In an odd mix of fate, protesters and corporations are holding hands. They both have one common goal: save the Internet from the evil cable companies. We all have a common hate for them. But what if the cable companies aren’t as evil as once thought? What if there’s an even bigger evil lurking behind them? There is. Read on…
“Where were you when it happened?” How many times have we been asked -- and asked -- this question since 2001? Today, Chris Campbell asks us to pose a different question: What can I do today to making Sept. 11 another turning point in my life? And then, of course, taking that first step. Read on…
Want to get rich? Don’t listen to financial “gurus,” says Chris Campbell. In today’s Laissez Faire Today, Chris shares a Zen proverb and shows how understanding it is the only real way to get rich (and live a rich life). Read on…
Ben Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” In today’s Laissez Faire Today, you’ll learn about one FREE website that has the potential to not only keep your family safe – but also open your eyes to what’s happening in your own neighborhood. Chris Campbell has all the details. Read on…
All over the world, power is dying. The dictators and tyrants of the world are no longer able to wield it like they once used to. And they’re losing it to the “little guy.” Chris Campbell shows you how to be the king of your castle by taking advantage of this fact. Today, you’ll learn how to grab “power gaps” in the market and channel them into your product idea or project. Read on…
Who can forget Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island? That map, marked with an “x,” is the stuff of high adventure. There is a modern-day equivalent of a treasure map, and it is just as coveted by those who seek reservoirs of oil and gas. It’s called seismic data. What are seismic data? In essence, they’re […]
Chris Campbell got more than he bargained for during Sunday brunch. In a packed restaurant, he learned about a hidden sex boom that’s taking the world by storm. You won’t believe how much money ordinary Americans are making in this boom. It’s so much…you may even consider cashing in yourself.
Hundreds of pictures of nude celebrities were leaked onto the Internet last week. The mainstream is blaming twenty-something hackers, but according to Chris Campbell, everyone must’ve already forgotten what we learned about the NSA only a year ago. Read on…
The fireflies along the tidal rivers of Malaysia show "feats of synchrony that occur spontaneously, almost as if nature has an eerie yearning for order." Chris Campbell tells you where else this might occur in the world. Also, new technology may revolutionize the agriculture industry and what we think of as a farm.
Jeff Davis is running for Governor in Hawaii and has an interesting campaign strategy. Also, what motivates hackers is revealed and the findings might surprise you. Finally, Ferguson is discussed in a new light. Chris Campbell has more...
This month’s director’s note is inspired by the great work being done by our talented friends over at The Daily Reckoning. In fact, we stripped it nearly word for word. We’re often asked what we do for a living and more importantly “why” we do it. This story explains it better than we ever could. […]
When the government pumps trillions of dollars into the economy, they’re not actually printing the money. It enters as digital entries in banks across the country. It’s made the system fast, responsive, and, unfortunately, vulnerable. Now our money is no longer something we hold in our hands, but something that exists on a very susceptible network.
The so-called recovery is only built on debt and printed cash declares our own Byron King. In the long term, the only option for the government to continue financing it's operations is to print too many dollars. Money printing has it's limits, however. It's Byron's opinion that at some point, perhaps very soon, the government will have to turn to more desperate measures. Namely, capital controls. In the following featured essay, Byron outlines 4 probably ways the government will take your cash and one play you can buy through your broker to prepare today. Read on...
Americans expatriate because they want to get out of the country. Corporations expatriate for similar reasons. Clem Chambers explains...
When’s the best time to invest in something? When everyone else is trying to get their money out of it. It might go against conventional thinking, but following the crowd usually makes you miss the real opportunities. At one monetary metal conference recently, the smartest guys in the industry sat down to discuss where these real hidden gems lay.
Mike Luckovich Editorial Cartoon used with the permission of Mike Luckovich and Creators Syndicate. All rights reserved.
Say goodbye to your boring morning commute. New technologies are changing the way people drive their cars. It’s making them safer, more fuel efficient, and could reshape the way America builds its roads and cities. The only thing that could stand in the way...
In a 2009 article, the Huffington Post went into considerable detail about the number of people with PhD degrees in economics employed by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. This is the government’s branch of the Federal Reserve. It is not one of the 12 regional Federal Reserve banks, all of which […]
Greetings from Maine! Right now, I’m writing from within foghorn distance of the sea. And this gives me an opportunity to tell you a down east tale that should serve as a warning to every investor: Maine’s Great Gold Swindle.I’m not talking about central banks, or manipulation of today’s markets. I’m talking about something from […]
The U.S. dollar is the dominant global reserve currency. All markets, including stocks, bonds, commodities, and foreign exchange are affected by the value of the dollar.The value of the dollar, in effect, its “price” is determined by interest rates. When the Federal Reserve manipulates interest rates, it is manipulating, and therefore distorting, every market in […]
To get free, unlimited access to these books and 100s more, join the Laissez Faire Club! On The Duty of Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau Release Date: Sept. 4, 2014 Henry David Thoreau, a well-known 19th-century American philosopher, was not kind to government. In this easy-to-read book, he argues that you should be a […]
When the NSA surveillance news broke last year it sent shockwaves through CERN, the particle physics laboratory in Switzerland. Andy Yen, a PhD student, took to the Young at CERN Facebook group with a simple message: “I am very concerned about the privacy issue, and I was wondering what I could do about it.”There was […]
The game of speculation is the most uniformly fascinating game in the world. But it is not a game for the stupid, the mentally lazy, the person of inferior emotional balance or the get-rich-quick adventurer. They will die poor.– Jesse Livermore, How to Trade in StocksThe trouble with capitalism’s guardians is that they have no […]
Let’s head back in time…In 2004, a mere decade ago, the US national debt rang the register at $7.4 trillion. That represents “debt per citizen” of over $25,000. You, me, your neighbor, your 4-yr old grandson, you name it and they’re portion of the U.S. debt is $25k.But flash forward to today and you’ll see […]
John Foust, a Democrat running for the 10th congressional seat in Northern Virginia, is — like Gov. Terry McAuliffe and other state Democrats — gung-ho to expand Medicaid. His wife’s position is, shall we say, a bit more nuanced.Foust has slammed his opponent, Republican Del. Barbara Comstock, for her opposition to expansion. He has spoken […]
The technical details of Bitcoin can be quite confusing for the novice. But this shouldn’t stop you from getting involved in this great money revolution. You can be up and running quite easily without having to understand all the jargon (see the Laissez Faire Bitcoin Bible to find out how to do this). But taking […]
The midterm election season is upon us, and it’s a tossup whether the Republicans will win the Senate, or if President Obama, seemingly oblivious as conflict flares up around the world, will, through his continuous campaigning, keep Harry Reid in his majority leader seat.The only thing we know for sure is that sociopaths will be […]
Alexander Hamilton was America’s first Secretary of Treasury under President George Washington. When he first entered office in 1789, America was an agricultural nation of just 4 million still broke from its financially costly victory over the British Empire in the Revolutionary War.The states had accumulated relatively massive debts to finance that war, which mostly […]
Remember that correction we’ve been quietly talking about over the past couple of months?Well, it might be right around the corner. Stocks waited until the last day of the month to nose-dive. The S&P 500 posted its first 2% down day since April — and the Dow wasn’t far behind. Early this morning, futures continue […]
I was talking with one of my colleagues the other day, and he raised a very interesting question, one that deserves consideration by anyone worried about their digital privacy. He read an article that championed the idea that the more steps one took to protect their privacy by using anonymous Web-browsing tools like Tor, the […]
As we approach the Obamacare open enrollment period for 2015, which begins on Nov. 15 (only 11 days after the midterm elections), I strongly maintain my position that you should “opt out.” I’m referring, of course, to enrollment in the federal and state insurance exchanges as mandated under the Affordable Care Act. You don’t have […]
A great technology solves a problem that we didn’t know we had. It makes us aware of deprivations we didn’t know existed until we discover the new thing. Once discovered, we can’t go back.People in the 1950s, for example, never missed the smart phone. They were pleased to have a phone at all. But today, […]
Fifty years after the 1929 crash, a group of money managers and investment thinkers put together a collection of essays looking back at that experience. The result was a distillation of some pretty fine investment wisdom. Timely, I think, to review now.One of the contributors was Arthur Zeikel, then with Merrill Lynch. The title of […]
A discussion we had last night on Adam V. The Man — Stefan Molyneux and I were guests — kept returning to an idea that we never really had time or space to take on directly, until it was briefly touched on at the end.
The more I think about this, much of whole question of intellectual property rights seems to turn on this idea that we own what we create. That sounds very plausible at first. When people celebrate this idea, they talk about the great sculptor who makes a majestic piece of art out of stone, the composer of a symphony, or the lowly woodworker who makes a bench in his garage. They are said to be owners of something new.
Let’s look at a more mundane example. I’m making brownies using a conventional recipe and throw in a dash of bourbon. They turn out to be great. I call them Bourbon Brownies. What do I own in this case? I own those brownies. Why? Because I made them out of ingredients that I own. Because I created them, am I entitled to speak of having created something new that I own? Perhaps in a metaphorical sense. But nothing grants me the special right to a unique ownership right to my creation that somehow allows me to extract money from anyone else in the world who adds bourbon to brownies (unless, of course, I appeal to a government bureaucracy to make it possible). I own what I own — the physical brownies I took out of the oven — and nothing more.
Let’s say the word gets out and lots of people start making this recipe. Am I violated in any sense at all? Not at all. That the word gets out takes nothing away from my right to continue to make my brownies. That’s because creativity alone generates no new and special form of property.
If I have a pile of wood, I can make a bench, burn it, pulverize it, or whatever, but there is nothing in my actions that generate a transformation of my existing rights. Only the physical object changes but no new rights are created.
What if I work for a restaurant and make the discovery that adding bourbon to brownies improves them? If I used the restaurant’s ingredients, the restaurant owns the resulting brownies. It’s the same with the carpenter. If he makes a bench as a part of a labor contract, the furniture making company owns the bench. If the carpenter takes it, he is stealing. This idea of “creativity” changes absolutely nothing about property and the rights to property.
To be sure, there is nothing wrong with a person who whistles a tune and then announces to himself: I own my new creation! That’s great. But the instant he whistles this tune on the bus and someone hears it, that new creation enters the commons. The supposed rights to the tune are reproduced, potentially unto infinity, without taking away anything at all from the initial creator of the tune.
People like to imagine that we would have something like intellectual property rights in a fully free society. Well, people are free to call things whatever they want. But there is no special category of property that is “intellectual.” Your property is what you own or acquire through trade. What you do with your property is your business. But merely announcing that what you do is “creative” grants you no special monopoly on anything.
For example: I can take off my bowtie and wear it as a scarf. Do I now own the idea of the bowtie scarf? I can claim that I do but that doesn’t somehow permit me to prevent others from tying ties up as scarves or to forcibly take a share of revenue from others who do this too.
Creativity is glorious. It is all around us. In some small measure, all of us are creating every second of our lives. You might find a new way to drive to work, a new way to pour your coffee, a special tactic for talking on your smartphone while surfing the web, a way to eat your hamburger that yields the right mix of tomatoes and onions in every bite, a new way to shave in the shower. There is, in principle, no difference between this kind of creativity and that of the sculptor or writer or composer of music. Creativity is the pith of life. But creativity alone grants no one the right to interfere with the freedom or property or others.
For more on this topic, see the new edition of Stephan Kinsella’s classic “Against Intellectual Property.” As always, it’s free to Club members.