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April 27, 2006



Although I'm not surprised to see entry number four in there as a point of libertarian principle, it seems divorced of any sort of cost benefit analysis regarding prophylactic measures. Might not hitting, say, Iran early with a few well placed missiles ultimately be cheaper and easier than dealing with a much more involved situation further down the road? And to keep things nicely in the Libertarian abstract, isn't an attempt to limit a competitor's supply of goods or capabilities also part of good old market functions?

Mike Enright

What about tariffs?

Laurent GUERBY

What about one of the biggest interventions of government in the free market:

2. Intellectual Property

Mandatory Hayek quote:

Just to illustrate how great out ignorance of the optimum forms of delimitation of various rights remains - despite our confidence in the indispensability of the general institution of several property - a few remarks about one particuilar form of property may be made. [...]

The difference between these and other kinds of property rights is this: while ownership of material goods guides the user of scarce means to their most important uses, in the case of immaterial goods such as literary productions and technological inventions the ability to produce them is also limited, yet once they have come into existence, they can be indefinitely multiplied and can be made scarce only by law in order to create an inducement to produce such ideas. Yet it is not obvious that such forced scarcity is the most effective way to stimulate the human creative process. I doubt whether there exists a single great work of literature which we would not possess had the author been unable to obtain an exclusive copyright for it; it seems to me that the case for copyright must rest almost entirely on the circumstance that such exceedingly useful works as encyclopaedias, dictionaries, textbooks and other works of reference could not be produced if, once they existed, they could freely be reproduced.

Similarly, recurrent re-examinations of the problem have not demonstrated that the obtainability of patents of invention actually enhances the flow of new technical knowledge rather than leading to wasteful concentration of research on problems whose solution in the near future can be foreseen and where, in consequence of the law, anyone who hits upon a solution a moment before the next gains the right to its exclusive use for a prolonged period.
The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism, 1988 (p. 35) Friedrich von Hayek

See also the Cato Institute (big government lovers :) position on the subject, and the debate around:


Laurent GUERBY

Just finished a quick pass over your posts, and a sentence the first one caught my attention :

"The third theme is that most economic and social problems are best addressed by eliminating the government interventions that caused or exacerbated the problem in the first place. Creating even more government is never a sensible approach."

Recent high profile Anti-trust actions have been against so called "Intellectual Property" based firms...


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