Philosophical Musings

January 11, 2008

The Right to Life is Reserved to Humans, Not Business Models

Filed under: capitalism,Copyrights,music — Elad Kehat @ 7:11 am

The Right to Life is reserved to Human Beings. Not to businesses. In a market economy, when a business fails to serve its purpose – i.e. generate revenue by selling a product or service to customers, it dies. This includes entire industries too.  If you’re lucky enough to still be producing something that people want, and it’s just your business model that doesn’t work anymore, good for you – you don’t have to die. Just find a new busines model.
Technology changes, business models stop working, you move on.

Oh, wait, there’s another option. You can lobby for new taxation designed to keep your obsolete business alive.

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January 9, 2008

America, Corporations and the Police State

Filed under: capitalism,Democracy,Freedom,police state — Elad Kehat @ 9:20 am

There’s growing talk about how America is becoming a police state. Here’s just one little example that I ran into today.

The questions is: whatever happened to the American spirit? Why are Americans willing to take this?

The answer might be in corporate culture. With most people working for large corporations today, they get trained to accept orders from above, without questioning, and with a threat to be terminated (from work) if they go against company policy. If you spend most of your waking hours in that kind of culture, there’s no wonder that an authoritarian regime seems like the norm.

Check out this hilarious video, and notice how no Starbucks employee stops to questions why it’s really wrong for DaVido to do his thing in their shop. Nobody gets hurt. Everybody has fun. And what’s that about not filming – why not? Isn’t America supposed to be a free country? But the worse is 4:32 minutes into the video – Starbucks Police ???!!! Corporations have their own police forces now?

August 10, 2007

Strike Back for Freedom

Filed under: business,capitalism,Copyrights,Democracy,Freedom — Elad Kehat @ 2:01 pm

Finally, someone is trying to use the media industry’s own weapons against them.

TechCrunch reports that Veoh, an online video website, is suing Universal Music, after being continually threatened by them.  While their chances in court are probably not very high, its heartening to see that some entrepreneurs aren’t easily intimidated.

Incidentally, I ran into this quote of a judge today:

“There has grown up in the minds of certain groups in this country the notion that because a man or corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and the courts are charged with the duty of guaranteeing such profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary public interest. This strange doctrine is not supported by statute nor common law. Neither individuals nor corporations have any right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped, or turned back, for their private benefit.”

Unfortunately, the speaker isn’t a real judge, he’s a fictional one, in Robert Heinlein’s classic short story Life-line, written in 1939! (I’ve been reading some classic scifi lately). Too bad that this paragraph, written 68 years ago by a true libertarian to criticize corrupt business, is still relevant today. Even worse, no real life court today would say the same.

July 17, 2006

Copyrights first, Democracy second

Filed under: capitalism,Copyrights,Democracy,Freedom,society — Elad Kehat @ 8:52 am

Today I stumbled upon the website of the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America), where I found something that made me explode with anger.

The quote the U.S. Constitution’s Patent and Copyright Clause:

“The Congress shall have Power . . . To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries . . .”

And then land the bomb:

“Before free speech, before freedom of assembly, before freedom of religion, there was copyright protection in our Constitution. The founding fathers knew copyright protection could improve society by preserving the economic incentive for people to come up with brilliant ideas and inventions.


That as far as the RIAA is concerned, copyright protection is more important than our freedoms is nothing new. But that they’re willing to hijack the Constitution and the founding fathers to support that claim goes beyond fair.

Consider this: the RIA of America is a body that thinks America is first and foremost all about the protection of their economic interests. Forget freedom of speech – that comes later. Forget freedom of assembly – democracy is secondary. First pay the music industry, then we’ll give you some rights.

Silly me: I always thought that America was about freedom first. Thanks to the RIAA I now know that it’s about narrow economic interests and outdated business models first, freedom second.

April 15, 2006

The Real Danger in Third World Labor

Filed under: capitalism,economy,Freedom,society — Elad Kehat @ 8:58 pm

“The fact is, that civilisation requires slaves. The Greeks were quite right there. Unless there are slaves to do the ugly, horrible, uninteresting work, culture and contemplation become almost impossible. Human slavery is wrong, insecure, and demoralizing. On mechanical slavery, on the slavery of the machine, the future of the world depends.” (Oscar Wilde, The Soul of Man Under Socialism, 1895)

The use of cheap labor from third world countries by the west is counter-productive for the west’s own future development and hegemony. The masses of human beings willing to work for what a western person has grown to regard as far less than his bare necessities seems like a boon in the short term, but would prove a disaster in the long term. Billions of Asians sweating for a dollar-a-day or less may seem cheap, but it translates into billions of dollars-a-day making their way from the west to the east. This transfer of wealth is irreversible. Just as Imperialism has once transferred the wealth of the world to Europe, bringing about its prosperity while leaving the rest deprived, it is now the wealth of Europe and North America that is transferred east, making it prosper on the west’s expense.

Do not let the employment conditions fool you. Sweat shops could be found in New York, capital of the Empire State, little more than a hundred years ago. It may be merely a necessary step in the process that has once led to the American Century, and may lead to the current century being named The Chinese. In the process, America shall be deprived not just of title, but of the cultural, economic and military hegemony that it has come to believe as its own by right, forgetting that it is might that makes right.

If you are a believer in Democracy, you should fear this outcome, since liberal democracy is born of western thought. It is the culmination of humanism in an individualistic society. As western hegemony wanes, so shall the prospects of human rights and just government in the developing world.

Keep in mind too that the current system, and as a consequence democracy that goes hand in hand with it, arouses the objections of all of the cheap laborers of the east, the deprived laborers of the west who cannot compete, and the more socially-oriented intellectuals in the west. This is evident by the mounting criticism of globalization.

It is therefore not just our wealth that is at risk, but our very way of life and the values that we hold dear.  The deprivation of human rights from cheap laborers may yet bring about an era of less human rights for all.

April 14, 2006

The End of Youth

Filed under: capitalism,economy,society,youth — Elad Kehat @ 7:42 am

It is not by accident that our capitalist society worships youth, for it is only youth that can maintain such a society. The naïve of youth, and its irrational belief that it will surmount impossible odds and come out on top, are necessary in order to justify a society where the winner takes it all.

The rash, the spending spree, the rising debt, the seeming distance of tomorrow that fools the gullible into believing that it will solve all, these are all signs of young spirit.

The 21st century brings with it a shift in balance, from a young society, in both spirit and corpus, to a society where the old are a majority. Likewise, it must bring with it a change in spirit, a shift in perception towards the mature, wiser skepticism of the experienced. Shall we observe then a shift towards a society that favors the long term?

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