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Comment Re:Punitive measures please (Score 1) 319

What Sony did was far more akin to old fashioned theft than piracy *ever* has been. Why? Because they're not getting something for free, they're actively depriving others of valuable things they own.

So when copyright holders get compensated for "lost sales", should Sony pay each and every person who bought a PS3 the price they paid as a compensation for a "lost non-sale" (or falsely/fraudulently gained sale)?

Comment Re:Why metric makes sense & base units don't m (Score 1) 2288

e.g., no-one will ever confuse an 'inch' with a 'foot' in speech in a noisy environment


French units try to impose a uniform scheme on a non-uniform world.

The imperial units try to assume a uniformity in the length of feet (or agricultural practices) which is not there in a non-uniform world.

Also, if one Smoot is 5'7", how much is ten Smoots (hint: not 57')? How much is three Smoots?

Comment That's crazy economics! (Score 1) 2288

People complain about US job losses, but you want to see the destruction and undercutting of thousands of US jobs by foreign producers then convert the US economy to metric.

International trade helps the transacting parties. Legislation that protects domestic industry (and has an effect) benefits the industry at the expense of its consumers. Since the protection has an effect, the buying side of the industry would have gotten a better deal elsewhere, presumably because elsewhere was more efficient at producing the good in question. In other words: protection does a zero-sum transfer between parties, and a negative-sum prevention of efficiency. If protectionism is applied broadly, it performs a big (and expensive!) zero-sum transfer while hurting everybody, most notably those people it claims to protect.

Imperial units keep countries like China from taking a 10 year plan of losses to destroy all US steel producers so they can take over the market and charge more later.

What prevents China from producing steel in imperial sizes? It's not like the length of an inch is top secret knowledge (or else we wouldn't have this discussion). But let's just pretend we're talking about the presence or absence of an effective barrier.

Why the hell would China run a plan of losses? How quick can the US steel industry get back on-line if the ones in China overcharge? Also, why don't the steel works in China compete for US customers? It seems to me one needs to be almost paranoid to think China would take long sustained losses to hurt the US. Maybe to gain (i.e. rational self-interest), but see "losses" and "sustained". Besides, what's to fear? That the US will stop being the most powerful country in the world? Have a look at England---they did OK, didn't they?

Comment How about some depth to that analysis? (Score 1) 296

[why does anyone take Wall Str numbers seriously?] I mean, these are the guys selling toxic mortgage backed securities as "AAA" while simultaneously shorting the securities as junk.

Let's think about this. I think government policy was that everybody should own a home, whether they could afford the loan or not. That, and the observation of broke banks being bailed out in the past, lead to incentives for banks to give out bad loans to people who couldn't afford it. The government 'encouragement' of AAA stocks was an incentive to overstate the un-risk of stocks so that the people who wanted to buy them, could. The trading of derivatives washed out what was an already obscured risk in the "base cases".

Yeah, people sold crap. Probably some sold crap knowingly. So the Wall-Streeters are not innocent. But let's not pretend the government is innocent either. What I think ought to happen is propagation of risk to the people who own the bank (the stockholders, and the stockholders of stockholders, and to infinity): if the bank goes south and can't pay the people who have lent it money, the people who own the bank should pay. Then banks can crash all they want and not hurt Joe Schmoe by not paying out his life savings. An unstable or failing banking system still hurts people by limiting the access to financial services (savings, loans, investment), but I think it's better for society to put up with that than giving money to people who can't run a successful business.

Wall Str is where one number can come out, and suddenly a company is worth 10, or even 20% less then yesterday

Right, because numbers never say anything about the world, right? The demand for long-lasting food and emergency shelters might very reasonably depend on whether the asteroid is 1 or 0.001 light-years away from the earth. This high or low demand will very reasonably influence the value of the producers of long-lasting food and emergency shelters, because if we're about to get hit, why is it bad to want that or bad to supply the people who want it?

People at Wall Street might make bank on hurting society, but that's to some extent a consequence of the government setting up the playing field badly, and also actively giving money to nincompoops. It's my understanding that what you need is not better people, but better incentives: if people get rewarded for doing things that are good rather than bad for society, they often will. The more they want the reward, the greater the incentive effect of it.

For instance, if there's a cause-effect between getting campaign financing and holding political power, the people who want to hold political power have an incentive to seek out campaign financing. The result is a "free" market favoring rich industrialists rather than consumers and public schools favoring teacher unions rather than students. If the banking incentives are such that you'll make a big wad of cash even if you take on too much risk, the people who run banks will... well, I'll let you work on that :-)

Think also about evolution: if the "incentive" (working through survivorship bias) is to procreate, what will organisms do?

Comment Fiduciary duty of the board of directors? (Score 1) 472

Shareholders cannot simply demand things. Google's duty to its shareholders is to make money, plain and simple.

Isn't the fiduciary duty of a board of directors to serve the shareholders' interests? If the shareholders agree that their interests go beyond making money and are willing to trade off, why shouldn't the BoD obey?

(I'd love for you to cite law, but I'm lazy too...)

Comment Re:Because it's free (Score 1) 182

Look, you fucking moron, if everyone just copied everything, obviously no-one would ever get paid for anything.

Look, you fucking moron (see what I did there?):

I'm trying to explain my understanding of what other people think---I'm not stating my own opinion, and I'm not defending the views of other people.

I would love to live in a moneyless utopia, but until we do, it is ridiculous not to see that artists need some compensation for their work.

Or else?

Musicians might be able to live off of concert tickets and t-shirt sales---isn't that what they do anyways? If that money is sufficient to create an active and vibrant music industry, maybe eliminating copyrights on music is better for people at large (including musicians and non-musicians, music-consumers and music-nonconsumers), in the sense of increasing Betham's social welfare function.

I don't know---I think it's an empirical question. Now the position you're attacking is an empirical question rather than a straw man. Happy now? :-)

Comment On intuitive and non-intuitive utilitarian morals (Score 1) 182

Isn't it obvious that the person who does the work should be compensated for it, even if once the work is done it costs nothing or next to nothing to make extra copies?

That sounds a lot like the (normative rather than descriptive) Labor Theory of Value. I don't subscribe to it. Or rather, I subscribe to compensating the people who provide me the electricity I need to copy "their" file (volunteering, advertisement, ...), and compensating the ISP who provides the infrastructure that enables us, etc. But I don't think I have an inherent right to other people's money whenever I do something difficult or labor-intensive, just because it requires labor.

I *do* believe in old-fashioned Locke-ish property right (actually more Henry George-ish, but let's not get into land value taxation and rents right now). I'm not 100% certain about what the right set of rights is, with respect to ideas and creative expressions, although I do lean heavily towards the Free Software Foundation's views. I don't think that our current system of copyrights is the right set of rights (including various forms of the right to exclude) for people to have.

I am quite convinced, however, that what makes good economic sense (in my words that means "maximizes social welfare", or eqv "is consistent with the principle of utilitarianism") doesn't always have an intuitive, natural moral appeal to people.

Comment Because it's free (Score 1) 182

Because once it's created, making an extra copy doesn't cost anything.

Or rather, it costs the electricity of performing the copy operation, but that cost isn't borne by the creator, it's borne by the source of the copy, who (e.g.) in a peer-to-peer file sharing system volunteers that electricity to the recipient. On youtube, they have Google volunteering the electricity (so they can sell ads, of course).

So in the way people most often obtain copies in violation of copyright, they are not doing anything that hurts the rights holder, and the people who bears a cost does so willingly. "No one was aggressed against" seems like an intuitive and natural moral standard, which is lived by in this scenario.

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