Monday, December 19, 2005

Colored Bubbles Are Coming

People tell me that I'm overly tangential, that its tough to see where I am going with things. That its a leap of faith, an investment on spec. Sometimes its worth the wait to know, but other times it amounts to a psychotic dead end. I'm not sure how my credit stands with you.
The point though is not to express my glee about colored bubbles, but rather to broach the subject of patents- because of course patents make profits possible. And profits get us talking about markets and policy matters, and so it goes.. back on the blognarrow track. Right?
Now in my post about automobile tracking devices, the subject invariably simmered down to what many of my rants simmer down to: the love/hate relationship with the long arms of legislation.
(My issues come from having a communist mom and a libertarian father, neither could cope with the fucking government)
At what point does the law play a role in personal responsibility, manipulating behaviors for some desireable, collectively good result? Like the seatbelt law? See, the subjects we talk about here: reproductive liberty, parental/spousal consent for abortion, obscenity laws, censorship, seat belts, patents, surveillance... have as a binding agent the question of this role of law and weighing its intrusiveness with its potential to protect. Even the hurricanes prompted discussion about the role of individuals,bureaucracy, and the roles of society in its organized multiplicities..
Much can be learned about our own views in reflecting on current events.
Take the bird flu and the push by politicians like Kucinich to ease patent restrictions. One side: public good, excessive profits disproportionate to investment, implications/costs of pandemic, role of government to interfere in markets for noble cause, precedent for interference in capitalism set by such noted commies as Reagan... (yeah, I said Reagan-recall the Air Traffic Controllers?)
Other side: Fucking around with patents can be equated to intellectual genocide. Nobody will work on innovative pharmaceuticals if they are robbed of the future rewards of cashing in and those implications extend to other technological advances. While the short term goal of serving the public interest might sound compelling, how many future lives will be taken because potential treatments were not wholeheartedly explored? Patent protection should be upheld for the public interest, or weakened?
Next: Blackberry and the patent lawsuit from hell. This begs a different question: if you have a patent, should you be compelled to use it? Is it fair to simply own the rights to an idea and forbid anyone from bringing it to fruition? One side: thats the beauty of the patent, the right to determine its use or lack of. Other side: what about the customers who will be essentially victimized by the demise of Blackberry? How much is a market worth? How can we extract the value of technology from the subsequent post-theft marketing?
Katrina: Can a citizen sue the government because they were negligent or ill equipped to handle a natural disaster? One side: Its bullshit, people primarily have an obigation to solve their own problems and natural disasters are faultless acts. People should stop looking to government to do for them. Get your own water!
The other: The purpose of government, at its core, is to 'provide for the general welfare' of its citizens, especially in cases of large scale interstate manuevers like disaster response, or less acute examples like trade and currency. To be that bureaucratically incompetent is like having an emergency room without a doctor. There is a reasonable 'presumption of care', a contractual covenant wherein taxes are paid and public officials are paid for stated purposes and that egregious failure to assist is negligence.
Certainly there are other recent cases: Smokers or big tobacco, who's at fault? Spying on citizens- necessary for security or sodomy by Big Brother? Google- autonomous company permitted to archive your search behaviors (and if you don't like it don't use google) or an example of information abuse?
Colored bubbles are coming, but why? That brings me to the last question: do we patent and create what the market asks for and demands, a responsive market...or do we create needs and wants and set about convincing the public via marketing? And how much of our wasteful economy can be traced to the answer? -Lily

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