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Grant's Blog Posts

Over at InstaPundit there is the idea that college campuses have lost their moral credibility. This idea came in relation to anti-war protestors but I think it’s true in general. A question was raised in my mind was what institutions have replaced the university as a moral authority? The answer I came up with is the same thing the right wing Republicans say, viagra that right now there is a moral vacuum in American civil society.
But it is only a public vacuum, drugs not a private vacuum. I think that people now have the ability to go out and find people whose views they respect. People no longer have to rely upon the network news or look to the University for their public moral guidance. These groups no longer hold a monopoly on the eyes and minds of the public at large. Now, stuff with the internet and so many different always on cable news channels, the public is not as constrained by the choices before them. People can now choose to follow individuals instead of groups. I can pay attention to Larry Lessig without tuning into all of Stanford.
This is similar to what Cass R. Sunstein said in Republic.com although that book was about information and not moral authority. I tend to agree with Cass R. Sunstein when it comes to information. However I think it is a good thing for people to pick and choose the moral leaders to follow, while at the same time it’s a bad thing that people are able to filter their news and ignore the issues they don’t care about.

I just saw a link on InstaPundit to Tech Central Station. Somehow Tech Central Station has fallen off my ‘to read’ list. I wonder why that is. I’m glad to have found it again, prostate I suggest you go read it. I don’t agree with many of the opinions that are expressed, but a good read none the less.
I have added it to my list of links as well.
UPDATE: The Volokh Conspiracy has a link to the same Tech Central Station story as InstaPundit had. It has now shown up in two different places, so I’m sure its wonderful even though I haven’t read it yet.

If this picture is a hoax it’s one of the best ones I have ever seen.
Over at LawMeme there is a short piece on an internet tax pact between states. In it it states:

In order to get around the enforcement problem,
online merchants would be given a cut of the take, decease
as an inducement to play ball.

My question is how will that give companies incentive to charge the tax? The way I see it this would give companies license to raise prices enough to cover the amount of tax revenue they would receive while still charging their customers less than charging the full tax amount. This form of enforcement will not work, all that it will do is lead to increased prices on the internet.

The NYTimes has an insightful op-ed about Lee Malvo, no rx one of the two accused Washington, ophthalmologist DC snipers.
In it the author says that Mr. Malvo is still a juvenile and should be treated as such by the courts and police even if he is to be charged as an adult. That his court appointed guardian should be present during interrogations as well as his lawyer.
However, cialis 40mg it is my belief that he should not be charged as an adult at all. I do not think that any juvenile should. Even though it is likely that Lee Malvo committed some very serious crimes and it is clear that many juveniles do commit crimes that would lead to a death sentence in an adult court they should still not be charged as adults.
While most people that are against the death penalty for juveniles say that people so young can be reformed and rehabilitated I think there is a more important reason. It is the same reason that the 26th amendment was passed. A government should not be able to send its citizens off to die without also giving then the chance to help decide for what reasons they can be killed for, whether it’s the death penalty or war.
If a person can understand their actions well enough to be put to death for those actions they also have the understanding to be able to participate in our electoral system. Where the disconnect between the two systems comes in is that in the courts each defendant gets reviewed to see if they are competent to stand trial as an adult, however each teenager is not reviewed to see if they are competent to vote. Both systems should be the same and the easy choice is to not execute juveniles.
I just read this over at InstaPundit. All I have to say right now is that Federalism is dead. Might as well desolve the states, sick they cause nothing but harm to the people and the markets.
I would elaberate but I have a midterm in 45 min and a page paper to write before I go to sleep that I had totally forgotten about until an hour ago.

The NYTimes has an insightful op-ed about Lee Malvo, no rx one of the two accused Washington, ophthalmologist DC snipers.
In it the author says that Mr. Malvo is still a juvenile and should be treated as such by the courts and police even if he is to be charged as an adult. That his court appointed guardian should be present during interrogations as well as his lawyer.
However, cialis 40mg it is my belief that he should not be charged as an adult at all. I do not think that any juvenile should. Even though it is likely that Lee Malvo committed some very serious crimes and it is clear that many juveniles do commit crimes that would lead to a death sentence in an adult court they should still not be charged as adults.
While most people that are against the death penalty for juveniles say that people so young can be reformed and rehabilitated I think there is a more important reason. It is the same reason that the 26th amendment was passed. A government should not be able to send its citizens off to die without also giving then the chance to help decide for what reasons they can be killed for, whether it’s the death penalty or war.
If a person can understand their actions well enough to be put to death for those actions they also have the understanding to be able to participate in our electoral system. Where the disconnect between the two systems comes in is that in the courts each defendant gets reviewed to see if they are competent to stand trial as an adult, however each teenager is not reviewed to see if they are competent to vote. Both systems should be the same and the easy choice is to not execute juveniles.

Here is something that I have been working on for the past few days. It is about how the Tragedy of the Commons does not apply to Intellectual Property. Hope you enjoy.

Why the Tragedy of the Commons does not apply to Intellectual Property

There are people in the Open Source and Intellectual Property fights – some of which are being played out before the Supreme Court, diet all of which are being played out across the internet – who, discount in response to the story of the Tragedy of the Commons claim that it never happened. Lawrence Lessig used this argument in his most recent book, The Future of Ideas. However, this claim is incorrect; the Tragedy of the Commons did and continues to happen. In their defense the point that they are trying to make is a correct one, but for different reasons.

The story of the Tragedy of the Commons goes something like this:

The tragedy of the commons develops in this way. Picture a pasture open to all. It is to be expected that each herdsman will try to keep as many cattle as possible on the commons. Such an arrangement may work reasonably satisfactorily for centuries because tribal wars, poaching, and disease keep the numbers of both man and beast well below the carrying capacity of the land. Finally, however, comes the day of reckoning, that is, the day when the long-desired goal of social stability becomes a reality. At this point, the inherent logic of the commons remorselessly generates tragedy.
As a rational being, each herdsman seeks to maximize his gain. Explicitly or implicitly, more or less consciously, he asks, “What is the utility to me of adding one more animal to my herd?” This utility has one negative and one positive component.

  1. The positive component is a function of the increment of one animal. Since the herdsman receives all the proceeds from the sale of the additional animal, the positive utility is nearly + 1.
  2. The negative component is a function of the additional overgrazing created by one more animal. Since, however, the effects of overgrazing are shared by all the herdsmen, the negative utility for any particular decision making herdsman is only a fraction of – 1.

Adding together the component partial utilities, the rational herdsman concludes that the only sensible course for him to pursue is to add another animal to his herd. And another… But this is the conclusion reached by each and every rational herdsman sharing a commons. Therein is the tragedy. Each man is locked into a system that compels him to increase his herd without limit — in a world that is limited. Ruin is the destination toward which all men rush, each pursuing his own best interest in a society that believes in the freedom of the commons. Freedom in a commons brings ruin to all. 1

What the IP champions claim the true Tragedy of the Commons is that the commons were taken away from the people. They claim that these common lands were the life-blood of rural farmers in Feudal times and that when they were displaced from this land their whole world changed. And they are right, that was a tragedy but it does not disprove the fact that common resources get over used.

To see that common resources will end up getting over used all you have to do is look at what is going on in international fishing waters. Fish in these areas are being over fished and so far there has been no compromise over who can fish what. This will lead to continued over fishing; a Tragedy of the Commons in the making.

However, all of this talk of the Tragedy of the Commons has no bearing on Intellectual Property. Intellectual Property is very simply not a common resource. In economic terms common resources are rival and but not excludable. This means that the use of a resource by one person diminishes everyone else’s use of that resource but nobody can be stopped from using the resource. This description does not fit with knowledge.

Knowledge – and these days music, books, movies, and anything else that you can make a digital copy of – can be copied without taking away from somebody else’s use of that knowledge. So unlike in the case of the Tragedy of the Commons everybody can use the resources as much as they desire and the resource will never start to dwindle.

As Thomas Jefferson said, “If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of everyone, and the receiver cannot dispose himself of it.”2

Of course, none of this touches on the question of how people should be compensated for their work, the true purpose of patents and copyrights. But that was not the point, all this shows is the futileness of the Tragedy of the Commons argument in regards to intellectual property.


  1. The Tragedy of the Commons
  2. I got this quote from http://www.msnbc.com/news/594462.asp?cp1=1. They don’t have a source for it, so I couldn’t track down where it was originally said or written.

Just read a great little blurb on How Appealing that links to an Op-Ed in the OC Register that mentions Eugene Volokh as a possible candadate for a vacant Supreme Court seat. Eugene Volokh writes one of the blogs that I read regularly, store
 The Volokh Conspiracy. It also includes some links to others comments on the Op-Ed including: Instapundit and The Buck Stops Here.

Here is something that I have been working on for the past few days. It is about how the Tragedy of the Commons does not apply to Intellectual Property. Hope you enjoy.

Why the Tragedy of the Commons does not apply to Intellectual Property

There are people in the Open Source and Intellectual Property fights – some of which are being played out before the Supreme Court, traumatologist all of which are being played out across the internet – who, medicine in response to the story of the Tragedy of the Commons claim that it never happened. Lawrence Lessig used this argument in his most recent book, impotent  The Future of Ideas. However, this claim is incorrect; the Tragedy of the Commons did and continues to happen. In their defense the point that they are trying to make is a correct one, but for different reasons.

The story of the Tragedy of the Commons goes something like this:

The tragedy of the commons develops in this way. Picture a pasture open to all. It is to be expected that each herdsman will try to keep as many cattle as possible on the commons. Such an arrangement may work reasonably satisfactorily for centuries because tribal wars, poaching, and disease keep the numbers of both man and beast well below the carrying capacity of the land. Finally, however, comes the day of reckoning, that is, the day when the long-desired goal of social stability becomes a reality. At this point, the inherent logic of the commons remorselessly generates tragedy.
As a rational being, each herdsman seeks to maximize his gain. Explicitly or implicitly, more or less consciously, he asks, “What is the utility to me of adding one more animal to my herd?” This utility has one negative and one positive component.

  1. The positive component is a function of the increment of one animal. Since the herdsman receives all the proceeds from the sale of the additional animal, the positive utility is nearly + 1.
  2. The negative component is a function of the additional overgrazing created by one more animal. Since, however, the effects of overgrazing are shared by all the herdsmen, the negative utility for any particular decision making herdsman is only a fraction of – 1.

Adding together the component partial utilities, the rational herdsman concludes that the only sensible course for him to pursue is to add another animal to his herd. And another… But this is the conclusion reached by each and every rational herdsman sharing a commons. Therein is the tragedy. Each man is locked into a system that compels him to increase his herd without limit — in a world that is limited. Ruin is the destination toward which all men rush, each pursuing his own best interest in a society that believes in the freedom of the commons. Freedom in a commons brings ruin to all. 1

What the IP champions claim the true Tragedy of the Commons is that the commons were taken away from the people. They claim that these common lands were the life-blood of rural farmers in Feudal times and that when they were displaced from this land their whole world changed. And they are right, that was a tragedy but it does not disprove the fact that common resources get over used.

To see that common resources will end up getting over used all you have to do is look at what is going on in international fishing waters. Fish in these areas are being over fished and so far there has been no compromise over who can fish what. This will lead to continued over fishing; a Tragedy of the Commons in the making.

However, all of this talk of the Tragedy of the Commons has no bearing on Intellectual Property. Intellectual Property is very simply not a common resource. In economic terms common resources are rival and but not excludable. This means that the use of a resource by one person diminishes everyone else’s use of that resource but nobody can be stopped from using the resource. This description does not fit with knowledge.

Knowledge – and these days music, books, movies, and anything else that you can make a digital copy of – can be copied without taking away from somebody else’s use of that knowledge. So unlike in the case of the Tragedy of the Commons everybody can use the resources as much as they desire and the resource will never start to dwindle.

As Thomas Jefferson said, “If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of everyone, and the receiver cannot dispose himself of it.”2

Of course, none of this touches on the question of how people should be compensated for their work, the true purpose of patents and copyrights. But that was not the point, all this shows is the futileness of the Tragedy of the Commons argument in regards to intellectual property.


  1. The Tragedy of the Commons
  2. I got this quote from http://www.msnbc.com/news/594462.asp?cp1=1. They don’t have a source for it, so I couldn’t track down where it was originally said or written.

In the current issue of The New Republic there is an article about the future of the Democratic Party. For the most part I think this article is right on. The Dems did not have a solid party platform this past election cycle and it’s that fact that cost them the election. The party leadership undermined the rest of the party by supporting the war with Iraq in the end. At least if the leadership had opposed the war voters would have some sort of choice when then went to the polls. Even if the Dems lost this election they would have saved face and not looked like a party of yes men.
Right now the Republicans are weak when it comes to domestic issues. The only two issues that Candidate Bush put forth during his bid for president were a tax cut and the education bill. Since he as been in office the President has been able to pass the education bill with the help of Edward Kennedy and accomplished half of tax cut, approved with the other half likely to be completed before the next congress come into session.
The Democrats should be able to capitalize on the missing Republican domestic platform. Especially if the economy worsens between now and 2004 the Democrats will be able to claim that President Bush is not paying enough attention to issues here at home. In fact, the Democrats could have made that case before the last election. President Bush has been touting his permanent tax cut as an economic stimulus even though it will have no impact on the economy for a number of years. And he can get away with this claim because the opposition party is not there to call his bluff on this or any other issue.
Slowly the Republicans are stealing away the Democrats base. President Bush has done well with Latinos in every state but California – where Former Governor Pete Wilson has irreparably hurt the Republican Party when it comes to the Latino vote – and the Republicans in Congress were able to attract the Unions over the Homeland Security Bill. The only constituent base that the Republicans have not been able to capture is the elderly, and it’s only a matter of time until the current lot dies off and the next wave isn’t as wholly one party as the last was.
To survive the Democratic Party needs to first rearrange its leadership and then rethink its positions and platform. While the elderly are important they are no longer the most important. Both parties need to start to compete for the baby boomers and right now the Republicans are far ahead in this race. Elderly issues will come again, but unless the Democrats want to be out of power for a decade they will need to change their tune very soon. At the same time the urban Democrats need to change their tune when it comes to minority issues. There are very few issues that only relate to Latinos or only relate to Blacks, there needs to be a clear understanding within the party as to what the true issues are. There are minority issues, racial profiling and the like. However, much of the time what is thought of as minority issues aren’t. Much of the time they are class issues. Issues that speak to the white as well as the minority disadvantaged. These issues must change from their current focus. Increasingly liberal white voters are feeling alienated from the Democratic Party and this feeling cost Al Gore the 2000 presidential election. It is this feeling that has given raise to the Green Party. The Green Party, although it aims to be inclusive, is the white liberal party in America. It does not go out of its way to exclude minorities but it doesn’t focus on minority issues the same way the Democratic Party does. It has redefined the issues in the very way that the Democratic Party should. After all, minorities cannot be the only base of support for a major political party.
In the end the article is correct, the Democratic Party is about to go under a brutal transformation in order to stay relevant, otherwise it will go dormant for another ten years, much as it did in the 80’s. It is my hope that they change their views sooner rather than later. While it is clear the party doesn’t currently have its act together, I think that a Democrat in the White House would be better than seeing the Bush dynasty continue.

I just added two more links to the list of blogs, decease  SCOTUSBlog and InstaPundit. Really I don’t read SCOTUSBlog much, psychiatrist anything intresting that is posted there I pick up on one of the other blawgs (legal blogs). And incase you don’t know, psychotherapist SCOTUS stands for Supreme Court of the United States.
Hopefully tomorrow I will start putting links to things I read and find interesting. (Another FYI, hopefully is my keyword for it wont happen.)