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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/17277/the-evil-of-patenting-food-and-seeds/

The Evil of Patenting Food and Seeds

June 13, 2011 by

From Don’t Save Your (Patented) Seed:

As reported on the Patent Baristas blog: “To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, “Well, There You Go Again!” The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit again affirmed that, while the practice of savings seeds after a harvest to plant the next season is as old as farming itself, you can’t save patented seeds.”

From The Patent, Copyright, Trademark, and Trade Secret Horror Files:

Farmer David Reaps What He Has Sown: A Patent Suit, Patent Baristas (Feb. 13, 2008) Even though “the practice of saving seeds after a harvest to plant the next season is as old as farming itself,” patents prevent farmers from saving patented seeds.

In the case Monsanto Canada Inc. v. Schmeiser, the Canadian Supreme Court ruled that growing genetically modified plants constitutes a “use” of the patented invention of genetically modified plant cells. In this case, a farmer had his canola contaminated with RoundUp Ready canola. He saved the canola and used it for next year but then Monsanto went after him and the farmer ended up having to destroy all his seeds.

Naturally, Monsanto is opposed to patent reform that might reduce the damage patents do (Monsanto v. Google on Patent Reform).

See also Carson: Intellectual Property is Murder; and Paolo Bacigalupi’s “The Calorie Man” and Patents, where Geoffrey Allan Plauché explains, of “The Calorie Man” by Paolo Bacigalupi, as, in his Prometheus Unbound review:

This is what makes the story particularly interesting to libertarians. “The Calorie Man” is, at least implicitly, anti-IP. Intellectual property, specifically here in the form of gene patents on crops, is depicted as illegitimate and harmful. The protagonists generally show no qualms with violating the intellectual “property” of Big Ag and thwarting the IP police. Yes, there are dedicated IP police, a particularly insidious scourge we can probably expect in our own near future.”

See also my LRC post Re: No Freedom of Food.

Update: This post, Organic Farmers Sue, Seek Protection From Monsanto, provides more information about Monsanto’s outrageous use of patents: “… Monsanto has filed scores of lawsuits and won judgments against farmers they claimed made use of their seed without paying required royalties. Many farmers have claimed that their fields were inadvertently contaminated without their knowledge, and the issue has been a topic of concern for not only farmers, but also companies that clean and handle seed.” Now, some of them are suing Monsanto: “This case asks whether Monsanto has the right to sue organic farmers for patent infringement if Monsanto’s genetically modified seed should land on their property…” Let’s hope they win.

{ 117 comments }

nate-m June 13, 2011 at 9:40 am

This is monstrous.

Stefano June 13, 2011 at 3:47 pm

It was Monsanto that convinced me of the absurdity of IP. Because patenting a GMO soybean is every bit as legitimate as patenting a book, if not more so.

I mean, if you can patent a floor cleaning product, than surely you can patent the idea to put bacteria dna in corn, right?

nate-m June 13, 2011 at 6:25 pm

Patents are completely and utterly arbitrary. What is and what is not patentable is almost random… just based on whatever sounded good at the time.

This is one more reason why anybody complaining about IP being a right on par with property rights is just either utterly deluded or just intellectually bankrupt.

Rudd-O June 13, 2011 at 4:54 pm

The endgame of all this?

Neofeudalism, one industry at a time.

Wildberry June 13, 2011 at 4:55 pm

This is an interesting problem, and I wouldn’t want to judge it without all the facts, but…I would caution against a blanket condemnation of plant patents.

It’s been awhile since I read about this, but I seem to recall that one of the facts in this case was that the farmer actually applied roundup to his crop to select out the genetically resistant seed, with the intent of using the benefits of the altered seed without having to pay the market price for it.

If that was the case, then what is the moral justification for the farmer’s actions? If on the other hand, there is no way to cost-effectively prevent contamination, requiring the farmer to destroy seed he would otherwise gather and use, this is not justifiable either.

Much like drug patents, R&D costs money, and without a return (assuming benefits create market demand), no profit seeking enterprise would invest in that R&D.

Much has been said here about using principles to sort this type of difficult problem out. What are the principles operating here? On the one hand, Monsanto has an economic interest in the product development investment, while farmers have a right to not to have his actions on his own property limited by circumstances he cannot control (i.e. “invasion” by a protected plant seed).

To swing property rules too favorably towards the farmer would be to allow free-riding on the benefits of Monsanto’s work and investment; too far towards Monsanto, and as their crop continues to invade non-patented crops, they would end up owning soybeans. Monsanto does not own soybeans, they own the particular genetic strain they developed.

This is not unlike the competing objectives of copyrights; disclosure and incentivizing production. Authors don’t own ideas any more than letters of the alphabet, but they do own their own original works. We want drug companies and plant scientists to improve their products, and in theory a free market will handle competition. Patents do not limit competition any more than my exclusive use of my property limits your ability to compete with me with your own property.

The principle in common to both situations is that free markets with strong private property rules, including IP, insure that a producer benefits from production from his own private means, while protecting the freedom of the public domain.

Exactly where the line between competing property boundaries are drawn is a matter of principle, facts, discretion and judgment. Unlike some, I believe we are capable of such things.

nate-m June 13, 2011 at 6:54 pm

This is an interesting problem, and I wouldn’t want to judge it without all the facts, but…I would caution against a blanket condemnation of plant patents.

Well yeah, according to you every time somebody uses the patent system as it’s designed has to be carefully excluded from the evidence that patents are nothing more then arbitrary monopolies grants bought and paid for from our state government.

If that was the case,

From what I can gather from the article the farmer purchased seed in 1999. He purchased a larger amount of seed in 2003 and also purchased Monsanto’s chemicals in 2003.

Apparently Monsanto says that he saved the seed from 1999 and use the 2003 chemical purchase on it and that the seeds he bought in 2003 were purchased after he planted the his seeds for that year.

If on the other hand, there is no way to cost-effectively prevent contamination,

It’s going to be virtually impossible to prevent ‘contamination’. He would have to torch his entire farm to prevent the remnants from one year’s crop from mixing with the next. These are plants. They reproduce naturally by insects and breezes.

requiring the farmer to destroy seed he would otherwise gather and use, this is not justifiable either.

Quite.

Much like drug patents, R&D costs money, and without a return (assuming benefits create market demand), no profit seeking enterprise would invest in that R&D.

People have made plenty of money for tens of thousands of years doing agricultural research without patents. I don’t see why they are needed now.

Exactly where the line between competing property boundaries are drawn is a matter of principle, facts, discretion and judgment. Unlike some, I believe we are capable of such things.

Exactly. That’s why patents need to be abolished because by all principles, facts, and proper judgement they are not only destructive to individual’s rights, but entirely counter productive. They retard progress and hurt the economy.

I am glad we finally came to some agreement on the subject.

Dagnytg June 14, 2011 at 4:19 am

Wildberry,

To be honest, I’m surprised even proponents of IP can support the position of Monsanto.

But the thing I like about the IP position (which, by the way, you exemplify) is that one has to be extremely pragmatic to defend it. It requires incredible amounts of rationalization on so many levels and in the end… demands one to accept the complexity of contradiction.

To read your comment is to understand what I’m saying.

Stephan Kinsella June 14, 2011 at 6:55 am

Yes, defending IP has turned Wildberry into a walking reductio ad absurdem.

White Indian June 13, 2011 at 8:06 pm

Agriculture has been crushing traditional peoples since the first Sumerian empire, monopolizing the Land with abstract property rights (the first government en-Title-ment program.)

Now they’re “making improvements” upon Life itself, “mixing their labor” with the genetic code and creating more property rights upon earth’s resources.

There is going to be another Trail of Tears.

Nonoy Oplas June 14, 2011 at 1:32 am

I feel that the arguments by the author are rather shallow. Take the case of rice seeds, IRRI alone has 112,000+ different rice seed varieties; various national governments rice research institutes, academic institutes, private corporations and research institutes, also have their own rice genebank. Who now has the monopoly of important seeds? Was anyone disallowed or disenfranchised from developing or inventing a new rice variety? My longer discussion here, http://funwithgovernment.blogspot.com/2011/06/on-intellectual-property-abolition-part_14.html.

If free marketers hate private ownership of inventions, if they want more socialized, more collective, more communal ownership of inventions, I think that position is closer to socialism.

Andrew (from Russia) June 14, 2011 at 2:18 am

“If free marketers hate private ownership of inventions, if they want more socialized, more collective, more communal ownership of inventions, I think that position is closer to socialism.”

They want no “ownership” at all. One doesn’t render IPRs “communal” by rendering them nonexistent, just like one doesn’t render slavery “collective” by abolishing private ownership of slaves. With IPRs gone, physical property rights expand naturally to fill the void – just like self-ownership takes over ownership by one’s master.

On your expanded post, the notion of “additional incentive” smacks of interventionism. Acknowledging that incentives exist is OK, trying to manage them is another story.

Nonoy Oplas June 14, 2011 at 2:24 am

Hmmm, some guys make a full time or lifetime career of producing ideas. They produce not a single physical property, only ideas. Like song composers, book and magazine authors, molecular biologists and chemicsts, etc. Unlike carpenters who produce chairs and houses, farmers who produce food, engineers who produce cars and laptops, the earlier group produce only ideas, and they cannot own their own discoveries and invention. Weird.

pravin June 14, 2011 at 6:51 am

how many of their ideas are truly built from nothing?out of thin air? .none.
einstein used mathematical tools that were developed .he refined them further and added his out of the box thinking.should he have paid royalties for using calculus?
no idea -none at all are truly original.humankind continuously invents newer stuff and newer ideas -all based on some previous idea.we can reduce this to absurdity by saying that some chinese or indian mathematician should get a money anytime you use zero or negative numbers.monopoly over ideas is possible only thru force.

Nonoy Oplas June 14, 2011 at 9:36 am

It’s the first time I’ve heard that mathematical formulas are patentable and thus, should be opposed. Not a single pro-IP guys that I know advocate patenting mathematical formulas.

Shay June 14, 2011 at 9:08 am

The carpenter who produces chairs and houses for others out of materials they provide, the farmer who produces food as hired help on someone else’s farm, the engineers (factory workers?) who produce cars and laptops, etc. do not own what they produce, since it’s made using materials not owned by them; they are paid for their labor. Only if they own the material inputs do they own the outputs. So your “weird” is misplaced.

nate-m June 14, 2011 at 2:19 am

If free marketers hate private ownership of inventions, if they want more socialized, more collective, more communal ownership of inventions, I think that position is closer to socialism.

Yes, that’s right People that champion freedom, capitalistic forces, wealth, real money and open markets are the socialists while those people that want to restrict markets and think the use of state government enforced monopolies is the key to human creativity and profits are the ones that are the capitalists.

Better markets through regulations, taxes, restrictions, and the use of force. That is the future of capitalism.

Nonoy Oplas June 14, 2011 at 2:30 am

Bright ideas are scarce, idiotic ideas are not, they abound. One proof is that governments anywhere keep expanding. Some idiots say they have invented a coffee that can cure all sorts of cancer, all sorts of heart diseases, and their coffee discovery is free for all humanity to enjoy. This is an example why bright ideas should be protected and rewarded, to separate them from idiotic ideas.

Dagnytg June 14, 2011 at 3:16 am

Nonoy Oplas,

I think you’re missing the point of the article.

The author is only pointing out the ridiculousness of suing a farmer for using seeds produced from his harvest.

If the harvest is a by product of the GMO seeds, shouldn’t the farmer pay royalties on his harvest?

If not, then why does he have to pay royalties for the seeds produced from the harvest? You can’t have it both ways.

To say I can’t use the seeds from the harvest is to say I don’t have property rights to my harvest.

Nonoy…is that what you believe?

Bottom line: Either I own my harvest and the rights to do what I want with it…or I don’t.

Nonoy Oplas June 14, 2011 at 3:37 am

Thanks Dagnytg. The author has generalized the discussion that’s why the title is “The evil of patenting food and seeds.” And the reason why I posted my article is because I showed that in rice alone, 112,000+ rice varieties, mostly product of biotechnology and currently or previously patented seeds, The lesson is that plant patents resulted in an explosion of innovation and competition of tens of thousands of new seeds.

The way plant patent is implemented in the West, based on the articles referenced by the blog author, seems to be different from the experience in poorer countries like the Philippines. Here, patented seeds are not repeated for replanting not because of IPR and legal issues, but because the productivity of “recycled” seeds are lower compared to the original seeds. And if farmers think that the price of one biotech or seed company is too high, farmers have the choice of getting the seeds of another biotech or seed company, or use the old, off-patent seeds. There are lot of choices among patented seeds, among off-patent seeds.

Stephan Kinsella June 14, 2011 at 6:49 am

Don’t you know, your fellow IP socialists, Wildberry et al., will explain to you that despite what you say here, IP does not protect “ideas.” Or something.

BTW funny you criticize the growth of government while you defend a government monopoly granting program.

Nonoy Oplas June 14, 2011 at 9:13 am

I have debated with a number of socialists here in the Philippines, and they say the same thing as you do — abolish IPR; patients over patents. I have also argued in earlier comments that IPR may be granted by private, industry association, so it’s not who grants IPR that is the main issue but whether it should be instituted to advance property rights and free market. Besides, government also grants monopoly rights to physical properties like land, house and car. Why not attack it as well.

Colin Phillips June 14, 2011 at 9:53 am

Because actual property rights would continue to exist in the absence of state force, and imaginary property rights would not.

White Indian June 14, 2011 at 2:36 pm

| “Because actual property rights would continue to exist in the absence of state force…”

When have Landed property rights for agriculture in an agricultural civilization (which is defined anthropologically as settlements of 5000+) ever existed without coercion?

I don’t think they ever have, in spite of Freedman’s anarchic examples of outlier societies (Iceland) or smaller chiefdoms that don’t really really reach the scale of civilization, but if you know of an example, I’d appreciate your input.

Wildberry June 14, 2011 at 1:43 pm

@ Stephan Kinsella June 14, 2011 at 6:49 am

I love the fact that both sides are calling the other socialists. Seems like we should be able to sort that out…

Ah, Stephan, I don’t think Monsanto patented an idea, do you? I think they patented a genetically altered strain of soybean. I have an idea for a new fuel. Can I patent that?

Funny how it IS possible to criticize the growth of government while defending the government monopoly granting system (aka private property).

What do you call a person who is opposed to the concept of private property?

I guess that settles the issue. Thanks for clearing that up.

Dagnytg June 14, 2011 at 3:05 pm

Wildberry,

Funny how it IS possible to criticize the growth of government while defending the government monopoly granting system (aka private property).

You miss the point…again. Libertarians don’t believe in property rights because they are granted by the government.

In simple terms:
We believe in property rights because they are defendable. I don’t need a government to defend my property. I only need a gun, dogs, security system, guards, fence, neighbors etc. to do so.

In essence, this is what divides the two camps. To enforce IP rights I need to have a convoluted and subjective legal system backed by government in order to enforce compliance.

IP requires enforcement and thus aggression to protect it.

Private property requires no aggression to protect it.

Wildberry June 14, 2011 at 5:23 pm

@Dagnytg June 14, 2011 at 3:05 pm

You miss the point…again.

A voice of reason?

Libertarians don’t believe in property rights because they are granted by the government.

I do not believe in property rights because they are granted by the government. Can I be a Libertarian, now?

In simple terms:

Thank you. I’m a simple man.

We believe in property rights because they are defendable.

I believe in property rights because they are defendable. How about now?

I don’t need a government to defend my property. I only need a gun, dogs, security system, guards, fence, neighbors etc. to do so.

I don’t need a government to defend my property. It is only when you are unwilling to observe my property rights that I can enlist the force of coercion to defend myself and my property. The form of that coercion is a “technical issue”, in SK’s words. Guns, dogs, friends, PDAs, police, Army, United Nations, whatever is available to me. I like my stuff.

In essence, this is what divides the two camps. To enforce IP rights I need to have a convoluted and subjective legal system backed by government in order to enforce compliance.

Not really. I buy books all the time, and not once have I be sued by an author, or been followed out of the book store by an IP Nazi. I’ve grown vegetables, too, and Monsanto never knocked on my door, or pulled a gun.

IP requires enforcement and thus aggression to protect it.

You seem to believe that IP is only an aggressive device to accomplish some a priori goal, like censorship, as Sweatervest claimed. Nonsense.

You only need coercion when a party is unwilling to cooperate with established principles of property rights. As someone as smart as you no doubt knows, aggression is a function of a priori rights. What would be aggression in one case is defense in another. The existence of rights prior to the act is what distinguishes one from the other.

Private property requires no aggression to protect it.

All rights require enforcement rights, as you said yourself just a few sentences before.

Why you single out IP as some special case is beyond me. Let’s assume it is an honest mistake, because you have been so propagandized by the rhetoric here that you temporarily lost your way.

IP, like all property rights, is not a right unless it can be defended. Freedom loving people establish universal rights, and then neutralize the “might makes right” proposition with universal, neutral enforcement rights and legal principles.

In a civilized society, it doesn’t matter if you have more guns than me. That is a great equalizer, like Smith and Wesson, for property rights and peaceful resolution of conflicts. That is the theory. The fact that it doesn’t work ideally in every instance is just an unfortunate fact of life; men are not angles.

Nonoy Oplas June 14, 2011 at 7:55 pm

Wildberry June 14, 2011 at 1:43 pm
I love the fact that both sides are calling the other socialists. Seems like we should be able to sort that out…

hahaha, funny right. But as I said earlier, in my debates with socialists here in the Philippines, real socialists who advocate central planning, dictatorship of the proletariat, state ownership of factories, land, buildings and other means of production, ALL of them, no exception, call for tweaking if not abolition of IPR. I have not seen any socialist who say “halleluiah or strictly protect IPR”. So I guess that’s one indicator of what side of the argument is closer to socialism.

And btway, Stephan said “your fellow IP socialists, Wildberry et al.,.”

Dagnytg June 15, 2011 at 3:59 am

You only need coercion when a party is unwilling to cooperate with established principles of property rights.

I don’t need to restrain or dominate by force (coerce) someone when they are unwilling to cooperate. To do so is violate their property. How can I possibly stand for property rights while violating (through the use of coercion) someone else’s property? (This is essentially what IP ends up doing.)

As someone as smart as you no doubt knows, aggression is a function of a priori rights.

I’m not very smart…the only thing I know to be a priori is human action-man acts. I am unaware of any rights being a priori and fail to see how aggression is a function of rights. Regardless, libertarian ethics demands non-aggression as a way of upholding property rights.

What would be aggression in one case is defense in another.

I will restate what I said at the top of this comment. To aggress against someone is to violate their property. To defend my property does not require me to violate someone else’s property.

All rights require enforcement rights, as you said yourself just a few sentences before.

First, I never said any such thing. (It’s a figment of your imagination.) I made a very simple observation. (It was devoid of ethics, morality, or praxeology – “simple terms”) It was in response to your statement:

…government monopoly granting system (aka private property). Your words not mine.

I made a very simple observation: What grants me a right to my property is that I can protect it…defend it through the use of non-aggression.

IP cannot make that same claim.

Wildberry…the distinction is simple. No need to use up so much white space in an attempt to write over it.

White Indian June 15, 2011 at 5:11 am

| “I don’t need a government to defend my property. I only need a gun, dogs, security system, guards, fence, neighbors etc. to do so.”

Incorrect. That is a fantasy world of Libertarian novels.

It reveals a total ignorance of what property rights mean. Agriculture requires extensive rights to irrigation, drainage, etc.

I happen to own acreage myself, and I pay taxes, and have drainage land rights that extend for many dozens of miles (all the way to Lake Erie) and I pay taxes on drainage projects far from my land.

Ignorant people like you, who have an idea of their “property” similar to yours, got in a spat recently, which made the local news, with a farmer.

There is a 24″ drainage tile that drains the farmer’s land. It runs under several city-slicker McMansion lots. The tile isn’t working. The farmer requested the tile be fixed. The McMansion owners are all upset, because their pretty little Monsanto yards are going to be ruined by backhoes.

They’re in an uproar. They really think their property rights are being violated. They’ve protested at the county meeting.

But the farmer’s property rights, established by government, enforced by government, reign supreme, and they’re getting their manicured laws dug up anyway.

That takes government to resolve complex disputes like that.

Unless you want to entertain gun play with the farmer and his friends over that 12″ drainage tile. Think about that. Them boys eat baling wire for dessert.

Jay Lakner June 15, 2011 at 6:16 am

lol who is this White Indian guy?

I find it highly amusing when ignorant people accuse others of being ignorant.

He seems to have overlooked the fact that property rights are the natural result of scarcity. And by scarcity I mean the fact that it is impossible to simultaneously alter the momentum of a chunk of matter in two different ways.

Property rights are therefore a method of determining who may alter an object at any given moment in time. They come in many different forms:
- Might makes right,
- Dictator decides,
- The “mob” decides,
- Lockean Homesteading,
- Other, irregular, systems.

Apparently, according to White Indian, only the second and third on the list are valid and we are all ignorant for believing that any of the others are possible.

So shame on all you ignorant people who develop a fundamental grasp of property rights, then consider each possible system, rule out the illogical ones (Mises calculation argument ftw!), and decide that Lockean Homesteading is the only viable possiblilty. To engage in such a rational and logical thought process is clearly ignorant!

Gil June 15, 2011 at 6:32 am

Under Libertarian laws the farmers have to get the tile fixed underground somehow or find the money to compensate the unpleasantness of having lawns ripped up.

Jay Lakner June 15, 2011 at 6:45 am

If ownership of the land had of originally been negotiated in a free society, then I can’t imagine that such a situation is likely to occur in the first place. I’m sure all sorts of agreements would have been made with the surrounding land owners prior to and during the purchase of the land in question. You certainly don’t need “government” to be able to handle this scenario.

White Indian June 15, 2011 at 6:59 am

| “He seems to have overlooked the fact that property rights are the natural result of scarcity.”

You are overlooking the fact that scarcity isn’t natural. Abundance is natural.

“The first European colonists to come to the Americas noted skies turned black by flocks of birds, and rivers so full of fish you could catch them with your bare hands. Our ancestors – the ancestors of some of us, that is – knew. When Europeans first arrived on the land that would eventually become the United States they found a land truly blessed by the divine. Their accounts speak of an abundance few would recognize today. On the East Coast, birds, including now-extinct species such as the great auk, could be found in “number so great as to be uncountable,” as one contemporary wrote. Passenger pigeons flew in flocks of billions, darkening the sky for days at a time as they passed overhead. Eskimo curlews, puffins, teals, plovers and more could be found in numbers genuinely unthinkable today. And that’s just to speak of the East Coast, and just to speak of birds. Writing from the Pacific Northwest in the 17th century, Nicolas Denys noted that “so large a quantity of salmon enter[ed] the river [that] at night one [was] unable to sleep.” Elsewhere cod were “so thick by the shore that [one] could hardly have been able to row a boat through them.” In 1620, the crew of the Mayflower noted “every day saw whales plying hard by us; of which, in that place, if we had instruments and means to take them we might have made a very rich return.” Tens of millions of buffalo dwelt on all corners of the continent, as did wolves and great cats. Such mind-blowing abundance was the accumulated gift of hundreds, if not thousands, of generations, each one living to give back more than they took.”

Source: “The Savages are Truly Noble”
by Jason Godesky
http://rewild.info/anthropik/2007/05/the-savages-are-truly-noble/index.html

But you are correct, property rights are associated with economic systems based on scarcity – the artificially induced scarcity of agriculture.

“Famines are characteristic of agriculture, not foragers…we know of no foraging group to have ever faced such conditions, archaeological evidence for widespread malnutrition before the rise of agriculture is generally lacking, and even a desert like the Kalahari can be abundant for a forager…”

Source: Thesis #10: Emergent elites led the Agricultural Revolution.
by Jason Godesky
http://rewild.info/anthropik/thirty/index.html

Scarcity is profitable, for a few, nobody will deny that.

White Indian June 15, 2011 at 7:12 am

Gil said: “Under Libertarian laws the farmers have to get the tile fixed underground somehow…”

“Somehow” means tearing up the old tile under the McMansion lawns.

Note: somehow is quite the constant libertarian theme. Somehow we’ll figure it out in our next Libertarian novel about the moon.

Guess what? “Somehow” doesn’t get water drained off 5 acres of corn that took $400/acre to plant.

Digging up tile gets it done.

“…or find the money to compensate the unpleasantness of having lawns ripped up.”

Drainage is a farmer’s property right, according to the laws of the State of Ohio. He’s not going to compensate anybody for exercising that property right by requesting the county to install a new tile.

Wildberry June 15, 2011 at 11:14 am

@ Jay Lakner June 15, 2011 at 6:45 am

This is a fallacy. You seem to believe in the infallability of prior negotiation. Anyone who has ever actaully negotiated a contract understands that there is no way to pre-negotiate every possible contengency in a contract in advance.

It is naive to hold that a contract between two people can be comprehensive enough to cover all contengencies, and not depend on any legal principles outside of the four corners of the document.

Also, no small matter is the transaction cost of attempting to do so over every transaction that occurs in an economy like ours. Have you taken transaction costs into consideration.

Land contracts depend on principles of existing property law. It is not necessary to define what an easement is from scratch, only to provide the specific details of the transaction.

I think you have an unrealistic idea of how property would operate in a “free society”. Free societies are also free to establish legal institutions that reduce the transaction costs of doing business. What’s “unfree” about that?

Jay Lakner June 16, 2011 at 12:00 am

White Indian wrote:

You are overlooking the fact that scarcity isn’t natural. Abundance is natural.

Ok so it turns out that you’re not ignorant… You’re just plain stupid!

Did I not say?:

And by scarcity I mean the fact that it is impossible to simultaneously alter the momentum of a chunk of matter in two different ways

I guess there is no point engaging White Indian in futher debate.

Jay Lakner June 16, 2011 at 12:18 am

Wildberry …

Here you are trying to pass off the major matter of drainage as just some small contingency.

I’m not actually surprised that you would try to make such a silly argument … I’ve dealt with you before.

You’re the freak who denied that the Universe is fundamentally made up of a bunch of tangible materials in different geometric configurations.

I remember coming to the conclusion that you, Wildberry, are a faker. You pretend to understand the subject so you can spew voluminous amounts of intellectual-sounding garbage on this site. Why? Who knows? Who cares? Regardless of the reason, I have very little time for fakers.

Gil June 16, 2011 at 6:40 am

To White Indian:

I said under “Libertarian law” not “Ohio State law”. Libertarians would say that property owners can tunnel under others’ properties providing it doesn’t cause property damage. On the other hand, if repairing the pipe means interfering with others properties then the farmer need the permission and will probably have to pay compensation for the damages incurred.

Shay June 14, 2011 at 9:15 am

This is an example why bright ideas should be protected and rewarded, to separate them from idiotic ideas.

First off, “protection” of bright ideas is a euphemism for restricting their application, which reduces their utility from potentially infinite to finite. I don’t think anyone on this site wants there to be an end to bright ideas. The objection is to violating physical property rights in trying to encourage ideas. Many here believe that ending this violation wouldn’t end bright ideas, that IP is just an underhanded excuse for reducing competition.

Nonoy Oplas June 14, 2011 at 9:57 am

Protection of bright ideas is to encourage more people to become more innovative, more inventive and creative. I repeatedly argued the case of patenting rice seeds — it encouraged the discovery and invention of more revolutionary rice varieties, 112,000+ in the IRRI genebank alone. IPR blasted the gate towards more innovation, more competition, rice farmers, big or small, can choose from thousands and thousands of different rice varieties.

Drigan June 14, 2011 at 12:00 pm

There’s just no way that there were 112,000+ “revolutionary” rice varieties. Clearly that’s a problem with patenting because no farmer can even verify that they don’t have one of those varieties present in their own rice.

Nonoy Oplas June 14, 2011 at 10:14 am

Reply to Colin: An idiot will say, “I invented a drug that can cure all types of cancer, all types of cholesterol problems, all types of heart problems.” A real scientist will say, “I pursued PhD, post-doctoral and other academic training and I finally invented a drug that can cure only one type of cancer.” For the anti-IP guys, both cases do not deserve any IPR protection, the distinction between an idiotic idea and a bright idea is non accepted.

Colin Phillips June 14, 2011 at 11:05 am

Yes, Nonoy, we’ve already dealt with this.
Firstly, patents aren’t a guarantee of effectiveness.
Secondly, which of the two pharmacists would you visit – someone who claims to have done something, but has no external third party to verify their claim, or someone who gets independent testing?

Obviously, with or without patents, you and I are going to go for the option that actually has a chance. some people will go for the homeopathy option, sure, and that’s their right to be foolish. So what?

The only thing patents have achieved in your scenario is that they make the medicines more expensive by granting a monopoly.

The fact that you can differentiate a clever (in your opinion) idea from a stupid (in your opinion) idea does not at all change the fact that they are both ideas -> non-rivalrous, non-property. Even stupid ideas should not be artificially restricted by means of monopolies.

Peter Surda June 14, 2011 at 11:27 am

Nonoy,

how you come to such unlikely conclusions is baffling me. Why should a smart guy have different (more) rights than a stupid guy? It’s a total non-sequitur. If you are unable to distinguish between a smart guy and a stupid guy without a law telling you which is which, then how can you make a reasonable judgement in any other human endeavour?

Nonoy Oplas June 14, 2011 at 8:03 pm

Drigan June 14, 2011 at 12:00 pm
There’s just no way that there were 112,000+ “revolutionary” rice varieties.

Oh my, then the Intl. Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is a liar for saying that they have more than 112,000 different rice seed varieties in their genebank. Majority of those seeds are now off-patent as the early rice seeds, high yielding varieties (HYVs) produced via biotech were invented I think, in the late 60s to 70s, like IR-64.

Nonoy Oplas June 15, 2011 at 9:38 am

Peter Surda June 14, 2011 at 11:27 am
“Why should a smart guy have different (more) rights than a stupid guy? ”

I wrote above, “For the anti-IP guys, both cases do not deserve any IPR protection, the distinction between an idiotic idea and a bright idea is not accepted.”
So I was referring to a bright idea to be given protection if the inventor of that idea so desires. Idiotic ideas do not need protection because sensible people will not buy idiotic ideas, like the idea that 1 drug can cure all types of cancer, all types of cholesterol and heart problems.

Peter Surda June 15, 2011 at 10:34 am

Nonoy,

you avoided the issue. You fashion yourself as a champion of free markets, and simultaneously defend the concept of rights being derived from “brightness” of the right carriers. These two views are contradictory. You cannot have free markets and two classes of property right carriers. Furthermore, the reasoning is backwards. The only way to determine whether an idea is beneficial is a posteriori, after people express the desire to use it or ignore it, which would make the concept retroactive.

Nonoy Oplas June 16, 2011 at 7:47 am

Peter Surda June 15, 2011 at 10:34 am
“You fashion yourself as a champion of free markets, and simultaneously defend the concept of rights being derived from “brightness” of the right carriers.”

Huh, In my nearly 2,000 posts in my blog, I never claimed that I am the “champion of free markets.” Where did it come from? I just as an ordinary advocate of free market, zero illusion of being a “champion.” And if we do not make a distinction between bright and idiotic ideas — like a potato variety invented by someone who says it can kill HIV, kill Alzheimer’s, kill all types of cancer, as example of the latter — then even a really useful drug or seed developed by no-nonsense scientists, will also be stripped of recognition and protection.

Andrew June 14, 2011 at 2:29 am

“Hmmm, some guys make a full time or lifetime career of producing ideas. They produce not a single physical property, only ideas.”

Don’t they have something in common with the guys that produce SERVICES?

Nonoy Oplas June 14, 2011 at 2:33 am

No. A bus driver, a restaurant waiter, a barber, produces a service, but not ideas. A molecular biologist or biochemist produces a drug molecule for a particular disease, that’s production of ideas, of a useful idea to treat and kill certain diseases. Idiots can say they have also produced a drug that can do the same with zero clinical trial. Abolish IPR and the claims of idiots and real researchers are generally the same.

Colin Phillips June 14, 2011 at 3:25 am

The key similarity you seem to have missed entirely is that, completely absent any government force, waiters and barbers manage to generate an income for themselves, even though “they produce not a single physical property, only” services. Why then should only molecular biologists get government intervention in their field to grant them a monopoly? What about all the poor waiters? Surely the government should step in and ensure that nobody competes with the restaurant business? Weird.

Nonoy Oplas June 14, 2011 at 3:48 am

It is possible that an IPR like patent can be issued by a private, industry association someday. So the debate is not much of who issues the IPR, but whether IPR should be honored or not. An IPR is a monopoly, true. But it is not an industry-wide monopoly, rather a product monopoly, I discussed here, http://funwithgovernment.blogspot.com/2011/03/ipr-and-medicines-part-8.html, the case of 101 new drugs in development, all patented, all not marketed yet, to treat prostate cancer alone. Excluded there are off-patent drugs, and patented and marketed drugs already, against prostate cancer too. Each inventor gets an IPR, and all inventors compete with each other in producing a drug for the same disease. You reward inventors for producing ideas. You cannot reward IPR to waiters, barbers, bus drivers, etc. since they produce ordinary services, not important ideas.

Seosamh June 14, 2011 at 8:25 am

I’m not sure what your subjective valuations have to do with this. This whole “ordinary” versus “important” argument is pretty weak.

That said, I genuinely hope you never need to avail yourself of the “ordinary services” of a surgical team or fire/rescue squad.

Nonoy Oplas June 14, 2011 at 9:31 am

Ok, you went to a barber shop. Did the barber discover an idea for giving you a haircut? You just want his service as a barber, you pay, that’s it. It’s different when you go to a seed research or biotech company. As a farmer or food manufacturer, you want those research companies and institutes to give you a new seed variety that is both high yielding and at the same time not so costly to cultivate so you can earn higher income.

Colin Phillips June 14, 2011 at 10:04 am

No, Nonoy, it’s not different.

You believe that one particular barber has the skills, training, and motivation to give you an excellent haircut, you go to him, you pay, you get the good, a haircut service, and you leave. Done.

You believe that one particular geneticist has the skills, training, and motivation to give you an excellent seed variety, you go to him, you pay, you get the good, a bag of seed, and you leave. Done.

Of course, if you had a contract with the barber not to style your hair in the way that he styled your hair ever again, you should abide by that contract, because you’re a fool for having signed it.
Likewise, if the farmer was foolish enough to sign a contract in which he promised to napalm his fields once a year to ensure no seeds were passed on, then he should abide by that. But in the absence of a contract to specify what the farmer may and may not do with property that he clearly purchased and owns, the seed company has no business forcing him to do anything.

Does your barber tell you what you may and may not do with your head?

Drigan June 14, 2011 at 12:04 pm

If he invents a new way to cut hair, then he needs to figure out a way to make money training people in the new technique; he shouldn’t be wasting his time cutting just a few people’s hair.

Andrew June 14, 2011 at 2:51 am

“Abolish IPR and the claims of idiots and real researchers are generally the same.”

So the focus has shifted from “ownership of production” to “truth in advertising”. It seems that absent a concise, coherent argument to hold onto, this game of whack-a-mole can be played forever.

Nonoy Oplas June 14, 2011 at 2:52 am

How in hell does “truth in advertising” came into the discussion?

Colin Phillips June 14, 2011 at 3:21 am

Did you read what you wrote?
“Idiots can say they have also produced a drug that can do the same with zero clinical trial. Abolish IPR and the claims of idiots and real researchers are generally the same.”
What were you trying to say here? Can you try to state it a bit more exactly? Until you do, it sounds like you think that absent IP, consumers are completely unable to distinguish between different things. You can’t seriously believe that.

Stephan Kinsella June 14, 2011 at 6:53 am

Yes, Colin, you are right. In fact my friend Frank Van Dun made a similar argument in defending trademarks. I replied to him here http://mises.org/journals/jls/18_2/18_2_3.pdf — see last few pages for a direct response to this very point.

Nonoy Oplas June 14, 2011 at 3:55 am

What am I trying to say exactly, here: Idiots can say they have also invented a drug that can kill a particular disease even with zero clinical trial, no R&D whatsoever to test the efficacy and safety of their drug invention. Abolish IPR and the claims of idiots and real researchers who go through all clinical trials, all tests on efficacy and safety, are just the same.

Colin Phillips June 14, 2011 at 4:30 am

Nonoy Oplas,

I’m sorry, that’s just not true. The reason I don’t take medicines that have not had clinical trials proving its safety and efficacy is not because there are patents on the medicine – it’s because a proven safe useful medicine is a fundamentally different good to me than an unknown, untested medicine sold on a street corner.

That’s not a defense of patents whatsoever. Think about this: For you, personally, in your own home: In a world without patents, would you buy your medicines from shady characters on street corners? What if there were two pharmacists – one of whom sold cheap, untested medicines, and one of whom was confident enough to get an external third party auditor to stake their reputations on the fact that he only sells safe medicines. Even if the first pharmacist was much cheaper, would you really use him? I wouldn’t.

So clearly, patents are not required to test medicines.

Nonoy Oplas June 14, 2011 at 4:53 am

Precisely Colin. A patent is sort of a certificate that the inventor of a new drug or new seed, etc. has hurdled a battery of tests for efficacy and safety. I think all generic pharma companies are satisfied with the IPR system. They spend little or nothing on inventing new drugs, going through the hassle of repeated clinical trials, of getting the risk of being sued by their patients if the drug is not effective or will produce more adverse results. The generics simply wait for the paten to expire, and they benefit from all the research work done by the innovators. In the Philippines, the biggest pharma company here is not a multinational. It’s a local generic pharma, its sales revenue is larger than the combined sales of #2, #3 and #4 companies, all innovator multinationals. What the generics want are certain flexibilities in IPR, not abolition of IPR. And the generics companies get it.

Colin Phillips June 14, 2011 at 6:30 am

Nonoy Oplas,

You’re talking about two different things – a patent doesn’t prove efficacy or safety at all, that’s called clinical testing. All a patent shows is that this inventor was the first, or the first to file, or paid the best bribe, to be granted a monopoly on that methodology. If you manage to get a patent for a new type of poison, that doesn’t mean that the poison is safe for consumption!

So no, a patent is not a certificate of efficacy and safety, it’s a certificate of monopoly.

Stephan Kinsella June 14, 2011 at 6:57 am

“A patent is sort of a certificate that the inventor of a new drug or new seed, etc. has hurdled a battery of tests for efficacy and safety.” This is completely and utterly false. You do not even understand what it is that you think you are defending. Arrogance and ignorance and statism combined: typical of IP advocates.

Nonoy Oplas June 14, 2011 at 9:22 am

Ok Colin, Stephan, I admit my mistake in equating patent as sort of “proof” of efficacy and safety. I see your point, thank you. I was thinking of a successful drug molecule, industry players say only 1 out of around 10,000 molecules they develop actually become a successful drug. So I was referring to that 1 successful drug, not to those 10,000 or so molecules that may have been applied a patent.
I haven’t heard yet of a generic pharma company advocating the abolition of IPR. Most if not all of them, understand the huge costs and long procedure to develop a successful drug. So instead of going through those long process, they just wait for the patent to expire, and make money from there by producing their own branded generics from the expired patent of a useful drug molecule. It’s ideologues who advocate the abolition of IPR.

nate-m June 14, 2011 at 10:42 am

I was thinking of a successful drug molecule, industry players say only 1 out of around 10,000 molecules they develop actually become a successful drug. So I was referring to that 1 successful drug, not to those 10,000 or so molecules that may have been applied a patent.

Yeah, but the vast majority of their expenditures is going to be due to FDA red tape and the equivalent in other countries.

The trick here is that FDA has a monopoly control over who gets access to what drug. As government beuacrates they are isolated from any sort of market pressure. If they do a good job, they get paid, if they do a bad job… they get paid the same. There is no way for us to accurately determine how well they do because there is nothing we can compare them against.

FDA, being a political organization first, is risk adverse. If a person who is dying from cancer gets access to a drug that FDA screened and they die from a side effect of that drug… then the FDA gets blamed. If this happens to much then there will be political fall out.

However if that same person dies from cancer because he was not allowed access to that drug due to extended requirements for clinical testing… then it’s cancer that gets blamed.

So government entities that are in charge of deciding what foods are allowed to be grown and what drugs are allowed to be used are always going to have a extremely strong tendency to keep piling up new requirements, more testing, and more delaying tactics. Whenever they run into a issue they are not going to re-examine and make their organization more efficient or change how testing is done… they will just require more testing because that is safer.

That is just a single example, but this is same as everything else. Every time you give the government some power to try to protect people they will just continue piling on more and more regulations and consuming more and more resources. There is no competition and no accounting so there is no way the public can accurately determine what level of certification/testing/defense/expendatures is appropriate or if resources are being used efficiently. Law enforcement, war on drugs, TSA, military, drug testing, food regulations, etc etc.

What you don’t realize is that IP laws are just another example of the the very government bloat and corruption that you are frequently decrying.

IP is really just a ball and chain around the ankle of the free market. It seems necessary to restrict third parties in order to create artificial markets sometimes, but it’s not really.

Nonoy Oplas June 14, 2011 at 10:54 am

I have to repeat this for the nth time: When someone invented a new rice seed with a particular property, he applied for a patent for his new seed, no one was prevented, no one was disenfranchised, from inventing his own seed with another characteristic or property. The result is an explosion of 112,000+ of different rice varieties in the IRRI genebank alone. Include the other rice seeds in private seed corporations and private biotech institutes and academic institutes, and we may have 120,000+ of different rice seeds alone. Never patented or off-patent or patented marketed or patented not marketed yet.

But we will keep hearing lamentations of “IPR restricting third parties… IPR killing competition…” Over and over and over.

Colin Phillips June 14, 2011 at 11:06 am

The seen and the unseen, strikes again.

White Indian June 14, 2011 at 11:29 am

How is genetic engineering not the same as “mixing labor” with land or other natural resources and declaring them private property? And how is the Patent Office any different from the Land office at establishing and enforcing these private property rights?

I’m not asking because I’m against you on IP; I think you have the correct position. However, I think that it’s time that libertarian types realize what anthropologists have been telling us for some years, which economists ignore, and that is:

“Agriculture creates government.” ~Richard Manning, Against the Grain, p. 73

nate-m June 14, 2011 at 11:47 am

How is genetic engineering not the same as “mixing labor” with land or other natural resources and declaring them private property?

It’s not. If you make some magic beans, then those magic beans belong to you.

But private property does not work in a way that when you make magic beans that all of a sudden you own all magic beans that ever get made for the next couple decades.

And how is the Patent Office any different from the Land office at establishing and enforcing these private property rights?

The “Land Office” does not establish private property rights. They formalize it.
And property rights only affect that piece of physical property.

patents affect everybody and everything universally regardless of who controls the private property that patents are controlling. It establishes a monopoly right over a particular concept or algorithm or whatever you want to call it and it gives the patent holder the right to sue people for carrying out actions on their own on property.

The mistake here is trying to equate patents with property rights. It’s a common confusion. It’s created by ip socialists using mixed metaphors and misleading language to confuse you.

nate-m June 14, 2011 at 11:58 am

To look at it another way that may be easier to understand:

Patent rights are ‘rights’ in the same way that you have a ‘right’ to social security or welfare.

Property rights are ‘rights’ in the same what that you have rights to speech or ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’.

Patents require a state government to force all citizens to conform to monopolies that they grant based on arbitrary rules. Property rights have been created through simple human social interaction and never required any government to establish and is universal to all humans regardless of governments. Details differ, but the concepts remain. This is because the nature of physical matter demands these rights. The sort of things that patents cover do not have the same nature as physical goods. They only exist as abstractions and thus have no substance or limit.

White Indian June 14, 2011 at 1:38 pm

Genes can be seen under a microscope, and manipulated. Land can be seen with the naked eye. Both are physical, not mere abstractions.

What is abstract about both is claiming ownership, and using soldiers to enforce that abstract claim. It started 10,000 years ago with Land, and only 10 years ago with genes, but the concept is essentially the same: Control of natural resources for the purpose of agriculture, which changes the village from a basically egalitarian non-ownership model to a hierarchical concentration of control.

The global community transforms more and more like the original Neolithic villages – into a rich man’s house with the granary, soldiers serving and protecting him, and hovels surrounding it, hoping to please the rich enough to eat.

About the only thing that the libertarian-capitalist position has over socialism is the concentration of hierarchy at the top. A single Politburo in control of the granary is worse than several rich homes with granaries, as it gives those living in the hovels an opportunity, a choice, to lick another boot before their family is starved out.

Wildberry June 14, 2011 at 2:02 pm

@ nate-m June 14, 2011 at 11:58 am

Social security and welfare is not property rights. They cannot be sold, leased or loaned, for example.

Right to life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness are not property rights for the same reasons.

All rights must be defended, including property rights. Government is, inter alia, a means of enforcement; what many ancaps like to refer to as coercion. Defending one’s rights through coercion is not limited to government; i.e. ancaps prefer PDAs. Coercion between humans can be accomplished by means that depends on neither; shunning, or example.

Property rights do not require coercion to exist or operate peacefully, and therefore are not necessarily the product of government decree or coercion. They can arise spontaneously as the result of human interaction and cooperation. Therefore, like all rights, property rights are a human device. Deal with it.

Patents and copyright are property rights enforceable by government coercion, like all property rights.

So, what is the distinction you are trying to make, again?

White Indian June 14, 2011 at 2:27 pm

| “Property rights do not require coercion to exist or operate peacefully”

I know that is your ideological economic position; however, anthropology, history and archeological observation demonstrates differently. The abstract ownership of land required for sustaining the agricultural City-State does indeed require aggression to establish and maintain.

That process of invasion and occupation has been a 10,000 year old trail of tears for traditional societies making a living on the land without anymore thought of “owning” it than they would have thought of owning the clouds or oceans … or a certain genetic code.

For 2 million years, humans have lived recognizing property by use. But only in the last 10,000 or so have people claimed property by abstract ownership for purposes of agriculture. Genetic engineering patents are just a continuation of the aggressive and occupational nature of the agricultural City-State.

For a distinction between property by use, and property by abstract ownership, see attorney Jeff Vail’s A Theory of Power. The following excerpt is apropos:

The abstract notion of ownership serves as the single, greatest perpetuator of hierarchy. When one steps back and examines the notion of “owning” something, the abstraction becomes readily apparent. Ownership represents nothing more than a power-relationship—the ability to control. The tribal institution of “Ownership by use” on the other hand, suggests simply that one can only “own” those things that they put to immediate, direct and personal use to meet basic needs—and not more. A society crosses the memetic Rubicon when it accepts the abstraction that ownership can extend beyond the exclusive needs of one individual for survival. Abstract ownership begins when society accepts a claim of symbolic control of something without the requirement of immediate, direct and personal use. Hierarchy, at any level, requires this excess, abstract ownership—it represents the symbolic capital that forms the foundation of all stratification.

Source: Chapter 9 – Forward, to Rhizome, http://www.jeffvail.net/2005/03/theory-of-power-online.html

Wildberry June 14, 2011 at 3:45 pm

@ White Indian June 14, 2011 at 2:27 pm

The irony of your handle is not lost on me. You seem to hold some romantic notion that indigenous people lived in all light and goodness. My reading of history is that, while American Indians may not have universally had a property rights concept, many did. In addition, there was quite a bit of tribal warfare going on before Europeans showed up on the scene, especially in the plains.

Invasion and conquest has been a long-standing feature of human history, and is not limited to your favorite tribes. The fact that we even aspire to an alternative is a monument to civilization and, at least as an ideal, admirable.

The quote,

Ownership represents nothing more than a power-relationship—the ability to control.

, is a tautology. Ownership IS the right to exclusive use, which must be defended to exist.

Your romantic fantasy is that large populations of humans can cooperate peacefully and prosper without the abstract concept of private property rights. I disagree.

To simply observe that this concept is an abstraction only states the obvious.

White Indian June 14, 2011 at 4:11 pm

I have zero romantic notions.

My opinion is informed by anthropology, archeology, and history, especially the last 40 years of anthropology. Mises, and most people, have ridiculous misperceptions of pre-agricultural societies. In fact, some are referring to them as The Original Affluent Society. (Sahlins 1974)

Rather, you have romantic notions of agricultural civilization, as most do.

No matter if it’s a romantic notion or not, anthropology informs us about how agriculture’s requirement of “property rights” to control irrigation, drainage, and other system essentials created government. It’s the way it happened. “Deal with it.”

White Indian June 14, 2011 at 4:20 pm

| “Ownership IS the right to exclusive use, which must be defended to exist.”

Can you tell me how humans, or any other specie, existed for millions of years without landed property rights? And why only a single specie must now have landed property rights to exist in this biologically short time of the Holocene period?

To say they are necessary might be a good excuse to kill people without guilt, and I understand why you’d say landed property rights are so important, but Monsanto will say the same about their GMO property rights – in fact, your own words:

“They must be defended to exist.”

White Indian June 14, 2011 at 4:47 pm

| “tribal warfare going on before Europeans showed up on the scene, especially in the plains”

Correct. That is because the plains Indians were remnants of genocide, driven into a new lifestyle. They didn’t even exist pre-European. It was post-apocalyptic culture.

As anthropologist Jason Godesky states, “Given the trauma of what was essentially the end of the world for Native groups, a surge in violence would be expected. 90% or more of the American population died from epidemic disease. Groups were displaced, and a massive rearrangement of tribal territories racked across the continent like billiard balls…The archaeological record bears out a significant increase in violence in this post-apocalyptic era. ‘Researchers examined thousands of Native American skeletons and found that those from after Christopher Columbus landed in the New World showed a rate of traumatic injuries more than 50 percent higher than those from before the Europeans arrived.’”

Source: “The Savages are Truly Noble” by Jason Godesky http://rewild.info/anthropik/2007/05/the-savages-are-truly-noble/index.html

nate-m June 14, 2011 at 4:51 pm

Genes can be seen under a microscope, and manipulated. Land can be seen with the naked eye. Both are physical, not mere abstractions.

Yes that is true. But just by saying that you have shown that you do not understand what patents are and how they work. Sorry. I am not trying to be mean here.

Wildberry,

Social security and welfare is not property rights.

Right. I am glad you got that because neither are patents, that is why I lumped them together. It’s a example of things that are not property rights.

Therefore, like all rights, property rights are a human device. Deal with it.

Very correct. Except that patents are not property rights, are not created spontaneously, do actually require the government to enforce them, and I have never seen a compelling argument that they can exist in a truly peaceful, civilized, society.

So, what is the distinction you are trying to make, again?

Patents are not property rights.

indeed require aggression to establish and maintain.

They require defense against aggression to be be maintained.

This is different from patents since patents need offensive aggression against individual’s property rights to exist.

You see. It’s the opposite. Patents are aggression against property and your talking about people defending themselves against aggression while trying to say they are the same thing.

. But only in the last 10,000 or so have people claimed property by abstract ownership for purposes of agriculture.

Domestication of animals and the development of agriculture necessitated much of this. But property existed before this. Nomadic people certainly maintained a much less formal form of land property that was managed differently from agricultural societies Even if people didn’t understand all the mechanics and terms for it, it certainly existed. And property is not abstract. It’s physical. It’s things that exist and can be manipulated by human action. Property rights govern the use of property. Property rights themselves are abstractions. But you cannot have property rights without physical property to have rights about.

Oh and keep in mind that state government is far far younger then agricultural technology. Hell for the vast majority of people the state didn’t even exist for them until the 1800′s. The one thing state is very effective is aggression and war and this is why it’s the dominate form of government.

Wildberry June 14, 2011 at 5:34 pm

@ White Indian June 14, 2011 at 4:47 pm

I’m confused. Are you saying that before Columbus, which hardly marked the beginning of the displacements you describe, there was no tribal warfare among indigenous people?

Wildberry June 14, 2011 at 6:36 pm

@nate-m June 14, 2011 at 4:51 pm

Right. I am glad you got that because neither are patents, that is why I lumped them together. It’s a example of things that are not property rights.

OK, that is your list, I have a different list. What is your point?

Very correct. Except that patents are not property rights, are not created spontaneously, do actually require the government to enforce them, and I have never seen a compelling argument that they can exist in a truly peaceful, civilized, society.

What property rights are “created spontaneously”, do not require a means of enforcement, and why can’t they “exist in a truly peaceful, civilized society”?

Patents are not property rights.

That is simply a statement of conclusion. I thought for a minute you were actually headed somewhere…

This is different from patents since patents need offensive aggression against individual’s property rights to exist.

Huh? All aggression is offensive, as distinguished from defensive acts. If I assert that I have a right to X (claim exclusive economic right to a patented invention for a limited time), and can successfully defend it against those who would violate my “right”, do I have that right or not?

Clearly, I do. Should I have it? We may disagree, but that is a different issue. That has to do with HOW I defend it. I may use bribery (I pay you A if you recognize my right to X), or force, or ethical principles that allow you and I to pledge mutual defense against 3rd parties, etc. Maybe we grow our alliance to 1,000,000 and we completely outnumber those who would challenge our pledge.

Our pledge is this: “If you invent something that is useful and original, I vow to come to your aid to protect you against anyone who attempts to violate your monopoly. This pledge only lasts for a limited time, because after awhile, it is just too hard to enforce and you are going to make most of your money early on, anyway. To keep the gravy train going, we need to keep coming up with new stuff. You do the same thing for me. We make sure everyone around understands that we’ve made this pledge. Deal?”

Is there something wrong with that? Seems all spontaneous and ethical to me.

White Indian June 14, 2011 at 7:18 pm

| “Oh and keep in mind that state government is far far younger then agricultural technology.”

Correct, but agriculture leads to, and is required to support the City-State. And settlements of 5000+ are consistently observed to have State level political organization. Is there any exception?

Thus, as I’ve pointed out before from Richard Manning’s book Against the Grain, “Agriculture creates government.”

Before agricultural societies get big enough to be called civilization,they are more stratified and dominated by “Big Men” (Van Bakel et al, 1986; Earl, 2002) or “Emergent Elite,” that is, pre-State level proto-government.

Even the early agricultural system is much more work, more time-consuming, more dangerous, less healthy for the majority, but begins to concentrate wealth for a few, the “emergent elite.” (Chap.5 Social Inequality at the Origins of Agriculture, Foundations of Social Inequality, 1995)

Thus began the “diseases of civilization,” observable in bones and teeth and other excavated evidence, that we see continued to this day.

The agricultural City State is the the problem, not just the State part of it. To put Mises and others’ observation in a new light, by recognizing Civitas (the City-State) as an indivisible whole, I understand the City-State like this:

• Civilization can be and has often been in the course of history the main source of mischief and disaster. – Ludwig von Mises

• The leviathan civilization, that monster devouring the earth in this century, is in the throes of death. – Llewellyn H. Rockwell

• They forget that Civilization lives at the expense of everyone. – Frédéric Bastiat

• The great non sequitur committed by defenders of Civilization, is to leap from the necessity of society to the necessity of Civilization. – Murray N. Rothbard (1926-1995),

• Earth’s ecology is a long record of civilization’s policies that failed because they were designed with a bold disregard for the laws of ecology. – Ludwig von Mises

White Indian June 14, 2011 at 1:10 pm

I’m not talking magical beans, I’m talking anthropological and archeological reality.

Small villages with either common buildings or equal sized dwellings, when agriculture was started in the Neolithic period, were transformed into settlements that looked like this:

A big, rich house with a granary surrounded by small hovels.

And we know one of the first divisions of labor was the soldier – to serve and protect the grain “property” of the grain “capitalist.” That soldier became government.

Then, as the land loses fertility and tilth and gets “farmed out,” agriculture must expand, and drive off, kill, or enslave traditional peoples from the Land.

Thus, Richard Manning on page 73 in his book Against the Grain observes, “Agriculture creates government.”

Agriculture is aggressive, invasive and occupational.

Libertarians who defend Landed property rights for the Owner class have an idealistic theory of how property rights were established, one that paints the owners in the best light, but that ideology is invalidated by reality as observed by archeology and anthropology.

Abstract property rights (control) of Land, whether collective or private, is essentially a Statist position.

Stalin drove off the traditional families on the Land for collective agriculture, just as America drove off the Indians from their land for agriculture.

The function of the State has never been divorced from the agricultural City-State (Civitas, or civilization,) and I think the great error of libertarianism is to think that it can somehow. Perhaps a noble goal, but unrealistic in light of history, anthropology, and archeology, and accepting observation of how people really do organize and work during the last 10,000 years of the Anthropocene era.

nate-m June 14, 2011 at 7:13 pm

OK, that is your list, I have a different list. What is your point?

My point is that patents are not property rights. No matter how many times you ask the same question I’ll have the same answer.

That is simply a statement of conclusion. I thought for a minute you were actually headed somewhere…

When you asking me what my point is your asking for the conclusion. Which I told you.

I am not going to try to guess at any argument you may have hidden behind the questions your asking as it’s a waste of my time trying to guess at them.

Huh? All aggression is offensive, as distinguished from defensive acts.

I got your statements mixed up with ‘White Indian’s. So my apologies.

But my point stands. If you say that there is no aggression in defense of property, then there is still certainly aggression inherent in patents.

If I assert that I have a right to X (claim exclusive economic right to a patented invention for a limited time), and can successfully defend it against those who would violate my “right”, do I have that right or not?

There are two things wrong with that statement:
1) If you think that rights are created by asserting that these rights exist then that could possibly be a correct statement.

However if you believe that legitimate rights (as opposed illegitimate rights like ‘rights to social security’, ‘right to cheap rent’, or ‘right to free health care’) are self-evident then your statement is wrong. That is ‘natural rights’ are phenomena that are created by peaceful human interaction on a individual and social level and are later given definitions so that we may discuss them.

So no, just because you can make up rights in your head and are capable of causing physical damage to those that disagree with you does not mean you have a legitimate “right to those rights”.

2) Patents are not defensive things. That is if patents were passive defense of rights then they could not do what they try to do and they could not be what they are. That is by their fundamental nature they require a aggressive offensive force and give you the ability to violate other people’s rights.

If you can create a compelling legal theory which patents can exist with the following stipulations:

1) In a purely voluntary manner without institutional violence. Without oppression of the minority by the majority or the majority by the minority.
2) Without either being redundant to property rights or in conflict property rights.

Then you have a pretty good chance of convincing most people to change their minds about the subject or at least convincing them that you have a sound argument.

J. Murray June 14, 2011 at 7:07 am

A patent is filling out a piece of paper, paying the fee, and getting the patent office, which doesn’t check your “invention” in the least, to grant you a monpoloy over that idea, however vague or useless it may be. There isn’t any vetting or checking at all in the process, which is why people can actually patent sticks:

http://ipwatchdog.com/2010/10/06/animal-toy-patent/id=12711/

All you need for a patent is a drawing with numbers pointing to various areas on the drawing, accompanied with a description that makes liberal use of a thesaurus. That’s the extent of the stringency.

You’ll also notice another bogus point of the IP scheme – if you don’t pay your “maintenance fee” to the government, suddenty that makes it not your property anymore. It’s a revenue scam, not protecting property.

White Indian June 14, 2011 at 8:05 am

Are all landed property rights — an entitlement for which you pay a fee to get the Land Office to grant you a monopoly — also a revenue scam because the government collects property taxes?

Nonoy Oplas June 14, 2011 at 9:26 am

Good points, White Indian. A real property tax is a scam by governments to say that “You own the house and lot, yes, but you still have to pay rent to me; otherwise, I can confiscate your physical property.” The anti-IPR guys take it for granted and do not attack governments as much as they attack the pro-IP guys. Double standard.

Gil June 14, 2011 at 9:30 am

What it means is that you own your home but you don’t own the land it’s set upon.

Nonoy Oplas June 14, 2011 at 10:00 am

No, in the Philippines and probably other countries, the real property tax applies to both your house and the land where it’s built on. If land valuation remains the same but you introduce improvements to your house that further increases its market value, your real property tax on the house also increases. Parasitic policies by governments. Incidentally, you don’t hear such rabid attack of such policy from the anti-IPR guys.

White Indian June 14, 2011 at 10:09 am

Government taxes the value of the house. Government has the sheriff sell both the house and the land and if you don’t pay; therefore, you “own” both your house and land equally.

Abstract Ownership of Land is established by killing, enslaving, or driving off the traditional families on the Land by Government, from Sumeria to the Trail of Tears, and then your property rights are enforced by the Government.

Abstract Ownership of Life, whether slavery or genes, is also established by the Government and maintained by the Government.

Government protects and serves owners with aggression for a price. Those who can pay the most get the most benefit from the hierarchy that the agricultural City-State perpetuates.

Just for background, my view of arbitrary property rights of any sort, both landed and intellectual, is informed by the attorney Jeff Vail, who writes in his book A Theory of Power, the following:

The abstract notion of ownership serves as the single, greatest perpetuator of hierarchy. When one steps back and examines the notion of “owning” something, the abstraction becomes readily apparent. Ownership represents nothing more than a power-relationship—the ability to control. The tribal institution of “Ownership by use” on the other hand, suggests simply that one can only “own” those things that they put to immediate, direct and personal use to meet basic needs—and not more. A society crosses the memetic Rubicon when it accepts the abstraction that ownership can extend beyond the exclusive needs of one individual for survival. Abstract ownership begins when society accepts a claim of symbolic control of something without the requirement of immediate, direct and personal use. Hierarchy, at any level, requires this excess, abstract ownership—it represents the symbolic capital that forms the foundation of all stratification.

Source: Chapter 9 – Forward, to Rhizome, http://www.jeffvail.net/2005/03/theory-of-power-online.html

White Indian June 14, 2011 at 7:54 am

Perhaps some future Frenchman will write yet another critique on the tragedy of arbitrary property rights like the following:

The first man who, having mixed his labor with a piece of genetics, bethought himself of saying This is mine, and found people simple enough to believe him, was the real prime mover of civil society. From how many crimes, wars, and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes might not any one have saved mankind, by burning up the patents, or tearing down the laboratory, and crying to his fellows: Beware of listening to this imposter; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody.

~adapted from Jean Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on the Origin and Basis of Inequality Among Men (1754)

Wildberry June 14, 2011 at 2:05 pm

@Gil June 14, 2011 at 9:30 am

What it means is that you own your home but you don’t own the land it’s set upon.

What it measns is that the government has acquired the authority to tax you for owning property. That is all it means.

J. Murray June 14, 2011 at 4:02 pm

And if you don’t pay, they take it away, thus establishing that government owns your property because failing to pay the rent on it, you can call it tax all you want, results in a lien and eviction. You can’t own anything that’s taxed.

Wildberry June 14, 2011 at 6:55 pm

J. Murray June 14, 2011 at 4:02 pm

Wouldn’t that depend on one’s understanding of ownership?

Ownership means exclusive use and control, isn’ t that the case? If you refuse or are unable to pay taxes, does the Government acquire ownership? Maybe in a procedural sense, but the tax sale amounts to selling your property to a third party (open auction, open even to you) and collecting back taxes from the proceeds.

If you wanted to elimnate this worry, you have alternatives. Here are some: You can own no land, you can move to a place which does not collect property tax, invest in a perpetual annuity to automatically pay your tax and (drumroll) use the politcal system to abolish property tax altogether.

If you are unwilling to do any of those, you can pay your taxes. And you are acting like you don’t have choices!!

nate-m June 14, 2011 at 7:26 pm

If you refuse or are unable to pay taxes, does the Government acquire ownership?

They seize ownership of your property through threats of force, or actual force if the threats are not enough, and then sell it to somebody else so that they can pocket the proceeds.

There is no need to play semantic games to understand what is happening here or describe it very accurately.

You can own no land,

You mean: I can give up my life, my liberty, my property, my ability to care for myself and my family and be homeless.

you can move to a place which does not collect property tax,

Didn’t they make a song about that?

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains,
There’s a land that’s fair and bright,
Where the handouts grow on bushes
And you sleep out every night.
Where the boxcars all are empty
And the sun shines every day
And their is no property taxes
And the cigarette trees
The lemonade springs
Where the bluebird sings
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains.

If you are unwilling to do any of those, you can pay your taxes. And you are acting like you don’t have choices!!

Submit or be killed. Those are my choices.

I guess because I have choices then I have freedom.

White Indian June 15, 2011 at 12:46 pm

That was the choice the Indians were given. The ones who submitted were lucky enough to be driven on a Trail of Tears. All to establish property rights for agricultural civilization’s settlers. It is a quite invasive and occupational culture.

Austrian Economics is a sort of Big Rock Candy Mountain – a hope of heaven to right the wrongs of the agricultural City State, by economic word magic.

O Brother, Where Art Thou
Big Rock Candy Mountain
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KSGuBNopzBw

White Indian June 14, 2011 at 8:00 pm

The agricultural City-State is an indivisible whole; divorcing the State from the City has never happened because the “Voluntary City” is a contradiction.

Mark Humphrey June 14, 2011 at 11:42 pm

I like Monsanto. I don’t know about all the intricate details about the merits of their patent claims, or whether or not Monsanto is abuses its patents sometimes.

I do know that patents are basically just, in that they represent an imperfect attempt to codify an indisputable property right. This right is the freedom of every seller to establish the terms of the sale of his or her property. So when Jane invents a new nuclear powered flying machine, and sells to Harry under the proviso that Harry will refrain from copying essential and particular aspects of Jane’s new invention, Harry had better keep his contractual obligation to Jane. It’s only just.

Similarly, when Monsanto invents improved seeds and herbicides, as this company does all the time, its potential customers have a clear choice: buy Monsanto’s patented new seed or herbicide and thereby possibly harvest bigger crops or reduce costs; or decline to buy Monsanto’s offering and instead buy the seed or herbicide of a competitor that lacks a patent restriction, such as the herbicide Roundup. A great many farmers regularly use Monsanto products, with patent obligations and higher prices, because they calculate that they’ll profit by doing so.

Mr. Kinsella’s obsession with the alleged evils of patent and copyright protection is misdirected and indefensible. The irrationalism of this crusade has now reached fever pitch, featuring such forgettable compositions as “Intellectual Property is murder”. Oh well, it’s all part of presenting oneself as an uncompromising, unconventional, “radical” anarcho-libertarian.

Oddly, this website never mentions that von Mises himself favored both patents and copyrights. That’s pretty misleading, in that you sell your stuff under the label of The Ludvig von Mises Institute.

One final note: “Intellectual Property” is a misnomer, because the adjective implies that something unique distinguishes IP from other kinds of property. But there’s no objective distinction between so-called intellectual property and any other sort of property. All property exists by applying an idea of the property creator to physcial reality. In the case of a frontier farm or a shopping center, for instance, the developer uses her ideas to select location, construction or tillage practices, and so forth. In the case of “intellectual property”–the label usually applied to books and paintings, blueprints and formulas–the property consists of an idea applied to physical reality, such as particular words on a paper or electronic page, paint on canvas in an original arrangement, a recipe or complex series of calculations committed to paper or computer memory.

The creator of any sort of property–be it farm or shopping center, oil painting or inventor’s blueprint–does not own his idea. Ideas are the product of individual minds; and since no one can own the mind of another, no one can own an idea. What the owner has rights to is the physical property, including the right to establish the terms under which she will convey her property to another.

Patents and copyrights are written into law in an effort to uphold the rights of creators and inventors to negotiate and enforce a restrictive sales clause. Those who agree to this restriction, in the form of buying a copyrighted or patented product, are obligated to respect the rights of the property producer by refraining from making knockoff’s, etc.

Eventually, trade secrets leak out in honest ways, such as someone finding something abandoned or lost and paying attention. If someone acquires information honestly, without abridging a contract, it’s theirs to make good use of. But if a thief steals songs or reproduces a copyrighted painting or book, she is a thief.

Mark Humphrey June 14, 2011 at 11:51 pm

Postscript: Since no objective distinction seperates “intellectual property” from “physical property”, and since all kinds of property come into being by the application of an individual’s idea to physical reality, this observation raises an interesting question:

Is ALL property “murder”? Or is property simply theft, as Marxists claim?

White Indian June 15, 2011 at 4:59 am

The traditional view of “property by use” is millions of years old, and observed by anthropology, even evolutionary biology. Nobody in the world or millions of years of human existence has any problem with that.

You’re conflating (1) property by use with (2) property by abstract ownership.* (See attorney Jeff Vail’s reference below.)

The recent development of agriculture required a new idea of property, that of abstract property by ownership, beyond the necessity of using it. Abstract ownership of genetic material lies within the same vein – both coerce control of natural resources for agriculture.

The owner class (Big Men, emergent elite, capitalist, etal) invades and occupies Land, disestablishes traditional families off the Land, and then grows all human food, and puts that food under lock and key. Non-owners are made to work for the owner class or starve.

The Marx-Mises axis of economic evil both support such a coercive system, and merely contend for the key.

Mises is correct in one thing, Austrian economics do work better than Marx, because they tend to be less hierarchical. Instead of a single Politboro, today you have Monsanto, ADM, and Cargill choices of boots to lick so you don’t starve, or get treated like an Indian by the Land Office managers, the Government.

However, Mises makes the mistake of painting pre-agricultural societies as somehow “collectivist” or Marxist. This is a false notion, but the argument is used because it is their only strong suite. A study of anthropology quickly shatters the premises upon which Mises places such worship of agricultural Civilization.

But such error, we see in Austrian economics a perpetual chasing of the tail, attempting to divorce the State from the City. Yet the agricultural City-State remains an indivisible whole system.
___________

* The abstract notion of ownership serves as the single, greatest perpetuator of hierarchy. When one steps back and examines the notion of “owning” something, the abstraction becomes readily apparent. Ownership represents nothing more than a power-relationship—the ability to control. The tribal institution of “Ownership by use” on the other hand, suggests simply that one can only “own” those things that they put to immediate, direct and personal use to meet basic needs—and not more. A society crosses the memetic Rubicon when it accepts the abstraction that ownership can extend beyond the exclusive needs of one individual for survival. Abstract ownership begins when society accepts a claim of symbolic control of something without the requirement of immediate, direct and personal use. Hierarchy, at any level, requires this excess, abstract ownership—it represents the symbolic capital that forms the foundation of all stratification.

Source: Jeff Vail, A Theory of Power, Chapter 9 – Forward, to Rhizome, http://www.jeffvail.net/2005/03/theory-of-power-online.html

nate-m June 15, 2011 at 5:51 am

Mises is correct in one thing, Austrian economics do work better than Marx, because they tend to be less hierarchical. Instead of a single Politboro, today you have Monsanto, ADM, and Cargill choices of boots to lick so you don’t starve, or get treated like an Indian by the Land Office managers, the Government.

If you think that companies like Monsanto could survive in a truly capitalist system while behaving the way they do now then you do not understand capitalism.

The ‘oppressive ownership class’ is marxist myth. A complete misunderstanding of economics and how capitalistic forces work.

The ‘owners’ of capital depend utterly on the rest of society for their profits. It’s their customers, the ‘proletariat’ that is in control of what gets produced and who produces it… not the ‘owners’. The idea that capitalists are oppressive is a marxist concept that has been refuted over and over again. If they are oppressive in a free market then they will very quickly cease to be owners.

The fact that you don’t understand the difference between somebody owning a patent on genetic material versus somebody owning some seed goes continues to show you just don’t get what patents are for.

White Indian June 15, 2011 at 6:45 am

^^ Boilerplate. *yawn* It’s like talking to a young-earth creationist. Evolution is a Marxist plot too.

Do you really think all the archeology, anthropology, and sociology below is Marxist?

Foundations of Social Inequality
Price, T. Douglas; Feinman, Gary M. (Eds.)
Chapter 5: Social Inequality at the Origins of Agriculture.
http://www.springer.com/social+sciences/archaeology+%26+anthropology/book/978-0-306-44979-6

Economic systems of foraging, agricultural, and industrial societies
Frederic L. Pryor, Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania
http://www.cambridge.org/gb/knowledge/isbn/item1157359/?site_locale=en_GB

The Invasion Within: The Contest of Cultures in Colonial North America
James Axtell
http://www.oup.com/us/catalog/general/subject/HistoryAmerican/ColonialRevolutionary/?view=usa&ci=9780195041545

Have you even bothered to read Stone Age Economics by Marshall Sahlins?

Stone Age Economics is to “true capitalism” myths what The Origin of Species is to “young earth creationism” myths.

Unless you’re a True Believer. Then observation takes a back seat to mythology.

nate-m June 15, 2011 at 9:02 am

Maybe you should learn to listen.

In a true capitalist system the owners are servants to the masses. If you don’t understand this you just need to learn how economics work.

The thing that turns this on it’s head in modern societies is the use of force, typically through state government.

White Indian June 15, 2011 at 12:13 pm

Maybe you should learn to observe, instead of listening. “True capitalism” hasn’t been turned on its head; what you see — the aggressive,invasive, and occupational nature of the agricultural City-State — is what it is.

Your “true capitalism” is about as realistic as “true communism.” More than one person has observed both left and right economic ideologues have similar proclivities:

Marxism of the Right by Robert Locke
http://www.amconmag.com/article/2005/mar/14/00017/

If “true capitalism” was implemented here, both the farmer’s cornfield and the McMansion lots would all be flooded with 14″ of water in the winter. That demonstrates the misconception that landed property rights have only to do with physical property that can be protected with bigger Libertarian Guns and Private Defense Organizations.

Would it be worth protecting in a swamp boat?

nate-m June 15, 2011 at 12:48 pm

Your “true capitalism” is about as realistic as “true communism.” More than one person has observed both left and right economic ideologues have similar proclivities:

No it isn’t. Your confused because you think that city-state is the core of capitalism and it’s not. Your definitions are incorrect for what is describing in this site.

Capitalism is called capitalism because it involve capital. Capital is money and resources invested in the production of consumer goods. It involves private ownership of property, which is not just ‘ground you stand on’. It involves money, accounting, and production of goods and private ownership of production. It’s based on voluntary exchange and trading. Wealth creation and voluntary exchange.

That is what I am talking about. What your talking about is just the standard leftist crap that they teach in every western university that is used to try to justify the state that (ultimately) signs their paychecks.

Marxist style communism is also based on economic theory. Their theory is that labor is what provides value. The ‘capitalist’ in their theory is ‘robbing’ the laborer of their wealth since the capitalist is making profits in excess of what labor costs.

The marxist economic theories based around the concept of value creation of labor have been refuted and demolished so many times that they haven’t been barely mentioned since the 1950′s. It’s a embarrassment that the whole political philosophy is based on such a flawed economic concept.

So no, I am not freaking talking about communism.

CT June 15, 2011 at 4:33 pm

White Indian,

Are you serious in posting this article? I really hope you’re not. It’s so full of strawmen, mischaracterizations, and outright lies that I don’t even know where to begin. I suggest you find something else.

Wildberry June 15, 2011 at 5:23 pm

CT,

I agree there is much to argue with, but you have to admit it would stir some interesting rants on all sides!!

White Indian June 15, 2011 at 7:27 am

There are huge misconceptions about property rights here. Amazingly confused.

“Property rights only affect that piece of physical property.”

Wrong.

Agriculture creates government, because property rights encompass much more than the physical piece of property.

Drainage is necessary in this neck of the woods, otherwise the property is totally useless for agriculture. Thus, property rights for farms extend for miles and miles, and farmers pay taxes for drainage projects far out of sight from their “physical property.”

In other locals, there are water and irrigation rights that extend far from the sight of any “physical property.”

And then some Libertarian, unobservant to how agriculture really works, suggests that a farmer must compensate the McMansion lawn owners for the county to dig up the collapsed tile and install a new tile so his $400/acre corn crop doesn’t drown.

Libertarian fantasy and real agriculture have now been revealed to be two different ideas.

Land property rights do include that physical property, which makes it feel like your very own body. But agricultural requirements also make those property rights rather abstract, extending miles from the actual physical plot.

GMO intellectual property is just like that – abstract in form, extending miles from the actual physical notion of a gene.

Jim P. June 15, 2011 at 4:46 pm

Hey, you know what would work better? If maybe you stopped spending half your responses trying so hard to be a dick, and instead explained where you and other posters disagreed. You know, as though you were civil and worth listening to.

White Indian June 15, 2011 at 5:54 pm

It is kind of dickish to handily refute one of the economic myths of Libertarianism, i.e., “property rights only affect that piece of physical property,” with a single example of how drainage rights, absolutely essential for the property to retain its agricultural value, extend for great distances from a plot of physical property.

Because only a dick would tell a juvenile that Santa Claus isn’t real.

And only a dick would point out that such abstract property rights that maintain the value of agricultural land aren’t so different from abstract property rights that maintain the value of agricultural crop genetics.

But at least I’m not a pussy about facing the truth.

Brian Macker June 15, 2011 at 7:50 am

They should be suing Monsanto for trespass (along with the neighboring farmer). They would be able to sue under my theory of copyright where Monsanto would be the co-owner in the instantiated copies it produced or allowed to be produced. Of course patents are totally unjustifiable.

White Indian June 15, 2011 at 9:32 am

Brian, the neighboring farmer isn’t doing anything for which to be sued. The farmer has merely requested the county engineer make good his property rights.

Maybe you think the McMansion owners should sue the county? The State of Ohio? Maybe pull out their bigger Libertarian guns for freedom?

If they do, such human action would be swamped. Quite literally!

There wouldn’t be any agricultural fields, roads, or McMansion lots if the Great Black Swamp hadn’t been well drained, and kept well drained.

That’s why agriculture creates government, because agricultural property rights need extend well beyond the physical bounds of crop planting ground that are recorded in the government Land Office.

The argument that “land property rights” are completely physical and genetic patents are completely abstract is demonstrated false.

If you don’t like gene patents, re-consider how the Indians view land title.

Agricultural Civilization always creates a Trail of Tears.

Brian Macker June 15, 2011 at 8:17 pm

The neighboring farmer growing the GM crops has contaminated the crops of another farmer with pollen. This would be especially egregious if the corn was genetically modified by Monsanto to cause sterile seed production. Then the organic farmer would find his seed crop destroyed.

Customary rules about open pollination do not currently properly take into account GM crops.

I can’t make sense of most of your comment and will take it as a random incoherent rant. I did not reply to your drainage arguments and I am not a libertarian, you jerk.

White Indian June 15, 2011 at 8:59 pm

When I stated “the neighboring farmer isn’t doing anything for which to be sued,” I meant the farmer with the drainage problem. I hope that clarifies. To reiterate:

1. The farmer with the drainage problem is merely exercising his property rights by requesting the county engineer to dug up and replace the broken tile.

2. I was NOT referring to GMO, either the conventional farmer with the GMO crop, or to the the crop of the neighboring organic farmer.

I think we crossed wires on which farmer to whom we were refarming.

Brian Macker June 20, 2011 at 8:34 pm

My comment was in response to the article. Not any comment about drainage.

Brian Macker June 20, 2011 at 8:33 pm

My comment was in response to the article. Not any comment about drainage.

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