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Journal Journal: Music Prices

Music sharing supporters have often argued that "music wants to be free", but the news that Sony BMG and Spitzer are nearing a settlement over "independent promoters" demonstrates that disposable music is seeking a negative price.

The investigation relates to the companies' use of so-called "independent promoters": middlemen who are paid to plug new songs to radio stations. The practice has often been likened to payola -- direct payment in exchange for airplay of specific songs -- which has been illegal under federal law since the 1950s. It also includes more direct relations between the executives of record labels and radio stations.

Advertisements have always been negative priced content directed to increasing sales of other products. Radio airplay has long been seeking negative prices that have been expressed first as payola, then as independent promoters, and now as actual advertisements (this song is brought to you by ...). This is because disposable music still increases sales of owned music (CD's and legal downloads). Illegal music sharing, which sets both a price floor and ceiling at zero, harms both labels and listeners because it prevents prices from reaching equilibrium. Labels lose when downloaders retain ownership of music and do not purchase it. People who claim that labels benefit because they actually own more music because of sharing are also losing because they are not being paid for the attention of their pocketbook. The zero price is also harmful to micro-payment innovation that will help musicians, writers, publishers, other content creators, and advertisement viewers.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Uranium in Niger

How long can everyone continue to miss the central point in the uranium dispute? The key point in Joe Wilson's original 7/6/2003 New York Times article (archive) was that Niger's operational mines were secure.

Niger's uranium business consists of two mines.... If the government wanted to remove uranium from a mine, it would have to notify the consortium, which in turn is strictly monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Moreover, because the two mines are closely regulated, quasi-governmental entities, selling uranium would require the approval of the minister of mines, the prime minister and probably the president. In short, there's simply too much oversight over too small an industry for a sale to have transpired.

We would not find out until a year later that Wilson's was looking in the wrong place. In Mark Huband's 6/28/2004 article in the Financial Times (archive) we learn that the uranium was to be smuggled from abandoned mines.

Intelligence officers were convinced that the uranium would be smuggled from abandoned mines in Niger, thereby circumventing official export controls.

The difference is between operational and abandoned uranium mines. The British intelligence behind the "16 words" was that uranium would be acquired from abandoned mines while Wilson checked the security of operational mines. Wilson's trip did not debunk anything, nor was what he wrote in his article a lie. The problem with the "16 words" is that apparently neither Wilson, the CIA, or the Administration, or journalists knew what was behind the British intelligence at the time, and did not know what to look for in Niger. This is why the 16 words should not have been included in the State of the Union.


Journal Journal: Grokster vs SCOTUS

I think the deciding issue with Grokster is that while sharing programs are capable of it, there has been less than substantial non-infringing use of the programs. There has been substantial use of publishing programs like the web and BitTorrent to publish original content. The only actual non-infringing content published by sharing programs is stuff copied from the web and the spyware that frequently gets included in free downloads. I hope the loss of Grokster will reduce the demand for legislation that may actually harm publishing programs and threaten BetaMax.

There may not have been much economic damage from sharing. Payola and independent promoters show that the market price for disposable music is frequently negative. I think the biggest problem is that with most online music prices being fixed at zero by sharing there has been much less innovation in micro-payment then there should have been. Music publishing should be the driving innovation for micro-payment both to labels and to individual publishers. Instead, sharing programs have been driving innovation for their paying customers: spammers and spyware publishers. The customer is always right. It is best that the customer be the consumer.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Guantanamo Bay Freeport

If critics think that prisoners can be held and interrogated under better human rights conditions then we should open Gitmo for contract proposals so they can do it themselves. Rather than telling us to shut it down they should be offering to run it better. But with all the praise for the food and the conditions there in its defense, I think we should not close it for prisoners but open it up for civilians. Guantanamo Bay is an excellent port and as real estate it is much too valuable for a prison. The best thing we could do with Guantanamo Bay is to make it into another Hong Kong. A Guantanamo Bay Freeport is a better use of the location than a prison, which could be moved anywhere.


Journal Journal: ?NC Chairman

Howard Dean's mouth keeps moving.

Republicans "all behave the same, and they all look the same. ... It's pretty much a white Christian party."

Republicans "never made an honest living in their lives,"

"You know, the Republicans are not very friendly to different kinds of people. They're a pretty monolithic party. Pretty much, they all behave the same, and they all look the same. ... It's pretty much a white Christian party,"

"Republicans don't represent ordinary Americans, and they don't have any understanding of what it is to go out and try and make ends meet.''

"Republicans always divide people."

It looks like the democrats have chosen Howard Dean as their ideal choice for the head of the Republican National Committee.


Journal Journal: Star Wars Episode 2.5

A parallel universe begins in the middle of Episode II, when Count Dooku has Obi-Wan captured and asks Obi-Wan to join him, Obi-Wan says yes!

Obi-Wan joins only to learn more about the other side, but learns of the corruption of the Senate and the full extent of the Sith conspiracy. Obi-Wan informs the Jedi that with the dark side having widespread influence in the Senate but only control of the leaders of the CIS, they should switch sides. The Jedi remove the leaders and take control of the CIS, and with the balance of power on their side, win the peaceful surrender of the Old Republic. The reformed CIS forms a new Republic under the principles of capitalism, economic freedom, and free commerce, and everyone lives happily ever after. (Episodes 3-6 never happen)

George Lucas may be making a political statement about democracy turning into dictatorship and good people becoming bad, but the Republican Party has the most in common with the separatists who look to be on the losing side of Episode III. The Darth Vader transformation more accurately describes fears about Vladimir Putin and the history of other Leftist movements.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Blow up the Lock Box!

Social Security provides zero security till death, disability, or retirement age. Social Security locks the money away from you, but not from the government.

The purpose of a forced savings program should be to save for expenses you need to pay for. The solution is not locking your payroll contributions into the stock market, but letting you spend them when you most need to. Private accounts should fund what young people need to save money for: home ownership and children. People should be able to take raid their lock box for a down payment on their home. The equity will only increase future savings. We should also have childhood health and education debit accounts to pay the expenses of having our children. Children are needed to earn and pay taxes to support both ourselves and the government in the future. Government can't have children, people do. There could be a means tested repayment for debit accounts. But even if retirement benefits are reduced for those who raid their lock box, they will have equity and children who can help pay for their retirement.

Lock Boxes are the problem, we should blow them up!

User Journal

Journal Journal: A Zero Newspaper Town

Los Angeles is definitely a zero newspaper town. Patterico catches the Los Angeles Times deliberately removing facts supporting the U.S. on their reprint of a Reuters story about the Italian shooting incident. Proof that the U.S. is telling the truth and the Italians are lying is definitely news not fit to print in the L.A. Times.

This is worse than their s/pro-life/anti-abortion/g incident, and all of their other blunders.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Game Theory at 190 MPH

NASCAR visits Talladega this weekend. There is a old paper on game theory on superspeedways that is a classic read. Read it for an excuse for smart people to watch this seemingly dumb sport.

At this year's Daytona 500 the drivers figured out that position doesn't really matter until near the end of the race. They broke into smaller packs for safety to avoid having the "big one", at least until the end of the race.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Alan Greenspan again

More from Alan Greenspan before the Senate Budget Committee.

The Fed chief called for "major deficit-reducing actions" and proposed several procedural steps Congress could implement to restrain the deficit's growth.

Greenspan has frequently said he would prefer the deficit be shrunk as much as possible through spending cuts -- including reductions in Social Security and Medicare benefits -- before taxes are increased. He said yesterday that he believes raising taxes restrains economic growth and that there is "no way you can raise tax rates enough" to cover future spending commitments.

It is good to see Greenspan calling tax increases unsustainable, which he did not mention in his prepared testimony. We can neither raise taxes enough to cover future spending commitments nor increase deficits sustainably. We need to treat the disease and not the symptoms. The disease is future spending commitments. The headline needs to be about cutting spending, not about cutting deficits.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Alan Greenspan

Alan Greenspan speaks for himself:

But, as the latest projections from the Administration and the Congressional Budget Office suggest, our budget position is unlikely to improve substantially in the coming years unless major deficit-reducing actions are taken.

With spending projected to increase substantially we need to take spending-reducing actions. Neither deficits nor taxes can sustainably increase forever as a share of GDP.

I fear that we may have already committed more physical resources to the baby-boom generation in its retirement years than our economy has the capacity to deliver.

The boomers collectively did not have enough children to fund the retirement they have voted for themselves.

Crafting a budget strategy that meets the nation's longer-run needs will become ever more difficult the more we delay. The one certainty is that the resolution of the nation's unprecedented demographic challenge will require hard choices and that the future performance of the economy will depend on those choices. No changes will be easy. All programs in our budget exist because a majority of the Congress and the President considered them of value to our society. Adjustments will thus involve making tradeoffs among valued alternatives. The Congress must choose which alternatives are the most valued in the context of limited resources. In doing so, you will need to consider not only the distributional effects of policy changes but also the broader economic effects on labor supply, retirement behavior, and national saving. The benefits to taking sound, timely action could extend many decades into the future.

Congress has been able to cut deficits and cut taxes in the past. Can we ever vote for a congress that will successfully cut spending?

User Journal

Journal Journal: Make Life First.

Glenn Reynolds talks about the potential of (embryonic) stem cells to restore life. Of course embryos are completely capable of completely restoring life -- their own. It doesn't really make sense to destroy life in order to preserve life. However, I think there is a change that can be made to the current embryonic stem cell compromise. I think that we can allow leftover embryos from a fertility process that has already successfully created a living baby to be used, with permission, for embryonic stem cell research. I think we should create embryos only for the process of creating life, and we should destroy embryos for research only if the creation of life is successful.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Just Copies

Sandy Berger only walked away with several different annotated personal copies of Richard Clarke's millennium report.

Would anybody mind if someone walked off with Fermat's personal copy of Diophantus' Arithmetica?

User Journal

Journal Journal: Dying Will

The question the court did not ask. If you were in that situation would you want to die like that?
Absolutely Hell No!

The difficult question. Would you want to live if you were in that situation?
... I don't mean her, I mean the husband, or the lawyer, or the judge.
Would you want to live with brutally starving an innocent person to death?

User Journal

Journal Journal: Chirac declares new cold war against "Ultra-liberalism"

Jacques Chirac declares that "Ultra-liberalism is the communism of our age."

By "ultra-liberalism" Mr Chirac means the sort of market economics that has made America the world's strongest economy, rescued Britain from 40 years of decline and brought prosperity to countries ranging from New Zealand to Singapore.

This means the United States along with new Europe.
Chiraq's side is:

The "European social model", a euphemism for sclerotic economies, job-destroying labour regulations and enterprise-stifling welfare provisions, must now take precedence over market reforms. Services provided cheaply by lower-regulated foreign workers are now described as "social dumping". Rather than embrace liberalisation, Mr Chirac and his allies believe the EU should act as a bulwark against it.

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