Thursday, June 21, 2007
Taking out the Trash
Be sure to claim your pickings in the Dumpster Queen competition at the end of my post on freegans! Currently, Ron Paul is tied for the lead!
Here's a First
One guy on my blogroll fisks another.
Darren Cauthon, commenting on a recent government decree that retroactively raised the rates that Internet broadcasters have to pay, threatening some with bankruptcy, makes many very good points, especially his central one:
If Dismuke was really concerned about the property rights of music owners and if he really believed that the free market was "honorable," he would advocate for the elimination of the CRB and the compulsory license for internet broadcasts.I agree that in the murkiness, intellectual and political, of any such debate in the context of our welfare state, that one must be clear about where one stands in the grand scheme of things -- in this case, being an advocate of capitalism.
Where I think he is out of line is the tone he takes in his criticism of what he calls "the webcaster-side of the net radio royalty rate debate", which he states (through attribution) that I am on and sounds like he regards as anticapitalist. I will not attempt to speak for Dismuke on that matter, but I will start by saying that I plainly stated long ago in a PS to the first post I ever made on this subject that the government should get out of broadcasting altogether and that I had major reservations about the webcasters' side:
After examining the Live365 site, I must add a major reservation to this post. From the table at the top of the page, it appears that no rates had been set for 2006. Leaving aside whether the government should be involved at all in setting royalty rates, it seems foolhardy on everyone's part to have entered any kind of contract to broadcast anything without a preexisting, agreed-upon rate. If I am drawing the right conclusion from this table, then in this sense, the rate increases are not really ex post facto. (But then, if the government is "supposed to" set the rates, why hadn't it at least set a temporary one?) [Update: Dismuke elaborates further on this in the comments. Based on what he says, I have no problem with asking Congress to intervene on an ad hoc basis. Needless to say, Congress ultimately should not be setting rates.]Having said that, I do think Dismuke should have clearly and explicitly stated his fundamental opposition to the CRB. Too bad that not a single one of the copyright owners that I know of did the same, either. True, some webcasters probably do want to use the government, as Cauthon puts it, to steal from copyright owners. But apparently, many copyright owners are more than happy to abuse the same tool for the sake of establishing a higher rate than they could get on a free market.
Also, for the record, I cannot fully support the aims of Live365, which are stopgap measures at best. Ultimately, the government must get out of broadcasting altogether, including auctioning off the airwaves, and act only to enforce mutually agreed-upon contracts between buyers and sellers of copyrighted works. I would be very interested in hearing more on the various subjects this episode is bringing up from others more knowledgeable than myself.
This debate reminds me of a comment I recall from an Objectivist intellectual about not wanting to get drawn into the Dubai Ports World controversy some time ago. The whole debate existed because we are establishing a welfare state abroad and a garrison state at home rather than fighting a war. In other words, whatever the merits of that debate, it basically amounted to a distraction from the central issue, which is: How do we defeat our enemy? Likewise, this debate exists only because our government is wrongly involved in setting broadcast royalty rates rather than simply enforcing agreements (and arbitrating them if necessary) between consenting parties.
A mixed economy inherently makes intellectual debates over political issues difficult by hiding black-and-white issues, like whether the government should be in the business of setting rates at all, behind skirmishes between factions of sometimes barely perceptible shades of grey. While I completely agree with Cauthon that this means that advocates of capitalism should be exceedingly diligent about where we stand on the issues fundamental to such debates, I found his tone unnecessarily combative considering the fact that he plainly seems interested in persuading like-minded people of his point.
When I first saw the comment about the Dubai Ports World controversy, I wondered why the Objectivist intellectual I was reading seemed so irritated. Now, I understand. (This is not intended as a slam of Darren Cauthon. My irritation is aimed squarely at myself for being too fast to jump into this debate.)
To Quote Eric Cartman: "Awesome!"
Dear Subscribers and Friends of The Objective Standard,I look forward to firing up the grill, sipping a beer, and kicking back with some very good reading any day now!
The print version of the Summer issue has been mailed, and the online version has been posted to our website. Also, we've enhanced our website to enable the purchase of single and back issues online.
The contents of the Summer issue are:
From the Editor
Letters and Replies
The False Promise of Classical Education [Link is to entire article.] by Lisa VanDamme
Neoconservative Foreign Policy: An Autopsy by Yaron Brook and Alex Epstein
"The Balm for a Guilty Conscience": Moral Paralysis, Appeasement, and the Causes of World War II by John David Lewis
Craig Biddle, Editor
The Objective Standard [Some links dropped. Minor format changes. Short descriptions of all articles can be found by following the link to the contents. --ed]
Politically Incorrect Indians
Reader Dismuke emails me a link to some interesting photos like the one shown here and makes the following comment:
Here are pictures of some windows in an Indian office of some sort that I came across in Okmulgee, Oklahoma on my way back from Tulsa. I think they are hilarious.Not only did they smoke, the Indians weren't exactly the "noble savages" of environmentalism the left would have us believe.
What is about the most politically incorrect substance that exists? Tobacco, of course.
And what is the most virtuous group of people according to the politically correct? Native Americans, of course.
So these pictures have to cause the politically correct who pass through Okmulgee to scratch their heads a bit.
Today: (1) Added a parenthetical note. (2) Fixed a hypertext anchor.