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Friday, October 21, 2016

Response to "Open Letter to Commenter Bret Wallach"

Hi Don,

You asked the following in your Open Letter to me:
Do you, in short, believe that you have an ethical right to grow your own tomatoes with your own resources if you choose – a right that trumps other tomato-growers’ insistence that you instead buy your tomatoes from them?
I've never had tomatoes thrown at me before in a debate, even figuratively, so this is a first. I'm sure it beats being hit with actual tomatoes. :-)

But I wonder if you've asked yourself that very question? And I wonder what your answer to yourself would be?

I wonder that because you seem to be a strong supporter of patents. If so, consider the following. I'm happily and honestly growing my tomatoes using only my own and all completely legal resources. As they're growing away, some tomato DNA from an adjacent field of tomatoes grown from Monsanto tomato seeds blows into my field and inadvertently contaminates the tomatoes that I've planted for next year's seed stock. Unfortunately for me, Monsanto's patent protection on the DNA disallows me from planting and selling tomatoes next year using my own seed stock. These Monsanto patent rights that prohibit me from growing my own tomatoes have been upheld by the Supreme Court:
The US Supreme Court upheld biotech giant Monsanto’s claims on genetically-engineered seed patents and the company’s ability to sue farmers whose fields are inadvertently contaminated with Monsanto materials.
Of course, other tomato-growers who use Monsanto's seeds will be quite happy that I'm stuck buying tomatoes grown by them instead of growing my own. I assume that as a supporter of patent rights that you side with the Supreme Court and Monsanto on this one and you, in short, do NOT believe that I have an ethical right to grow my own tomatoes with my own resources if I choose. At least not an inherent right - Monsanto's patent right trumps any rights I might have to grow my own tomatoes.

Or am I mistaken? Perhaps you're going to tell me that the DNA that trespasses onto my property is not my resource? Perhaps, but then neither is the sun that falls on my crops nor the CO2 that the tomatoes need to grow that blows through my fields nor the earthworms that migrated from adjacent fields nor the rain that falls from the sky, etc. If you follow that line of reasoning, I'm therefore not able to grow tomatoes with solely my own resources and so your question becomes meaningless. Or perhaps I could grow them in an airtight greenhouse with only artificial lights and sterilized topsoil purchased elsewhere rejuvenated by microbes I buy elsewhere, etc., but such tomatoes would have no chance to be commercially viable making your question still mostly meaningless.

Or perhaps you're a strong supporter of patents except in this case? And cases like it?

Do you support precluding an inventor from using a method he invented independently (and possibly before anybody else) with the sweat of his brow risking his own capital simply because he filed his patent application a nanosecond after someone else filed a patent application for more-or-less the same invention (also invented independently)? This happens quite frequently (though there's usually a bit more than a nanosecond between the applications) and is quite a severe restriction on the freedom and even life of the very slightly slower-to-file inventor.

But that's all well and good: them's the rules and them's the breaks. We've collectively, via the State, decided that patents benefit the collective in aggregate and if some folks are deprived of the fruits of their labors and possibly severely damaged because of that, tough luck - the freedom to use what you've developed is trumped by what benefits the collective. And you support that, right?

To me, a patent is a GOLEM (Government Originated Legally Enforced Monopoly) and GOLEMs are a subset of GOLERTs (Government Originated Legally Enforced Restrictions on Trade). Your support of patents makes you perfectly okay with GOLEMs and therefore at least that type of GOLERT. To paraphrase an old joke, now that we've identified that you're perfectly happy and supportive of the collective placing some restrictions on trade, all that's left is to haggle over the details. :-)

Oh, I have no doubt you'll find some way to rationalize it. Perhaps you'll say "BUT IT'S PROPERTY!" Okay, but then why isn't it property for the other guy who invented it (perhaps he even invented it first, he was just slower to file)? Why isn't it property after 20 years? Or is it property but then it's okay for the State to take it away after 20 years? In which case why wouldn't it be okay for the State to take away any property if it benefits the collective? And if inventions are property, why were they not generally described as property prior to the 1960s, the decade when the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) was founded (with the purpose of getting everybody to think of inventions as property)? Etc.

Applying this to growing tomatoes, perhaps the invention that I invented first using only my own resources but was slightly slower-to-file than someone else was a new-fangled super-duper tomato transplanting system (since I'm a roboticist who develops agricultural automation products, I actually bid on developing exactly such a system a few weeks ago). Assuming the other inventor got the patent, it would be illegal to use my invention to grow my own tomatoes. However, I could probably prevent anyone from proving that I was doing so (since I simply wouldn't allow them on my property) and could use my invention without fear of punishment. Would that be unethical? Immoral? Would it matter whether or not I sold the tomatoes?

In thinking about one small aspect (patent considerations) of your seemingly simple question of whether or not I should be able to grow stuff (tomatoes) on my own property using my own resources without any interference from the collective (the State) or subsets of the collective (other growers), more than a dozen questions have already come to mind. That's because your question is not simple. Everything that everybody does affects everybody else and nothing that involves large numbers of people is simple.

My answer to your seemingly simple question of whether or not I should be able to grow stuff on my own property without any interference from others is "it depends."

Sincerely,
Bret Wallach
President
Vision Robotics Corporation
San Diego, CA

P.S. If you excerpt any of the above, please also provide a link to this page (http://greatguys.blogspot.com/2016/10/response-to-open-letter-to-commenter.html) so readers can see the full context of what I've written.

93 comments:

Rob said...

I am not Don, but I will respond.

I oppose patents.

So, no, it doesn't depend.

Bret said...

Rob,

For you it may not depend on patents, but I noted in my response to Don that patents was only one of many aspects.

What if I need to build a dam on my property? How much can I deplete the aquifer pumping water out of my well? Is that even measurable? How much pollution from my tractor can pass out of my property? Do only the neighbors and/or those directly affected by the tractor emissions get to decide or can the collective trump them to some degree because they need the tomatoes? How about nitrogen runoff?

The list of questions goes on and on and on...

You're entitled to your answer and to vote for and lobby politicians to implement and enforce your answer. And I'm not claiming your answer is unethical or immoral.

My answer is still "it depends" and believe that answer is also ethical and moral. We just disagree.

(Note that I also oppose patents, but Don does not).

Rob said...

It depends MAY be fine.

But until you answer "based on what principles will it depend?" I can judge whether your response it ethical and/or moral.

I think your list of questions can all be answered with "Coase".

Hey Skipper said...

I happen to be in favor of patents, while also happily accepting that parts of our patent law, or the Patent Office's implementation, are a mess. Patent trolls are as much proof as is needed of that.

However, I think your reading of the Monsanto case is wrong. The case did not decide that "Monsanto's patent protection on the DNA disallows me from planting and selling tomatoes next year using my own seed stock." Rather, the decision regarding contamination was the consequence of their being no actual conflict over which to sue. Monsanto pledged it would not ever sue over inadvertent contamination.

Of course, because Monsanto did not completely abjure the option, that means, in theory, that Monsanto could sue you over inadvertent contamination. However, it is very far from certain that lawsuit would succeed.

Also, I think you put far too much weight on the filing of a patent a nano-second too late. Of course such a thing is theoretically possible; however, in as much as patents are supposed to be awarded to novel and non-obvious inventions, then the odds of such a thing seem quite low. Basing your argument on a rare boundary condition -- do you have any examples -- while ignoring the vast majority of normative cases amounts to raising an interesting debating point, but not much more.

By doing so, you ignore whether the consequences of eliminating patents outweigh keeping them; I think there are some very important ethical and moral considerations you are ignoring.

For instance, say a company invents a strain of rice that has much more vitamin A than existing varieties. They made a significant investment to do so, in expectation of making a profit over the sales of such rice, because it will prevent millions of cases of blindness in the developing world.

Without patent protection, they wouldn't bother.

What's the ethical argument now?

Bret said...

Hey Skipper,

The response isn't an argument against patents. It's more an argument is that patents are inherently a thing of the collective. If no government creation and/or no government enforcement, no patents. Or, at least, I doubt any effective patent protection.

A patent is a restriction on trade enforced by the government. If one thinks patents are a good thing, then I think that one ought to think that at least some restrictions on trade enforced by the government (GOLERTs) are okay. Then it's a matter of deciding which GOLERTs are beneficial, not a matter of saying all GOLERTs are immoral and unethical, which is Don's position (Protectionism is Robbery is the title of one of his posts, for example). If all government enforced restrictions on trade are immoral, then patents are also immoral.

Bret said...

And yes, patent conflicts happen all of the time. Just because 99% of people in a field will never figure something out because it's just not obvious, 1% can still be a LOT of people working on something.

It's moderately hard to find a concrete example because the patents that were filed a nanosecond (or a few months) too late are withdrawn and never published since their lateness is identified at the first office action and the company obviously won't keep coughing up the application fees.

We've certainly had claims rejected because we were too slow to file (because we simply didn't have the money available to do so), but not a whole patent yet.

Hey Skipper said...

A patent is a restriction on trade enforced by the government. If one thinks patents are a good thing, then I think that one ought to think that at least some restrictions on trade enforced by the government (GOLERTs) are okay.

Property rights are a restriction on trade. If I insist on keeping my car locked in a garage, thereby stopping someone from taking it and selling it, then I am getting in the way of trade.

Patents should be, can be, a means of providing non-tangible property rights. Patents are a fence, or a lock, by other means.

If Don's position is that property rights are moral, then I think he has to do go through some real contortions to think that patents, ipso facto, aren't.

However, I don't think If all government enforced restrictions on trade are immoral, then patents are also immoral follows. Many, government enforced restrictions on trade are immoral -- at the level of property rights, anyway. But there is a category error embedded in your statement. Typical government restrictions on trade forcibly take someone's property and award it to someone else, almost always through higher prices. That means the beneficiaries of restrictions are, to some extent, enslaving their fellow citizens.

That isn't the case with patents (or copyright); I think it is exactly the opposite. Presuming one has put a great deal of money and effort into creating a non-obvious and useful product or method, then allowing others to capture the profits from that money and amounts to fellow citizens enslaving the beneficiary of the patent.

(And if Don's position is that all government restrictions on trade are immoral, then it would be child's play to demonstrate that position is wrong. First, because asserting a negative is a fool's errand and, second, because there are some obvious cases where restrictions are moral: Alex, how about blood diamonds for $50?)

Hey Skipper said...

We've certainly had claims rejected because we were too slow to file (because we simply didn't have the money available to do so), but not a whole patent yet.

Patents are far from the only example where first past the post makes all the difference in the world.

Clovis e Adri said...

Rob,

---
I think your list of questions can all be answered with "Coase".
---

Ironically, to the extent they can, it involves placing the government in charge of things morally equivalent to dictating if you can grow your own tomatoes or not.

Of course, there is also some extent to which Coase doesn't help at all, for transaction costs aren't zero neither information is perfect.

Clovis e Adri said...

Skipper,

---
For instance, say a company invents a strain of rice that has much more vitamin A than existing varieties. They made a significant investment to do so, in expectation of making a profit over the sales of such rice, because it will prevent millions of cases of blindness in the developing world.

Without patent protection, they wouldn't bother.

What's the ethical argument now?
---

That using third world poverty to justify patents is so démodé, it should be banned from discourses about ethics?




Clovis e Adri said...

Skipper,

Let's do ethics.

You enter a room where you see someone dying. That person needs a blue pill to survive. You have that blue pill in your hands. You are not sick, you do not need the pill, nor intend to use it in the foreseeable future for you or anyone else you know.

What would be the ethical choice? To give the dying man the pill, or to let him die?


There are many things to be taken from what is written above, but even more from what is not written. A glaring absence is the definition of "ethical". That's one problem with Don's argument too. That said, I still would like to have your choice above, Skipper.

Harry Eagar said...

Monsanto does not sue over inadvertent contamination although the anti-Monsanto industry has worked hard to spread that lie. So we need a better example.


I don't know a better one.

I do know what happens to people (me) who are ganged up on by Silicon Valley free marketeers.

erp said...

5,210,000 My brother's keeper arguments.

Hey Skipper said...

[Harry:] I do know what happens to people (me) who are ganged up on by Silicon Valley free marketeers.


You keep making that claim, then failing to back it up with any evidence.

And always fail to mention Craig's List, which, in rendering the classified ad section obsolete, practically overnight wiped out 30% of newspaper revenue.

Adding to the list of things you don't mention is competition. I can get news from many different sources now, which means I'm no longer tied to the MSM. Do you read newspapers anymore? Like, say, the NYT?

I do. It is horrible, and getting worse. Hard to make money when you are alienating 80% of the audience. (See also the Guardian in the UK.)

Hey Skipper said...

[Clovis:] That using third world poverty to justify patents is so démodé, it should be banned from discourses about ethics?


Why? SFAIK, that example serves two valid purposes. First, it challenges simplistic assertions of morality. And, second, for a hypothetical it is, SFAIK, fairly real. No, wait, it has a third purpose. I'll bet that I could, without much time or strain, provide many, many, more examples along that line — it isn't a boundary case.

You enter a room where you see someone dying. That person needs a blue pill to survive. You have that blue pill in your hands. You are not sick, you do not need the pill, nor intend to use it in the foreseeable future for you or anyone else you know.

What would be the ethical choice? To give the dying man the pill, or to let him die?


Hypotheticals aren't as problematic as analogies, but near as dammit is to swearing. Unless you include in your hypothetical all the elements involved discussing patents, then your hypothetical seriously risks being irrelevant, or, worse, misleading.

Just so here. Let's say there isn't just one person — that, after all, is scarcely realistic — but hundreds of thousands who would be saved by hundreds of thousands of blue pills.

What, then, is the ethical answer?

No, wait. There's more. Let's say that giving away all those blue pills bankrupts the company that discovered that pill in the first place; after all, it didn't discover itself. And because the company is now bankrupt, then it can no longer discover any more life saving pills that also won't discover themselves.

Which is exactly where you hypothetical went to die. It ignored the most fundamental and inescapable consideration of all: time.

Bret said...

Hey Skipper wrote: "...after all, it [the pill] didn't discover itself..."

And where your counterargument goes to die, in my opinion, is that nobody would've discovered it anyway. Or discovered something else just as living saving or fulfilling. In fact, it seems that you're almost saying that if it weren't for patents, nobody would ever develop anything whatsoever. Nobody would ever innovate, nobody would ever invent, everybody would sit around and think, "ya know, I know a better way to do that, but because I won't get a 20 year monopoly on it, I'm not going to tell anybody and I'm going to keep it a secret and take it to the grave with me." You may think like that, but most people do not. To be human is to invent.

But I also want to point out that my argument with Boudreaux is not about whether or not patents are a good thing. Only that they are certainly a restriction on peaceful trade, and if such restrictions are immoral and unethical, then so are patents. And I'm even perfectly happy to go with yes, they're immoral, but the ends justify the means. But then likewise, the ends of reducing international free trade could therefore also potentially justify taking that action, even if immoral. We can debate whether or not that's true, but the morality argument simply doesn't work.

Hey Skipper said...

In fact, it seems that you're almost saying that if it weren't for patents, nobody would ever develop anything whatsoever.

No, I'm not saying that. What I'm saying is that people will not make an investment if they won't get a return on the investment, no matter what it is.

I'm not going to buy a an expensive car if someone is going to steal it. That doesn't mean I won't have a car, I'll just have something that doesn't require much time to purchase.

So why would anyone put 10 years of effort into something, if the moment it is done, it is getting sold on the street for the marginal cost of manufacture? Boeing put a lot of money into the 747. Once the first one was built, it would have been a comparative doddle for another company to make knock offs, and not have to amortize the R&D costs.

If that was legal, no one would make the substantial investment to design new planes. Presuming things like your blue pill aren't easy -- which is obvious, or there'd be so many that the hypothetical would instantly collapse -- then what went into making the first one is no different than what went into making the first 747.

Most of what we think of as restrictions on trade are immoral, because they take property -- money -- away from some people and give it to others by interfering with the freedom of consumers to choose from which supplier to buy (minimum wage laws are similar). But that has nothing to do with patents, because the point of patents is to prevent people stealing from inventors. Theft isn't trade.

The argument for free trade is that the benefits are so obvious. In a very general sense. However, if a consequence of free trade is to gut manufacturing cities, then people in those gutted cities a) likely will have a hard time seeing the benefits and b) wonder mightily why they are the ones paying the bill.

Where is the morality in that?

Bret said...

Hey Skipper wrote: "...because the point of patents is to prevent people stealing from inventors..."

No it's not. The point is "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries." (That'd be the constitution Article I, Section 8, Clause 8, in case you didn't recognize it). Note that it does NOT imply that inventors have any sort of natural right to their discoveries, only a limited time government given right and only to promote the progress of science and useful arts (if only useful arts, I've always wondered why one could get a copyright on a rap CD :-). Also note that neither the founders nor anyone who came before them ever, ever, used the term "property" as having anything at all to do with discoveries or inventions.

You cannot steal an invention. Otherwise, you would be constantly guilty of theft of every single invention from the beginning of time that you do not pay some sort of fee to somebody for. That tomato you just ate? Uncountable numbers of inventions were used in all aspects of creating that tomato, yet for only the tiniest itty bitty fraction of those did you indirectly pay any sort of fee to any inventor (or, more likely, patent holder - inventors rarely get anything), many of which are still alive and those who are dead would have passed the "ownership" of their inventions to their descendants if it were "property."

Hey Skipper said...

[Bret:] No it's not. The point is "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries."

Did you just contradict me by quoting the Constitution to make exactly the point I've been trying to make?

This is classic ends - means: The end is the progress of science, and the essential means is protecting as property writings and discoveries. Which is exactly what I've been saying. Unless some property right attends significant investments of time and money, people will not make those investments. It doesn't matter whether the investment is in a house, business, car, or inventing a life saving blue pill.

You cannot steal an invention.

The hell you can't.

You continue to miss the point -- without a return on investment, people won't make the investment. The guy in that link hopes to make a living by inventing stuff. You say he shouldn't.

Bret said...

Hey Skipper wrote: "The hell you can't. "

It's kinda telling in the article you link to in order to contradict my "you cannot steal an invention" statement doesn't have the words "steal" (or any form thereof), "theft" (or any form thereof), "property," etc. The closest it comes to that sort of thing is "saying they swiped his patents," (and I think that may have been a pun since it's a patent on windshield wipers - "swiped," geddit? :-) Note that he didn't say swiped his invention or swiped his property. That's because you CANNOT "swipe" or otherwise steal an invention. You can only infringe on government granted patent(s) on the invention.

Again, if you think it's possible to steal inventions and you think that's a bad thing then stop eating because everything you eat has utilized gazillions of inventions that neither you nor anybody else are paying for in any way.

Hey Skipper wrote: "Which is exactly what I've been saying. Unless some property right ..."

An invention is NOT property. Has never been and never will be. A patent is a right that is granted by government to restrict the economic activity of others and isn't really property either. But if you must mistakingly think of something as property, at least a patent has similarities with property in that it can sort of be bought and sold (though called "assigned" or "transferred" in patentese, not bought or sold). You cannot buy an invention.

And I find the article comic. Do you really think nobody else would've ever come up with intermittent wipers if it wasn't for the brilliant Mr. Kearns? Really? And he wants billions of dollars from automakers for this infringement. Which comes out of consumers pockets. My pockets. To me, the article you linked to is a perfect example of why patents are horribly counterproductive.

I have between 10 and 20 patents and having been through the process that many times, I'm quite sure it's counterproductive, simply because the vast, vast majority of patents are for trivial crap like intermittent wipers and the billions and billions of dollars sucked down by the patent office and lawyers would be better spent elsewhere. Anywhere.

Hey Skipper said...

An invention is NOT property.

You are too hung up on "property", because, near as I can tell, are losing cause part of the cause-effect relationship. My car is my property, right? Same with the laptop I am typing this on. Those things, obviously property, didn't just poof into my possession; I had to do something in order for them to become my property.

Work.

Ok. Let's say an invention isn't property. But by that same reasoning, my work isn't property, either. It isn't tangible, and doesn't persist in any form, just like an invention. And it does restrict the economic activity of others, because they have to pay me to do it.

Further, by your reasoning, my work, since it isn't property, can't be stolen. Except that it can be -- I could be forced to do it at gunpoint, or someone could steal my car and laptop, thereby achieving the same end as making me work at gunpoint for the time required to buy those things.

And I find the article comic. Do you really think nobody else would've ever come up with intermittent wipers if it wasn't for the brilliant Mr. Kearns? Really? And he wants billions of dollars from automakers for this infringement. Which comes out of consumers pockets. My pockets. To me, the article you linked to is a perfect example of why patents are horribly counterproductive.

What does it matter if someone else could have come up with it? He did, not anyone else. And the car companies didn't pay a dime to come up with this innovation -- they stole his work.

The reason he wants a lot of money for the infringement is because of the infringement itself. Had the car companies done what they could have done at the outset, they would have paid him pennies on the unit for the right to use his patent. And, so far as I know, he didn't patent the idea, he patented the mechanism, which he created and built, to make it work. If that is true, the car companies must pay him not for the idea, but for the implementation of the idea, which he made, and they copied.

In other words, they stole his work. Of course, they could have come up with the idea in house, and engineered the solution. But that would have involved work, for which they would have had to pay.

I get that there are problems with the patent system, but they lie chiefly with implementation. There are plenty of patents that are nothing more than an attempt to claim ownership of an idea. The patent office granted a patent to someone for nothing more than an idea that sound could be distributed. Then a patent troll decides to sue Adam Corolla for having a podcast.

That is utter bollocks.

But if that someone had not only come up with the idea, but did all the work required to fully implement it, then why shouldn't people who use his implementation pay him for the work they didn't do?

Which is the point you aren't responding to. If people can't expect to profit from significant time and effort, then they won't put in significant time and effort.

Why should I go to work if I'm not going to get paid for it?

erp said...

I read that article, Harry. It's a clumsy attempt for a quid pro quo to deflect Wikileaks emails and the videos of Hillary's "team" talking out of school.

It also seems to confirm that my original contention that Trump’s plan was to elect Hillary by eliminating all Republican candidates, was correct.

... and you are the second person today to make the mistake of assuming that I support Trump. I don't, but I am going to vote for him in the vain hope that even if he didn't originally run to win, if he does win, "Greatness will be thrust upon him."

It's our only chance for survival. Whatever a President Trump presidency may turn out to be, it can't possibly be worse than another BOGO Clinton presidency.

Clovis e Adri said...

Skipper,

---
[After a long rant about my hypotheticals]
What, then, is the ethical answer?
---
As you didn't bother to define which 'ethics' you are working with, nor answer my question, it is hard to say.

Apparently, your ethical framework is much about 'theft':

---
[Skipper] Most of what we think of as restrictions on trade are immoral, because they take property -- money -- away from some people and give it to others by interfering with the freedom of consumers to choose from which supplier to buy (minimum wage laws are similar). But that has nothing to do with patents, because the point of patents is to prevent people stealing from inventors. Theft isn't trade.
---

Well, AFAIK, patents have been a source of theft of my money. And yours too.

Because most people - and countries - will answer to my pill-hypotheticals with some minor variation of "I give him the pill and save him".

Which means all those third world countries your patent system is saving from horrible deaths, are captured by a racket made of special interests. We sure do not want to let the man die, but with GDP per capita usually one order of magnitude less than yours, very few people can directly pay for that pill. Which means the State will be made to pay, one way or another.

So I end up paying for very expensive medicine for people I will never meet in life, living thousands of kilometers away (hey, Brazil is big too!), and I have absolutely zero decision over any of it. Is that theft? Is that ethical?

You are probably paying up for some expensive medicine for someone in Mississipi too, since that state is enrolled on Obamacare and other federal subsidies in general. It helps a lot that you earn in the same currency that so many of those medicines get patented, so you may feel less of a burden, but paying you are.

Assuming your framework (which I don't really share, but let's do more hypotheticals here) that patent is all about protection against theft, I ask you: why the theft of my money, summed up with the theft of so many other taxpayers, is less important than the theft of the inventor's time? Is his time more important than so many other people's time?

Maybe it is. After all, what's more important than rice with vitamin A? (I can answer that most countries can get that vitamin from other sources, but I digress). Ok, thas was unfair, HIV medicine's inventors sure have been applying their time better than so many of us stupid patentless people. But is there a cap here? Is it possible that, at some point, their govt-enforced profit gets to be unethical?


Hey Skipper said...

[Clovis:] As you didn't bother to define which 'ethics' you are working with, nor answer my question, it is hard to say.

Apparently, your ethical framework is much about 'theft':


My ethical framework in this regard is utilitarian. Time and money invested in creating things does a great deal of good, patents and copyrights are essential to giving some assurance there will be a return on investment, and without that assurance, people won't invest time and money in creating things. One of, if not the biggest problem with libertarianism is free-riding. Patents & copyrights, government awarded monopolies, are a defense against free-riding.

Many countries regulate the price of pharmaceuticals, in order to prevent "excessive profit", or increase "affordability". Scare quotes because those terms remain notoriously undefined.

One of the results is that, since drug prices are unregulated in the US, American consumers end up paying for other countries free-riding. The R&D required for drug innovations has to be paid for by somebody. If it isn't, there won't be any.

The reason I didn't answer your question is that it was simplistic and irrelevant. I added the factors you elided, thereby putting your question right back in your court.

What is your answer?

Well, AFAIK, patents have been a source of theft of my money. And yours too.


Explain, using examples, please.

Because most people - and countries - will answer to my pill-hypotheticals with some minor variation of "I give him the pill and save him".

Of course they will. It is the easiest thing in the world to be in favor of voting to give yourself someone else's stuff. Of course, the more people getting "free" stuff, the more other people have to pay to provide the "free" stuff. See Obamacare.

The other way of looking at it is that the wider the revenue stream, the shallower it can be; i.e., for R&D to occur, it has to be amortized over all sales. The more sales there are, the less the R&D amortization per sale. See A380 v. B747.

Assuming your framework (which I don't really share, but let's do more hypotheticals here) that patent is all about protection against theft, I ask you: why the theft of my money, summed up with the theft of so many other taxpayers, is less important than the theft of the inventor's time? Is his time more important than so many other people's time?


How much do you want innovation?

Patents last for some specific period, in the US, for 20 years -- that is the cap. However, that duration is frequently only theoretical, given the rate that technology changes, and the near certainty someone will be able to find a better way of doing anything. The HIV medication regime is indeed a life saver, but it could be rendered redundant tomorrow by a vaccine. Or an even better set of meds. After all, how many 19 year old patents are still worth much?

We can have a discussion on how best to pay for R&D -- which also must include risk -- but unless there will an adequate return on investment, there will never be a vaccine or even a better set of meds.

Which is where your blue pill question falls apart -- it ignores the future.

Bret said...

Hey Skipper wrote: "Further, by your reasoning, my work, since it isn't property, can't be stolen. Except that it can be -- I could be forced to do it at gunpoint..."

And in your dictionary, that's called theft or stealing? In mine it would be probably called enslavement unless the work is sex in which case it'd be called rape.


Hey Skipper wrote: "What does it matter if someone else could have come up with it? He did, not anyone else."

My bet is thousands of people thought of that unbelievably simple and obvious idea and probably many at Ford. Since we don't have the details of the case, we don't actually know if Mr. Crackpot Inventor has any moral standing whatsoever. We only (perhaps) know, if the article is accurate, what is alleged.


Hey Skipper wrote: "...they stole his work."

Bullshit. They (allegedly) infringed on his patent. Completely different. Do you think he engineered the wiper mechanism on even a single car of Ford's? Of course not. His "work" was not used at all. It would take me about a second of "work" to come up with an idea like that and in this day and age, I could probably fabricate one from crap laying around in the lab in less than 2 hours admittedly, the 555 chip that came out in 1971 or so makes it trivial but it was still pretty easy in 1963. And he wants billions of dollars for that? You're doing a really excellent job of reminding me and further convincing me how ridiculous patents are.


Hey Skipper wrote: "Why should I go to work if I'm not going to get paid for it?"

Here's the thing. If you work for me (or any other engineering firm), other than your salary, you would never see even 1 penny from anything you ever invented (except possibly indirectly from raises). All employees sign away any and all possible rights to every invention that they make during the period they work for me (even if they invent something supposedly "on their own time"). If they don't like it, they don't have to work for me (or any other engineering firm). This is true for the vast, vast majority of inventions. The inventors have ZERO rights of any kind to their own inventions. Very odd property!

You're paid to work and work isn't property either. The invention less so. It's no more property than the action of flipping a burger.

So are you not gonna come to work because I'm not paying you for your inventions? Maybe you wouldn't but lots have.

Hey Skipper said...

[Bret:] My bet is thousands of people thought of that unbelievably simple and obvious idea and probably many at Ford. Since we don't have the details of the case, we don't actually know if Mr. Crackpot Inventor has any moral standing whatsoever. We only (perhaps) know, if the article is accurate, what is alleged.

...

Do you think he engineered the wiper mechanism on even a single car of Ford's?


You need to work on your google-fu.

Bret said...

Hey Skipper wrote: "You need to work on your google-fu. "

Do I? From the article:

'But we figured there was just no way in the world it was patentable. An electronic timing device was an obvious thing to try next. How can you patent something that is in the natural evolution of technology?” Daykin shook his head. He said he had spent much of his last year at Ford helping to prepare for the Kearns case, and the experience had caused him to think a lot about the patent system. “I think about all those Ford engineers I worked with developing wiper systems. Dozens of inventors—maybe a hundred—contributed to your intermittent windshield wiper. There were men from Trico, Magnetti Marelli, Rover, Prestolite, Delco, General Motors, Chrysler, and Ford. I don’t know who some of them were—nobody does. They were the real inventors of the intermittent windshield wiper, not Kearns.”'

That's exactly right. Kearns is a charlatan; a patent troll. The money quote: "obvious thing to try next."

Hey Skipper said...

Bret, again you miss the points.

First, if it was so fricking obvious, they would have tried it first. But they didn't, did they? Why?

Second, he gave them the entire solution (compare with your previous assertions), which they stole in its entirety.

Instead of doing what they should and could have done: pay him pennies on the unit.

He did all the work, they made all the profit.

Bret said...

Hey Skipper wrote: "First, if it was so fricking obvious, they would have tried it first. But they didn't, did they? Why?"

This is the nanosecond example. He may have come up with it a nanosecond before the Ford engineers and thus we consumers are paying him that which he definitely does not deserve. Note that it's ultimately NOT car companies who are paying him. It's US.


Hey Skipper wrote: "Second, he gave them the entire solution (compare with your previous assertions), which they stole in its entirety."

Are you claiming they used an exact replica of his system on any car at all? Of course not. They needed to use different components on every car. Components that would last for the life of the car. THAT'S where the real work is. What he did was playing.

Hey Skipper wrote: "Instead of doing what they should and could have done: pay him pennies on the unit. "

No they shouldn't of. You should never, ever bow down to extortionists, which is all that he is.


Hey Skipper wrote: "He did all the work, they made all the profit."

No. He played around, the car companies did all the real work, and we consumers pay the price due to a stupid patent judges ridiculous and, in my opinion, incorrect ruling. The car companies will still make "all the profit."

Bret said...

Here's an interesting article that shows that even the transistor may not have been invented by the patent holders.

Clovis e Adri said...

Skipper,

----
Patents & copyrights, government awarded monopolies, are a defense against free-riding.
----
They may have been created with that purpose.

As often happen with anything government does, the consequences go beyond what was intended. You look to recognize so when mentioning patent trolls, but you still do not get half of it.


---
Many countries regulate the price of pharmaceuticals, in order to prevent "excessive profit", or increase "affordability". Scare quotes because those terms remain notoriously undefined.

One of the results is that, since drug prices are unregulated in the US, American consumers end up paying for other countries free-riding. The R&D required for drug innovations has to be paid for by somebody. If it isn't, there won't be any.
---
Please, let us take a look back on basic price setting theory.

I read what you say as implying a very naive view, where the price of a drug is its marginal cost when you properly include its R&D on the production cost.

Except it isn't. For pharmaceuticals are in a market that notoriously breaks the assumptions for a perfectly competitive free market: "(1) barrier-free market participation and (2) no variation across producers in the product’s characteristics".

Their markup - "the difference between the price under imperfect and perfect competition relative to marginal cost" - is built by a complex mix of market forces, regulations and collective behavior.

I review those concepts to tell you: no, American consumers are not paying the share of R&D not paid for by us poor dwellers. It is actually impossible to make that assertion without excruciating dissection of each single pharmaceutical company and their submarkets. Before any such, you can only tell that each buyer is casting a vote that helps to define the end price, and it may happens that my vote can be less, equally or more important than yours for any particular drug.

But you can keep your previous notion if you like, I guess it is more about some sort of patriotic ego than truth.


----
[Clovis] Well, AFAIK, patents have been a source of theft of my money. And yours too.
Explain, using examples, please.
----
In which way my previous example is not an example?

If you need more, I will take the time to properly answer that one in the blog.

erp said...

Skipper, please report in.

Harry Eagar said...

Off topic, but this is for Bret, who thinks I find racism everywhere:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/10/29/trump-booted-a-black-man-from-his-rally-and-called-him-a-thug-turns-out-he-is-a-supporter/?tid=pm_pop_b

Harry Eagar said...

And this:

http://littlegreenfootballs.com/article/46536_Video-_Trump_Supporter_Screams_JEW-S-A_at_Reporters_in_Phoenix

For some reason -- what could it possibky be? -- this guy wasn't thrown out

Harry Eagar said...

And then there's this:

http://littlegreenfootballs.com/page/321873_GOP_Hate_Flyers-_Watch_for_New

Hey Skipper said...

erp:

I'm just fine. As a first impression, the MD10 had a main gear strut collapse due to undetected fatigue, or a flaw in the casting.

Hey Skipper said...

Harry, I'm struggling to determine what your point is, unless it is to prove Bret right.

Hey Skipper said...

[Bret:] Are you claiming they used an exact replica of his system on any car at all? Of course not. They needed to use different components on every car. Components that would last for the life of the car. THAT'S where the real work is. What he did was playing.

First off, we need to get some facts straight.

Kearns built a working model, including variable dwell times and wiper speed. He then demonstrated it to Ford. Ford engineers told him that to be acceptable, the wipers had to be able to run three million cycles at 270ºF. Kearns then developed a test rig and tested his system to the required parameters +15% on cycles, which took another six months.

That's not playing, Bret. So how about backing off the notion that he didn't do substantial and meaningful work in developing his invention.

Ford then cut Kearns loose, and in 1969 introduced an intermittent wiper in exactly the same configuration that Kearns had designed.

Also, it seems you don't know very much about cars. A component like a windshield wiper controller could be used, without any relevant modification, on every car in the world.

This is the nanosecond example. He may have come up with it a nanosecond before the Ford engineers

Stop assuming facts not in evidence, particularly when the evidence is very clear that no one had even begun to think of using the then new transistor in such a control application. Not only does the nanosecond example not apply, it is clear that no one else had even started on such a thing.

And that is before wondering why the "nanosecond" matters here more than elsewhere. The world is rife with rewards overwhelmingly favoring first-past-the-post. Why not here?

Then there is the restraint of trade issue which you keep bringing up, but does not apply, even a little bit, in this case (and, I suspect, many others).

You are making the unfounded assumption that whatever Kearns wished to charge per unit for Ford to use his invention would add directly to what consumers would pay for it.

Think about that for a second, and see if you can find the glaring flaw in that thinking.

Ford is going to price the intermittent windshield wiper option at the revenue maximizing point — after all, they can't charge anymore than customers are willing to pay for it. And so long as they can produce the thing for less than they can charge customers — they will add it to the options list. Ford's profit would have been reduced by the licensing costs they would have paid Kearns, but it wouldn't have cost consumers a penny extra.

Indeed, Ford's profit would have been reduced had they spent the money to come up with the idea in house, then did all the engineering work to perfect it.

But they didn't to that either. Instead, they stole everything this guy did. By 1989 they had sold nearly 21 million units with Kearns invention, with a profit of $557M. Now, had they done what they could, and should have done at the outset, like offering ten cents a unit, he would have made $2M, Ford $555M, and the cost to consumers would have been nil.

Hey Skipper wrote: "Further, by your reasoning, my work, since it isn't property, can't be stolen. Except that it can be -- I could be forced to do it at gunpoint..."

[Bret:] And in your dictionary, that's called theft or stealing? In mine it would be probably called enslavement unless the work is sex in which case it'd be called rape.


My dictionary doesn't make meaningless word distinctions. If I am forced to work at gunpoint, or the company decides not to pay me for work performed, or someone steals what I have earned from my work, the effect is exactly the same. Call it theft, or slavery, it doesn't matter. What does matter is the expropriation of time and effort.

Which is exactly what Ford did, and the patent system is meant to protect against.


erp said...

Skipper, thanks for checking in -- I'm glad you're okay.

erp said...

Harry, referencing LGF??

Hey Skipper said...

[Clovis:] As often happen with anything government does, the consequences go beyond what was intended. You look to recognize so when mentioning patent trolls, but you still do not get half of it.

I am trying to reason from basic principles — what constitutes property, how it comes to exist, what does the concept of "theft" mean, and how it can be applied.

Therefore, I find the assertion that an invention can't be stolen to be unfounded; and since it can be stolen, in exactly the same sense other kinds of labor can be stolen, then there needs to be some assertion of invention property rights that are analogous to other forms of property rights.

Obviously, that doesn't mean there aren't problems with patent law or its implementation. But that is a different problem than whether patents are a valid concept to begin with. If they are — and my example points in that direction — then the real discussion is how to fix the patent system to reduce the problem of patent trolls. (I submit one fix would to be to prohibit patenting ideas — that patents can only be awarded for inventions that are novel, unique, and for which there are working prototypes.)

I read what you say [about other countries free riding on US consumers] as implying a very naive view, where the price of a drug is its marginal cost when you properly include its R&D on the production cost.


I review those concepts to tell you: no, American consumers are not paying the share of R&D not paid for by us poor dwellers. It is actually impossible to make that assertion without excruciating dissection of each single pharmaceutical company and their submarkets.


No, it is possible. Assume this hypo, which isn't all that far from reality: all countries in the world, save the US, fix drug prices at the marginal cost of production plus, say 10%.

So, the question you need to answer is how much money drug companies would have with which to fund R&D.

No excruciating dissection is required. Clearly controlling prices must reduce profit, otherwise there wouldn't be any point.

One way — the only way, really — to increase profit is to increase prices American's pay.

Which means American's disproportionately support R&D. Drug companies invest about 20% of revenue on R&D. To the extent that Americans don't make up for lost revenue elsewhere, then R&D must be reduced.

No, put the same price control regime in place in the US. R&D will tank, and the tanking is the direct measure of how much those parts of the world that control drug prices are free riding on the parts that don't.

Harry Eagar said...

'Harry, referencing LGF??'

Certainly. It has excellent credentials; and besides, it always links through to original sources.


Those particular items have been reported elsewhere. LGF is a handy aggregator.

Sigh.

Skipper objects when I reference printed sources that are not on the Internet. It's almost like talking to Christians who won't accept any source but the Bible.

erp said...

Harry, what business is it of yours what Christians, a meaningless term as there are many many Christians of different sects who don't accept much in the bible as a source at all, Catholic clergy for instance discourage adherents from reading the bible at all except under supervision.

Sadly, Charles lost his way many years ago probably due to being scared out of his bird by those who took exception to his revealing that Dan Rather's expose about Bush's service in the National Guard was a forgery.

Prior to that he was one of the earliest and wittiest of bloggers and if this what you mean by excellent credentials, I demur, disagree and reject them and certainly won't click on a link to his website.

Hey Skipper said...

[Harry:] Skipper objects when I reference printed sources that are not on the Internet.

Indeed I do. Because you are asking us to take your word for what's in those printed sources. I'd be fine with that, except your track record for things I can confirm is awful. Why should I give you any credence for things I can't confirm?

Certainly. It has excellent credentials; and besides, it always links through to original sources.

Yes, like Dr. Zoom at Wonkette. For the ideologically blinkered, LGF fluffs their preconceptions.

And what was your point, anyway?

Harry Eagar said...

Original point, it's not so hard to find racism.

Second point, there's more information out there than you find at Drudge.

Third, some people are mighty resistant to any claims that infringe on their prejudices.

Hey Skipper said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hey Skipper said...

Original point, it's not so hard to find racism.

It is for you.

First link: since it is apparently impossible for you to find anything anywhere that isn't fluffing your infinite moral superiority, you are apparently unaware that Trump rallies have been cancelled due to threats of violence, and disrupted by BLM protestors. Oh, and Trump supporters have been attacked while police stood by and did nothing.

So the conclusion you should have come to, but didn't, is this isn't about race, but rather a reaction to the vile, thuggish, and violent behavior coming from progs like you. Instead, you found racism right where it was the least likely explanation -- thereby proving Bret's point. (Pro-tip, Harry: if anti-Trump news like this isn't making the NYT or WP, all reliably leftist and anti-Trump, then you are fluffing yourself.)

Second link: Jew != race.

Third link: Muslim != race. Islam != race.

Thereby reproving and rereproving Bret's point once and twice again, because you are finding it where it can't possibly exist.

That should be enough, but just in case, there's one last nail that needs pounding in your racist mental coffin. Not only do you relentlessly find it where it doesn't exist, you completely miss it where it does.


(I found myself wondering yesterday how you can find LGF -- which is fanatically in the tank for catastrophic global warming -- balanced and well sourced.)

erp said...

Skipper, to ask the question, is to answer it. It's only racism when it's white on black. The reverse is revenge & reparations.

Clovis e Adri said...

Skipper,

----
Therefore, I find the assertion that an invention can't be stolen to be unfounded; and since it can be stolen, in exactly the same sense other kinds of labor can be stolen, then there needs to be some assertion of invention property rights that are analogous to other forms of property rights.
----

That was not my point. Since you pose yourself to be a utilitarian, your question should be: are property rights a net gain for society? Is the good they provide greater than the collaterals?


I believe they once were a net positive. Nowadays they aren't anymore, except for a smaller (and dwindling) set of markets.


----
Assume this hypo, which isn't all that far from reality: all countries in the world, save the US, fix drug prices at the marginal cost of production plus, say 10%.
[...]
Which means American's disproportionately support R&D. Drug companies invest about 20% of revenue on R&D. To the extent that Americans don't make up for lost revenue elsewhere, then R&D must be reduced.
----
I believe your hypothetical is far away from reality. But even then, you are clearly wrong.

Suppose, under your own hypotheticals, that a company gets 10% of its revenue from the USA, and 90% from the rest of the price-fixed world. How come you conclude that it is those Americans who are still paying fot the 20% of revenue this company applies in R&D?

Now take a company that gets 60% of its revenue from the USA, and 40% from the rest of the planet. How come you still conclude the money going to R&D is coming solely from those 60% of dollar bills? You don't, it is non-sense.

Suppose I open a Pizza place(store A) in a rich neighborhood, and another one in a poor neighborhood (store B), with different prices in each to reflect the purchasing power of my consumers.

After one year of operations, I find out 70% of my revenue comes from store A, even though both stores are highly profitable. Your conclusion: Rich people who eat at A are subsidizing poor people at B?

And If I close my store B, am I better for it or worse?

erp said...

Clovis, this is where you analysis of business fails. Your pizza store in the rich neighborhood will have higher costs (rent, no cheap labor nearby, more demanding customers who want a superior pizza, etc.). That's why the prices there must be higher, not to reflect the fatter wallets of your consumers who being rich, can wander far afield to find the best pizza and are not driven by convenience and cost as are the poor downtrodden who must do with whatever inferior pizza you force on them.

I'll bet in real life, low-end fast food joints are more profitable than the equivalent in more upscale ones where customers are more discriminating and have more choices.

PS: Only in America do the "poor" eat convenience/junk food.

Harry Eagar said...

'Second link: Jew != race.'

Don't be otiose. I note -- but cannot understand -- your now longstanding effort to absolve all rightwingers of any charge of racism. By your standads, even Nazis couldn't be racists, although they wanted to.

Also, there is a difference between being a racist and being an antiracist. Learn it.

Then there's this:

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/01/business/for-helping-immigrants-chobanis-founder-draws-threats.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=second-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

erp said...

Harry, I think you mean obtuse, not otiose, but either way we're in non sequitur city again. Please, either define the word, "rightwing(er)," or stop using it.

Chabani: the poster boy for crony capitalism, doing very very well by doing "good" helping his homies.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

---
I'll bet in real life, low-end fast food joints are more profitable than the equivalent in more upscale ones where customers are more discriminating and have more choices.
---
Sorry but you miss the point. It doesn't matter which store is more profitable - store B can be more profitable and still to bring less revenue, if it is far smaller for example. And even if B brings more of the revenue, I can just reverse the question: would the poor people eating at B be subsidizing the rich who eat at A?

Either way, they make clear where Skipper's mistake is.

Hey Skipper said...

[Clovis:] That was not my point. Since you pose yourself to be a utilitarian, your question should be: are property rights a net gain for society? Is the good they provide greater than the collaterals?


In answering that, I'll reason from basic principles.

Property is not causeless. My car, did not just materialize in my garage, I had to work to earn the money with which to buy it. Anything that deprives me of property rights with respect to my car devalues the money with which I bought it; in turn, that means expropriating my work. Therefore, in a general sense, property rights are an extension of the individual's ownership of their own work.

Therefore, generally speaking strong property rights are a net gain for society, because the alternative means some degree of, in effect, enslaving people. Socialism has proven over and over how well slave economies work.

Of course, this is speaking generally. More specifically, land ownership in Brazil might be so concentrated as to perpetually hamper Brazil's society and economy. So I won't say that strong property rights are always a net gain for all societies under all circumstances, but considering the prosperity enjoyed by countries with strong property rights compared to the rest, the good far outweighs the bad.

Suppose, under your own hypotheticals, that a company gets 10% of its revenue from the USA, and 90% from the rest of the price-fixed world. How come you conclude that it is those Americans who are still paying for the 20% of revenue this company applies in R&D?

How about I refine my hypothetical a bit — but still within reality. A country decides that a drug developed by a US drug company is so essential that it refuses to enforce intellectual property rights with regard to that drug, thereby allowing facilities in that country to produce that drug, while providing no revenue to the company that invented the drug. Consumers in that country are completely free riding on US consumers, because they are the only source of revenue for R&D. Now, let's say that country is close to the US, so that all US consumers of that drug go that country instead of paying much higher prices in the US. Then everyone is free-riding, and there will be no revenue with which to fund research.

Now I'll get less hypothetical. In Canada and Europe, the state either regulates drug prices, or is the sole buyer. Consequently, average prices in the US are 50-100% higher. Simplifying things a bit, assume there are an identical number of consumers in the US as in Canada and Europe — one — the European consumer pay $10 and the US $17.50. The total revenue is $27.50, of which the US consumer provided 64%.

Adding more consumers to the ledger doesn't change things. Even if there were 10 times as many European consumers as American, each European would be paying less for R&D than each American — to an extent, Europeans are free riding on Americans.

Which must be the case. If the US were to regulate drug prices as the Europeans do, then the drug companies would have less revenue, and therefore less to spend on R&D.

As for your Pizza restaurants, they are another example of why arguing from analogy is almost always a mistake. It didn't clarify the problem at hand, and elided a fundamental component of that problem: R&D funding.

Hey Skipper said...

[Harry:] Don't be otiose. I note -- but cannot understand -- your now longstanding effort to absolve all rightwingers of any charge of racism. By your standards, even Nazis couldn't be racists, although they wanted to.


The assertion is that you find racism everywhere, even where it doesn't exist. Your first link was a perfect example — you really need to acknowledge that (although you never own your shenanigans and bollocks). You charged racism stupidly — you ignored the guys behavior, the history of leftist thuggery at Trump gatherings, and didn't even bother to wonder if there were any other blacks in the audience and how they got treated. That is a stupidity trifecta, brought on by your deep, abiding, desire to hate groups of people who don't buy your narrative. And you are blind to the irony.

And your invoking of anti-Islam sentiment as racism is, if anything, even more stupid.

Now, as for my being otiose with regard to a loud Jew-hater, well, you have me on that one. Racism properly understood is exactly the same nasty animal as anti-Semitism.

But that is a close to reality as you get. You note, but cannot understand my "now longstanding effort to absolve all right wingers of any charge of racism". There is a very good reason for that: you are either woefully lacking in reading comprehension, delusional, or a liar. I have never made even one effort to absolve all right wingers of any charge of racism. Not once. You won't be able find such a thing, because far from being longstanding, it doesn't exist.

What is longstanding, and you have provided many examples — two more here — is that you are almost completely incapable of using the words "racist" and "racism" properly.

Harry Eagar said...

I subscribe to the lefty notion that there are no races among H. sapiens, so by that measure no, there aren't any racists. But there are certainly plenty of skin-colorists.

Since you have repeatedly objected to each and every instance of calling rightwingers racists, for years now, I think I detect a pattern. Yet you see racism where what is intended is antiracism, which shows you recognize it as a concept. You apply that concept selectively.


I think you could usefully watch that rally clip again and pay attention to the racist on the podium.







Hey Skipper said...

[Harry:] I subscribe to the lefty notion that there are no races among H. sapiens, so by that measure no, there aren't any racists.

So you must also subscribe to the leftist notion that there aren't any genders, either. Because of course evolution stopped at the neckline.

You need to read Nicholas Wade's A Troublesome Inheritance. Except that you won't, because there is no mind so closed as a leftist's.

Fun fact that I learned at the Neandertal museum a couple weeks back: Ancient Europeans interbred with Neandertals. Which means those of European descent have Neandertal DNA. Among other things, that means European descended people have different immune systems than non-Europeans.

But because you are a leftist ...

Since you have repeatedly objected to each and every instance of calling rightwingers racists ...

Then you should have absolutely no problem linking to at least one of those each and every* instances, right?

Put up, Harry, or shut up.

---

*each and every? Seriously? A professional journalist would commit that crime against English?

erp said...

Harry, we still have no idea who or what each and every of these rightwingers are of whom you speak? If you are referring to fascists/lefties as racist, then I agree completely.

BTW - if there are no races, why do we have affirmative action or any other of the other race-based initiatives, in fact, what does "black lives matter" mean?

I'm perfectly okay with one race, the human one. In fact, that's how I fill out those infernal forms which are littering the landscape. What about you? Do you dutifully put a check mark next to: White?

Harry Eagar said...

Wade is a hack. I took him apart over 40 years ago on his ridiculous book claiming that science is corrupt. You're right, I won't be reading his dreck but not because of left/right issues. (And besides, professional geneticists have ridiculed his latest crackpot book sufficiently.)

Just because there aren;t any races does not mean there is not color discrimination.

Hey Skipper said...

Harry -- how about providing links to geneticists ridiculing his book?

After the NYT ran a review of his book -- which wasn't entirely complimentary -- some geneticists wrote a letter to the NYT where they trashed Wade's conclusions, without marshaling so much as a single fact.

Reminds me very much of Napoleon Chagnon's book Noble Savages. He arrived at conclusions anthropologists couldn't stand, so they went straight to character association.

Which is exactly what you are doing here. Wade wrote a book that is, and he acknowledges this many times, somewhat speculative. However, if one believes evolution is correct, then those speculations are very plausible.

You remind me of leftists who insist that gender is a social construct, as if evolution stopped at the neckline.

Your real logical error here is the same as the geneticists criticizing Wade: that because we don't have definitive evidence proving Wade right, then he is wrong. That's nonsense. It is nonsense in exactly the same way leftists are with gender. We have no idea how DNA codes for behavior, at all. Therefore, concluding male - female differences are genotypic is wrong.

And you make fun of religionists.

[Harry:] Since you have repeatedly objected to each and every instance of calling rightwingers racists ...

[HS:] Then you should have absolutely no problem linking to at least one of those each and every* instances, right?


Since you haven't provided that which should be readily available, can we conclude it isn't, and you were lying?

Sounds like another addition to Harry's Big Bag o' Bollocks.

Hey Skipper said...

(Adding to my previous comment.)

Harry, you genuflect to geneticists who agree with you about Wade (NB -- not all do.), as if their ignorance is knowledge.

Homosexuality is a huge behavioral difference from heterosexuality, and apparently innate.


And geneticists' explanation would be, well what? Oh, wait. They don't have one. So that means homosexuality doesn't exist. Or that it does, but there's no genetic component, except for all the evidence there is.

Hey Skipper said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hey Skipper said...

[Harry:] Just because there aren;t any races does not mean there is not color discrimination.


In case you ever have a problem comprehending the concept of racism this will help you immeasurably.

Oh, and you get to own it, too.

Hey Skipper said...

Pro-tip: don't be a typical prog and think KKK means its time for the fainting couch.

Harry Eagar said...

Life is -- or at least blog comments are -- too short to teach you evolutionary theory, although from your comments it is obvious you don't understand it.

I had to laugh at your statement that Europeans have a different immune system. Not actually possible. I guess you meant they have different ratios of alleles and even some unique ones; but that's true everywhere.

Likewise your comment that homosexuality is innate. This makes no sense and no geneticist would say so.

Ernst Mayr is very good on all this, especially development, a concept you need to learn about.

Sorry. It's in books. Big, fat books. You can find them in libraries.

Hey Skipper said...

I had to laugh at your statement that Europeans have a different immune system.

Tell it to Scientific American.

Likewise your comment that homosexuality is innate. This makes no sense and no geneticist would say so.


You say a great many foolish things, but this surely takes the cake. Well, no, that would be a very high bar indeed.

You clearly have no idea about mammal ontology, nor what geneticists have to say on the subject. More Here.

No matter, you have missed the point entirely: you invoke geneticists ignorance with contradiction. That is a silly schoolboy error.

[Harry:] Since you have repeatedly objected to each and every instance of calling rightwingers racists ...

[HS:] Then you should have absolutely no problem linking to at least one of those each and every* instances, right?


Still waiting.

Harry Eagar said...

If it's epigenetic, it ain't innate. And if it's different alleles, it's the same system.

I was pretty sure I understood where your incomprehensions arose -- not that it matters -- and you confirmed my guess.



Hey Skipper said...

Harry, you do not understand. No surprise there. (And I'm betting you didn't read the link.) The proof is in your use of the term "epigenetic", which you toss around without comprehension.

Interbreeding of Neanderthals -- to you and Lowentin, would they be a different race, species, or not different at all? -- made the immune system of Europeans different from Africans, in both genetics and results.

Since you suffer Lewontin's weakness; i.e., where reality collides with ideology, so much the worse for reality, you are blind to the consequences of your argument (a word that unavoidably glorifies what is nearly indistinguishable from trolling): environmental differences produced all kinds of physical adaptations, but the genetics underlying behavior were somehow completely unaffected.

That puts you in the same sea of confusion as contemporary feminists: insisting that the same evolution that created so many physiological differences had no impact above the neckline.

If you insist upon the former, which you very clearly do, then you must defend the latter.

As if that doesn't make you ridiculous enough, I keep hearing mindless blather -- some of it from the ideologically blinded Lewontin -- about differences between and within populations. Well, The differences between men, women, and chimpanzees.

If you won't read Wade's book (and, after all, there is no mind so closed as a progressive's), then by all means read a review.

(As a recommendation, the book I read is very recognizable in the review. Completely unlike your review of Road to Serfdom.)

Oh, and can we all take it as proven beyond doubt that when you said I had "... repeatedly objected to each and every [sic] instance of calling righwingers racists ..." you were blowing it out your hat?

At this point, continued scarpering constitutes definitive proof.

Hey Skipper said...

(Remember, Preview is my friend.)

As if that doesn't make you ridiculous enough, I keep hearing mindless blather -- some of it from the ideologically blinded Lewontin -- about differences between and within populations. Well, compare with the differences between men, women, and chimpanzees.

erp said...

Speaking of preview, I keep getting a new error message "Bad Request
Error 400" never seen before by me.

Hey Skipper said...

Hmmm ...

I have no clues.

When are you getting the error?

erp said...

The error message comes up when I press publish directly and when press Preview and then Publish and when Edit first and then Publish. In order to comment, I have hit resend, copy my comment, close down GG, log on again and then paste the comment into a clean comment box without an Edit in between.

I haven't tried typing in MSWord and then pasting to see if that works. I'll try it now.

erp said...

Message came up again with this comment. This will be pasted from Word.

erp said...

Worked.

Harry Eagar said...

Well I picked up epigenetic from the article you say I didn't read. I know what it means, too.

Your own source called the phenomenon epigenetic, which means you have misunderstood the point of the research (which was not solid anyway).



Hey Skipper said...

Before anything else:

Harry:] Since you have repeatedly objected to each and every instance of calling rightwingers racists ...

[HS:] Then you should have absolutely no problem linking to at least one of those each and every* instances, right?


It is time for you to stand and deliver.


Harry Eagar said...

It was here and at RtO. If some new person asked, I'd consider it, but since it's you and erp, you already know about it and demanding to see it again is just denial and obfuscation, a silly debater's trick. I'm nt playing that game, just as I am not going to say anything about Lewontin. You brought him up, not me.


I brought up Mayr. Feel free to attack Mayr if you like.

Hey Skipper said...

[Harry:] It was here and at RtO. If some new person asked, I'd consider it, but since it's you and erp, you already know about it and demanding to see it again is just denial and obfuscation ...

Bullshit, Harry. You made the charge, you back it up. Which, if it was something I had repeatedly done, or done even once, would be a hell of a lot easier than your mealy mouth whingeing.

Harry Eagar said...

Yawn.

Hey Skipper said...

Apparently, for a progressive, being a liar is yawn worthy.

erp said...

Skipper, to be fair, what else can the progs say other than "yawn" or scream racist.

Wouldn't it be a kick if Trump truly does kick out the piranhas and the grifters -- imagine Giuliani as AG. I'd love to see Thomas Sowell as SoS -- much smarter than the average bear.

The electoral map of Florida by county is very telling. Only the cities and Gainesville (blue blob SW of Jacksonville) went for Hillary.

Who knew? There are so many more of us deplorables than there are elites and the pathetic souls they keep in custodial care.

Harry Eagar said...

For Skipper, who hasn't studied genetics:

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/09/science/neanderthal-dna-natural-selection.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fscience&action=click&contentCollection=science&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=2&pgtype=sectionfront

Clovis e Adri said...

Skipper,

---
Therefore, generally speaking strong property rights are a net gain for society, because the alternative means some degree of, in effect, enslaving people
---

I thought it was clear, from previous context, that I was talking about intellectual property rights - not physical property in general.



----
Adding more consumers to the ledger doesn't change things. Even if there were 10 times as many European consumers as American, each European would be paying less for R&D than each American — to an extent, Europeans are free riding on Americans.

Which must be the case. If the US were to regulate drug prices as the Europeans do, then the drug companies would have less revenue, and therefore less to spend on R&D.

As for your Pizza restaurants, they are another example of why arguing from analogy is almost always a mistake. It didn't clarify the problem at hand, and elided a fundamental component of that problem: R&D funding.
----

To the extent R&D is part of the costs a firm needs to foot in order to keep in business, it is not so different from the Pizza place.

You keep doing the same mistake I noticed with my pizza example. Just there: "Even if there were 10 times as many European consumers as American, each European would be paying less for R&D than each American — to an extent, Europeans are free riding on Americans."

Even if the Europeans make up more of the revenue to that company?

Let me add the example of another market where R&D is also important, if Pizzas are not to your taste.

For example, suppose the same car sells at a higher profit in country A than country B, just because in country A people really love that car and supply/demand took it to a higher price. Are the buyers of country B free riding on buyers of country A?







Hey Skipper said...

First things first.

[Harry:] Since you have repeatedly objected to each and every instance of calling rightwingers racists ...

[HS:] Then you should have absolutely no problem linking to at least one of those each and every instances, right?


erp said...

As my accountant roomie always says, when you're losing money, you don't make it up in volume.

Hey Skipper said...

[Clovis:] I thought it was clear, from previous context, that I was talking about intellectual property rights - not physical property in general.

You were clear. I am trying to reason from first principles, which leads me to the conclusion that the distinction between physical and intellectual property is fundamentally meaningless.

Arguing that for something to be property requires it have a material existence, IMHO, is going to lead to indefensible results.

That doesn't mean that we have to, or even can, treat them the same; obviously, there is no getting away from the fact that the manifestations of intellectual and physical property are so different.

You keep doing the same mistake I noticed with my pizza example. Just there: "Even if there were 10 times as many European consumers as American, each European would be paying less for R&D than each American — to an extent, Europeans are free riding on Americans."

Even if the Europeans make up more of the revenue to that company?


The mistake is yours. Regardless of the aggregate revenue, each European consumer is free riding on American consumers. I'll make the numbers graphic. Lets say that the rest of the world pays one cent above incremental costs of production, and in so doing, provides 50% + 1 cent of total revenue. Americans, who are 5% of all consumers, pay the rest.

Each rest of world consumer pays virtually nothing for R&D. Each American pays much, much more. If Americans were to suddenly pay what the ROW pays, then revenue would plummet, and along with it R&D.

Therefore, to the extent there is price discrimination, Americans are paying an for outsize proportion of R&D. That difference is ROW free riding.

In order for your argument to make sense, you would have to demonstrate that Americans paying ROW prices would make no difference in money available for R&D.

For example, suppose the same car sells at a higher profit in country A than country B, just because in country A people really love that car and supply/demand took it to a higher price. Are the buyers of country B free riding on buyers of country A?

Yes. But note your analogy elides a significant fact. The manufacturer is making it own decisions about pricing discrimination (much of it will be due to decontenting, BTW).

That's way different than with pharmaceutical price controls, which often are politicians providing goodies with others' money — and those others don't even get a vote.

Clovis e Adri said...

Skipper,

---
I am trying to reason from first principles, which leads me to the conclusion that the distinction between physical and intellectual property is fundamentally meaningless.
---
To be clear, that conclusion is yours and yours alone.

---
[Clovis] Are the buyers of country B free riding on buyers of country A?
[Skipper] Yes.
---
So we can stop this discussion right there. Your understanding of what is 'free riding' is meaningless.

---
But note your analogy elides a significant fact. The manufacturer is making it own decisions about pricing discrimination (much of it will be due to decontenting, BTW).

That's way different than with pharmaceutical price controls, which often are politicians providing goodies with others' money — and those others don't even get a vote.
---
I imagined you would object to that. To which I propose the following extension of my example:

Denizens of country A, after Skipper told them they are suckers, get mad at the possibility that citizens of country B are not paying their fair share of R&D for car companies to keep giving them those wonderful machines.

Hence they elect a few populist politicians who impose a ceiling on the price of that beloved car, such that the profit on it can not be greater than the profit they get in country B.

By your reasoning, this time around justice was done, and in no way the company is being robbed by politicians providing goodies with others' money.

IOW, your concept of free riding is so ludicrous I can apply it either way: in one case (pharmaceuticals) the price ceiling is the origin of the free-riding, and in the hypothetical case above, it is the solution against it.

But of course, in the real world out there, companies are the final arbiters of the profit they are getting - if they are not getting enough of it, they are free to leave any country imposing those ceilings. If they don't, anyone giving them profit is someone voting (with his wallet) how much things are worth - and to separate what's fair or not on that, is a fool's errand.


Hey Skipper said...

{HS:] I am trying to reason from first principles, which leads me to the conclusion that the distinction between physical and intellectual property is fundamentally meaningless.
---
[Clovis:] To be clear, that conclusion is yours and yours alone.


A: Don't be a Harry. If you disagree with my argument — after all, I could have gotten any number of things bassackwards — then by all means make your point.

B: Mine alone?

So we can stop this discussion right there. Your understanding of what is 'free riding' is meaningless.

When dealing with numerical concepts, I think it is almost always useful to take the limit, rather than a small increment. Just so here. I hypothesized (not analogized, huge difference) a situation where each ROW consumer pays one cent above the cost of production, and, since the ROW has so many people, that one cent provides 50% plus one cent of all revenue, and Americans pay the rest.

According to you, my notion of free riding is meaningless.

Okay, fine.

Now, lets say the ROW pays one cent less. That means all R&D is funded by Americans.

And you are telling me that my notion of free riding balances on a penny.

[HS:] But note your analogy elides a significant fact. The manufacturer is making it own decisions about pricing discrimination (much of it will be due to decontenting, BTW).

That's way different than with pharmaceutical price controls, which often are politicians providing goodies with others' money — and those others don't even get a vote.
---
I imagined you would object to that. To which I propose the following extension of my example:


What I should have objected to in the first place is yet another argument by analogy. They are almost always a complete fail, unconsciously constructed to make a point rather than clarify anything.

The first problem is in the parenthetical. When manufacturers sell their cars for substantially reduced prices in certain markets, there is always significant de-contenting. Smaller engines, cheaper interiors, etc.

Since there is no way to de-content a drug, your analogy massively fails. So stop it with the analogies. (It fails in more ways than that, but one massive failure is enough to go on.)

But of course, in the real world out there, companies are the final arbiters of the profit they are getting - if they are not getting enough of it, they are free to leave any country imposing those ceilings.

Nonsense. Pure, unadulterated nonsense.

First, they aren't the arbiters of the profit they are getting, price controls are. And if the controllers aren't complete, total, unmitigated, drooling idiots, they will set a price just barely high enough to make it worthwhile for a company to sell the existing drug in that market.

Without any consideration at all as to where the next drug is going to come from.

Price controls always, always, create scarcity.

erp said...

... and black markets.

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "IOW, your [Hey Skipper's] concept of free riding is so ludicrous..."

I didn't follow the conversation quite closely enough, but I agree from my scanning that Hey Skipper's definition is, at best, unusual. If any customer pays for more than the variable (non-fixed, non-sunk) burdened cost of goods, it's not considered free-riding.

Hey Skipper said...

Bret, free riding is not an absolute, it is a matter of degree. The notion cannot balance on a penny.

Clovis e Adri said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Clovis e Adri said...

Skipper,

I am calling this dispute off. You made your arguments, I made mine, and we are not making any advances since a few entries above. But I just want to clarify one (of a few) mistakes of interpretation on your part:

---
The first problem is in the parenthetical. When manufacturers sell their cars for substantially reduced prices in certain markets, there is always significant de-contenting. Smaller engines, cheaper interiors, etc.
---
If you read again my example, you'll notice the price of the car at country A went up solely due to greater demand (it is not the case it is cheaper at B due to decontenting). Both are buying the same toy, but country A really, really loves it.

I could make small variations of that example which are certainly realized in real life.