Free Talk Live: IP and Disney

Listening to the Wednesday edition of Free Talk Live on my Treo 650 today; listening to Ian pound Mark over the head for his support for Intellectual Property rights. (third day in a row, I might add…)

Generally, I agree with Mark on this issue. As an architect, I know that the thought that goes into design is a valuable commodity that needs to be protected. Otherwise the less scrupulous out there will simply wait for someone else to do the hard work of invention so that they can then profit from it at the inventor’s expense. Contrary to Ian’s assertions, I’ve not seen any evidence that people will do the months and years of work required to bring something to market unless they have reasonable confidence that they will make a profit from it. If anybody can copy a design and be free to sell it the day after it hits the market (or as in the case of the Chinese clothing ‘pirates’, even before it hits the market) then the chances for profit are greatly reduced. I don’t know of any business that stays in business without making a profit.

On the other hand, I don’t really believe that corporations (like Disney) should be allowed to hold rights to intellectual property. Those rights should be limited to real people, not legal entities that will continue to expect a profit long past the lifespan of the original author. Disney is a prime example of this, since their lobbying was instrumental in getting the latest extension to copyright terms passed.

There is a phrase that applies to the subject of Disney characters and the school mural that was the subject of rather heated discussion on Wednesday’s show. That phrase is “work of art”. A work of art is generally exempt from claims of copyright infringement. That doesn’t stop the corporations with lawyers and money at their disposal threatening people with legal action if their demands aren’t met. The truth is that the school blinked when Disney decided to play hard ball. If push had come to shove, Disney would probably have dropped the case.

Copyright terms expiring was the real reason for Disney going after public displays of their copyrighted works. Like Coke being synonymous with cola and Kleenex with facial tissue, Disney was fighting the battle of keeping their property from passing into the public domain; and they won that battle by passing new legislation. If corporations were excluded from owning these types of property, the entire battle could have been avoided.

[On the question from a listener concerning the objectivist opinion on the subject; as an objectivist myself, I think I can vouch for the fact that objectivists in general understand the need to protect the “mind’s contribution” to the creative effort]

Oh, and Ian, your disbelief in intellectual property doesn’t equate to the non-existence of intellectual property. But your willingness to steal other peoples ideas speaks volumes to the subject of why the MPAA and the RIAA are willing to go to such lengths to protect their investments.

For what it’s worth, this is one of those arguments that illustrates the very narrow difference between a communist (in the government-less nature of the word ‘commune’) and the little ‘a’ anarchists and the extreme edge of the Libertarian party. They would also tell you that ideas ‘should be free’, but I’m not willing to live in their version of utopia either.

Constitution Day

Constitution Day is today (Sunday, the 17th of September) not that the average citizen would know this. If you look on the average calendar, you probably won’t find a mention of the day, which is a sad state of affairs when it comes to honoring one of the most important documents in American history.

When you ask a couple of jaded professors to write something about Constitution day, you get something like what appeared in The Chronicle a few days back; a rather biting attempt at humor from people who have come to revile the founding fathers for creating the document that can’t be made to do what they want, when they want it.

[what do you expect from the author of askphilosophers.org, a rather transparent attempt to make todays philosophy and it’s philosophers relevant to the average person. I don’t think he’s succeeding. Post-modernists have nothing going for them but contempt for everything else that exists]

Which is precisely the problem with gov’t in the US today. Too many people with too little understanding of gov’t and it’s place in society, demanding more from gov’t and never asking where the funds to meet their demands will come from.

Jay Leno said it best:

As you may have heard, the US is putting together a constitution for
Iraq. Why don’t we just give them ours? Think about it — it was
written by very smart people, it’s served us well for over two hundred
years, and besides, we’re not using it anymore.

Anyone who is seriously interested in learning about the Constitution, and how it came to be, should visit Constitution.org. If you write an e-mail message to Cato, they’ll send you a copy of the constitution, as discussed in this Cato Daily Podcast.

The flag I fly on Constitution day? The Gadsden. It expresses everything one needs to understand about the founders and their intent in forming this ‘new nation’.


I really don’t even know where to begin. I don’t fly the Gadsden any longer, although I still have one. The Tea Party stole that icon from me. Flying it now ties one to their lunacy and I really don’t need more confusion in my messaging.

I’m planning on writing an update to this post in 2018. Let’s see if that happens.

Constitutional Money

Every time I get into a discussion of money, someone brings up the Constitutional limitations on states, including the limitations of what can be accepted as money, which is found in Art I, Sec. 10, Clause 1, it reads:

No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.

They always point to the Federal Reserve and say “see, the FRN isn’t constitutional money!” Which is patently obvious, given the facts.

They never reverse it, which is something I find quite curious; why the several states don’t abide by the constitution themselves? Why don’t they refuse payment in fiat notes (the standard FRN baseless paper bills) and demand payment in gold and silver coin, as is required by law? Why do they continue the self-destructive delusion that there is real value in the US dollar? Value other than “the full faith and credit of”…? Whatever that’s worth.

Can you imagine what the results of that would be?

“No, I’m sorry Mr. President, but I have to abide by the rule of law, and the law states that gold and silver coin is the only thing we can accept as payment for the federal gov’ts debts. If we don’t receive your payment in gold and silver, I’m afraid we will have to put a stop to payments of our citizens tax monies into the federal treasury…”

To be present in the Oval Office to get a picture of that event. Priceless.


Editor’s note, 2017. Coded language. I hate coded language. FRN is Federal Reserve Notes. FRN is newspeak of the sovereign movement and its wrong-headed ideas about currency and value. I really can’t broach my current thoughts on money as a mere addendum to this post. They warrant a much longer piece which I truthfully haven’t started writing yet.

A decade and more of listening to economist podcasts and reading economic books (as well as others) has radically altered my understanding of money in ways that are hard to describe without digging into the meat of philosophy and economics. Suffice it to say that my thoughts on money at this point in 2006 were truly infantile.

Which is sad, because I’ve always thought I had a pretty good idea what money was and what trade for value meant. I’ve been a hard bargainer at the negotiating table and have generally secured better than average compensation for my work, lower than average outlay for the goods I need. I understood it better than most people around me seemed to then, and I understand so much more about it now that it makes reading these old posts quite painful.

Still, I never did get an answer beyond the obvious one as to why the states have not made a fuss about the federal government subverting the Constitution with its current money not based on gold and silver as the document demands. Obviously they want the carnival ride to continue, that is why they haven’t. But the question still needs an answer, and the deviation from code should be corrected by updating the code itself.

Which is why the longer post about the nature of money is something I really should take the time to write.

McDonald’s gender issues

When we are pressed for time during a car trip, we have been known to pull into the local burger place to get the children something to eat. Truth be told, we do this far too often. The son always wants a kid’s meal, while the daughter has outgrown all that ‘baby stuff’ and gets salads these days. But that boy wants his prize with his chicken nuggets.

I’ve spent untold hours of my life repeating to them both “I don’t buy food for the toys, you get a toy with the food” in a vain attempt to avoid that “But I got this toy last time” argument. The ploy has never actually worked, but hope does spring eternal that one day I won’t hear “I want a different one!” when the toy is revealed. All this preparation and groundwork goes to waste though when the employee working the drive through window asks “Is the meal for a boy or a girl?”

McDonald’s frequently does these targeted marketing promotions with their kids meals. They give the boys trucks or weapons to play with, and they give the girls dolls or fluffy bunnies to nurture, as if the boys couldn’t do with some training in nurturing, or as if girls don’t have any interest in trucks. (or weapons) Not that McDonald’s is the only place with this problem. I witnessed a parent completely lose it once at the counter when the truly apologetic teen in the spotless uniform offered her son one of the girls toys with the explanation “this is all I have left”. She drug her son screaming and stomping (her, not her son) out of the restaurant, but I think the child would have been happier to have the ‘girls toy’ than to listen to mom make a fool of herself in public.

For as long as I’ve had children I have fought a losing battle not to go to McDonald’s. I don’t eat there, but the children beg endlessly to go (television marketing does work) and, really, one burger is pretty much the same as any other when it comes to national fast food chain stores. When the window attendant asks the question boy or girl? I won’t answer it directly. “A truck toy” or “A doll toy” is the best they will ever get from me, and I have driven off on a food order when the attendant presses me to answer girl or boy specifically. There’s always another McDonald’s a few blocks away. In McDonald’s defense, they’ve actually started noting the button on the register Truck and Doll a notation which displays on the order screen, but the person on the loudspeaker inevitably asks girl or boy? every time.

You’re probably wondering where this is all going at this point. Well, I’ll tell ya.

I gave in to the begging again tonight and wandered by the local McDonald’s. I pull up to the drive through window and notice that they’ve changed the marketing promo to Cars (the new Pixar film, I’ll be seeing it) and they give these cars to both genders of children. Here they’ve built up this 15 year legacy of properly filing the children away in their correct gender roles, only to blow it with this new promo that features ONLY CARS.

Cars for girls.

Fire that new marketing director. He’s clueless. The next thing you know, they’ll be giving dolls to boys instead of action figures.


2018 Mea Culpa review. I did a little refining of the wordsmithing for this one and that’s it. I did want to add a link to this episode of Hidden Brain, itself a repeat of a show first aired a few years previously. Still, it makes the same case that I make about gender stereotypes and how harmful they can be. Enjoy!