Creating ideal market conditions

Rob,

  Is your position that the inventer of a technological process or
revolutionary new product should have sole and complete ownership of
that process or product forever?

  Think what this would mean had such a policy been in effect for a
significant length of time. The heirs of the people who invented
photography, computer chips, the telephone, the internal combustion
engine, and all kinds of other things that are used daily by virtually
everyone in developed countries (or the people who bought them out)
would be making all kinds of money, and it would be a huge drain on the
resources of everyone else in society.

  Taking your hypothetical example of a perpetual motor, he or she would
not be forced to "give it away," strictly speaking, even with no
government protection of intellectual property rights for the inventor.
Others would simply be free to copy the design and make their own
motors. The cachet of being first and the desire of people like
yourself (and possibly me) to properly compensate invention would still
give the original inventor's motors a natural advantage in the market,
and consequently some not insignificant financial renumeration.

  Going to the other extreme would tend to hamstring the entire society
by making the new technology only just barely enough of a better value
than existing energy sources to get people to switch (thereby
maximizing profits for the inventor or the people who bought him/her
out), instead of realizing a major economic leap for the entire planet
that would come with the availability of a radically cheaper energy
source.

  I'm not sure that no legal protection whatsoever for intellectual
property is a good idea (though that would of course be the case under
anarchy), but that approach appeals to me more than its opposite.

Yours in liberty,
              <<< Starchild >>>

Okay, let's forget Einstein. Let's pretend there was this perpetual
motor
that worked by drawing static electricity out of the atmosphere, and
that
motor made fossil fuels and nuclear fission obsolete... :slight_smile:

Do you honestly think the inventor of that motor would give it away
"for love
of knowledge and peer recognition"? Come on. Sometimes it's better
to have a
single breakthrough product that's fairly well monopolized in a free
market
than it is to have a government-regulated market where such innovation
has
absolutely no incentive.

As for natural barriers to entry, let's get back on the topic of
software.
Just because I can personally, by myself, write a word processing
program that
competes with Word does not mean that there's no naturally high
barrier to
entry. The naturally high barrier is that millions of people use
Word, and
nobody uses my software, and people tend to only use software that
writes
files in formats that are easily transferred and read by others.
Compatibility vs proprietary file formats is the naturally high
barrier in
software.

It's funny. Sun is notorious for being proprietary. Ever tried
hooking up a
Sun Sparc keyboard to a PC or a Mac? When they claim that Microsoft
is too
proprietary, and that's a barrier to entry, it sounds a bit
hypocritical to
all the hardware manufacturers who can make one keyboard that works on
all
Wintel machines, but they have to make a different keyboard for Sun,
Mac,
etc., which all use proprietary connections.

Face it. McNealy's own company doesn't practice what he preaches, and
he's
blatantly using the force of government to win advantage over
competitors in a
market where he's simply been competitively out-maneuvered. Government
controls only hurt consumers, and there's nothing ragingly libertarian
about
them.

--
Rob Power
http://www.robpower.com

Starchild said:

Michael,

  In what way does Einstein's theory of relativity constitute a product
in a market? Should other scientists have to pay him when referencing
or using his theory in their work? That would be a disaster for
scientific progress. Right now most scientists work primarily for love
of knowledge and peer recognition, not money. So requiring them to pay
all kinds of royalties to previous innovators in order to be able to
effectively push the frontiers of knowledge would add little
incentive,
but would clearly have a major inhibiting effect on progress.

  And surely you can't be suggesting we should all pay royalties to him
if we adopt the belief that the universe works the way he described
it?
I'm not sure I follow your example.

  Regarding the costs of entering a market, I recognize that for
complex
and expensive products like airplanes the barriers will naturally be
fairly high, and I wasn't talking about these "natural" costs. What I
meant to suggest is that in an ideal market, barriers to entry would
be
no higher than required by the nature of the products or services to
be
offered.

Yours in liberty,
              <<< Starchild >>>

Starchild,

I disagree with:
• Wide variety of consumer choice
• Highly competitive (not dominated by any single company or small
group of companies)

If one genius, e.g., an Einstein, devises a terrific idea,
e.g., E=mc2, far ahead of its time, which people universally
embrace, this is great. The absence of choice and competition
is no problem in such a case.

I also disagree with:
• Low barriers to entry

If you wish to build an airplane, for example, and compete
with Boeing, the start-up costs would be high even in a free
market.

Best, Michael

From: "Starchild" <sfdreamer@earthlink.net>
To: <lpsf-discuss@yahoogroups.com>
Sent: Thursday, September 18, 2003 12:23 AM
Subject: [lpsf-discuss] Creating ideal market conditions (was "Raging
Libertarian")

It seems to me that an ideal market would be one with the following
characteristics:

• No government interference
• Wide variety of consumer choice
• Low barriers to entry
• Highly competitive (not dominated by any single company or small
group of companies)
• Favorable conditions for innovation, creativity, and technological
progress

In the computer industry, a lot of the issues that come up, and that
determine which companies prosper and how, are going to be issues of
intellectual property. Now given that intellectual property is such a
grey area of libertarian philosophy to begin with (should government
enforce patents? should they eventually expire? etc.), might it be
worth tolerating a little government interference if that
interference
was designed to enhance the other four characteristics noted above?

Your devil's advocate,
<<< Starchild >>>

Don't get me wrong. I support the free market. All
I was saying
is that I blacklist that company in my book, and I
have every right
to do so.... unless someone feels this is an
inappropriate topic
for this list. I suppose it is. Sorry.

I did not mean to imply that it was wrong to
personally not choose MS or Linux or that your
comments here were inappropriate.

My commentary was meant to address the fact that
Microsoft's aggressive business tactics should not be
compared on the same level as those that McNealy has
sunken to in wrongly leveraging government. That is
much, much worse in my opinion. And it's not like Sun
is lily white on the business tactics either. They
have been sued for patent/tm violations, etc. as well.

BTW - I'm looking for any supporting material on a
comparison between competitive markets vs. free
markets, if you know of any. Very subtle difference
between the two...I've found many neo-libs to say they
support the free-market(like McNealy) but what they
really want is 'a level playing field' on their own
terms - i.e. no domination. Doesn't sound free to me.
ideas on this?

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