Category: Law
Free speech

Australian Government Response to Freedom of Information Request on Copyright Meeting.

There are moves afoot to fight for free speech in Australia:

Keith Windschuttle: So we come well within Finkelstein’s scope. If his oppressive scheme is ever implemented, we would feel compelled to defend the long tradition of press freedom by engaging in civil disobedience. While ever I am editor, Quadrant would not recognise the News Media Council’s authority, we would not observe its restrictions, and we would not obey its instructions, whatever the price. We hope other publishers will take a similar stand.

It’s great to stand on principle, but will he also defend press freedom from legislative assault at the bequest establishment media vested interests:

Australia’s government won’t disclose its secret copyright meetings because knowing what went on isn’t in the public interest: The government also claims that it can’t release a list of attendees because it doesn’t have such a list — that is, the government doesn’t know who was invited to its secret, eyes-only copyright meeting.

The changes to copyright attack the same fundamental freedom. But in Australia they are at an earlier stage in their assault. It is also subtler, with the nature of the evil impositions somewhat camouflaged under legitimate business interests. Even normally sound groups such as the IPA have been seduced by the rhetoric around copyright protection.

While the IPA is to be applauded for its moves to defend free speech, it needs to recognize that government acting on behalf of vested corporate interests is no less of a threat than when it is acting on behalf of vested ideological ones. Vested interests will always use the rhetoric they believe most likely to be effective. They also tend not to give up after a defeat:

MPAA boss: we’re cooking up a new SOPA behind the scenes: Former Senator Chris Dodd, head of the MPAA, has hinted to the Hollywood Reporter that he’s already greasing the wheels for a new version of SOPA, though he’s shy about revealing details because of the public outcry that might ensue. Dodd is the guy who went on the record to tell Obama that he would instruct his members to stop donating to the Democratic party because Obama didn’t usher in the laws they wanted.

and

Understanding TPP, ACTA’s nastier, more secret little brother: A new report by Carrie Ellen Sager of infojustice.org that compares the provisions in ACTA, the secretly negotiated copyright treaty currently up for adoption in Europe, the USA and other countries; and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a more extreme, more secretive version of ACTA being negotiated by various Pacific Rim countries.

 On “Technological Protection Measures” TPP has two nasty turns of the infringement screw:

 TPP goes beyond ACTA by applying provisions on technological protection where circumvention is carried out unknowingly or without reasonable grounds to know.

 and

 TPP goes beyond ACTA by explicitly limiting the possible limitations and exclusions to the TPM circumvention rules, while ACTA gives a country free reign to create exceptions and limitations it finds reasonable.

 The second of those is particularly troublesome, since it reduces the scope for signatories to introduce more balanced copyright laws even if they wanted to.

 

Perhaps Andrew Bolt will weigh in? He is not legally restricted from doing so.  Sadly I expected human cognitive failings will come into play. We all have our blind spots. Traditional defenders of free markets sometimes miss the fact that corporations are incentivized to get laws changed to maximize their profits, not our welfare or freedom – be it of speech or anythings else.

Introducing an Australia carbon dioxide tax or emissions trading scheme will enrich many, but it will impoverish more. Legislative imposts are imposts, even if they benefit some people and corporations. Bastiat’s broken windows parable made that clear enough. Let’s not allow our liberty to be crushed. Resist restrictions on our ability to espouse our views. It is fundamental to Western civilization. Without it we will slip back into despotism and a new economic dark age. One technology will make hard to escape from.

The price of liberty is eternal vigilance. Don’t let the state deny you the ability to even know what is going on, let alone voice your objection. Let’s delay the return of terror and slaughter.

The Gods Of The Copybook Headings

AS I PASS through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “Stick to the Devil you know.”

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “The Wages of Sin is Death.”

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.”

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

 
Rule of law no more

One of the bedrocks of our affluent way of life is the rule of law. Absent that I suspect we would not have had  the massive increase in living standards and length of life over the last couple of hundred years. Without it we will not maintain our current lifestyle or average length of life, let alone improve it.

Make no mistake, our actual life as well as way of life is threatened whenever the rule of law is abrogated. When a cavalier attitude to the removal of rights becomes established, we will soon have no rights. Having no rights we will soon have nothing. Not even our health.

Our rights and the rule of law are being undermined as never before, at least without armed conquest. There is an international tide to the affairs of man. No nation is an island, just as no man stands truly alone. We are all embedded within a world, within geographic, social and economic systems. There is a physical reality to our existence. Changes in one area flow to others. To know what may come to be in your country look at what as and is happening elsewhere.

A Russian aware of the French Revolution may not have been so surprised at the blood baths entailed in his own progressive revolution. Similarly someone in China aware of the millions killed in the Russian revolution may have had an inkling of that millions could be killed in their own great leap forward. Similarly a Cambodian knowing what happened under Mao could have guessed at the possibility of Cambodian killing fields under Pol Pot. Be aware of what has and is happening around you. It may not just save your wealth, but your life.

Do not be insular in your outlook. Even in liberal Western democracies the tides of socialism, fascism and political correctness flow across countries. Activist judges cite international precedent. Governments sign international treaties and then legislate for them without adequate consultation. Vested interests bribe, flatter or otherwise charm politicians into removing some of your rights to increase their wealth and power. It has always been thus. Accept it, so you can fight it. It’s time for some of that eternal vigilance to come into play.

That’s why this type of report from the US is so alarming:

Mr. Ernest Perce V., was assaulted by a Muslim while participating in a Halloween parade. Along with a Zombie Pope, Ernest was costumed as Zombie Muhammad. The assault was caught on video, the Muslim man admitted to his crime and charges were filed in what should have been an open-and-shut case. That’s not what happened, though…. What transpired next was surreal. The (Muslim) Judge not only ruled in favor of the defendant, but called Mr. Perce a name and told him that if he were in a Muslim country, he’d be put to death.

The linked report also notes that the judge refused to allow the video to be admitted and that a Police Officer who was at the scene also testified on Mr. Perce’s behalf, which the Judge also dismissed.

With precedents like that, can we be so sure this chap in the UK is wrong:

Extremist Mohammed Abdin Jailed for Eight Months Over Threat to Machine Gun Police “In 10 or 15 years time when we rule, I’m going to hunt you down and then I’m going to kill you.

“I’m going to burn you to death ……. you are going to die”.

This is not a post on the demographic death spiral of much of the Western world. Everyone can extrapolate what happens if one cultural population segment has lots of children and the others do not. At least in a multicultural rather than assimilation framework. Multiculturalism being one of those ideologies that flowed across much of the Western world.   The results have been fairly consistent. Areas where non-Muslims go at their peril, where firemen and ambulance officers are stoned.

As for the rule of law, what was once inconceivable and would have been viewed with horror becomes commonplace:

  • Sharia courts operating in Britain: Five sharia courts have been set up in London, Birmingham, Bradford and Manchester and Nuneaton, Warwickshire. The government has quietly sanctioned that their rulings are enforceable with the full power of the judicial system, through the county courts or High Court.
  • EU judges want Sharia law applied in British courts: Judges could be forced to bow to Sharia law in some divorce cases heard in Britain. An EU plan calls for family courts across Europe to hear cases using the laws of whichever country the couple involved have close links to.

The law like the police can switch from protecting our way of life to persecuting it. That’s one of the reasons to prefer conservative to progressive judges. A glance at history is more than enough to demonstrate this:

While the part played by the Ministry of Justice in the extermination of Poles and Jews was small compared to the mass extermination of millions by the SS and Gestapo in concentration camps, nevertheless the courts contributed greatly to the “final solution” of the problem.

Posner is a wise man:

Perhaps in the fullness of time the growing of marijuana plants, the “manipulation” of financial markets, the bribery of foreign government officials, the facilitating of the suicide by the terminally ill, and the violation of arcane regulations governing the financing of political campaigns will come to be no more appropriate objects of criminal punishment than “dishonoring the race.” Perhaps not; but [the story of the German judges] can in any event help us to see that judges should not be eager enlisters in popular movements of the day, or allow themselves to become so immersed in a professional culture that they are oblivious to the human consequences of their decisions.”

Well if prosecutions are anything to go by “manipulating” the markets is already not viewed as an appropriate object of criminal punishment. But selective application of the law is a tool of tyranny. The little person, who is not sufficiently well connected or has not hired the right lobbyists or donated to the right campaigns gets prosecuted. The too big to fail banks get government backstops while its executives reap their bonuses and salaries vastly in excess of their contribution to the economies value-add. What will this do for our commonweal?

What will it do for our national wealth is a silly question. Perhaps I should ask if you are feeling wealthy? Are you confident you can look after yourself and your loved ones? Or are you now dependent on noblesse oblige by our political masters? What will happen to you when reality intrudes and your government is forced to live within its means, perhaps cutting expenditure in half? This may happen before or after an inflationary episode. It may happen while financial repression is in full force  – mandating returns on savings at less than the rate of inflation.

We have seen how strongly our governments will fight to maintain the fiction that they are solvent, that their citizens will get what they have been promised. They are lying. The only way this will happen is if there are technological black swans. We will post more on the potential of 3D printing, biotechnology and nanotechnology to radically change our and our governments finances. The Singularity may happen. But it is not sensible to bet the farm on a hope and a prayer. Especially not while undermining the core components of capitalism. Capitalism being our only hope of maintaining the exponential rate of technological progress necessary to generate the productivity increases required to maintain our lifestyles while reducing total debt.

Overriding established rights through bailouts, be they of General Motors or Greece is inimical to capitalism. Bond holders should wear the risks, for both good and ill. It is illegitimate to create a special class of bondholder, just because you can. The European central bank is undermining the very markets it needs if Europe is to prosper.

The people of Greece will experience an unpleasant enough time as reality punctuates the great lie, without also being looted by international financiers first. European banks made bad investments in Greek bonds. They should suffer the associated losses. These losses can flow through to bondholders and shareholders in those banks. They should wear the cost before taxpayers and those living off their more prudently invested savings.

Only in this way can the legitimacy of our system be demonstrated. The unintended consequence of all the quantitative easing and interventions is to strip our system of its legitimacy. This will be used to attack the legitimacy of capitalism. Desperate times will make people more susceptible to the siren song of the potential despot. Frustration will create more true believers. Many of us will suffer and die as a consequence. It must be stopped. We must return a more truthful, free way of life. We must do it with love and compassion, but without the compulsion of the socialist state. Only that way can we reap the way of life we want.

 
Newspeak alive and well

Orwell would be proud of Canada’s Tories: The Canadian government introduced a “minor” change to its sweeping domestic spying bill. Instead of being called the “Lawful Access Act” it is now called the “Protecting Children From Internet Predators Act.”

That’s OK then.