this is unfortunate but simply the choice of a business whether or not it wishes to do business with any particular person, and is not a matter for any form of legal regulation. Furthermore, if there is a breach of contract (e.g. a bogus justification for not processing payments), then damages are limited to the losses that flow from the breach and would cease at the point at which the contract could lawfully have been ended.

A counter argument might be that if it is to do this, a business (assuming that we are talking about the legal fiction of a body corporate) which seeks to refuse custom on political grounds (rather than on grounds of breaching the law), then it should be open about its aims, and be specifically empowered to pick and choose customers in its terms of service and in its company rules. So if Mastercard advertise to me that I can use my card for payment, without qualification, then it has fraudulently mis-represented to me what it will do since in an objective reality, making payment to Mr Robert Spencer, (pbuh) is perfectly innocuous, and my custom has been obtained by deceit, and Mastercard has in fact a general obligation to process payments made by me to whomever I choose, except where an illegality issue arises, where it need not advertise the fact.

And of course, a company does nothing, it has the legal fiction of a corporate personality, whereby it is supposedly liable for its acts, not always those who work for it. But if those who work for a company are not acting in its best interests, but in the interest of their own malevolence, can that company claim against them? Should the ‘veil of incorporation’ be pierced?

And what sort of a weapon might that be in certain judicial circuits in the United States, or other jurisdictions, where ‘social justice’ might be deemed a requisite corporate objective?

So, what would those who tend towards libertarianism, and some around here may be 0.999 (recurring) in the direction, others not so close to being an integer, say could or should be done about the situation, if anything?

And does the State (from its own pov) need to do anything more to restrict the internet if there is a ‘private’ solution to undesirable speech on the internet?

48 comments to ‘…If there are not… …great private fortresses… …to which you can flee from the State, …’ . And then the Patreon/Mastercard question….

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Paul Marks of this parish has been bugging me to write about the Patreon situation for several days, and due to lack of time I haven’t been able to write much. I see that Dave Rubin, of the Rubin Report, has decided as of Jan 15 to stop being a client of Patreon and the likes of him and Dr Jordan Peterson are exploring new ways to monetise web-based content that avoids falling foul of the likes of such organisations.

    https://www.newsbusters.org/blogs/techwatch/alexander-hall/2019/01/03/peterson-rubin-abandon-patreon-even-without-alternative

    Here is an interesting take from Yaron Brook and others at the Ayn Rand Institute.

    I am unsure at this stage whether an anti-trust or government direct attack on these sort of business channels would be a cure worse than the disease, and I still maintain that the real way forward is to push to reduce barriers to entry into these fields so that no one organisation, private or public, is able to stifle expressions that they don’t like. I do of course sympathise with those who want to see such social media platforms given the Teddy Roosevelt treatment – I see Glenn Reynolds has argued for it – but I think that’s a big mistake.

  • morsjon

    Sometimes you need to fight fire with fire. There is no shortage of competition generally speaking – the problem is that the culture is the same throughout most of the industry. I see no libertarian solutions to this. In time maybe there will be technological solutions that allow these censorious companies to be totally dis-intermediated. It also helps that the power skirts will most likely run these companies into the ground within ten years.

  • bobby b

    “But if those who work for a company are not acting in its best interests, but in the interest of their own malevolence, can that company claim against them?”

    In the U.S., a shareholder in a corporation can do exactly that, through a shareholder derivative lawsuit. (The shareholder sues individual corporate officers, bringing the lawsuit in the name of the corporation.)

    It would be an uphill struggle in this case. The defendant officer would merely have to prove that NOT being proactive in quelling customers who have transgressed some societal norm has its own risks – i.e., mass attack by SJW types. If the defendant can show that there is even a small case to be made that he was actually protecting the company from social opprobrium, then, because of the workings of the “business judgment rule”, the derivative lawsuit will fail.

    (The business judgment rule is simply a common-law concept that grants an initial presumption to a corporate officer that whatever he does, he does in service to his corporation. It’s not enough to show that an officer decided wrongly – an officer has the right to make mistakes. To overcome this, a plaintiff must prove that the officer acted specifically and intentionally against the company’s interests. That’s a tough hurdle.)

  • FRASER ORR

    It is simple. When a major company or a group of them refuse to do business with a group of individuals, libertarian philosophy has a name for such a situation.

    It is called a “business opportunity”.

    And the people so rejected are called “future customers”.

  • Jon

    Isn’t the problem here that online the ‘winner takes all’ much more effectively than they do offline- online monopolies carefully tend their patch while not treading on one another’s toes too much. There’s no physical barrier to entry, but the average human attention span is already too saturated by crap to care about a few nasty men’s right to speak their minds.

    Of course government likes monopoly too- monopoly on legitimate force, forcible collection of protection money etc.

    In a scenario where private monopolies choose to remove the effective right to publish, at anything like a profitable rate, in private, without due process, isn’t there a point at which the limited due process and semi-democratic demi-oversight of government is preferable?

    Just wondering…

  • Eric

    I wouldn’t assume there’s no state involvement here. In “Operation Choke Point” the Obama administration used federal regulators to force financial institutions to stop processing payments for legal businesses (like gun manufacturers and payday lenders) in an effort to cut them off from the banking system. The banks were not allowed to tell anyone it was being done at the behest of the government.

    I would be surprised if we’re not seeing something similar here. That particular program officially ended in 2017, but secret government programs have a way of just changing names once they’re discovered (in this case by the WSJ).

    Nice bank you got there. Be a shame if something happened to it.

  • Paul Marks

    I am good at bugging people J.P. – and people are bored of just seeing my words on this topic (via the comments) around here.

    It is not just one or two companies – it is general, the norm. Internet companies, financial services companies and-so-on. A culture of HATRED of Freedom of Speech which comes from the education system.

    For generations conservatives and libertarians have assumed that the threat to such things as Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religion (and so on) comes from the government – and sometimes it does, for example teachers dismissed for not pretending that boys are girls and vice versa, some schools are essentially horror films with the use of drugs and surgery (on children) so vile I will not discuss it further (and all this is celebrated by the “mainstream media” which also celebrates 11 year boys working as “Drag Queens” at homosexual clubs).

    However, conservatives and libertarians are not prepared for the present situation where most (yes most) big companies work hand-in-hand with the education system and the government bureaucracy – and all of them (private as well as public) with utter hatred for Freedom of Freedom and so on.

    What to do?

    I do not know what to do. But if nothing is done – if, for example, the “payment processors” are allowed to hit dissenting companies and individuals on POLITICAL grounds (claiming that even the mildest dissent from “liberalism” is an “incitement to violence) then the West is on the road straight to Hell.

    It is well know that the People’s Republic of China is trying to create (by about 2021) a “Social Credit” system where people will be judged on their OPINIONS and general conduct, not just on the money they pay for goods and services. Where, eventually, if you express the “wrong” opinions and behave in the “wrong” you will starve to death.

    The death of CASH – the rise of the internet, the “Social Justice” (power crazed) education system, that has produced endless Corporate Managers who think they will make the world a “better place” (very California – but it is all over now) like some insane “Star Trek: New Generation” universe. It is not just China – it is in the West to.

    We are in deep trouble – not “just” the Credit Bubble financial system, and the wild effort by the state to take over the basic functions of Civil Society (health, education, old age provision) from the cradle to the grave – an ever growing fiscal and cultural burden that must eventually lead to financial and cultural (societal) bankruptcy. It is more than that – it is culture, in business itself, that HATES traditional freedoms – and values “Diversity” and “Social Justice” instead.

    Even the People’s Republic of China does NOT have that madness. Indeed “white leftist” is an insult in Asia – and correctly so. In China MERIT is still valued – and the Frankfurt School of Marxism (with its obsession with “racism”, “sexism”, “homophobia” and on and on) is not dominant – as it is dominant here. In some ways Prime Minister May is to the left of President Xi of the People’s Republic of China – as, evil man though he is, he does not have the P.C. (Frankfurt School “Critical Theory”) obsessions of so many Western leaders.

    What can be done? For example about the “Payment Processors” and the other basic bits of economic infrastructure?

    Our theories were created when money was gold and sliver coins and there were many business enterprises in competition each other – they cared about your gold or your silver, not your opinions. All this has changed – and we ned to think again, if we wish to preserve such things as Freedom of Speech from political persecution, and not just from the government.

  • George Atkisson

    These organizations have chosen to make themselves valid targets of retribution. Most of the SJW motivated people involved have never faced any personal consequences for their actions. That will not always be true. Competing structures will be built, and then the shareholders will be looking for heads to roll as their stock value begins to slide.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Now a libertarian might say that this is unfortunate but simply the choice of a business whether or not it wishes to do business with any particular person, and is not a matter for any form of legal regulation.”

    Yes. Agreed.

    “A counter argument might be that if it is to do this, a business (assuming that we are talking about the legal fiction of a body corporate) which seeks to refuse custom on political grounds (rather than on grounds of breaching the law), then it should be open about its aims, and be specifically empowered to pick and choose customers in its terms of service and in its company rules.”

    Yes. They usually are, if you read their terms of service carefully, which most people don’t.

    “And what sort of a weapon might that be in certain judicial circuits in the United States, or other jurisdictions, where ‘social justice’ might be deemed a requisite corporate objective?”

    Indeed! I was mentioning quite recently that the way society, not just government, acts has much to say about how free a society actually is in practice.

    “So, what would those who tend towards libertarianism, and some around here may be 0.999 (recurring) in the direction, others not so close to being an integer, say could or should be done about the situation, if anything?”

    Excellent question! The orthodox answer is ‘take advantage of the business opportunity’ and ‘publicise what companies are doing, so that reputation and loss of business can take effect’.

    A lot of companies are not doing this stuff because they truly believe in it, but because they don’t want to deal with all the crap that flies their way if they don’t. They’re about making money. If being politically correct makes them more money, they’ll be politically correct. So what you need to do is make sure they make lots more money by *not* being politically correct. Organise.

    “For generations conservatives and libertarians have assumed that the threat to such things as Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religion (and so on) comes from the government”

    Yup. I’ve noticed that myself.

    ” and sometimes it does, for example teachers dismissed for not pretending that boys are girls and vice versa, some schools are essentially horror films with the use of drugs and surgery (on children) so vile I will not discuss it further (and all this is celebrated by the “mainstream media” which also celebrates 11 year boys working as “Drag Queens” at homosexual clubs).”

    Mmm. This is where libertarians and conservatives sometimes part company. Libertarians would say with Mill: “over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.” Conservatives apply their own form of political correctness. “You must believe as we do, live the way we say you should, conform to the gender roles we assign you, or else.” Libertarians would say to those conservatives “you can believe as you like and say as you like, but you cannot impose those opinions on anyone else, especially when you’re working under contract to organisations that don’t believe as you do.” It’s a tricky one. We need to protect transphobes’ freedom of belief and speech to disagree with medical science, which means the left hates us, but we also need to protect the self-sovereignty and freedom of belief/expression of the transgender, which means the right hates us. Nobody is happy. Nobody wants to be a libertarian.

    “What can be done? For example about the “Payment Processors” and the other basic bits of economic infrastructure?”

    Compete, of course. The only thing stopping it isn’t that there isn’t really a big enough market for it yet. The only people who want/need off-grid payment methods are the criminal fraternity. As more people are pushed out of the mainstream, there’s more and more money in providing alternatives, and eventually there will be enough to fund the development of easier-to-use alternatives that can then go mainstream. At the moment, there are a few crypto-geeks who have proposed algorithms to solve the problem, but can’t get the global infrastructure investment. So long as they only push out a tiny minority of the population, it will stay that way. If they get more ambitious, they’ll fund the means of their own downfall.

    It’s like drug laws and prohibition. Only a relatively small number use drugs, so funding for the illegal sector is limited and can be contained. But most people drink alcohol, so prohibiting alcohol pours *vast* investment into smuggling. It only works if they keep things small.

    “Our theories were created when money was gold and sliver coins and there were many business enterprises in competition each other – they cared about your gold or your silver, not your opinions. All this has changed – and we ned to think again, if we wish to preserve such things as Freedom of Speech from political persecution, and not just from the government.”

    JS Mill talked about all this stuff – about how society imposed its own dictats. It’s not new.

    Humanity has always had an authoritarian streak. We used to oppress women, now we oppress sexists. We used to oppress homosexuals, now we oppress homophobes. We used to oppress blacks, now we oppress racists. The specific rules change, but the methods and principles stay the same. Authoritarians believe they have both the right and duty to impose their ways on others, “for their own good and for the good of society”. They always have.

    The only reasonable option I see is education. It needs to be taught universally, as part of the process of civilising a human being. But we’re a long way from persuading people of the idea’s merits, especially when we find ourselves being hated by both sides.

  • Tedd

    Johnathan Pearce:

    For what it’s worth, I think the ultimate solution is decentralized social media. What’s needed is a peer to peer form of social media, so that it can operate independently of any person, corporation, or even government’s will. (Perhaps not counting such extreme cases of government will as that found in the PRC.) So long was our main forms of social media are centralized they will be susceptible to somebody’s censorhip, it’s only a question of whose.

    Peer to peer social media will depend on some technological developments (perhaps blockchain-based DNS, for example), but those are in the works.

  • bobby b

    “In a scenario where private monopolies choose to remove the effective right to publish, at anything like a profitable rate, in private, without due process, isn’t there a point at which the limited due process and semi-democratic demi-oversight of government is preferable?”

    Not really. We’re just too impatient to wait for the inevitable market corrections.

    Remember when almost everyone used MS’s Internet Explorer as their web browser? Remember when they had the market virtually locked up, and we all despaired of anyone ever making a dent in their armor?

    As of December 2018, IE’s marketshare was hovering just over 10%. That comedown was not the result of United States v. Microsoft.

  • FRASER ORR

    @Jon
    Isn’t the problem here that online the ‘winner takes all’ much more effectively than they do offline

    No it isn’t. Exactly the opposite is true. Which is easier to change, your search engine or your internet service provider? Your email address (don’t forget to take ten seconds to set an auto forwarder) or your postal address?

    I don’t know who Robert Spencer is, or what he did, but my understanding is that one puts a Patreon link on one’s web site, and people can use it to send you money. Can’t he just as easily put up a link for a different company that does the same thing? Won’t his customers, in their outrage at the suppressing of his free speech, be willing to put up with a little hassle to tip him?

    Now where there might be a problem is the fact that setting up some of the competing businesses, such as a bank or a credit card processing company, cannot be done illegally because they are government controlled, rent seeking (and politician buying) monopolies. That is a problem. And of course the fix is deregulation and de-monopolization, or in the absence of effective de-monopolization, a rule that says they have to serve everyone.

    but the average human attention span is already too saturated by crap to care about a few nasty men’s right to speak their minds.

    It is ironic that you make that claim in the middle of a discussion where people here are discussing precisely that. Nonetheless, even insofar that that were true the answer is someone to step in and care for them. Charities make most of their money from a process by which people can easily give to charity. They make the process of expressing one’s values easy. So others can make the process of expressing one’s outrage about free speech really easy and simple, and make a profit doing so.

    In a scenario where private monopolies choose to remove the effective right to publish, at anything like a profitable rate, in private, without due process, isn’t there a point at which the limited due process and semi-democratic demi-oversight of government is preferable?

    This is the great fallacy, the idea that “just this one time” government can use its gentle hand to tip the balance in favor of what you think is right and good. But government’s hand is never gentle, it is a sledgehammer, and it always wants more, more, more like a voracious monster. But even more importantly it NEVER does what you actually want. You aren’t king, so as it goes through a the machinations of thousand other people vastly more powerful than you, having different values than you, and generally having rather more mendacious that honorable goals that you, your beautiful little tweak will turn into a monstrous boondoggle that will, generally speaking, have exactly the opposite effect you intended.

    And here is the thing. You can always change your search engine. You can always change your email provider or your social network. You can never change your government. As Reagan once said, the only immortal thing in the universe is a government program.

  • Paul Marks

    I was in the middle of writing a reply about the utter nonsense about “read their terms of service carefully” (as if Carl Benjamin, Sargon, did not do that). But I messed up the computer somehow.

    Reading the “terms of service” is an utter waste of time – because “trust and safety teams” “moderators” (people with “editorial privileges” is another title) or whatever, could not give a damn about what the “terms of service” actually say.

    Nor do they just target “racists”, “sexists” and “homophobes” (and….), no one who argues against the left is safe from these SJW managers – they throw people off Twitter (and so on) all the time. Remember what happened to Laura Loomer – it is happening to more and more people.

    It is not one social media site or whatever – it is ALL of them. And “set up your own company” does not work – because the Payment Processors (and the rest of the “financial system”) will be used against you.

    It is absurd to pretend that the banks are anything to do with free market capitalism. I would have thought that the non-stop Frankfurt School of Marxism style stuff from Lloyds and HSBC in this country would give people a clue – but it seems that it does not.

    The banks are not honest money lenders – most of the “money” they lend out does not exist, it is book keeping tricks (“legal” fraud), and they are joined at the hip with the state. Managers in big corporations and managers in government departments are no longer different sorts of people – they are the SAME sort of people, paid telephone number salaries and with nothing but hatred for Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion or any other sort of freedom.

    They will not allow competition – they have made that very clear. And when they get into trouble (when their bubbles burst) they get bailed out by the state.

    They seek “One World” – one collectivist world, where dissent will get a boot smashed down on your face for ever (they think Mr O’Brian in 1984 is a role model).

    So, no, “reading the terms of service carefully” will do you no good at all.

    The leading corporations HATE the idea of being “mere money grubbers” almost as much as they hate freedom – they seek a “better world” where people will be judged on their opinions (not on how much gold or silver they have) and on “behaving correctly” – PRC Social Credit system.

    “Private fortresses against the state” – if that was ever true, it most certainly is not true now.

    The left did not storm these “private fortresses” from without – it subverted them from within, via the “education” of their senior staff.

    The situation is very serious – vastly beyond “read their terms of service” or “use a different company” (what different company? they crush those with the “Payments Processors” and the banks).

    Soon the only information most voters get will be what the left want them to get – then democracy will be a total and absolute farce.

    That is the purpose of all this – POWER, power by crushing dissent. Driving people off social media, gaining control of reference sites (not just Wikipedia – all-of-the-reference-sites) and making the leftist “mainstream” media control absolute – ditto the education system (the source of the whole mess is the education system).

    Yes, a thousand times yes, solutions will be very difficult – but to have any chance of solutions we need to grasp the scale of the problem.

    This is not one or two companies – this is a society wide drift into “soft” totalitarianism, and the “softness” will not last.

  • Kurt

    “But with the Patreon and Mastercard blacklisting of certain ‘right wing’ voices on YT, such as the brave Robert Spencer and where no state appears to have done anything, we have a situation where private companies are choosing to end contracts with individuals on what can only sensibly be termed political grounds. This might be the thin end of a very broad wedge. In a cashless society, it could make like very difficult indeed for certain individuals.”

    This is where so many people go wrong in their analysis. Patreon and Mastercard are corporations and are therefore government entities – this must be recognized. They enjoy the protection of the government from liability. They could not exist in their present form without protection from liability by the government. This makes them, by extension, creatures of the government.

    I’ll not go into an extended analysis, but incorporation grants enormous leverage over actual people.

    The solution to this problem is could follow either or both of two options: 1) Withdraw all protections of personhood and against liability from corporations (the quick alternative) or 2) Remove all taxation from individuals and their incomes, imposing all taxes only on corporations (the slow alternative).

    Kurt

  • Eric

    Reading the “terms of service” is an utter waste of time – because “trust and safety teams” “moderators” (people with “editorial privileges” is another title) or whatever, could not give a damn about what the “terms of service” actually say.

    This is true. Not only are they written in such vague terms any sort of behavior can fall in our out of what is acceptable, there’s always a clause that says “subject to change at any time”. The other day Stephen Green summed up the situation nicely: “Nonesuch had taken video of his little escapade, but of course YouTube pulled it for violating some longstanding policy they’d just made up.”

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    Thankfully, Australia has no natural hegemon to tell us what to do. China wants to be the biggest power in Asia, and then the world, but it is having trouble abroad, and an ageing population at home means Xi can’t proclaim the Chinese Millenium. Some Indonesian clerics talk as though Australia should be settled by Indonesian colonists, but nothing has come of it. So Europe may be heading towards ‘ever greater union’, with talk of a European army, but we should be able to stay out of any power block.

  • bobby b

    “Thankfully, Australia has no natural hegemon to tell us what to do.”

    In my last reading of your media (limited by my distaste for paysites, and Australia sure has a lot of paysites), the most frequently-named person was Trump.

    (Not that it was all complimentary.)

    So he may not be telling y’all what to do, but he’s sure in their heads. :mrgreen:

  • djc

    Tedd
    January 11, 2019 at 1:57 am
    Peer to peer social media will depend on some technological developments (perhaps blockchain-based DNS, for example), but those are in the works.

    It’s been around for a long time, it’s called usenet, just needs a revival (resuscitation more like)

  • Nullius in Verba

    “For what it’s worth, I think the ultimate solution is decentralized social media. What’s needed is a peer to peer form of social media, so that it can operate independently of any person, corporation, or even government’s will. […] Peer to peer social media will depend on some technological developments (perhaps blockchain-based DNS, for example), but those are in the works.”

    There are already published methods for anonymous broadcast, steganography, redundant deletion-tolerant distributed storage, and untraceable and anonymous electronic cash (better than Blockchain, which is at best pseudonymous). But it takes a considerable amount of effort and knowhow to turn a maths paper into a robust and secure system the general public can use, and (apart from the redundant storage, which is already big business) there’s very little market for any of it.

    “I don’t know who Robert Spencer is, or what he did, but my understanding is that one puts a Patreon link on one’s web site, and people can use it to send you money. Can’t he just as easily put up a link for a different company that does the same thing? Won’t his customers, in their outrage at the suppressing of his free speech, be willing to put up with a little hassle to tip him?”

    Robert Spencer is a scholar of Islam who has spent a lot of time researching the original historic texts on Sharia, Mo’s biography, the history of the Islamic Empire, and their theology and campaigns to expose the truth about it. I’m a big fan! He’s not one of those who makes stuff up or repeats any old nonsense from the wilder shores of the internet, and so he’s a lot more difficult to dismiss as an ignorant bigot. We need more like him.

    And yes. Someone else could do the same thing. Or for that matter, people could put cash in an envelope and mail it to him. It’s just a little more expense and trouble.

    But the point isn’t that these companies pose an actual threat to their livelihood if people want to support them. It’s that companies like Mastercard do this sort of stuff because of all the legal hassle, protests and reputational damage they get servicing people like him, so it’s important they should also get a load of protests and reputational damage from not doing. Denounce them on social media as enemies of free speech. And then denounce them for throwing other people off social media for so denouncing them. And keep on and on and on until that’s all anyone thinks of when their names are mentioned. Make it worth their while to stand up for free speech.

    “Reading the “terms of service” is an utter waste of time – because “trust and safety teams” “moderators” (people with “editorial privileges” is another title) or whatever, could not give a damn about what the “terms of service” actually say.”

    You know perfectly well what the terms of service say. They say they can throw you off if they don’t like what you write. It’s private property. It’s actually a lot more remarkable that there’s so much stuff they disagree with that they *will* let you post than that they won’t. This site, for example, will no doubt be subject to some hosting company’s (WordPress?) terms of service (unless you just run their software on your own servers, which can be troublesome) – they own and operate the infrastructure. Everything you say on here they choose to allow. I highly doubt they agree with all of it!

    “The banks are not honest money lenders – most of the “money” they lend out does not exist, it is book keeping tricks (“legal” fraud), and they are joined at the hip with the state.”

    The money *does* exist, but there is so much common misunderstanding and confusion around how it works that it’s not a big surprise that people think it’s some kind of con trick. The first thing people misunderstand is thinking that it is the banks that create the money when they lend, when actually it is the borrowers. It’s not the government and it’s not the banks who are the ultimate source of most of the money – it’s the public: business owners, home owners, credit card holders, … And it’s all backed by real people doing real work. Banks only act as exchanges allowing their customers to trade in liquidity, which is something else entirely.

  • The Pedant-General

    NiV,

    “He’s not one of those who makes stuff up or repeats any old nonsense from the wilder shores of the internet, and so he’s a lot more difficult to dismiss as an ignorant bigot.”

    Yet he is almost universally treated as hailing from those wilder shores of the internet himself and indeed routinely dismissed as an ignorant bigot nonetheless.

  • Runcie Balspune

    An interesting and slightly related article (via Instapundit).

    There is a downside to these kind of company policies eventually, you just need to let it play its course. For example, Patreon’s actions have actually cost it money, Harris, Rubin and Peterson were all big earners, that’s quite a chunk of fees they are now missing.

  • Paul Marks

    People may not like my long comments – so I will make this short.

    Neither Carl Benjamin (Sargon) or Robert Spencer or the other people targeted by such entities as “Patreon” and “Paypal” have broken their “Terms of Service” – that is very clear from the facts of the cases concerned (which can be seen on YouTube – before Google blocks the films). And no LIES on “Wikipedia” can alter this fact.

    Doing X,Y, Z after “carefully reading their terms of service” will do nothing good.

    Please understand that this is a societal conflict (a WAR) people.

    “The money does exist” – no it does NOT. Otherwise “Broad money” would not be bigger than the “monetary base” (the actual money). The idea that banks “just put savings to work” (or some such) is utter and complete drivel.

    I am not going to waste more time explaining Credit Bubbles when Richard Cantillon did that three hundred years ago.

    The “financial system” (such as the “Payment Processors”) and the internet cartel stink – they stink utterly and completely, and they are determined to exterminate liberty, in the name of “Social Justice” and (ironic word) “Diversity”.

  • Nico

    In a scenario where private monopolies choose to remove the effective right to publish, at anything like a profitable rate, in private, without due process, isn’t there a point at which the limited due process and semi-democratic demi-oversight of government is preferable?

    Not really. We’re just too impatient to wait for the inevitable market corrections.

    @bobby b: maybe, but these are cartels that are at the core of how everything works in modern societies: banking and payments systems, CDNs, search engines, social media. They have the power to keep out newcomers for a long time — perhaps long enough to prevent a market correction altogether.

    I don’t like the purist libertarian positions. I think this is a perfect case for the courts to step in. There’s a case in the U.S. about this called Marsh v. Alabama, where a Jehova’s Witness tried to proselytize in a private company town’s main street and was kicked out: she took her case all the way to the Supreme Court, and the Court said that she had a right to speak on anything resembling public property, that the town had made their main street public enough that they had to allow her speech. I believe the Court decided that case correctly, and that Patreon, Strip, Paypal, Twitter, Facebook, and all the rest are today’s private company towns, only now there’s towns that aren’t private company towns. Extending Marsh v. Alabama to the Internet would very much be the right thing to do. And note that’s not Congress or the Administration regulating the Internet, but the courts saying you cannot censor the Internet — it’s very limited application of government power that can only increase individual liberty.

  • Nico

    Not really. We’re just too impatient to wait for the inevitable market corrections.

    More on this. Lenin famously said that capitalists would sell him the rope with which to hang them. He was right, but then the communist experiment failed (after 70 long years). It didn’t have to end that way. Communism can’t succeed economically, but it can cling to power endlessly. That may seem a bit strong a metaphor for the private sector acting like a self-appointed State, but is it? What if the next Administration is a Democrat administration and builds on the private sector’s censorship? Sounds a bit like how Chavez consolidated power in Venezuela, where they are desperately awaiting that “inevitable market correction”. Just how inevitable is it? Do Libertarians believe in History as their God, like Communists do?

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Yet he is almost universally treated as hailing from those wilder shores of the internet himself and indeed routinely dismissed as an ignorant bigot nonetheless.”

    Indeed. Because there are so many of the other sort about, it’s very easy to mis-portray him as such to those who have never read him. It’s one of the main reasons I think we need more.

    ““The money does exist” – no it does NOT. Otherwise “Broad money” would not be bigger than the “monetary base” (the actual money). The idea that banks “just put savings to work” (or some such) is utter and complete drivel.”

    ‘Broad money’ is actual money too – it’s just less liquid than ‘narrow money’. The reason one is bigger than the other is that one is proper subset of the other. It’s not complicated.

    “The idea that banks “just put savings to work” (or some such) is utter and complete drivel.”

    I didn’t say that.

    “I am not going to waste more time explaining Credit Bubbles when Richard Cantillon did that three hundred years ago.”

    Fair enough. But if you don’t present an argument, you won’t persuade anyone that you’re correct and not wrong! 🙂 Mere assertion is insufficient. “I cannot praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue,…” as Milton put it.

    You may be perfectly unconcerned by that, of course. But you might want to bear in mind that Cantillon himself explained fractional reserve banking quite positively:

    “In these circumstances the Banker will often be able to lend 90,000 ounces of the 100,000 he owes throughout the year and will only need to keep in hand 10,000 ounces to meet all the withdrawals. He has to do with wealthy and economical persons; as fast as one thousand ounces are demanded of him in one direction, a thousand are brought to him from another. It is enough as a rule for him to keep in hand the tenth part of his deposits. There have been examples and experiences of this in London. Instead of the individuals in question keeping in hand all the year round the greatest part of 100,000 ounces the custom of depositing it with a Banker causes 90,000 ounces of the 100,000 to be put into circulation. This is primarily the idea one can form of the utility of banks of this sort. The Bankers or Goldsmiths contribute to accelerate the circulation of money. They lend it out at interest at their own risk and peril, and yet they are or ought to be always ready to cash their notes when desired on
    demand.”

    The theory I’m talking about was, I think, developed more recently than Cantillon’s time. It’s got nothing to do with credit bubbles. But as you will.

  • bobby b

    Nico
    January 11, 2019 at 4:39 pm

    “There’s a case in the U.S. about this called Marsh v. Alabama, where a Jehova’s Witness tried to proselytize in a private company town’s main street and was kicked out: she took her case all the way to the Supreme Court, and the Court said that she had a right to speak on anything resembling public property, that the town had made their main street public enough that they had to allow her speech.”

    I fear that Marsh v. Alabama isn’t going to give us much comfort in this situation.

    It’s an old case – 1940’s, I believe – and the Supreme Court has had many opportunities to revisit this case in the decades since, and they have not adopted it – they have ignored, and even narrowed, Marsh’s holding every time they have encountered it.

    In the 70’s, the Supremes basically overruled Marsh’s main holding, in a case called Lloyd Corp. v. Tanner. (This was the start of the private-mall cases, in which people sought the right to demonstrate and protest inside malls, arguing that they had become the new public commons.)

    Since then, the Supremes, as well as numerous state courts, have refused to grant “public commons” status to many different private venues, some (I think) with even more compelling circumstances than we find now with Facebook/Twitter/Patreon/et al. So, the Supremes would have to overturn decades of settled law to apply Marsh to our new situation. This would be a stretch.

    Plus, look at our Supreme Court now – and extrapolate where it might be when Justice Ginsberg retires and Trump names another Justice – and I think you have to agree that this is not the Court in which we’re going to see a narrowing of property rights in favor of what would essentially be a public taking. If anything, the new court makeup gives us our best shot to increase private property rights.

    I know that many people are seeing some comfort in Marsh, but I just don’t see it as a pathway into Patreon or Twitter. I would view a resurgence of Marsh as a bad thing, causing more problems for libertarians than did Keto (the horrid case in which the Supremes said that a town can take private property and give it to a private developer to build a mall.) We don’t need another holding allowing “the public” to take things away from us.

  • bobby b

    Oops. Not “Keto.” “Kelo.” Getting my diet mixed up with casenames.

  • Nico

    @bobby b: It’s Marsh or nothing. If a Republican Congress took no action to protect the public from partisans in the media and banking, the Democrats most certainly will not, being as they are the beneficiaries of all that censorship. As takings go, Marsh is de minimis and does not compare to Kelo (horrible decision, Kelo). A post-Ginsburg court is much more likely to take up Marsh than the current court, mostly because with 6 justices who are not outright liberals, the chances that 5 of them will support Marsh is higher than with only 5 such justices.

    I won’t hazard a prediction of what the new Court (current or post-Ginsburg) will do though. The justices tend to find ways to surprise us: Kelo (completely unexpected, awful), ACA (shocking, awful), Citizens United (one of those wins that restores faith in the court), Janus (expected, and good), Heller (shocking, good), McDonald (shocking, good), …

    The only thing you can safely count on is that justices appointed by Republican Presidents are generally not as solidly ideological and partisan as those appointed by Democrats — Roberts’ gymnastics to save the ACA being a primary example of that. And that’s another reason to hope for the post-Ginsburg court: a) Kavanaugh owes the Left nothing and will be inured to the DC cocktail party circuit for a long time, b) neither will Ginsburg’s replacement for (likely) similar reasons, c) Roberts is the new swing justice, so if he’s not needed to a majority supporting a Marsh revival, it might have a better chance. Also, the non-liberals, as you note, have barely more respect for private property than the liberals, which, in this case, happens to be helpful.

  • MadRocketSci

    There are already published methods for anonymous broadcast, steganography, redundant deletion-tolerant distributed storage, and untraceable and anonymous electronic cash (better than Blockchain, which is at best pseudonymous). But it takes a considerable amount of effort and knowhow to turn a maths paper into a robust and secure system the general public can use, and (apart from the redundant storage, which is already big business) there’s very little market for any of it.

    IMO, what many of these services try to do is just … too complicated. Because it’s complicated, it can be attacked in ways that aren’t obvious to the users. I think what we really need is just software (with a decent user interface) designed around talking directly to each other’s computer. (RSA encypted). Just a peer-to-peer client. Peer-to-peer mail broadcast whenever the receiver and sender’s daemon is online at the same time. Peer-to-peer chat. Peer-to-peer file transfer. Moving away from everyone talking to a central servers. This paradigm would work best if people have their peer-interface computer always on. Encryption means there is no top-down visibility about what everyone is sending each other: You would need someone to rat out a contact to the authorities before they would have any reason to distinguish someone’s white-noise traffic from everyone elses.

    I think software could keep a local list of friends’ IP addresses as easily as it keeps a list of phone numbers. If public directories are necessary, public-key certificates can be provided for handshake purposes to ensure identity.

    I’m about 10% into teaching myself the relevant parts of the ASIO standalone library, but I’m not very far along developing software like this. It’s probably something that is needed though. The internet should be about people’s computers talking to each other on a peer level, not people’s computers being thin-clients of near-monopoly internet companies.

  • MadRocketSci

    One bit of the libertarian faith that I’m having trouble swallowing wholeheartedly anymore is the idea that certain forms of social organization produce incentives so powerful that they reshape the participants and override their natural loyalties and animosities: Here we seem to have people who would rather engage in malevolent oppression, despite the fact they’re losing customers and money. X dollars in lost business vs. the sweet moral high of stepping on someone else? And they don’t have to worry about competition as much as you think: It’s more than a weekend hobby project to build a payment processing network, and given that we already have people in that niche, any upstart would face almost immediate legal attack and an uphill slog against established competitors.

    Markets don’t seem to be preventing people from being Maoist punks, or political fanatics (or religious nuts, or …). If the prevailing culture hates you and wants you to die, you’re SOL.

  • Fraser Orr

    Honestly, I find this whole discussion a bit disturbing. Google owns their site, twitter owns their site, paypal owns their site. Unless they have a contractual duty to do so, nobody has a right to demand that these sites support their endeavors. This a core principle, the bedrock of private property.

    And it seems that there is this view that somehow building competitive sites online is somehow more difficult that doing so IRL, which is obviously, plainly not true. Not only are online sites easy to build (compared to brick and mortar for example) but they allow the exploitation of arbitrage, international markets, competitive advantage and every other advantage far more readily than someone fixed in a geographical location, subject to both its limitations and legal environment.

    I’m not saying that it is easy — nothing worth doing ever is — and certainly the governments of the world are trying to throw a little sand in the machinery since they fear this unadulterated freedom. And certainly regulation of the financial industry provides all sorts of challenges. But these are not at all unique to the online world, in fact the online world vastly simplifies them.

    AFAICS, we all seem to have forgotten that we are libertarians here, and that the solution to monopoly is removal of regulations supporting monopoly and then aggressive competition. Both are vastly easier in the online world (the former because you can base your online business anywhere, the latter because “Joe’s search engine” can look as good a google with an investment of $1000 buying two months of full time work of an excellent overseas developer.)

    If libertarians start advocating for government regulation then we truly have lost our bearings.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “I think software could keep a local list of friends’ IP addresses as easily as it keeps a list of phone numbers.”

    That could work if all your friends used static IP addresses. (Ones that don’t change.) But modern ISPs usually have a shared block of IP addresses that they issue dynamically to however many people are online at a given time, so they keep on changing.

    “I’m about 10% into teaching myself the relevant parts of the ASIO standalone library, but I’m not very far along developing software like this. It’s probably something that is needed though.”

    C++ probably isn’t the easiest language to do this sort of thing in. You really just want something simple with sockets to start off with – there are lots of code examples around. But the basic I/O between machines isn’t the hard part – it’s getting the crypto right. That’s definitely not a job for amateurs! (There’s no problem playing around with it for fun, but seriously, don’t ‘roll your own’ for anything you mean to use for real! Any cryptographer can tell you endless horror stories…)

    However, for basic P2P messaging there are already a bunch of such applications around. See here for examples:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anonymous_P2P#List_of_anonymous_P2P_networks_and_clients

    They’re often not very user-friendly, though. There may be some that publish their code as Open Source, which could give you a start if you want to do something a bit different.

    “Honestly, I find this whole discussion a bit disturbing. Google owns their site, twitter owns their site, paypal owns their site. Unless they have a contractual duty to do so, nobody has a right to demand that these sites support their endeavors. This a core principle, the bedrock of private property.”

    Agreed! Totally!

  • bobby b

    Nico
    January 11, 2019 at 9:07 pm

    “It’s Marsh or nothing.”

    I think we have a better route, one more in keeping with the idea of liberty and individual power.

    Instead of imposing on Twitter et al. more state power – instead of making them do something with their own property that they don’t want to do – I think we should REMOVE one particular expression of state protection from them.

    Roughly, the DMCA – the internet copyright act delaing with service providers – and the CDA – the Communications Decency Act, which deals with content providers – grants protection to providers who host “bad” content (defamatory, copyright-violating, etc.) so long as those providers can show a neutral approach to how they allow content.

    But Twitter and Cos. don’t use a neutral approach. They ban my speech and allow Hillary’s.

    So I think we need to remove those protections.

    Problem is, this would require lawmaking, which doesn’t happen anymore. Until we get a Republican House to go along with our Republican Senate and President, it’s not going to happen. But this would be a drastic change to internet governance, and probably ought not happen until we get such societal buy-in that we DO get that Republican sweep of government.

  • Nico

    @bobby b: No argument there! But again, Congress ain’t gonna do that. Republicans in Congress aren’t going to do that either when they get the House next. Too many of them are in Holywood’s pockets, so it’s DMCA forever. I don’t see any realistic way to improve the situation short of the Court stepping in.

  • Eric

    But Twitter and Cos. don’t use a neutral approach. They ban my speech and allow Hillary’s.

    So I think we need to remove those protections.

    Many, many people seem to agree. And yet there’s no movement in that direction.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Above, Jon asks:

    “In a scenario where private monopolies choose to remove the effective right to publish, at anything like a profitable rate, in private, without due process, isn’t there a point at which the limited due process and semi-democratic demi-oversight of government is preferable?”

    Fraser, January 11, 2019 at 3:08 am, answers:

    This is the great fallacy, the idea that “just this one time” government can use its gentle hand to tip the balance in favor of what you think is right and good. But government’s hand is never gentle, it is a sledgehammer, and it always wants more, more, more like a voracious monster. But even more importantly it NEVER does what you actually want.


    Yes !!!

    And of course the fix is deregulation


    Yes.

    …and de-monopolization

    Yes, but not by the Gov, but rather by losing customers to effective competition or by instigating policies which they dislike; or by changing or reinterpreting those policies whimsically, throwing people off the train or under the bus, so to speak, for reasons the public does not accept. (Do “long-standing policies that we just made up” constitute fraud? I know someone addressed this recently, maybe yesterday.)

    or in the absence of effective de-monopolization, a rule that says they have to serve everyone.

    No. That the “social media” companies, and video-sharing sites like YouTube, should also be turned into “common carriers,” as the utilities and the railways and airlines are, is already immoral (“You,” says the Gov, “are allowed to do business only on my terms.”*)

    This is the principle on which Barry Goldwater disapproved of the Civil Rights Act. He was all for almost the whole thing, but not the Title under which private concerns were required to serve everybody, regardless of “race or creed.” And not because he though discrimination was OK; but he thought the right of free association and disposal of property was not alienable by the government. Good for him!

    The question of “what to do about Facebook” almost always gets one of two answers: Give them the legal status of being a publisher, which makes them responsible for the content they permit to appear in their system; or give them common-carrier status, which means that they aren’t liable for the content they publish because they are required to publish everything.

    Just what the responsibility of a “publisher” is, such that he could be legally liable, I don’t know. bobby or anyone else, I’d welcome enlightenment. (Also: How do the laws differ on this among book publishers, magazine publishers, newspapers, filmmakers, and theaters or dramatic companies? What sort of “publisher” would Facebook and YouTube become, if the laws do differ?)

    For example, the bake-shops who argue for their right to refuse to make celebratory wedding cakes for homosexual couples tend to argue that they shouldn’t be forced to do that because other shops that are willing to do so abound. But that’s not right. Bakeries, flower shops, and social media networks should be left to do business on their own terms, with whom they please.

    But if their “terms” are sufficiently restrictive, or malleable, or displeasing to their customers or potential customers, they should understand that they need to change their policies or lose at least part of their market share.

    The whole situation is made the more untenable, though, by the governmental regulations on cc companies and banks. (This is true whether or not such companies want the regulations. I understand that Facebook wants to be a common carrier, so it can’t be faulted by its customers for policy decisions that they dislike. Dream on. Even our Mr. Marks is so disenchanted with the banks that he lumps all together, in this very discussion, as “the banks,” in a most uncomplimentary tone. Yet allegedly John Allison, former President of BB&T, was at extreme pains to run his banks ethically and without any sort of largesse from Big Brother; and I have heard whispers, in the dark of course, that there are other ethical and independent banks — though I suppose most of them are small local outfits. Dunno for sure.)

    The point is that if you can be an ethical banker without begging for a walker from the Gov, why can’t you also succeed as a “social-media” business, or a CC business, or a payment processor (eBay), or a payment collector (Patreon)?

    The problem, it seems to me, is in getting start-up funds. It will be interesting to see what Rubin, Peterson, and Harris will come up with in the way of providing competition to Patreon.

    .

    Also: I still cling (not bitterly, but rather wistfully, since L. Neil Schulman is the only one I know of who agrees with me, and he may have changed his mind in the last 20 years or so) to my opinion that “intellectual property” is owned by its devisor and producer by natural right, just like anything else he makes, and therefore should not go into the public domain ever, until such time as the chain of rightful ownership (property given as gift or in trade) is broken or lost.

    Noting for the record. But folks who are feeling grumpy anyway may as well take advantage and beam a 2-minute cyberhate on me. :>)

    .

    *I am noticing lately a lot of formerly-firm libertarian-ish conservatives backing down somewhat on the subject of “regulation” in various areas. Alas, compromise, which is not a natural part of my view of things, seems to be unavoidable if one wishes to live within 1000 miles of another human being. So for at least some things, I concede that accepting some degree of “regulation” might be a reasonable compromise to absolutely unrestricted property rights. Nevertheless, even “necessary” regulations are enactments that amount to governmental orders that go “do it this way, MY way, or don’t do it at all!”

    As at least one person said somewhere above (unless it was in another discussion), a properly libertarian world is an ideal, unrealizeable. The best we can do is clear away as much of the junk as is possible.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Just above, I incorrectly wrote

    or a payment processor (eBay)


    Wrong!
    The payment processor, of course, is PayPal. 😥

  • Julie near Chicago

    Mr Ed, thanks for the link to the de Jasay video. Downloaded it. :>)

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Also: I still cling (not bitterly, but rather wistfully, since L. Neil Schulman is the only one I know of who agrees with me, and he may have changed his mind in the last 20 years or so) to my opinion that “intellectual property” is owned by its devisor and producer by natural right, just like anything else he makes, and therefore should not go into the public domain ever, until such time as the chain of rightful ownership (property given as gift or in trade) is broken or lost.”

    Quite right. Nobody should ever be allowed to steal the credit for inventing something.

    Two questions, though: is it only the first person to devise something that owns it, or any person who devises it independently? And does ownership of an idea for doing something necessarily also imply ownership of the right for anyone else to do it? Or more specifically, the right to prevent them from doing it?

    I have the feeling that the right to use an idea for doing something oneself, and the right to stop everyone else in the world from doing it in perpetuity (especially even if they also invented it themselves!) are distinct rights. If everyone owns what they themselves make or do, then ipso facto they can’t own what anybody else makes or does. You only own the original idea you made yourself, not the copies of the idea made by other people. You may disagree, of course.

    It’s an interesting thought, though!

  • That the “social media” companies, and video-sharing sites like YouTube, should also be turned into “common carriers, … is already immoral” (Julie near Chicago, January 12, 2019 at 8:18 am

    I strongly agree that here, as in many other areas, the rights of owners should not be stealth-stolen by the state in the guise of forcing them to reclassify themselves as common carriers. However my far-from-clear impression of the common carrier issue implied that there were recognised legal statuses (stati ?) with recognised distinguishing features and recognised legal immunities, and vice versa.

    So, without claiming that the current law was especially good, let alone libertarian, one could require people – especially the sort of people who invent and redefine laws and then victimise bakers, etc. – to act as one status requires, or else endure the liabilities of another. Specifically, if a common carrier is distinguished by not censoring content and is protected from liability for that content, and a publisher can censor content and so is liable for what they let pass, is there a third legal status in which facebook can do both or are they in fact only able, under existing law, to be one or the other?

    I know too little of the area to say if this is viable, but it might be less dangerous than trust-busting in its ability to grow the state, and sometimes using existing law is safer than reviving disused law. Just my 0.02p FWIW.

  • We’re just too impatient to wait for the inevitable market corrections. (bobby b, January 11, 2019 at 2:47 am)

    This is an important point.

    – Many in this blog will know Milton Friedman’s assessment that the federal reserve had much to do with the depression – that if no federal reserve board had existed ‘to fix it’ then the downturn in 1929 would have been less severe and would have ended sooner.

    – Economists have estimated that investing just 131.5 million roubles in higher grain prices would have solved the Soviet Union’s shortfall of 1928. Communism ensured that the new economic policy was very likely to give way to liquidation of kulaks, Ukrainians and others sooner or later, but it seems to have been simple panic in the face of an unexpected and uncomprehended market event that prompted the mass grain seizures of 1928. Within a year, the communists received their next market lesson – that excessive taxation destroys the source of revenue – which they again did not comprehend.

    The immediate cause of many a socialist and nanny state failure is impatience with markets. Markets are not that slow but they are routinely too slow to suite standard political timescales.

    One reason we tend to succeed is that we are not quite so hair-trigger impatient with markets.

    It is a very fair question: what timescale – or what other evidence – would show that the left have blocked the market’s ability to solve this thread’s internet issue (as leftists often do)? But if (as I understand) a lot of this dates from the last two years – from the left’s reaction to Brexit and Trump – then timescale alone proves nothing as yet.

  • Paul Marks

    Carl Benjamin and Robert Spencer did NOT break any “Terms of Service” – neither did Laura Loomer or the other people targeted by the “liberal” establishment (which controls the internet cartel, the banking cartel, the “Payment Processer” and-so-on) for political persecution. The objective of the “liberal” establishment around the world is to CRUSH DISSENT – in order to control the information that most people see, and (thus) control elections and-so-on.

    The “liberal” establishment (including the parts of it that control so much of “Big Business” – which is backed by the government supported Credit Bubble economy) must be defeated. If it is not defeated then liberty will be destroyed.

    I agree with Julie and bobby (and everyone else here) that deregulation is part of the answer – deregulation of the PAYMENT PROCESSORS would be a good start.

    Presently there are two main Payment Processors – Mastercard and Visa.

    Matercard is controlled by the left – that is not an exaggeration, the evidence is overwhelming that this is so. Mastercard has a leftist political agenda and it acts on that agenda – threatening other companies (such as Patreon).

    “Then use Visa then” – I do, but there are plenty of SJWs at Visa as well (it is only a matter of time before they take total power there) – after all it recruits senior staff from the same EDUCATION SYSTEM that Mastercard recruits from.

    As Pat Condell pointed out in his short talk on New Year’s Eve (I posted it to Samizdata, but it never arrived – I am not making a paranoid charge, most likely a hit the wrong buttons on the keyboard or something, I OFTEN DO THAT I am old, bad tempered, and poorly coordinated)….

    Anyway as Pat Condell pointed out – the internet companies and the banks and so on, do not appear by some evil magic (they are not sent here by Satan operating from Hell) – their staff are the normal products of the modern EDUCATION SYSTEM, which does NOT teach people to value Freedom of Speech (or freedom generally). And this is true of many private schools and universities – not just the government ones.

    This is a societal decline, a cultural decline – which may well already be becoming a cultural collapse.

  • Paul Marks

    It just struck me how Orwellian that name is “Mastercard” – the people there clearly believe that they are the “masters” (hence the leaked policy documents about supporting free migration around the world – yes Mastercard thinks it should decide immigration policy), and ordinary people are slaves or serfs of their “Masters”. NOT the original idea when the name was chosen (most certainly not), but it has become the case.

    The Guardian newspaper – “Guardian” as in Plato’s Guardians. That may not have been the original intent when the name was chosen (back then it was the Manchester Guardian), but it has become the case.

  • Julie near Chicago

    In context of discussing my insistence that IP should be property-forever, Nullius, on January 11, 2019 at 11:39 am, asked:

    “…[I]s it only the first person to devise something that owns it, or any person who devises it independently?”

    This is already a question that patent and copyright laws must wrestle with. It doesn’t go to the issue of the duration of such property rights at all.

    Nullius, you also ask:

    “…does ownership of an idea for doing something necessarily also imply ownership of the right for anyone else to do it? Or more specifically, the right to prevent them from doing it?”

    That is one reason why (as I understand it, and the GF knows IANAL) copyright and patent laws don’t cover the idea which culminated in the making of the physical object, but rather the reproduction or copying of that particular object, for uses not authorized by a sale, trade, or gift of the object. In effect, it’s a licensing arrangement. I’m saying that the original maker of the object (whether an image, a text, or some other object such as a paper clip) should have and retain the right to reproduce and sell the object. And this would be true even if two different inventors or writers (etc.) should invent or write very nearly the same thing and both be granted patents or copyrights; in other words, the right to hold in perpetuity doesn’t logically have to depend on exclusivity of patents or copyrights.

    (One of the worst arguments for finite duration of inventions — and an original text or painting or piece of music is in fact an invention — is that absent same, eventually the proper owner of it would be lost track of. To which I can only say, And if it did — so what? That’s the point where it would naturally fall into the public domain.)

    Now, there are various issues that have to be decided, and especially the one where two people independently come up with virtually the same idea and make two virtually-identical products. In some cases the idea is already so widespread, or comes so readily to the human mind, that to protect objects which depend solely on that idea is impossible-so-fuhgeddaboudit. A drawing of a square would be a copyrightable product flowing from the idea of a square, for instance, but to do that would be just impossible.

    Current patent & copyright laws deal with the question of who’s entitled to a patent or copyright where there are competing claims by setting an arbitrary rule about who registered it first; but in the case of copyright at least I think (but don’t know for sure) that the registration test is rebuttable.

    What about the case where various societies the world over have invented, say, the mould-board plough? If I were writing the laws, I’d say that ipso facto the sucker’s already in the public domain, hence unpatentable.

    Other important issues about patent and copyright — so-called “IP” laws — have to be decided, doubtless requiring the dreadful but unavoidable “compromise.”

    I believe that plans for an object are patentable if there is also presented proof-of-concept. But whether that’s so, never, sometimes, or always, I don’t know. And exactly what such proof would require, I also don’t know.

    And there are headache-inducing questions like whether a new route from A to B is more properly said to be found or to be devised is one that ought to be answered, on some theory of discovery-vs-invention or other.

    And nothing in any of this has anything to do with the duration of a patent or a copyright.

    . . .

    Undoubtedly this contains various typos and other errors and obscurities. I apologize and beg clemency of any readers who happen by. :>)

  • Nullius in Verba

    “I’m saying that the original maker of the object (whether an image, a text, or some other object such as a paper clip) should have and retain the right to reproduce and sell the object.”

    There’s no dispute about that. The question is whether the original maker of the object should have and retain the right to stop anyone else producing similar artifacts.

    My first question was about when two people invent something, which of them can stop the other from producing what they invented. And this does depend on exclusivity of IP. If both can make it, no problem. That’s like public domain. But if one or both of them can stop the other making it, which is what IP laws are all about, then you’re in a situation where even the inventor of an object (the paperclip, say) is not allowed to make it, if he or she is not the first inventor.

    Now, I’m not sure if you’re saying that the inventor should always be able to make it, and not be stopped by any prior inventor, in which case you’re effectively saying that we should scrap IP laws and declare everything public domain. Or you’re saying that an inventor (the first of them or any of them, I’m not sure which you mean) should be able to stop everyone else doing it in perpetuity, for as long as anyone remembers who owns the IP. It’s all about constraining the actions of others, preventing competition.

    The classic position on property is that where you have excludable (access can be controlled) and rivalrous (consumption by one consumer prevents consumption by others) goods or resources, that it makes sense to assign an exclusive right to control it’s use (ownership) which may be bought and sold. It’s a way to allocate finite resources to the most productive use. However, for non-rivalrous goods where many can use it simultaneously, the greatest benefit to society comes from everyone being able to use it simultaneously. Nobody is prevented from consuming by the fact that others are. Nobody is hurt or deprived of enjoyment by someone else enjoying the same infinitely-reproducible thing. The problem is that where development of such goods costs a lot more than production, there’s no motivation to invest in inventing them because you can’t profit from it. To try to mitigate that problem (clumsily, because it’s not a free market solution), a compromise with these basic principles is made and the inventor is given a fixed-term monopoly on production. It’s a compromise between maximising society’s utility by enabling as many people as possible to benefit where there’s no need to ration resources, and paying for its invention. Society loses when people patent stuff that has trivial invention costs, but profits from hugely more investment in more expensive-to-develop inventions. It’s a trade-off.

    Many libertarians don’t like IP laws because it breaks the free market by creating artificial barriers to trade and legally-mandated monopolies, constrains the actions of others in cases where no harm is done, reduces the overall utility to society by artificially rationing things there no shortage of supply of, and gives rise to all the social ills associated with crime and corruption where people find ways to circumvent the barrier illegally. On the other hand, nobody has come up with a better answer to the problem of the under-production of public goods. So they tend to hold their noses, and accept it.

    If you’ve got an argument claiming a moral right of exclusive ownership (i.e. stopping everyone else doing it) even in the case of non-rivalrous goods, that could be interesting. But I’m not convinced I’ve understood if that’s what you really mean.

  • Paul Marks

    Julie and Nullius.

    I will not go far into the debate on “Intellectual Property” (the partisans on both sides of the debate are far too scary for me). However, I will say that the European Union “Copyright Directive” is intended to utterly exterminate Freedom of Speech (freedom to dissent) under the guise of “protecting copyright”.

    “Did you have permission to repeat the words of this individual or company?”

    But I was just repeating some of their words in order to argue against them.

    “Irrelevant – you are guilty of using their words without their permission”.

    It is obvious that the real intent of this “Directive” is not to “protect the starving artists” – it is to crush political dissent.

  • Paul Marks

    I was just typing something and it went sideways – it just wandered off the screen (or in my delusional state I thought it did).

    As so often I am not well, but I think bobby b said something about the market eventually self correcting.

    It may do eventually (let us hope so – although many of us will be dead by then), but there is little side of that yet.

    For example, Marvel Comics has lost a lot of money by pushing the “Diversity” “Social Justice” agenda.

    So what is rival D.C. Comics doing? It is COPYING Marvel in going down the Social Justice, Diversity road – KNOWING that this will cost the company a fortune in lost sales (because “some things are more important money” – its seems that far left politics is one of these “things”).

    It is hard to see how modern “Big Business” fits in to the theory of “profit maximising capitalists” at all.

    As my friend Mr Ed is fond of pointing out – there is no such thing as “the market” separate from people.

    If people are not interested in the long term profitability of their enterprises the market does not work – and if the education system produces a whole mess of Corporate Managers who think in the same way – well then we are where we are.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Nullius,

    I was not making an argument in favor of some particular legal stance on what constitutes what is called “intellectual property,” which is really a misnomer.

    It is a misnomer because what is supposed to be protected under such laws is the right to COPY, except for certain specific purposes. (Example: The Fair Use exceptions for copyrighted material.)

    I am quite well aware that that is not the reason given in our Constitution*** for the existence of copyright laws. My argument in favor of some sort of guarantee that others are not to make unrestricted use of copies of someone’s physical instantiation of his idea is a moral argument, not a social-good argument.

    I am NOT arguing for any particular version of IP laws.

    I am saying that if it is, properly speaking, a “property right” at all, then whatever protection there is against having your work reproduced without your permission ought to exist, like other property rights, in perpetuity.

    If A and B happen to come up independently with the idea for X, and to produce physical realizations of X, which seem to be virtually identical, then that is a situation to be dealt with in the drafting of the laws. I am not stumping for nor against what any version of property law should or should not say,

    except that if it professes to guard a property right at all — then, like any other property right, that right should exist in perpetuity.

    Again. My whole point was about the legally prescribed duration of the right (properly understood), not about any particular version of a law claiming to protect it, except in that one particular.

    I will stop here, except to note that virtually all laws have shortcomings.

    And to note that misdeeds are never wholly and solely stopped by laws, nor are the unjust results that flow from them. Murder is just one example.

    ***

    Aside: Historical precedent:

    There is some evidence that some form of patent rights was recognized in Ancient Greece. In 500 BCE, in the Greek city of Sybaris (located in what is now southern Italy), “encouragement was held out to all who should discover any new refinement in luxury, the profits arising from which were secured to the inventor by patent for the space of a year.”

    [SNIP]

    n England, grants in the form of letters patent were issued by the sovereign to inventors who petitioned and were approved: a grant of 1331 to John Kempe and his Company is the earliest authenticated instance of a royal grant made with the avowed purpose of instructing the English in a new industry.[4][5] These letters patent provided the recipient with a monopoly to produce particular goods or provide particular services.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_patent_law

    The easiest way to keep to precedent would be to quit calling it “intellectual property” !

    (This phrase is nowhere in the Constitution.)

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>