Politicians talk about the uninsured. Special interests argue on behalf of those with pre-existing conditions. But why is no one wondering how doctors are affected by the new law? They’re the ones on the frontlines dealing directly with new patients, as well as the red tape that makes bureaucracies go round.
Politicians proclaim the benefits of small business while on the campaign trail. But when they meet in the seedy halls of Congress, they have no problem doing whatever they can to stifle, regulate, and subdue their progress. Instead of siding with entrepreneurs, these politicians often side with political allies and cronies that helped put them into office.
Just because you’re retired doesn’t mean you have to stop working. Especially now that you have all the time in the world to do what you really want. Entrepreneurs don’t only come out of Silicon Valley. They come from all walks of life, from all different ages. If you’re retired and want to stay active while you relax, then find out the steps you need to take in order to start, manage, and grow your next small business.
Austrian economics does more than tell you what happens when the government disturbs market forces. In the hands of knowledgeable investors and entrepreneurs, it can tell you exactly what to expect from the market. Market behavior depends on how people behave. And how people behave is central to the Austrian perspective.
The U.S. dollar has been the world's reserve currency for almost a century, and already there are signs it may be in decline. But that doesn't mean it's not still valuable. On the contrary... As Chris Mayer explains, there are many reasons the U.S. dollar will remain relevant on the world stage for years to come. Read on...
World War II might have dragged the country out of the Great Depression, but it did so at a great price. Central planning took center stage, and politicans and bureaucrats suddenly knew what was best for America, the economy, and your life. On top of that, they replaced the free market with a new economic system… Creditism.
If you’re good at something should you be penalized so others have a chance at success? Should award winning actors and actresses be barred from future Oscar ceremonies to give other men and women the chance to succeed? Success should always be rewarded and encouraged. But what happens when you have a government that wants to even the playing field and take away the spoils of success. Gregory Bresiger finds out...
Practical people often pooh-pooh fiction reading as a time wasting dalliance, dominated by a Marxist coloring of the world. However, fiction readers were given a scientific reason recently for spending hours absorbing fanciful figments of someone’s imagination.
Argentina is suffering the ravages of government debasement of the currency -- i.e., inflation, the process by which government pays for its ever-increasing debts and bills by simply printing more paper currency. The expanded money supply results in a lower value of everyone’s money, which is reflected in the rising prices of the things that money buys.
When government expansion is allowed to continue unabated or when it casts a heavy regulatory shadow on America’s entrepreneurial spirit, the freedoms that we’ve come to know, and perhaps take for granted, slowly begin to slip away.
Its acceptance is as widespread as its justification is important, for it provides the rationale for the Federal Reserve’s unprecedented monetary expansion since 2008. While critics may dispute the wealth effect’s magnitude, few have challenged its conceptual soundness. Such is the purpose of this article. The wealth effect is but a mantra without merit.
Baron Rothschild, the famous French financier, was once heard to say that he knew of only two men who really understood money -- an obscure clerk in the Bank of France and one of the directors of the Bank of England. “Unfortunately,” he added, “they disagree.”
The new reality of Obamacare’s tax credits has left finance reporters to pen articles warning readers to “take care” when considering a tax credit and providing strategies for how best to “protect yourself.” So what do finance reporters know that the White House doesn’t?
Nihilo ex nihilo fit. Out of nothing, nothing comes. First put forward by ancient Greek philosopher Parmenides in the fifth century B.C., Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine later used this axiom to prove that the universe needed a “first mover” to get things going. Even if the whole thing began with some kind of “Big Bang” moment, it still needed a banger to bang it. Who? God, of course.
Economic theories don’t lend themselves to laboratory testing, so the work of a national appraisal firm is especially enlightening. A new study lends support to the Austrian business cycle theory, which says that the less government is involved, the faster a market will recover.
What positive steps can we take? The energy that is now expended by well intentioned, freedom-seeking individuals on the destructive course of politics can be turned into powerful steps that will have a positive effect on the future. All are moral, right and just. None require aggressing. Consider the following...
The Affordable Care Act creates a new health insurance marketplace (the exchange). But because of the great uncertainty about what buyers will enter the market and who will buy what product, the law creates three vehicles to reduce insurance company risk.
Politicians and bureaucrats are notorious for manufacturing euphemisms -- clever but deceptive substitutes for what they really mean but don’t want to admit. That’s how the phrase “revenue enhancement” entered the vocabulary. Some of our courageous friends in government couldn’t bring themselves to say “tax hike.”
It’s easy to be negative about the U.S. economy these days. Find a glint of silver, and folks come running to point out all of the dark clouds looming about. This, of course, is what we got last week when the monthly jobs report was released from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Folks pooh-poohed the number of jobs and whining that they’re not enough or that it’s less than a bunch of economists thought that it might be. But you know what? Stuff ’em.
Facts are easy. You can check facts. What supporters of the Affordable Care Act are doing, on the other hand, transcends factual bungling. It’s far more advanced: a warping of reality so debauched it looks like something out of a tale by H.P. Lovecraft.
The east coast and parts of the southern U.S. were to varying degrees paralyzed by blizzards a few weeks ago. The snow as expected rendered the roads treacherous, and in anticipation of slick streets, shoppers flocked to the grocery stores in advance.The rush into grocery stores, and its aftermath, offers worthwhile lessons in economics.First up, […]
The highest form of charity, argued the 12th-century Jewish philosopher Maimonides, is when the help given enables the receiver to become self-sufficient.But our systems of state charity — aka welfare — have too frequently had the opposite effect: They have actually created dependency. It is time to rethink the way we help people.I’m going to […]
Last year was quite the year for Bitcoin. We’ve seen exponential growth in Bitcoin’s exchange rate and extensive coverage in the media. Another phenomenon we have witnessed is the proliferation of alternative cryptocurrencies, five of which we’ve provided below.What all of these cryptocurrencies have in common is that they rely on a decentralized network to […]
President Obama crowed in his State of the Union speech about the economy, even mentioning “a rebounding housing market.” Maybe he was referring to friends in high places, like the seller of Penthouse One in New York, which just closed for $50.9 million, all cash. Millions of mere-mortal homeowners likely wanted to throw something at […]
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office is acting in a bipartisan way to cover up the biggest single threat to the bipartisan political alliance that is stripping America of its wealth: the United States Congress.There is no question that the following policy is bipartisan. Democrats and Republicans in Congress are completely agreed that the following information […]
Recent difficulties with implementing the Affordable Care Act have increased opposition to the program. A majority of Americans now oppose it. Problems with the HealthCare.gov website are in all likelihood temporary. However, there are serious long-term problems, particularly considering long-term finance and labor supply issues. Given the mounting difficulties with and growing concerns about the […]
The faces of the Detroit bankruptcy are the thousands of pensioners whose promised benefits are suddenly part of the restructure negotiation. When Motown filed for Chapter 9 last July, the city had $11.5 billion in unsecured liabilities. The vast majority of this was pension and health care benefits owed to retired city employees.The images of […]
“Then they pop up and say, ‘Hello, surprise! Give us your money or we will shut you down!’ Screw them. Seriously, screw them. You can quote me on that.”
Those are the words of Newegg.com’s chief legal officer, Lee Cheng. He was speaking to Arstechnica.com following a landmark ruling that sided with a great business against a wicked patent troll company called Soverain.
What is a patent troll? It is a company that has acquired patents (usually through purchases on the open market) but does not use them for any productive purpose. Instead, it lives off looting good companies by blackmailing people. The trolls say, “Pay us now or get raked over the coals in court.”
Soverain is one such company. Most companies it has sued have paid the ransom. Soverain has collected untold hundreds of millions in fines from the likes of Bloomingdale’s, J.C. Penney, J. Crew, Victoria’s Secret, Amazon, and Nordstrom.
It sounds like a criminal operation worthy of the old world of, say, southern Italy (no offense, guys!). Indeed, but this is how it works in the U.S. these days. The looting is legal. The blackmail is approved. The graft is in the open. The expropriation operates under the cover of the law. The backup penalties are inflicted by the official courts.
To be sure, the trolls may not be as bad as conventional patent practice. At least the trolls don’t try to shut you down and cartelize the economy. They just want to get their beak wet. Once that happens, you are free to go about your business. This is one reason they have been so successful.
Soverain’s plan was to loot every online company in existence for a percentage of their revenue, citing the existence of just two patents. Thousands of companies have given in, causing an unnatural and even insane increase in the price of patent bundles. Free enterprise lives in fear.
Let me add a point that Stefan Molyneux made concerning this case. The large companies are annoyed by the patent-troll pests but not entirely unhappy with their activities. The large companies can afford to pay them off. Smaller companies cannot. In this way, the trolls serve to reduce competition.
[Stefan made his comments on an edition of Adam v. The Man, in which we were both guests. you can watch the entire show here.]
When Soverain came after Newegg’s online shopping cart demanding $34 million, a lower court decided against Newegg, but only imposed a fine of $2.5 million. Newegg examined the opinion and found enough holes in the case to appeal. It was a gutsy decision, given the trends. But as Cheng told Ars Technica:
“We basically took a look at this situation and said, ‘This is bull****.’ We saw that if we paid off this patent holder, we’d have to pay off every patent holder this same amount. This is the first case we took all the way to trial. And now nobody has to pay Soverain jack squat for these patents.”
It’s true. The case not only shuts down the Soverain racket. It might have dealt a devastating blow to the whole patent hysteria and the vicious trolling that has fueled it all along.
And truly, the patent mania has become crazy. No one 10 years ago would have imagined that it would go this far.
“It’s a sign of something gone awry, not a healthy market,” attorney Neil Wilkof told Gigaom.com, with reference to the utterly insane amounts that well-heeled tech giants have been paying for patents. “I think we’re in a patent bubble in a very specific industry. It’s a distorted market and misallocation of resources.”
[Note: This entire racket is anticipated and debunked in the pioneering work on the topic. The new edition of Stephan Kinsella's Against Intellectual Property is now available for free to Club members.]
Earlier this year, Google shelled out $12.5 billion for the acquisition of Motorola Mobility. Facebook threw down $550 million for AOL’s patents. Apple and Google spent more last year on patent purchases and litigation than on actual research and development. The smartphone industry coughed up $20 billion last year on the patent racket. A lawsuit last year against Samsung awarded Apple $1 billion in a ridiculous infringement case.
These are astronomical numbers — figures that would have been inconceivable in the past. Everyone seems to agree that the system is radically broken. What people don’t always understand is that every penny of this is unnecessary and pointless. This market is a creation of legislation, and nothing more. The companies aren’t really buying anything but the right to produce and the right not to be sued, and that is not always secure.
Let’s back up. Why are there markets in anything at all? They exist because goods have to be allocated some way. There are not enough cars, carrots, and coffee to meet all existing conceivable demand. We can fight over them or find ways to cooperate through trade. Prices are a way to settle the struggle over goods that people grow or make, or services people provide, in a peaceful way. They allow people to engage to their mutual benefit, rather than club or shoot each other.
But what is being exchanged in the patent market? It’s not real goods or services. These are government creations of a bureaucracy — an exclusive right to make something. They are tickets that make production legal. If you own one, there is no broad market for it. It has only a handful of possible buyers, and the price of your good is based entirely on how much money you think you can extract from deep pockets. Sometimes, you actually force people to buy with the threat that you will sue if they don’t.
That’s not how normal markets operate. There was a time when patents didn’t even apply to software at all. The whole industry was built by sharing ideas and the spirit of old-fashioned competition. Companies would work together when it was to their mutual advantage and hoard competitive reasons when it was not. It seemed to work fine, until legislation intervened.
Today the entire fake market for patents is sustained by the perception that courts will favor the patent holders over the victims. The Newegg case changes that perception, which is why it has been the most closely watched case in the industry. This might signal the end of the reign of terror, at least one form of it.
But, you say, don’t creators deserve compensation? My answer: If they create something people are willing to pay for, great. But that’s not what’s happening. Soverain’s bread and butter was a handful of patents that had been on the open market, changing hands through three different companies over the course of 10 years, until they landed in the laps of some extremely unscrupulous wheeler-dealers.
In other words, patents these days have little to nothing to do with the creators — any more than mortgage-backed securities at the height of the boom had anything to do with the initial lender and its risk assessments. Once a patent is issued — and they are not automatically valid, but rather have to be tested in litigation — it enters into the market and can land anywhere. The idea that the patent has anything to do with inspiring innovation is total myth. It is all about establishing and protecting monopolistic weapons with which to beat people.
Many people have been hoping for patent reform. It probably won’t happen and might not even need to happen. If this case is as significant as tech observers say, a sizeable portion of this fake industry could be smashed via a dramatic price deflation. When something is no longer worth much, people stop wanting it.
Patents date from a time when a great industrial innovation made the headlines just because it was so rare. That’s not our world. Government has no business allocating and centrally planning ideas. Here’s to Newegg: Take a bow. Someone had the guts to say no. This time, for once, it worked.