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richard
Posted on Monday, February 09, 2004 - 05:15 am:   

See end of Out of the Mouths of Babes thread for antecedents - all brawlers very welcome. I'll be back shortly.
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richard
Posted on Monday, February 09, 2004 - 06:26 am:   

Tribeless, you wrote:

>>Think of the true cost of that anti-smoking legislation... If you give 'them' the power to tell you where you can smoke, you also give 'them' the power to tax fatty foods, legislate what you read, or certainly watch on TV, etc ... That price is way too high.....
Where, and how, do you draw the line? Let them impinge into your 'life-sphere' with one piece of social engineering, and 'they'll' just carry on legislating.<<

Right - this really is the crux. Who are 'they'?

In a democratically accountable and participative society, 'we' are 'they' - it's a mistake to frame it in other terms. The whole label 'interventionist' presupposes that legislative governance is some kind of alien imposition from outside normal human behaviour - but it isn't. We are social animals and even in our original hunter gatherer tribal units, we were subject to what amounted to laws. As an individual (I believe) you can't ever step outside that context. It *is* necessary to tell smokers where they can't smoke, because left to themselves they *will* pollute every living environment they inhabit. It *might* be helpful to tax fatty foods (I'm not sure) in order to offset the cost these foods place on a national health service. And so on...

This of course does not mean bowing to dictatorship - I'm a firm believer that unrepresentative governments deserve to be overthrown, by force if necessary. But a democracy in which general apathy has led to abuses of power doesn't count (I'm talking here about my own country, not NZ, of which I don't know enough to judge). The issue of where you draw the line is answered perfectly here - we all need to participate in order to ensure that the lines aren't drawn in ludicrous places. If that's left interventionism - well, guilty as charged.
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Tribeless
Posted on Monday, February 09, 2004 - 11:49 am:   

:-)

I'm really fighting deadlines now but will be back very soon. This thread sounds like fun.


... but note my opening position. I do not think democracy is the system of freedom (note I'm NOT an anarchist), as it promotes the tyranny of majority rule ...

Lots to fall out over :-) [I've already managed that elsewhere)
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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Monday, February 09, 2004 - 03:34 pm:   

What do you define as "the system of freedom"? Every form of government has its pro's and cons, with regaurds to trade offs between the benefits to the individual, vs the benefits to the group.

I am not conceding that Democracy = "the tyranny of the majority", but for the sake of argument, Do you think that something that promotes the "tyranny of majority rule" is better or worse (from the perspective of those who must live within the system) than a system that promotes "the tyrnanny of the individual", or "the Tyranny of the wealthy". Every form of government is a form of tyranny, in some sense, as it involves an individual ceding authority to something/one else.

I’m not trying to pick a fight… Just honestly trying to understand what you meant by your statement.

Best,
JL

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Tribeless
Posted on Monday, February 09, 2004 - 06:53 pm:   

Oh hell, I¡¦ll just work late nights again for a while :-)

My current thinking is for a Libertarian (NOT anarchist) state which has a very small government 'sector' that provides only what is correctly in governments' sphere: that is, an army and a police force to stop outside and inside aggressors, a criminal law system to punish those that would initiate force on others, and a contract law system so that a capitalist system can operate. Note that the need for a very small level of government differentiates this utterly from an anarchist state. I've already fallen out with the anarchists on one freedom forum due to my support for a government enforced copyright (or intellectual property in general) - anarchists, for example, have no moral qualms about peer to peer file sharing; my contention is this is theft. The 'discussion' (euphemism as the thread concerned was actually locked ultimately because it became too vitriolic :-)) led me to the belief that the anarchists' chief flaw (other than the moral one of sanctioning theft) is that as they essentially deny an individual the ability to earn a living from selling their intellectual property, they would never be able to run a capitalist economy (and such is the economy of freedom). ... (Interestingly, I also have a disagreement with the author Cory Doctorow, who is allowing the file sharers to download his second novel, over this - I think that he is working on a book distribution model which will end up shooting himself in the foot - Richard, I'd be interested in your views on copyright. If you want to see my viewpoint on this, and where I differ with Doctorow, have a look at the pretty extensive comments thread on his site at the below address:

http://craphound.com/est/000041.html )

Anyway, returning to the Libertarian state, such a state is centred on a constitution which at its base enshrines the principle of non-initiation of force; that is, no individual or group can use force on another individual or group. Such a constitution negates the possibility of tyranny by a majority or an individual.

On the other side of the coin, look at the modern democratic system, which enshrines the tyranny of the majority. Straight from one of my posts to Doctorow's site, I described this by way of the following 'extreme' example (which can be pulled into shades of grey pretty quickly, but gets my point across): Lets us say that we put 19 Asian gentlemen into a room with one European guy. Lets now say that a democratic election is held and the 19 asians democratically elect to kill the European simply because he is a European (ie, on whim). The vote is 19 to 1, or 20 to 0 if the European guy is a complete moron. Note, either way, this is a fully democratic majority decision.
Is it morally right? No!

Thus, my belief is the next stage in mankinds' evolution is to move beyond democracy to a Libertarian styled society; put another way, as academic Chris Sciabarra states, civilisation is a movement toward privacy.

That is what I think ... well Richard asked. What I can't stand is tax and spend politicians quoting the 'greater good' as an means to taking more of my money (hard earned) to invest it 'their' greater good (in NZ currently a huge welfare state, vis a vis their voting base); the same politicians, most of whom you wouldn't want teaching your children, who also feel they are morally better than myself, and are therefore sanctioned in telling me constantly how to live my life, what I can watch, soon, no doubt, what I can eat, and on and on. In NZ its becoming crazy (something to do with our smaller population size).

Richard, as I said, the price of letting 'them' (and that's who I meant) tell you where you can and can't smoke, is unacceptable; certainly for me at least (however, I can't buy out of the system).

I'll leave it there. I would be interested in seeing a discussion on two separate issues: the politics of above, verse the lefty interventionist socialists; but also as a wannabe author myself, and in light of my increasingly lonely stand on Doctorow's pages, a discussion of intellectual property (IP) issues (especially where you stand on the latter Richard). Does anybody, especially an author, and a lefty one at that :-) still even believe in the concept/construct of copyright?

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Simon
Posted on Tuesday, February 10, 2004 - 01:52 am:   

Tribeless,

Very interesting post.

At one point you say:
'the Libertarian state, such a state is centred on a constitution which at its base enshrines the principle of non-initiation of force'
while maintaining that such a state would also allow for, (presumably - my presumption, your indication) deregulated capitalism. How is deregulated capitalism to be squared away against the 'non-initiation of force' against others? (ie 'Nope sorry if you don't like working for $1 an hour you can always go somewhere else', 'What? Minimum wage? No we don't have that here, that's regulation.' 'You can't afford to rent a house on these wages? Sorry?' And if wages were covered there would, presumably be plenty else that wasn't; Capitalism is ALL about the initiation of force on others, the force of the market.)
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Tribeless
Posted on Tuesday, February 10, 2004 - 02:50 am:   

[Groan]

[No, make that a bigger, more exhausted, GROAN].

Simon, its ten to midnight here, I've been working and am tired so shall try and get the time to answer your post tomorrow, but let me assure you your queries are, I'm afraid, pretty rountine socialist tripe (and I'm being scathing because, a) I'm tired, b) your tone invites this - which is fine, nothing like a good verbal scrape with socialist.

So, until tomorrow (deadlines permitting).

Night folks.
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Tribeless
Posted on Tuesday, February 10, 2004 - 02:52 am:   

Actually, perhaps your tone didn't deserve a terse response ... sorry :-)

Now seven to midnight, so catch you hopefully tomorrow.
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simon
Posted on Tuesday, February 10, 2004 - 03:35 am:   

Hey, I'd be terse at seven to midnight. Until tomorrow :-)
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Tim Akers
Posted on Tuesday, February 10, 2004 - 08:37 am:   

Whenever someone brings up a libertarian state, I shudder. The central problem with libertarianism is that it depends on the inherent good of individuals, and that dog won't hunt. If left to themselves, corporations will exploit their workers. The rich will exploit the poor. Factories will pollute, to the detriment of all. I'm not a complete pessimist, but people simply can't be trusted. Heh.

In the US, we operated under a slightly libertarian system at the start of the last century. Anyone who says corporations shouldn't be regulated, I just point them to the results of industrialization in the early 1900s. The experiment has already been run, and it didn't work. Sorry.
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Jeremy lassen
Posted on Tuesday, February 10, 2004 - 08:45 am:   

Where does corporate pollution of the environment fall in your "initiation of force" paradigm? Where does corporate malfeasance (stock price manipulation, fraud, or insider trading, for example) fall? If you say that the free market will self regulate, you are being incredible idealistic/naïve.

You seem to be holding "capitalism" up on a pedestal, but a market can not function without regulation, otherwise it devolves quickly to monopoly -- the most efficient way to capture market share is NOT to compete on an even playing field, but to BUY the playing field... this has been demonstrated repeatedly throughout history.

The system you set up seems not very different from other forms of idealistic utopias. Like communism, and other ideologies, it doesn’t seem to me that it would hold up under the stresses of human nature, and the real world.

Best,
Jeremy

PS As for free ebook downloads... See Bean Books and their incredible success with this model. but that is another topic entirley.
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richard
Posted on Tuesday, February 10, 2004 - 04:25 pm:   

Hey Tribeless, I'm afraid I'm with the routine socialist tripe - unless you can explain to me how you prevent corporate bodies from applying exactly the forces Simon, Tim and Jeremy describe.

As far as IP goes, I feel it's pretty much an open and shut case - if I make tables out of wood (as a friend of mine does) I wouldn't expect someone to be able to come and carry off a couple just because I left them in an unlocked workshop. Ditto the writing of a novel, a song etc. I very firmly believe that people are entitled to enjoy the fruits of their labour (always given that they accept that labour took place within an established social context to which they owe a contributive debt, ie tax)

Here's something else worth throwing into the mix - I've just got back from seeing a production of Caryl Churchill's Top Girls in which two chracters are having a fight about the rise of the Thatcherite model - the pro-Thatcherite says, more or less, that in her brave new world, anyone will be able to make it if they're smart and tough enough. The other character offers the open-ended critique yeah, but what if you're NOT smart or tough enough.

This, surely, is the problem. Any and every society is always going to have some weaker and more disadvantaged members - without assistance (in essence the redistribution of (some) wealth), these people will go under. The question is what are you going to do about it? I think Churchill has hit a very elusive nail squarely on the head here - the essential difference between left and right wing politics seems to me to be that the left, very broadly, accept that this problem exists and seek to construct systems that will solve it (how successful they are varies, depending, I would argue, on their levels of realism as opposed to dogma - same as it ever was.)

The right wing on the other hand simply closes its eyes and says either

a) tough shit, these people are feckless and don't deserve help, or

b) tough shit, it's God's will (or evolution in action), that's the way it's got to be, get used to it.

It's this essential lack of vision and compassion on the part of the right that keeps me (albeit somewhat shakily) in the leftist camp.
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Tribeless
Posted on Tuesday, February 10, 2004 - 09:55 pm:   

Right (although not fair guys, there's what, four of you lefties so far, one of me, with no real time until April ... I'm still thinking of deferring this discussion until then; but, for now ...

Simon wrote:

"Capitalism is ALL about the initiation of force on others, the force of the market."

The 'force of the market' is an absolute contradiction in terms; a free market operates without force, other than currently that imposed by central government regulation. Everything about the free market concerns CHOICE. I'm afraid Simon, the example you gave, as with those from the rest of you, is typical of the lefty brainwashing you've all undergone through state run education systems (or adjuncts of). That is, if you don't like the $1 offered to you by your employer, then you have the CHOICE not to take it. There is no component of force here. NONE at all. You are perfectly free to take your skills elsewhere, if they're not good enough, then upskill, or even set up your own business. You have complete CHOICE, but you do need a certain amount of self sufficiency and plain old 'gumption' to realise this, gumption which defeatist socialist systems (see below) unfortunately destroy from a very young age. But don't ever tell me you don't have choice in this scenario, you do.

In our current free markets it is ONLY central governments that have the ability to employ force - I pay my tax or I go to jail, I have no choice in the face of central government. Compare this with the free market in which I ALWAYS have choice.

Actually, the Noble Tribeless doesn't have time to deal with your mails separately - its going to take too long (at this stage. April, yes ...). But, luckily, all your anti-heroic whining (anti-heroic because you don't believe in the power of production, nor in human compassion and, furthermore, due to your typically lefty cynical view of what a great thing it is to be human), falls into the same broad category. 'Oh humans are such awful, evil things, completely without compassion, so we have to legislate for compassion, that is the only path, surely (because socialists always tend to think in only straight lines)' ... that is Big Time BS for the following reasons.

The western democracies ruled by socialists and interventionists, have created huge and ever growing welfare states which have led to people just assuming they can 'have something for nothing', example, a living, off the productive sector, with no linkage psychologically anymore to the hardworking individuals on whose back makes this possible. That dole cheque, or that DBP cheque, just naturally appears as of right every week out of thin air.


Many of your posts, yours included Richard, come down to a very grim view of mans' nature, an ignoble view if you like, where greed apparently rules. This is a welfare state mentality that you guys have been, again, completely brainwashed into. I bet in a Libertarian state you'll find far more 'charity' and generosity of spirit than you'll ever get in socialist countries that try to enforce compassion because the lefty law makers believe at base we're all evil people and legislate accordingly. The trouble is for the socialists, where they hold sway, this view becomes a self fulfilling prophesy. What do I mean?

The NZ government loots approximately NZ$52,000 per year from me just in income tax - do I feel pre-disposed after this to give any more money away? Actually, I do - but, whereas what I give by choice goes to where I believe it will do real good, the government in NZ will spend probably 70 cents in every dollar it has looted from me increasing the size of the welfare state which will be an even bigger noose around the neck of production as time goes on, plus is evilly consigning hundreds of thousands of children to the welfare scrap heap. Why? Because we actually pay people to have children here (its called family support) so long as they don't earn too much money. Guess which sector is growing the fastest demographically. A lot of these kids are born into no hoper families, with no hoper parents (normally parent, singular), no love (because they weren't wanted, only the weekly cheque was), that is, NO CHANCE. Then the vicious circle continues, these poor kids are never properly educated as their loser parents don't value education, thus, ultimately, someone has got to provide them a living as well as their parents (and the work ethic is now completely alien to most of these children) ... so, who has to provide their living ... yes, the productive sector, the workers and the risk takers. The cycle then repeats itself over and over in ever increasing circles. Because of the above process socialist systems will always, and always have, devolved into slums; no hoping, no escape, slums.

You can't legislate compassion. When you do, you always create a sector that is completely reliant on that enforced compassion. This demographic will over time grow and outstrip the productive sectors ability to finance it. Ironically, it is the productive sector, lets call them in the lefties jaundiced language, the wealthy, which then get the blame, because THEY are selfish and greedy. That type of cynical labelling is the sick sort of game played by the left. It's a perverted inverse logic which is just plain wrong - socialists have it all backwards. They are their own worst enemies, creating their own ghettos, and in typical socialist fashion, blaming everybody else for it because the left has no notion of individual responsibility; taking responsibility for your own actions, and being prepared to take the knocks of wrong decisions.


So, because I need to get back to work, again, (and I suspect I haven't answered all the posts above), I leave this post with a question: tell me who is the greedier: me, who just wants to keep the NZ$50,000 per annum the government thieves from me every year in income tax, money I have earned through risk taking and hard work (gumption), MY MONEY, or those lazy indolent shits on the dole, second and third generation unemployed who just expect I'm going to provide them with their living like it's a goddamned right, and for nothing in return? Worse, pay for THEIR children? Whose greedy here? I would use the money to grow my business, or, if I wanted buy a boat (and so keep a boat maker in business), whilst your typical bludger in NZ is going to drink his (sorry, my money the govt. has looted from me to give to him). Who is the greedy one?

Life is not easy, unless, of course, a nice lefty government creates an environment where you can sit on your chuff and live off everybody else. But that is ultimately unsustainable ... and the socialist Rome will always fall, normally in a very messy fashion. Ironically when it does, it will first turn on that sector which has been solely responsible for keeping the whole stinking edifice going for so long in the first place - the producers.

Come to think of it, the depressing, oppressive cyber punk world is a product of the left.

For one of you who said that America in the 1900's was approaching a Libertarian state: wrong. There has never been an experiment approaching a true Libertarian state ... and with the level of brainwashing evidenced in this thread even, I don't actually know how we get there.

So what say you, Pinkos'

:-)

(Richard, really glad to see you¡¦re a supporter of Copyright. What do you think of Cory Doctorow's experiment?)

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Simon
Posted on Wednesday, February 11, 2004 - 02:06 am:   

Tribeless,
Phew! Will go into all this in more detail later (especially the notion of choice in a low wage economy and the belief in individual human charity being a reliable safety net in a corporate world) but my breath was taken away somewhat by hearing you accusing us (the Pinkos) of having a negative and cynical view of humanity (a, to quote, 'ignoble view where greed rules' and then to read you saying this:

'those lazy indolent shits on the dole, second and third generation unemployed who just expect I'm going to provide them with their living like it's a goddamned right'

The poor and the unemployed are shiftless, drunk, thieves? Whose the negative cynic now?
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Tribeless
Posted on Wednesday, February 11, 2004 - 02:18 am:   

No no no Simon, I wasn't being cynical in that bit, just stating the facts :-)

Although I do get more than a bit bitter and twisted about the whole welfare fiasco that you lefties have mired the West in. Every extra dole payment in another step away from freedom.

11.16pm - still working my butt off over here to make sure the indolent can have the comfortable lifestyle they've come to expect on my money.
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richard
Posted on Wednesday, February 11, 2004 - 05:51 am:   

Tribeless - the problem here is that you don't have any *evidence* to back your claims - as you say, there's never been a libertarian society along the lines you theorise. Again, it's a very close parallel to Communist ideologists in the west who always complain that oh, of course *real* communism has never been tried. Well quite - and there's a very good reason for this in both cases - human behaviour does not suit either your or the commies' utopian game plan. You're clearly able to see how anti-realistic the communist wish-fulfilment approach to politics is - why is that you don't see the same flaw in libertarian thinking?

Now here comes the evidence against you - early twentieth century capitalist models in the US may not have been truly libertarian, but they *were* a damn good stab in that direction - in essence regulation of corporate bodies and the wealthy were thin to non-existent. The result was a huge gap between the rich and the poor, massive human rights abuse and eventually the Great Depression. It took the New Deal and regulation (plus a massive public sector boost to private corporate bodies via wartime state investment in such sectors as the aircraft and electronics industries) to beat this tailspin and create an emergent, aspirational and relatively well off American middle class. And any current economic theorist you care to look at will tell you that it's the middle class tranche of a society that is the real engine of wealth creation. More recently, with Reaganomics and its fallout you've seen an almost exact reversal of the process - the Reagan and Bush administrations basically attempted to peel back all the New Deal legislation and among the results you have (yes, you guessed it) a devastated middle class and a rapidly widening gap between rich and poor. Now none of this is leftist cant, it's documented political and economic fact - and what it appears to prove is that if you don't regulate in the economic sector, you end up with tyranny. There's no reason this should come as a surprise to anybody - you yourself agree the need for a police force and a military to prevent human tendencies towards tyranny through violence. Why assume that this tendency is just going to vanish in the arena of business and economics? Just as we need law to police our social interactions, so we need it to regulate our economic behaviour.

About your $52,000 in tax - you may well have worked hard to earn it, but you also did so in a context that ensured you, your premises and your business assets would not be subject to violent assault, intimidation from organised crime, or firebombing from the competition. Come to that, you have regulations in place (I guess) that ensure your competitors are not permitted to operate at a loss for as long as it takes to put you out of business (something I saw at least one unchallenged case of in Thatcher's longing- to-be-deregulated Britain). All of this, we take for granted because we live in societies that (mostly) enforce such regulations - but remove the constraints of a socially civilised society and see how fast those assumed comforts go down the pan.

In the final analysis, if you feel that the tax burden is unfair, or that the revenue is unproductively spent, then a democratic system such as NZ's offers you the option to step into politics at a variety of levels and lobby for your own beliefs. Why not try that?

What it seems to come down to is this - you're prepared to believe in a tendency to violent enforcement amongst humans, and see a need to legislate against it; you're prepared to believe in an anti-social selfishness among free riders which will screw up the Communist utopic model (fair enough, so do I); you believe that democracy is a flawed system that facilitates the oppression of minorities by a tyrannical majority; but suddenly, when it comes to the idea of unfettered enterprise culture and capital systems, you discover a new and touching faith in the intrinsic decency of human behaviour.

Does this not seem a little incongruous to you?
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richard
Posted on Wednesday, February 11, 2004 - 06:09 am:   

Ah - re Doctorow, I haven't really had the time to look at the scheme in depth, but I have to say I like the fact he's innovating. I think he's probably right that his scheme will work, but maybe not for the reasons he envisages; personally, I don't like reading from a screen and would always want to *own* a physical book if it was any good, so file sharing wouldn't affect the question of whether I eventually bought a copy - in this sense what Doctorow's doing really amounts to a sophisticated method of "getting the word out" (though I suppose if I read something on file share and *didn't* like it, it would stop me making an impulse purchase and so cheat the author out of earnings that way). With music it gets tougher, because although I like to own CDs, I have been known to get by with burnt copies from friends - there's no convenience issue as there is with print.

I don't know, like Doctorow says, we probably can't yet envisage what shape all this is going to take. Of one thing, though, I am tolerably certain:

It's going to need regulation :-) :-) :-)
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Tim Akers
Posted on Wednesday, February 11, 2004 - 06:47 am:   

Look, Richard said it much better than I could, but I still feel this irresistable urge to say something. Damn it. So first of all, Tribeless, I'm far from a socialist, far from a lefty. I consider myself a moderate with liberal tendencies. I'm not a product of any state run system. I went to private school all my life, and my high school was one of the top schools in my country. Probably better than most colleges. I'm a capitalist, all my friends growing up were capitalists. I like my fast car. My best friend in high school retired at the age of 26, and now lives on his yacht in the mediterranean. For chrissakes, point ye not that finger, boy.

It's a simple fact of history. Systems that have gone the way of de-regulation, laissez-faire politics and corporate freedom have led to massive abuse and the decimation of the middle class. Like Richard has said previously, look at the turn of the century US. Look at what nafta has done to the middle class today. The facts of the case do not support your assertions.

Secondly, to say that there is no 'force' in a market economy is, honestly, a little funny. Let's hit that quote, Johnny.

"The 'force of the market' is an absolute contradiction in terms; a free market operates without force, other than currently that imposed by central government regulation.... That is, if you don't like the $1 offered to you by your employer, then you have the CHOICE not to take it. There is no component of force here. NONE at all. You are perfectly free to take your skills elsewhere, if they're not good enough, then upskill, or even set up your own business."

That's good. Point by point. Money is force. Really, in a capitalist society, money is the only force. If you don't like the $1 offered, you have the choice not to take it. And starve. You can go to another employer, who has no reason to pay you more if his competition isn't. In fact, clever employers can do a little wage control. If the gov't didn't *force* employers to pay a certain minimum wage, they wouldn't. Evidence? The modern IT industry in the US. The guy getting paid $65k in Boston loses his job because someone with equal skill can do the job for $11k in India. Those are facts. These are not 'gumptionless' individuals, these are college graduates, republicans, people who believe deeply in the free economy.

No, libertarians are deeply out of touch with history, deeply unfamiliar with realistic economic models, and frightfully comfortable with letting their fellow man starve. Sure, any system that provides welfare will be abused, and those abuses piss me off, too. I'm a proponent of re-education systems, retraining programs etc. But I also believe in a compassionate gov't, and the moral obligation of the rich to help out the poor.

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simon
Posted on Wednesday, February 11, 2004 - 07:34 am:   

Thank you Tim and Richard for saying, eloquently and clearly, much of what I intended. And I'm sorry Tribeless for the disparity in numbers in this exchange.

However . . .

Further on the point of 'upskilling' (and this on the understanding it would do you any good in a low wage economy where any employer is able to pay you exactly as little as they want). Where and how are you meant to upskill in a country where the government is only paying for the police and the army? What schools or technical colleges (much less schemes for the unskilled) will there be that are free at the point of use?
At what point does the infrastructure of society become an unreasonable tax burden? Do you really draw the line at those bits of it that have to be armed to exert, I'm sorry prevent the exertion of, force?

Where does society become the welfare state and vice versa? It depends how much money you've got I guess. Oh I don't know I'm in a rush and I'm probably being nonsensical.

And does believing in regulation really make you a socialist?
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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Wednesday, February 11, 2004 - 09:48 am:   

Hey tribeless,
I had hoped that we might have a civil discussion about your political/economic beliefs. Richard and Simon have done a great job to respond to your frothing-at-the-mouth trashing of anybody who disagrees with you. Unfortunately, you only make yourself look foolish. *I* happen to *Be* an engine of wealth creation -- I am a small businesses owner. I take my own money and gumption and know how and create wealth, for me, and for my authors and artists, and UPS, and everybody else in the supply and distribution chain.

And I create a product that the market seems to be responding to. I'm a fucking capitalist running-dog-pig who is exploiting people for profit, and I am proud of this. You want to throw terms like “Pinko” and “brainwashed” around, that’s your prerogative. But when you do it to me and people like me, you only sound idiotic.

If you ever got out of your little self-pity trip (wahh... the government STEALS from me) long enough to actually risk your own capitol and your own families security in the market place, you might actually be worth listening to. Until then, you are just one more Utopian dreamer whom masterbates to Anne Rand.

As a small buisness owner, let me tell you exactly what my taxes buy for me. They buy me an interstate highway and road system that allows my books to be reliably and cheaply shipped across the entire continent for practically nothing. They buy me the knowledge that if there is a fire in the town where my warehouse is, chances are the entire fucking town wouldn't burn down, taking my inventory with it. It buys me a regulated banking industry so that when I put my money in the bank, I know it won't disappear overnight because somebody decided to make a risky investment -- I have enough things to worry about running my own buisness, I don't need to spend time and energy researching weather this bank or that bank is reliable. My taxes, and the little bit of "freedom" that I give up for this protecting is a good deal for me, and for everybody who busts their ass trying run their own buisness.

Anti-trust regulations ensure that I actually have access to the marketplace. Without anti-trust regulations, Bertelsmann, Viacom and Penguin-Putnam could simply blackmail/pay off every bookstore in the country to not carry my books. They could actively blacklist any author that chose to work with me. They could force shipping companies to not deliver my books. They could set up all kinds of barriers to entry, in order to protect their market share. But they don’t Do you know why? Because they fucking CAN’T, because it violates those “evil government regulations”. As a small business owner and engine of wealth generation, I can tell you that I wake up every morning and give eternal thanks to Poppa Legba (and any other diety you can think of)that those regulations are there. Otherwise I would be CRUSHED by the FORCE of capitalism. Like a bug.

Another thing my taxes bought was this little thing called "the internet". Without DarpNet, there would BE no internet...there would be a collection of monolithic, unconnected BBS systems, like Delphi, Compuserve, AOL, Prodigy and others. It took a government funded research program to create this system, and it is this very system that allows ME to put up this message board so that YOU can verbally abuse me and the other guests that hang out here.

I think I'm getting a good deal for my taxes, and for the most part I'm happy to pay them. (Well, except for this whole iraq war thing... I'm kind of pissed about that... But in a democracy, at least I have the ability to hold people responsible for that atrocity)

If you don't like paying taxes so much, go live in a cave somewhere where there is no public infrastructure, and no central-government-brainwashed-lefties to steal from you. Otherwise, your whining sounds spoilt and pathetic. You benefit everyday from the services provided by your government, and if you are too stupid to realize that, well... its your own damage.

-jl (who is not in the mood to suffer fools kindly today)
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Tribeless
Posted on Thursday, February 12, 2004 - 02:38 am:   

Some admin. matters first.

Love that passion Jeremy, who wrote of the Noble Tribeless:

"I had hoped that we might have a civil discussion about your political/economic beliefs. Richard and Simon have done a great job to respond to your frothing-at-the-mouth trashing of anybody who disagrees with you. Unfortunately, you only make yourself look foolish."

GREAT! Nothing wrong with being passionate about your views, as I am about freedom issues. Note, though, in my defence, I did end that post with a smiley face, and Richard quite refreshingly set the thread up for a brawl :-)

But, I am often very abrasive, I guess, on the Net, simply because in my real life I have to essentially wear a very conservative mask, thus love the freedom to be down right rude in here if I want to be. In line with this, I note in your post you referred to the Goddess Ayn Rand as Anne - do not do that again Justin, sorry, Jeremy :-)

Note the smiley face.

Anyway, I'm battling timeframes as normal, so before its too late I'm drawing back ever so slightly from the cut and thrust to apply a little wisdom to my position before I let my rhetoric box me into a completely untenable position. In line with this two quotes from a couple of blogs:

First, from a freedom figher I don't know: "If your actual motives do not match some moral theory you'd like to think you hold, one or the other needs to change. Choose carefully, and then silently, wordlessly, but honestly retell the story of who you are and what you believe." (from a blog by Dave Gross as relayed by a freedom fighter I do know, Claire Wolfe (http://www.clairewolfe.com/blog.html). A bit zen like for me, as I'm no mystic, but broaches well a point I'm going to make soon.

Secondly a quote from Claire in that same blog: "Fundamentalist anarcho-capitalist rigidity is no better than any other form of fundamentalist rigidity, when it comes to getting along with our fellow humans and conducting our own lives as fully functional, strivingly moral, individuals. Every political or philosophical theory, no matter how noble-sounding in print, is inevitably cruel when imposed rigidly upon the world of real people ... I propose a test. It applies to anarcho-capitalism or any other philosophy: If a philosopher doesn't even try live by his own philosophy -- and especially if he resents having others hold him to his own stated beliefs! -- then we should question whether the philosophy he espouses has real-world value"

(At http://www.clairewolfe.com/blog.html)

All this is a way for me to say, stalemate. I agree with many of the points you all make, and disagree with many more - I'll get back to those in April. But I readily agree that if Libertarians took over the world today there may well be some blood on the streets within a year.

I suspect that if we all sat down in a pub, albeit it in NZ a non-smoking pub, and probably in the future if the health Nazis here get their way, an alcohol free pub, we would all get close to some type of middle ground. I fall out, regularly, with fellow Libertarians because I believe in a level of State involvement greater than many of them (I don't get on with anarchists at all, even those who actually know what they believe in [about 1 in 10]) - for a start I believe strongly in copyright, and that peer to peer file sharing is theft [many Lib's and basically all anarchists don't].

So, my deadlines really are putting the pressure on now, and for the first year in fifteen I've made a conscious plan over 2004 to devote some time every day to writing short fiction - at this stage I only have 11.30pm to mid night (bloody pathetic, actually, but I'm going to try to move it to an hour come April). Anyway, I'm spending too much of my half hour on forums. Consequently, I'm going to limit my involvement in this thread, (as well as Claire's forum) for a while.

But you don't get rid of me Pinkos. The subject of copyright, (and I see the treatment of intellectual property issues as a litmus test of freedom issues), has been occupying my mind a lot lately. Richard, I don't agree with about the likely success of Doctorow's experiment. I think it a doomed experiment that will end up doing far more damage than good to the author/creator/songster. But I'll put a post up on that, partly in response to yours, in the first ten minutes of my half hour tomorrow night.

Finally, two other points. I just love this time of night - approaching midnight, my phone doesn't go, and its just beautifully calm and peaceful (my lovely wife's gone to bed :-)). Secondly, I use a Sheaffer fountain pen given to me by my sister. That pen is twenty years old today ... now THAT is an achievement :-)
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Tribeless
Posted on Thursday, February 12, 2004 - 02:42 am:   

Oh, and Richard, you did point a significant contradiction in my thinking, which requires a bit of thought on my behalf.
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richard
Posted on Thursday, February 12, 2004 - 04:25 am:   

Tribeless - thanks for acknowledging that - it gives me hope.
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Tribeless
Posted on Saturday, March 27, 2004 - 04:30 pm:   

I would like to see this thread devolve into copyright issues (as I said earlier). I'm going to kick it off by simply cutting and pasting a post I've just made to a 'freedom' forum as it gives my position on copyright - ie, I am a strong supporter of it. I'm also posting this as I don't believe, Richard, that published authors are fully aware of the nature and scale of what you're really up against on this issue. I think it threatens the publishing industry, period.

Especially have a read throught the comments, (if you get time:-)) on the thread I've posted to the insidious Copyfight site at the end of this post - that site is made up of supposedly respected intellectuals as well as solicitors in this field!! My comments in the linked thread are of course under my same handle (Tribeless).

Anyway, my post as made to the freedom forum:

Silver wrote:

QUOTE
"But I think there is a contradiction between working for true freedom and demanding government intervention in the marketplace, and IP laws are surely examples of such meddling"

My reply:

There is only a contradiction if you are an anarchist ... but then again, anarchists could no more run a capitalist system (the essential for freedom) than they could defend themselves against a determined collectivist aggressor.

There is no contradiction, however, from a Libertarian point of view. As a Libertarian I admit the need for a very limited role for government: that is, an army to protect my freedom from outside aggressors, a police force and a criminal justice system to protect me as an individual from the initiation of force by others within the community, and a contract law system so that capitalism can function (the economics of freedom). Copyright/protection of IP fits comfortably within such a contract law system.

Oh, and Carl is right ... all file sharers and therefore anarchists are ultimately, very ironically, advocating a communistic slavery of the producer. Again, just have a look at the posts of Aaron Swartz, supposed intellectual justifying the breaking of copyright on the below thread over at Copyfight ... shameful communistic freedom hating insanity:

http://www.corante.com/copyfight/archives/002642.html
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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Saturday, March 27, 2004 - 10:52 pm:   

comments like "shameful communistic freedom hating insanity" make it difficult to have a rational conversation about anything, or at the very least... to take you seriously.

-JL
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Jörn
Posted on Sunday, March 28, 2004 - 12:42 am:   

interesting case

against unconditionally copyright extension
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Tribeless
Posted on Sunday, March 28, 2004 - 01:54 am:   

Jeremy - I believe, and I justified very well in that thread why I do believe, that file sharing, and arguments for file sharing are "shameful communistic freedom hating insanity". Plus you did me the great dishonour of completely avoiding context. You quoted what I said, but without the context in which it was given; thus it means nothing. In its context on that thread, it made a lot of sense.

So, instead of an insubtantial one and half line low blow, why not give me an argument. First start out with which side of the issue you adhere to. Do you believe in copyright and hence freedom, or are you a low life file sharer? :-)

What do you think of the communist argument promulgated by Aaron Swartz for file sharing? What do you think of his particularly insane connection between a defense of IP being akin to racism or homophobia?

In essence, Jeremy, just what in the hell do you believe?

That would be the starting point of our discussion.

Sounds to me like I may have hit a guilty nerve.
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Tribeless
Posted on Sunday, March 28, 2004 - 02:08 am:   

Jorn, the case you gave the link to is certainly interesting. I'm still crammed for time so I've bookmarked it to get back to.

For what its worth though, I would take an opposing view to what is stated in the case summary. That is, I believe for society to achieve freedom for its individual members, then creators must have control over their IP. I do not believe in the concept of public domain at all, unless it is voluntary (author's choose in their lifetime or after that their works can go into the public domain).

Yes, this may mean that many works of art/literature are lost, but is still justifed as the lesser of two evils for the following reasons:

1) I would rather be a free man than reading Shakespeare in a gulag. A society which endorses or allows the theft which is file sharing will end up between the tyrant and the gulag for it will not be able to run a capitalist economic system.

2) If an author/creator cannot control their IP, then they will simply not create for a public market place anyway, so the works of art, indeed, innovation and production, will ultimately not exist.
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Jörn
Posted on Sunday, March 28, 2004 - 03:23 am:   

If you don't believe or like the idea of public domain, then open source must be an even greater or equal evil, I assume? I ask this, because as a matter of fact the existence of something like open source itself contradicts your paragraph 2). This concept is certainly limited to software as far as I know, and will not work for other fields of IP.

To point 1), a society which will allow theft of IP, can run a capitalist economic system, but it will have a very small production of music, books, films or whatever is shared trough file sharing. The basic needs of health care, food, living space or laws and a system to enforce them are nothing what can be damaged trough filesharing.
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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Sunday, March 28, 2004 - 09:54 am:   

As an owner of a publishing company... as someone who makes money from existing copyright laws, I thought my basic stance on copyright issues would be obvious... For the record, I am against the further extension of copyrights, and the use of copyright law to maintain distribution monopolies in certain industries. See the RIAA’s position on internet radio, if you don’t know what I am talking about.

my stance is that copyright is an agreement amongst the members of a civil society... copyright benefits society. the benefits to individuals are incidental. Your response to John, where you say you "don't believe in the concept of public domain at all" further demonstrates the silliness of your position.

Public domain, and the expiration of copyright has always been part of copyright law. Society gives up something to the individual, for a limited time. then, society gets something back in the long term. That is the basic covenant of copyright.

Your silly libertarian/personal IP/Communism/insanity/freedom hating arguments are just another reflection of the warped prism in which you are trying to view the world.

-jl
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Tribeless
Posted on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 01:07 am:   

Jeremy wrote:

"Your silly libertarian/personal IP/Communism/insanity/freedom hating arguments are just another reflection of the warped prism in which you are trying to view the world."

So you're happy with the way the world is going Jeremy? Well you're lucky, because I see individual rights being trampled on more and more in the West, and culture (P2P) etc degraded ... somehow, some of us have to try and stop the rot because soon it'll be too late. Yes I have an idealised view of the way a better world could be, nothing wrong with that, nor questioning what we have now.

Its good to see you're a supporter of copyright (I did not know you were a publisher, not being a mind reader), however, we have a basic level of disagreement when you state:

"copyright benefits society. the benefits to individuals are incidental".

It is on that point that the tyrants with their police state regulation are taking over. I believe the individual must be the building block of a free society; or at least start from the individual then as you interact with society see what you are willing to trade off.

I stick to my opinion; copyright should be extended as individuals must, surely, have complete control over their own IP.

Jorn, yes, I realise the open source issue in software is important, however, given my ever present lack of time, I really haven't gotten to grips with the issues involved. But it does revolve round firms voluntarily opening code to the market, in expectation for better profit opportunities down the track? Am I right? Therefore, I don't see how this is analogous to copyright whereby the author is consciously entering a contract with every reader and that contract is being broken by file sharing.

Also you admit "a society which will allow theft of IP, can run a capitalist economic system, but it will have a very small production of music, books, films or whatever is shared trough file sharing."

I agree with that, but not your next statement that a capitalist system would not break down. It would be interesting in the modern age to see a breakdown of the value of IP verse real property. Much of a modern economy is based on IP. Furthermore, a capitalist economy which can only deliver food and shelter is a subsistence economy: I have no disire to live on that basic level.

IP issues are going to be 'the' issues of the opening of the 21st century. If we don't figure them out I believe civilisation will go backwards, ie, deteriorating living standards and a movement away from privacy (already happening in bucket loads).

Jeremy. Actually, you're pissing me off to a certain extent. I assume you read the comments of Aaron Swartz in the link I posted. Well as a publisher, why are you not fighting these people who threaten your industry and your livelihood? Posting to that thread. Or are you?

Lets not be blandly sensible until the barbarians are actually knocking on the door.
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Tribeless
Posted on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 01:38 am:   

No, actually I am pissed off, truly.

Jeremy's statement: "copyright benefits society. the benefits to individuals are incidental".

What does that lead to? I can tell you. Aaron Swartz a respected (bullshit) intellectual in the IP field stating (in the link given):

"I encourage everyone who enjoys a work to pass some money onto the author if the author needs it".

Don't you find that an incredible sentence! The writer as charity case! Happy with that Jeremy? Richard?

Aaron then goes on to state: "But I don't think its right to keep everyone from enjoying [a book] (including those who couldn't or wouldn't afford to get it any other way)".

If was to that comment that I accused Swartz of shameful communistic freedom hating insanity. I think a reasonable response, as the artist is now not only a charity case, but is there only as a slave to the needs of others. Appalling.

How did this come about? Because people in the publishing industry do not have the philosophical base to combat this insanity. Your first quote above, Jeremy, is the mindset that has allowed this degradation of the notion of IP to occur.

As a publisher, Jeremy, surely you should be on the streets with your placard. Or at the very least in the courts prosecuting those who put the personal greedy gain of the collective over the noble rights of the individual creator/producer.
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Simon
Posted on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 03:34 am:   

I believe in copyright. It's good for the author and it's good for me (another publisher). However works should go into the public domain eventually and 70 years from the death of the author seems a reasonable enough timespan.

I have some sympathy with Swartz's belief that no-one should be denied access to good books. But that's what libraries are for - feeding that 'personal greedy gain of the collective' for knowledge, enlightenment and even, sins of all sins, a bit of pleasure.

But if we have a society that has minimal government and puts the rights of the individual first and foremost then, Tribeless, we sure won't have any libaries.

And don't call writers 'slaves' even those who are prey to file sharing and public domain - that's an insult to real slaves. No one HAS to be a writer. Slaves have no choice.
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Chris
Posted on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 05:51 am:   

Only been skimming this so forgive me if I reiterate someone's point or similar, but here's my take on the whole p2p thing for what it's worth.

I can't see how filesharing is ever seriously going to damage the writing profession, and it's certainly not going to provoke the apocalypse that some people on here seem to be suggesting. As an author, of course I believe in copyright, but I'm perfectly happy for my books to be put in the public domain (libraries) since I get PLR payments from them every time they're lent out, but more importantly because it gets me exposure that I otherwise wouldn't have got, and if those people like my books enough they'll then go and buy the next one. Hence, even if I had a problem with people 'stealing' my work, it works as capitalism so how could I complain? And if they're genuinely too poor to afford it (one of your 'lazy, indolent shits on the dole', Tribeless) then they wouldn't be buying them anyway so why not let them read it for free? As far as P2P goes, ebooks are cack and they are *never* going to replace paperbacks. Either you go blind trying to read them off the screen or you print them out. Wanna know how much it costs me to print out one of my books every time I have to do a draft manuscript? About twenty quid in printer ink & paper. The maths don't work.

It's the same with music. I think filesharing is beneficial. Most bands would kill for that kind of exposure, and the ones who are already popular don't care. Both Marilyn Manson and Robbie Williams have pointed out that artists make next to nothing on CD sales anyway; the money they make is on tickets to see them play, on *touring*. How do you get people to see you on tour? Well, filesharing certainly won't hurt. And so they make the money back. Whatever the record companies are telling you is a crock of shit; if they wanted the public to treat them fairly then they should learn to treat bands fairly (and stop ripping off the public through astronomical CD prices). Until then, it's a cut-throat business because they made it that way.

Of course I don't want people stealing my work. I want what I have done to be mine, and it would certainly burn me up to see someone else taking credit for it. But I'm realistic: you will *never* stop people sharing without paying for things. I lend books to people and am lent them in return. That's just the same as sharing an ebook without the P2P middleman. Before the Internet was popular I used to post tapes of music to my friends, who would do the same. Through that I got to hear most of the bands that I have now bought every CD of. Unless you're excessively rich, most people under 20 and a lot of people over that(I'm using the earning-a-fair-bit-in-a job benchmark here) can't afford to just buy any old CD/book on the off-chance that it's good.

As Simon pointed out, nobody forced me to be a writer, just as nobody forced bands to join the music industry. It's all part and parcel. You could censor the whole of the Internet/burn all libraries/introduce the death penalty for borrowing and in the end all you'd be doing is shifting the power further into the hands of other media: the publishers/record labels who have the money to promote their product most aggressively. P2P has done wonders for the underground of every scene it's been involved in. I'd far rather that than the alternative.
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richard
Posted on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 06:38 am:   

...and that about wraps it up, I think! Between Simon, Jeremy and Chris, I reckon we've covered this - at least I can't think of anything meaningful to add.

And Tribeless, I think you're taking the IP thing as a convenient soapbox from which to delivery your homilies to libertarian utopic fantasy. There are far more pressing issues to address where abuse of state power is concerned - summary detention on suspicion of being a terrorist is now a commonplace in the western world, the British PM and the US President are currently leaning on the Spanish President to ignore the mandate he's been given by his electorate and instead continue to support a position on Iraq that a conservatively estimated 80% of Spanish nationals have always opposed. Meanwhile, the UK Home Secretary is busy trying to charge the wrongly convicted for their board and lodging while they were unjustly held in prison. Other human rights abuses abound - *that's* where we should all be out with our placards. I find it interesting that your principal fury seems reserved for those aspects of state control which affect personal wealth - tax and lost revenues through product sharing - and self-oriented pleasures like smoking. I'm all for self-oriented pleasure, of course, but as I think Martin Sheen once said, maturity comes with the realisation/acceptance that your are part of something bigger than yourself, with duties and responsibilities to that greater whole. Beside that perception, your rage starts to seem like the squalling of a toddler who doesn't want to share his toys...
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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 11:24 am:   

Richard,
Thanks for stating eloquently the feelings that Tribless’s post have provoked in me.

Tribeless, I do apologize for my dismissive responses. I wasn’t trying to anger you. You ask, “am I happy with the way the world is going?” I am most assuredly not. But the focus of your concerns seems so disconnected for the things that concern me most that I have difficulty taking your concerns seriously.

This is not meant as a slight. I am very concerned about the increase in federal government and decrease in civil liberties. But rolling back and federal business regulations, and re-writing copyright law to be more restrictive doesn’t seem to have any connection with protecting basic civil and human rights. Thus, I find your fixations to disconnected from the reality that I face every day – that’s why I’ve essentially been dismissive. Sorry to have angered you.

Peace

-jl
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Tribeless
Posted on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 12:49 pm:   

mmmm. I see Richard is wrapping the thread up. I'll post my final thoughts in a couple of days. Jeremy, its not real in here :-) so don't worry, I spend my whole day dealing with the IRD so I tend to be combatant by nature ... I have very broad shoulders. BUT, I was trying to provoke feelings in you. It appears that part of the problem may be that all publishers (in here at least) seem to be peacenik liberals.

I do not agree on a fundamental level with you (all).

Richard states: "as I think Martin Sheen once said, maturity comes with the realisation/acceptance that your are part of something bigger than yourself, with duties and responsibilities to that greater whole".

Yes, everything is connected. That is my point. The degradation of IP is simply a sympton of the much wider malaise. I am far more appalled by summary detention than I am by breach of copyright, but why as are the populations of the West accepting this crap ... because they have philosophically lost their way. They have bought into the belief that the collective is more important than the individual, thus summary detention to protect the collective (society) is acceptable. Its like the old saying goes: you can't love another until you love yourself. Well you can't be a civilised society until you realise the place of the individual in that society.

A parting shot, because I have to get to work. File sharing is nothing like libraries. I don't actually have a problem with libraries. If every library in the West purchased your books, authors would earn a very good living ... file sharing is nothing similar. One man can buy one book in outer Mongolia and the rest of the world can now have it for free. Look at the threads on the F&SF forums bemoaning the low and falling circulations of speculative fictions magazines. Why is this happening. Because if you're tapped into the right newsgroups, I can give you their names, then you don't need to buy them. Who subscribes to these magazines now: probably people who give to Barnadoes. The industry is becoming a charity case, and I think you guys are just all to nice too make the connection (at least the music industry has, because it is prosecuting). I think the publishing industry is entering very dark times.

Damn, gotta g (no time to proof read this so you're on your own).
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Chris
Posted on Tuesday, March 30, 2004 - 03:22 am:   

None of which negates what I said above, that a: ebooks are never going to become popular due to their format (and believe me, I spend about 10 hours a day staring at a computer screen, I know what it does to your eyes) and b: filesharing helps out the underground music scene, which is why the particularly litigious US is trying to stop it, because God forbid anyone should interfere with the business giants and take some of their hard-stolen dollars.

Small Press magazines are an entirely different matter, and there could be any number of reasons why they may or may not be failing (I know nowt about Small Press dealings and magazines etc). Diminishing interest in the subject? Narrowing of the market? Dominance of book chains refusing to carry the mags? Could be any of that. It's way too simplistic to say it's just about filesharing, which I seriously doubt anyway. Besides, you can just type it out and email it as a Word file if you're so inclined: you going to stop email as well?

I know we fundamentally disagree on this, but I think Richard is right. You're just selectively choosing your facts to make it seem as if P2P is just one step on mankind's descent into hell. It really isn't: it's just an onward step, partly good, partly bad, like anything else. You can't outlaw something just because it is abused by some. That's like outlawing medicine because some people use narcotics. I doubt it will have a massive impact at all; and even if it did, all it would require was a little restructuring on the part of the publishers/record labels to deal with it. It's not a matter of me being nice, it's just that I don't want to run out with a placard saying 'The End Is Nigh' just because a few people cheat the system a little.
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simon
Posted on Tuesday, March 30, 2004 - 03:23 am:   

Tribeless,
Yes of course libraries are nothing like file sharing. Libraries are a way for people who cannot afford to, or dammit do not wish to, buy books to sample literature, text books, whatever. They are a good thing. And on that we can agree. But, tribeless, you DO have a problem with libraries, because you are not prepared to pay for the bloody things. In your society where minimal government pays only for the army and the police force and the legal system there wont be any libraries. There probably wont be any schools either, not ones you don't have to pay to get into at any rate. So you'll probably be fine - no one will be sharing files of your books because very few people will be reading.

You put the individual, well actually not the individual, lets not pussy foot around the place here, you put YOU first and everyone else can go to hell in a hand basket if they're not prepared or able to do exactly the same. Let me quote another liberal peacenik, Oscar Wilde: 'Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live'.


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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Tuesday, March 30, 2004 - 01:20 pm:   

Okay... several things that tribeless has brought up that I want to address.

1) what-the-fuck is a "peacenik liberal". Is it an anti-interventionist stance that makes one a peacenik? because if so, that’s more conservative then liberal. Is it an isolationist stance? because that is also a traditionally conservative value. Oh wait. I get it. A "peacenik liberal" the inverse of a "neo-conservative" (which, incidentally is exactly the opposite of a traditional conservatives). I thought you libertarians felt that your pro-capitalist, small government stance fell outside of the limiting "conservative vs. liberal" dichotomy. yet here you are perpetuating it.

2) I am VERY closely attuned to the falling numbers of magazine subscriptions. I've spent a LOT of time thinking about declining literacy rates, declining percentages of the population who spend their leisure time doing things other then reading fiction, and declining Sales rates etc. I've even written something about it at http://www.nightshadebooks.com/corona/corona9.html

Trends in this regard have been ongoing far longer then the commercial internet and Peer to peer file trading. I'm not arguing that there are NOT newsgroups where you can get pirated print magazines and books...what I'm arguing is that those same news groups have had a negligible impact on the software industry, and (despite what the RIAA says) has had a negligible impact on the music industry -- the two most heavily pirated consumer catagories. Consolidation and homogenization of the music industry and its traditional sales channels (radio, concerts, retail outlets, etc) has, arguably done more to hurt new music sales then anything else. Hell, DVD sales have done more to hurt CD sales then anything else... A full feature lenght move with tons of extras for $19.99 makes a 17.99 CD look like the rip-off it is. I could go on and on, but lets stick to the issue at hand... books, magazines and the written form of entertainment.

Readership of ALL fiction is down... declining circulation of Genre magazines reflect this problem as well as the inequities and inefficacies of the current monopolized nature of the distribution market. This same monopoly situation is affecting both comic book distribution, and paperback distribution. Consolidation, and the shrinking "newsstand/drugstore" rack space have created vast changes in the industry that are still trying to be addressed by the producers of fiction. You pointing at peer-to-peer file trading as the secret source of all that is going to doom publishers and writers indicates your blinders... Unfettered capitalism, and deregulation have done more to hurt writers then any peer to peer networks. This may fly in the face of your libertarian utopic fantasy world, but its simply the experience that many small publishers and mid-list writers have faced. Consolidation of distribution is only one facet of this enormously complex problem.

As a starting point, could you (if you care to continue this conversation)

1: address the technolgoical and demographic trends noted in my essay linked to above, and refute or endorse my conclusions, and

2: address the impact that consolidation has had on the publishing inudstry (be it books, or magazines) from all sides of the food chain (retail outlets, publshing houses, distribution, etc).

Once we have a common understanding of these basic, century long(1) or quarter century long trends(2), perhaps we can come to an agreement about the nature of the 2-3 year impact of peer to peer networks.

thanks.
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Luís
Posted on Tuesday, March 30, 2004 - 02:38 pm:   

Thought I'd butt in. Tribeless, you mention magazines are going down the drain -- certainly not because they're being scanned in and shared on Kazaa, is it? You're comparing apples and oranges here, because it has *nothing* to do with IP. With the proliferation of Year's Best anthologies, small press collections by favourite authors, and, yes, great online fiction sites (SciFiction and Strange Horizons leap to mind) many people no longer bother to buy magazines for the fiction. Especially since only a few can keep up a more or less consistent level of quality.

Second, and before the Internet, it was mostly magazines that kept their audiences connected and up-to-date about writers, releases, recommendations and other news. But with review sites, discussion boards, weblogs, Amazon.com, etc. people only rarely refer to them for any of these. If the net is choking magazines out of their life, it's primarily for this reason.

And though libraries are not exactly like filesharing, they are free and open to anyone, and so they can potentially be as damaging to authors as any P2P utility. Even more, actually, because people aren't required to have or know how to use a computer. Reading books before deciding on a purchase (some bookshops allow it, some even encourage it) can be as damaging as any of these. Authors don't get a dime out of second-hand sales either, and yet . . .

Chris is right, reading off a screen is no good. Even a fast reader (which I'm not) is slowed down by 20-30% when reading from a computer monitor. Unless they're really short, I have to print out Fantastic Metropolis submissions, because I can't stand to read them electronically. Even reading them stripped of formatting on my cell phone's two-inch yellow LCD screen is better than doing it from a regular monitor. (But this is just me, of course.)

IP laws are horribly broken. They no longer exist in accordance with any reality we know of, and what's more, they are being rewritten and reinterpreted for the purpose of halting progress and attacking people's liberties rather than protecting those of the authors, which is what they were created for in the first place. With software development, which deals mostly with abstractions, things got so out of hand that ridiculously generic concepts have been granted patents. Imagine if writers could be sued for having the same structure in a novel as some other writer, or for making use of chapters!

Best,
Luís
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Tribeless
Posted on Saturday, April 03, 2004 - 09:16 pm:   

mmm. Five to one again ... Just haven't got the time to deal with this adequately. So, some scatter gun shots.

First, a point several of you refer to, and on which you're basing some assumptions, but on which you are, in my opinion, making false assumptions. The issue is summed up by Luis when he states: "Chris is right, reading off a screen is no good. Even a fast reader (which I'm not) is slowed down by 20-30% when reading from a computer monitor. Unless they're really short, I have to print out Fantastic Metropolis submissions, because I can't stand to read them electronically. Even reading them stripped of formatting on my cell phone's two-inch yellow LCD screen is better than doing it from a regular monitor. (But this is just me, of course.)"

I agree, no one is going to read books off a moniter. But your unease at reading off your cell screen/small screen/handheld, Luis, is not the norm. I read on a handheld (PocketPC), indeed, with its ability to be backlit meaning I can read when I go to bed late (often) has been truly liberating for me, as in bed at night is the only time I get to read for pleasure. I've been reading off this handheld for over three years now, and nearly all my content are ebooks purchased from Palm Media and Fictionwise.com. Further I am by no means unusual in the circle that I move (my wife's major wish list item at the moment is the new Sony Reader with E-ink coming out in Japan this month - so its not just a guy thing either.

Dare I say that all you guys are getting out of touch with your market.

But wait, there's more. Read the following Wired link:

http://wired.com/news/business/0,1367,62906,00.html?tw=wn_techhead_2

Note especially the following quotation:

"But experts say the biggest potential market might be the publishing industry, which one day may find itself coping with the same kind of piracy that bedevils movie makers and music producers".

And:

"With books beginning to become digitized ... and with a generation of readers growing up using a computer to read their journal articles and books, the publishing industry is about to be visited upon by a problem the likes of which will make the music industry's problem look like a baby's game," Barrie said"

But wait, there's more. I don't believe you fully comprehend the peril the publishing industry is actually in given the lack of moral fibre in the upcoming Net generation. This is a generation, in the West, brought up assuming the welfare state is the norm, thus conditioned to thinking that they can have something for nothing. A free loader generation. Its for this reason that IP issues impact on many other wider issues. Don't believe me, read the following article:

http://wired.com/news/business/0,1367,62875,00.html?tw=wn_bizhead_7

The above article might not immediately seem relevant, but not the following comments:

"To keep the free side of the service going, we have to monetize it," says Johnathan Robinson, Topica's senior vice president of sales and marketing. "That's just the way of the Internet now. Nothing is totally free unless it's ad-supported"

But despite this:

"We've had this great free service for years, and though Topica isn't always reliable, I've been more or less satisfied with the service."

Now, many list owners are striking back, choosing to take their lists elsewhere rather than put up with the ads"


And that's all I have time for ... currently. If you guys don't want to stand up and fight for the industry which feeds you, your loss ...
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Chris
Posted on Saturday, April 03, 2004 - 11:37 pm:   

"Dare I say that all you guys are getting out of touch with your market."

Well, that's obviously what you *are* saying. I hate this faux-politeness malarkey. Then might I fain to suggest, if it pleaseth thee, that you know as little about it as any of us. So a lot of your friends use ebooks? Not one of mine does. What's been proved here?

Both those articles are fairly weak supporting tracts for your argument, by the way. The first one: oh no! Some experts say that one day the publishing industry might be in trouble! I read not a month ago how a leaked government document meant England would be plunged into Siberian winters by 2010 and Holland would be uninhabitable by 2005 because of super-storms brought on by climate change. Don't see any mass emigration going on. It's just an opinion.

The second one seems entirely pointless. It's simply the way the market goes, hardly an indication of a freeloader generation. People will use something if it's free and convenient. Of course they will. If you then spam the crap out of them with annoying adverts then they'll stop using it and find a better alternative. Bravenet forums did the same and people deserted in droves. Not because, as you suggest, of a lack of moral fibre; simply because they could get other free forums without ads (or with more subtle ones) elsewhere.

I still haven't read anything that convinces me to change my mind about anything I've said thus far. And comments like 'given the lack of moral fibre in the upcoming Net generation' (it's not a given at all) frankly just make you sound like a bitter old pensioner complaining about the kids skateboarding down at the park. Again, you're using it as a way to dig at the welfare state, which you've already previously stated that you're opposed to.

Anyway, I'll duck out now as I can't see anything constructive being achieved by all this. You're right, it's five to one, you are unfairly outnumbered, but perhaps that's because you have such a cruel and unforgiving political stance and you evoke it in every post. I'd never heard of Libertarianism before you started posting on these boards, but you've certainly convinced me of its lack of merit.
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Tribeless
Posted on Sunday, April 04, 2004 - 12:22 am:   

Chris, I'll repeat something I said above. I would be interested in your reaction to it. Everybody has seemingly ignored it.

"Yes, everything is connected. That is my point. The degradation of IP is simply a symptom of the much wider malaise. I am far more appalled by summary detention than I am by breach of copyright, but why are the populations of the West accepting this crap ... because they have philosophically lost their way. They have bought into the belief that the collective is more important than the individual, thus summary detention to protect the collective (society) is acceptable. Its like the old saying goes: you can't love another until you love yourself. Well you can't be a civilised society until you realise the place of the individual in that society"

I might add to the above ... and the right to privacy.

Why is it that when all I do is bring up the importance of an individual human life, that all of you feel like you have got to attack the concept? What's so threatening about it?
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Tribeless
Posted on Sunday, April 04, 2004 - 01:22 am:   

Further point. Why, just because I say that the individual has to be the primary unit on which a civilised society bases itself (and upon the non-initiation of force) do you immediately jump to the erroneous conclusion that a Libertarian styled society would be a compassionless society?

But this thread should be more about copyright ... this is, afterall, a books/authors' forum. That was why, Richard, I raised it here in the first place. (Oh, this barb is because I was 'accused' of worrying about something trite, ie, copyright, when there is so many more important things to worry about ... well, yes, but I discuss those on freedom forums, etc: this, on the other hand is a forum of an author. Copyright would be a natural topic for such? Well? So shoot me).

Although I do also believe that IP issues are always a litmus test of freedom issues. This thread is starting to bear that out.
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Luís
Posted on Sunday, April 04, 2004 - 03:03 am:   

"I agree, no one is going to read books off a moniter. But your unease at reading off your cell screen/small screen/handheld, Luis, is not the norm."

I know, that's why I added: "(But this is just me, of course.)" Anyway, it doesn't invalidate my other points.

Best,
Luís
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fur
Posted on Sunday, April 04, 2004 - 03:16 am:   

Hi Tribeless.

I accept that the individual, whoever it is, is important, and agree that when you start thinking about what's good for society inevitably you lessen the importance of the individual. Fair enough; but if one individual is important, three people have to be more so. I don't mean to buy into the primacy of the collective, because you have a point in questioning it, but I do think that protecting a group is ultimately more important than safeguarding an individual. I'm very happy, for example, to lock up an urban bomber to protect the hundreds of people they will kill if they continue. When it comes to society dictating how an individual lives and acts, however - to the point of removing personal choice - then there is a problem because the 'collective' is oppressing every individual within it.

In relation to IP issues: again you have a point. I do wonder, though, which individual you are interested in protecting? Anyone can come up with an idea, and lots of people produce the same one, but if IP laws are made airtight then two people on opposite sides of the globe can come up with identical theories (take the invention of tv for example) and IP will protect one and prosecute the other. Doesn't that contradict the idea of putting individuals first?
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Luís
Posted on Sunday, April 04, 2004 - 04:18 am:   

The publishing industry will have no choice but to evolve if it wants to survive.

Consider the movie industry. It coped quite well with advancing technology, and even made more profit from it than it probably deserved. Despite all the bitching and moaning, tv didn't destroy Hollywood, the VCR and video rentals didn't kill it either, and neither will the internet. People still visit theatres, even in the age of file-sharing, and millions will (as they have) gleefully blast 10 bucks on a ticket in order to stare at a steaming pile of celluloid crap for two hours.

As for books, they've become increasingly cheaper since the printing press came into being, but that hasn't stopped publishing houses from making a profit to this day. If e-books catch on, in all probability they'll become cheaper still. Hopefully, technology will help you lower the costs of production, but something else must be done. Bob Kruger of Electric Story mentioned elsewhere on this site that over half an e-book's price goes into distribution. Why should you even need a middleman in the e-book business? It's the goddamned Internet! The whole system is utterly fucked up, that's why.

I'm quite positive that if e-books are sold cheaply enough, a substantial amount of people will agree to buy rather than steal them. People can't pass up a bargain, they'll easily buy more shit than they can possibly read in their lifetime, and you need look no further than today's consumerist societies for evidence.

Sure, I may be a hopeless optimist, but I'd rather be that if the alternative is to treat your audience like they're all criminals, much like we're seeing today. Those copy protected CDs, for example. If I didn't already own a separate CD player, I certainly wouldn't go out and buy one just because the music industry doesn't trust me enough to even insert a CD that I legally purchased on my computer.

Best,
Luís
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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Sunday, April 04, 2004 - 08:30 am:   

"As a starting point, could you (if you care to continue this conversation)... "
[see above]
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Tribeless
Posted on Sunday, April 04, 2004 - 12:58 pm:   

Jeremy: I will get onto your post as soon as I get enough time (which is not likely to be this week unfortunately ... but I will).

I've got some killer deadlines before Easter - namely terminal tax (NZ) on Wednesday.
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Jeremy
Posted on Sunday, April 04, 2004 - 06:42 pm:   

fair enough. Good luck with the deadlines.
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richard
Posted on Monday, April 05, 2004 - 01:43 pm:   

Interesting thing about e-books - they have no appeal for me whatsoever. First of all, that's because, as Chris says, they're bloody inconvenient to read - the technology is lagging way behind the printed alternative. I remember an article by Ian McEwan years and years ago where he argued that book technology was already far more advanced than TV (and this I think holds for other screen-based media) because these simple little hinged things (his image not mine - beautiful, isn't it) enable dozens of people to each immerse themselves in an utterly different world, in total silence, without impingeing at all on other people doing the same thing in the same room at the same time. We are still having to scrabble about to come up with a software and screen device which will do the same thing, and even then if your batteries go, you're fucked. About the only advantage I can see to e-reading is that you can do it in the dark (tho' this will fuck up your eyes in the end). Books are little pieces of state of the art technology, lacking only perhaps the element of harder wearing materials to prevent easy tearing. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, books speak to a very deep desire for *ownership*, which seems to be hard-wired into us as a species - and I think in the end it's this that means Tribeless's worries are largely groundless. I like to own the books I read - there's a perfectly good library just round the corner form me, but still I spend hundreds of pounds a year on books that in many cases I will never read more than once. I like the fact that they belong to me, I like having them on my shelves, I like taking them down and flipping through them. Sometimes (not that, often, really) I re-read them. As long as this aspect of human nature endures, I think authors will be able to make a living.
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Simon
Posted on Tuesday, April 06, 2004 - 01:50 am:   

Ownership is a big part of it. There's also the tactile pleasure to be had from books. The death of the paper book has been prophesied so many times . . .
I shall whistle in the dark for a while longer.
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richard
Posted on Tuesday, April 06, 2004 - 05:23 am:   

Plus - they make superb gifts. Relatively cheap, easy to find (there's something for everyone) impeccable social credentials (no-one wants to admit they'd prefer a PS2 game or a skirt, even if they would - you'd come across as *such* a philistine) and last but not least they don't take much wrapping up.
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Simon
Posted on Tuesday, April 06, 2004 - 06:48 am:   

You'd prefer a skirt? With those legs?
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richard
Posted on Tuesday, April 06, 2004 - 04:43 pm:   

Depends what it's made of - I'm thinking tactile pleasures here
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Luís
Posted on Wednesday, April 07, 2004 - 01:27 am:   

Richard:

"About the only advantage I can see to e-reading is that you can do it in the dark."

That, and e-books occupy virtually no physical space, you can easily take hundreds of searchable e-books with you anywhere. And with e-paper coming along, the inconveniences of reading off a screen will be a thing of the past.

Another advantage is that e-books are friendly to the environment. It's sad to think of all the trees that died so crap could be printed on their pulped bodies. This is even more of an advantage for "disposable" publications such as newspapers and most magazines.

"Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, books speak to a very deep desire for *ownership*, which seems to be hard-wired into us as a species."

That's true, and I plea guilty here too, but when the ownership of hundreds or thousands of books becomes a burden, some people with only limited shelf space at home will likely prefer the electronic variety.

I doubt e-books will catch on *big* in our lifetimes, we're too used to the codex form, but who knows what our children and grandchildren will like best? In the meantime, there's definitely an audience for either format.

Best,
Luís
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richard
Posted on Thursday, April 08, 2004 - 03:36 pm:   

Luis - you're right about the space; my carry on luggage is always far too bulky because I can never make up my mind which book I'm actually going to want on the plane - but I tend to see that as a failing in me rather than the medium.

What *is* e-paper?
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Tribeless
Posted on Thursday, April 08, 2004 - 06:18 pm:   

Richard, the below link is not the best for information on e-ink, just to the first device using the technology, but its the only link I've bookmarked:

http://www.eink.com/news/releases/pr70.html

I've seen other articles, though, with protype e-paper which is just like a newspaper newsprint, ie, paper thin, can be folded, etc, but is actually electronic, can be jacked to the Interned and downloaded to etc. Ie, a true electonic hand held device, with the exact characteristics of a piece of paper.

Oh, regarding the copyright debate, since Easter started I've been waylaid as the argument on Cory Doctorow's 'Eastern Standard Tribe' book launch site has reignited.
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richard
Posted on Wednesday, April 14, 2004 - 02:44 pm:   

Thanks Tribeless - I didn't see this until now - been away at Eastercon for the last few days.
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Tribeless
Posted on Thursday, April 15, 2004 - 04:10 am:   

Jeremy, I'm finally getting round to answering your post, and the questions you raised.

"1: address the technolgoical and demographic trends noted in my essay linked to above, and refute or endorse my conclusions, and

2: address the impact that consolidation has had on the publishing inudstry (be it books, or magazines) from all sides of the food chain (retail outlets, publshing houses, distribution, etc). "

I've read your article (probably, please note, after one drink or three too many :-)). To be honest I'm perplexed at how to answer, and I'm going to give myself the luxury of not even trying to rigidly do so.

You know what? As much as I hate where your article is headed, regarding the future of fiction (all types) I just can't disagree with you.

The best I can do is point out my idealised position, which might not even completely relate to your article, or above questions.

I'm in a professional occupation. I earn very good money, and outwardly would appear to have an extremely good lifestyle. But, we live in an age of information overload, worse, in my country, where legislation is scatter gun, often with little coherence, because made by parliamentarians who, honestly, most sane people would not let teach their children, let alone run a country. My job is, amongst other issues, to ensure that my clients pay only the amount of tax they legally have to, not a cent more: but the pressures are 'high'. A muck up on my job, with the size clients I work for, normally starts at about $US300,000 and works its way up quickly. Yes, I do lose sleep over this. You'd love the insurance premiums :-)

Against this background, my oasis of 'fun', and moral absolutism, where I have the luxury of sitting on a moral high horse (rare), is fiction, and more specifically, speculative fiction. My first degree was an Arts degree in English Lit and Language. Reading is one of the avenues I have to escape, for precious minutes everyday, the pain in the arse, which is often my life. I only get about an hour a night, when I go to be and my wife is asleep, normally after midnight, to 'indulge': at all other times I have to read tax. This means my perspective vis a vis the world of writing and fiction, is largely an idealised one, based on, I suspect an erroneous assumption, that a big part of the population still reads.

Enter, your article. I think the truth may be the line you take. Less and less people are reading books. Worse, less and less people are even literate. When I was doing stage one law papers 18 years ago, there was a special class set up at my University for remedial reading for first year law students :-) I suspect the situation is ever worse now, texting is seeing to that.

While reading remains one of the most important sources of entertainment for me, I agree with your article that this is probably no longer the norm (by far). I personally believe that those of us who continue to read fiction will ultimately end up reading on electronic devices. Like some of you, I love dead tree books, I've got nine boxes of books sitting in my father in laws garage, but since starting to read ebooks on my trusty PPC its beens surprising how quickly I've taken to that format. Once e-ink/paper becomes a reality, this will be even more so.

Problem is, you're right, it probably won't increase or reverse the declining readership trends.

However, to change tack slightly, as you will see in the threads in which I have tangled with Cory Doctorow and Aaron Swartz, my big big beef against P2P is chiefly a moral one. I abhor those fork tongued intellectuals (and I almost spit over that word), who do everything they can to wriggle out of admitting that P2P sharing is theft. Plain and simple. Because that is what it is. On that one point is really where I enter and then leave this topic.

It seems I am an anachronism. Yes, everything changes: doesn't make the change good though. And the argument promulgated by people such as Doctorow that P2P file sharing of creative workds is simply the natural result of changing technology, ie, changing technology somehow magically abnegates morality and sanctions theft, is simply bullshit, as I have stated on that thread, and others. I think we live in dishonest and increasingly ignoble times. I think copyright issues are appropriate to argue on this forum as its a writers' forum. Further, a vibrant publishing industry, given my love of reading, and writing, assumes an exaggerated importance for me owing to this. Thus, I do tend to get hung up and passionate about this issue, albeit, many don't understand why.

But there is a short term solution. Workwise, the next two months will be the most 'unpressured' months of our year. So, on Saturday myself and my lovely wife shall be taking off for a few days to a luxury apartment on a lake front (Queenstown, NZ), and within walking distance of at least 30 restaurants and pubs, and we shall spend four blissful days eating lovely food, and, of course, drinking probably to excess :-) Plenty of reading.

Where that leaves the argument on this thread ... I have no idea :-)

Finally, the argument on the Doctorow thread is getting a little heated:

http://craphound.com/est/000041.html

/Pathetic blather off.


Richard. Congraluations on the P. Dick award. Well deserved ... I really enjoyed both Altered Carbon and Broken Angels.

Actually, another thread, but talking about re-sleeving, and IP issues, have you read Peter F. Hamilton's just released 'Pandora's Star'? His rejuvenation motif is virtually identical to your re-sleeving.

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