Links 10/30/10


  1. attempter

    Well, I’ll give credit for a rare example of the administration (sort of) doing the right thing.

    On its face genes themselves are not “intellectual property” and cannot legitimately be patented. Yet it wasn’t till now that the government has taken this position.

    But it’s a weak version of the position, since the brief rushes to stipulate that “manipulation” of this natural resource can be patented. So they affirm the privatization of socially created wealth, and in fact the brief is kind of an outlier.

    (Socially created wealth – sure enough, the corporate side in the case is a typical “public-private partnership” between a corporation and a corporatized public university, the U of Utah. So we know how this works – under the auspices of the university, public money funds all the research. If any corporate personnel are involved, they’re subsidized by the public as well. Then the corporation scoops up all the patents and rakes in all the profits. The school gets some kind of kickback, which is used for administrator “bonuses”. The professors may have revolving door opportunities. The public pays for all of it.

    Obviously, any intellectual property created under those circumstances, and ALL the proceeds, are the property of the citizenry.)

    I won’t believe it’s the real new government position until time and cases have passed and they’ve stuck to it. (The corrupt patent office itself evidently opposes the new position.)

    1. Doug Terpstra

      Your skepticism is of course well-founded. “From the NYT article: “It is not clear if the position in the legal brief … will be put into effect by the Patent Office.” This more cunning admin uses fleece to cover its fleecing.

      Just a hunch, but it could also be that ‘pro-life’ US pols have been investing so heavily in war rather than stem cell research that the US is now far behind and this is a defensive posture. Too cynical?

      1. Paul Repstock

        OMG! After all the times they have ruled in favor of Monsanto they come out with this weak statement??

    1. Paul Repstock

      PC.. I agree with you and the article’s conclusions of risk. That is a major reaon why it is so naive to believe the various governments positions that they need to sanction our freedoms in order to provide “Security”. The only thing they are “securing” is their own political futures!

      For probability addicts and numbers nuts, here is a challenge for you: Compute the relative probabilities of The Earth suffering a major astroid impact within the next year with the probability Osama Bin Laden being able to flawlessly execute the 911 attack. By my rough calculation the astroid wins by 2:1

      911 comes in at 337,500,000,000:1 at the point of the second impact?????????????????

      1. Paul Repstock

        My appologies to PolyCapitalist for a nitpick post on his blog.

        Now I see a new item on Yahoo Canada about astroid impact in the ocean…?? Is it necessary to keep as many people as possible frightened all the time. Are the ‘News media” paid to keep distracting us with doom and gloom items which we have no chance of influencing, while ignoring those things we might have a chance of changing?

        Not only that, but stories like this one are obviously published for sensationalism than for their scientific content.

  2. Dirk

    Controlling malaria is going to backfire no matter what is the method if nothing is done proactively to stem the resultant population growth.

  3. K Ackermann

    The quest for the legal high called it a European phenomena but it reminded me of a piece of Internet history (and it is history) called The Hive.

    The Hive was an off-shore server that hosted forums related the synthesis of designer drugs and to the manufacturing of difficult-to-obtain chemicals on the control lists.

    It was a community of extremely bright people living on the razors edge and was often entertaining and at times, frightening.

    Some contributors were well aware of the potential for danger, and would attempt to minimize risks. In one case, a chemist would post an efficient synthesis under one user name and then follow it up with a string of amateurish posts under a different user name that documented attempts to perform the synthesis in ways that invariably sent the person to the hospital.

    It believed that the more information you had, the better informed you would be, so it also posted information on how to survive in prison, how to deal with being a pariah, and also how to legally obtain prescriptions from doctors.

    I ping’d it one time and the last hop was Seattle, and from there, unknown. It was eventually shut down, leaving only usenet, and the morons who post there as an illicit chemistry forum.

    1. Lyle

      It appears to be a cat that has accomplished its purpose in life by finding a good slave to take care of it. If as a cat you can do that, then you have it made. Food on demand, a warm place to sleep as much as you like, while the slave goes on working to support the cat. Of course you have to every so often play with your slave but that’s part of the bargin.

  4. Cynthia

    Even though Dick Cheney managed to beat the rap for lying us into war with Iraq, I’m hoping that I’ll have the pleasure of seeing him and other warfare-driven, welfare Queens at Halliburton all behind bars, wearing orange jumpsuits, eating stale baloney sandwiches and drinking grape kool-aid out of paper cups for doing a shoddy cement job on BP’s oil well!

  5. Jim Haygood

    I didn’t even bother to read the rest of Jeff Madrick’s article about Social Security in the NYRB, after getting to his claim that the average Social Security benefit is $1,400 a month.

    As can be easily verified from the SSA’s own site, the average monthly benefit (Table 2) is exactly $1,072.20.

    Jeff Madrick — just another innumerate liberal ideologue, trying to bury us in BS about a bankrupt program with a negative net worth of $7.677 trillion, according to the authoritative Financial Report of the United States.

    1. DownSouth

      “Jeff Madrick — just another innumerate liberal ideologue, trying to bury us in BS about a bankrupt program with a negative net worth of $7.677 trillion, according to the authoritative Financial Report of the United States.”

      Here, let me fix that for you:

      Jim Haygood — just another innumerate Republican Party hack, trying to bury us in BS generated by morally bankrupt right-wing think tanks.

    2. Anonymous Jones

      It’s amazing how much Haygood can discredit himself in one short comment.

      First, posting an incorrect statistic does not necessarily make one innumerate. Many people with a fantastic grasp of mathematics still pull an incorrect number from a source or misremember some statistic. This error makes Madrick most likely a poor fact-checker; it’s very unlikely that he is innumerate. If I were a betting man, I’d probably go with Madrick on an arithmetic test over Haygood.

      Second, the $1400 number is over halfway into the article. Madrick made a number of substantive points prior to that reference. No thoughts on those? Or are the facts so threatening to you that as soon as you find a minor fact-checking error that you sigh in relief that you have a tiny little foothold with which to maintain your delusional beliefs about the world in the face of overwhelming evidence that you are wrong.

      Third, the idea that you talk about the federal government having a “bankrupt” program shows a fundamental lack of understanding about the difference between a sovereign and a private citizen. You seem to believe that there is some sort of irrefutable analogy between normal “bankruptcy” for a private individual or entity and an accounting problem for the controller of the currency.

      It’s embarrassing, no matter how little you see that or understand that. We see your poor technique and your obvious mistakes. Just thought I’d use you as an object lesson for anyone who hasn’t grasped that yet.

  6. DownSouth

    Re: “Are We All Friedmanites Now? Penn Bullock, Reason Magazine”

    What a stinking heap of revisionist horse manure.

    But I suppose such butchering of history is necessary when one looks at the world through Friedman’s ideological lens, where all problems are caused by the government (and none by the private sector), where every crisis is a liquidity crisis (and none are solvency crises), and where the number one mandate of government is to ride to the rescue of failing banks.

    One thing Bullock did get right: We are all Friedmanites now, at least anyone of any importance in the policy-making world. It’s been that way for at least the last three administrations now. Greenspan, Geithner, Summers, Rubin, Bernanke—-they’re all Friedmanites.

    Norman Pearlstein, the former managing editor of the Wall Street Journal and now Chief Content Officer at Bloomberg, commented in 1998 that John Maynard Keynes “had tremendous influence over economic policy through the Depression and in the years after World War II.” However, Pearlstine considered that looking back from the end of the twentieth century, the impact of Friedman’s ideas had proved more important than those of Keynes: “My own vote for economist of the century goes to Milton Friedman, whose books…articulate the importance of free markets and the dangers of undue government intervention.”

    Even Friedman’s detractors acknowledged the triumph of his ideas in the policy-making arena. If Samuelson was the most important economist in the period 1945 to 1965, Capitalism and Freedom and other writings, in the judgment of Robert Heilbroner, made Friedman “by far the most influential economist of the period” that followed. Heilbroner goes on to enumerate Friedman’s modified plans for big government, or “neo-neo-Progressivism,” including:

    • Deregulation
    • Large revenues for national defense
    • Flat tax in lieu of graduated income tax
    • Negative tax in place of welfare program
    • Monetarism
    • Education vouchers
    • Contracting out of as many government services as possible to private companies

    So many of Friedman’s radical policy recommendations were implemented and are still the reigning orthodoxy today. Somebody needs to whisper in Bullock’s ear, though, that monetarism isn’t one of them, and monetarism didn’t “conquer Keynesianism in the 1970s.” The Federal Reserve officially adopted
    Friedman-type monetary targets in 1979, but effectively abandoned them in 1982 when the unemployment rate went into the double digits.

    The results of Friedman’s other policy prescriptions have taken a little longer to show up, but they’ve proven equally as disastrous.

  7. Larry Lowenthal

    A contributor writes, “…Milton Friedman, whose books…articulate the importance of free markets and the dangers of undue government intervention.”

    To which I will add, Naomi Kline’s book, “The Shock Doctrine,” articulates the disastrous results that develop when protective government intervention is suppressed in the face of unchecked free market forces.

    You see, Friedman and his cohorts relied too heavily on mathematical models and failed to consider the effects of human greed, stupidity, corruption, and shamelessness. In fact, greed is the one-word equivalent of the first three words of the title of Smith’s book, “Unenlightened Self-Interest”.

    Long ago, I earned a degree in Economics from the U. of Chicago. I did not like Friedman’s writing then, and never changed my mind.

  8. Mike A

    Thanks for the excellent analyses! About “Antidote du jour,” everyone likes a little pussy in front of the fireplace, no?

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