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Jay Currie

One Damn Thing After Another

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The Grits get....tough

I am amazed the Dow ramians above 5000 with the Liberal government of Canada joining its EU friends in slapping a big surtax on, wait for it, "cigarettes, oysters and live swine"

Whoa, Mr. Dithers, don't scare the Yankees too much.

No, Really, Competition is a Good Thing

Yahoo anounced that it was matching the G-mail 1 Gig email storage limit.

Gmail cam back with this:


PS. If you would like a Gmail account send me an email. I have something like 50 invites.

Election....Doubt It

In a battle reminiscent of past Quebec feuds, the Martin Liberals find themselves at odds with the Ontario chattering class. It was after they engaged in very public showdowns with their Liberal counterparts in Quebec that the federal Liberals started losing their hold on the province two decades ago. A spring campaign would find Harper on the right side of McGuinty's crusade for a fairer deal for his province. He would also be in sync with the federalist premier of Quebec, who is demanding a different fiscal bargain with Ottawa.
chantel hebert, toronto star
If Harper can align with Ontario and Quebec in demanding a fiscal rebalancing there is a good chance he could form a minority government if the government is defeated any time soon. This is meat and potatos stuff - far away from SSM - and it means real dollars flowing to the provinces.

Are Canadians ready to embrace a degree of decentralism? I hope so. It will depend on how it is packaged. Part of the problem for the Liberals is the fact they have struck such a bizarre deal with Nfld.

Most Canadians understand and accept equalization; but it is difficult to see the reasoning behind leaving a province officially "have not" when it is getting surging oil revenues to which, constitutionally, it has only the most tenuous claim.

If harper can get the Premiers of Ontario and Quebec to do the heavy lifting on fiscal rebalancing he might be able to campaign on "a fair deal for all the provinces" and win more seats than he's bound to lose in Atlantic Canada.

Best of all, the importance of reducing the federal government's role in the allocation of money in the Confederation is a pretty sane, rather conservative idea.

But, realistically, the Grits are not quite dumb enough to refuse to seperate the Kyoto bill from the Budget bill so my bet is that there is not going to be an election.

Too bad.


Copywrong Redux

Not content to wage a freindly comment war, Sean over at Polspy lets rip at what he sees as my happy willingness to nationalize his photography through my proposed broad media levy.

I've commented there but thought those of you interested in copyright might want to have a version here - I know I do.

The general point I'm making is that the proposed amendments to the Copyright Act are a complete waste of time because technology has made digital reproduction stupidly easy.

Copyright evolved in a world where you actually needed big honking presses and photolabs and all sorts of other chokepoints in order to make a copy of something. That was big time friction.

That is no longer the case and pretending that an enforcement model is going to work across millions of tiny infringements is simply silly.

Does that mean I want to abolish private property? Of course not. By proposing a broadly based media levy designed to capture some of the value of the reality of downloading I am trying to deal, realistically, with the change technology has created.

(In passing, nothing which I propose would prevent a photographer from suing the pants off a magazine or a website which used his images and did not pay him. At the macro level a photographer would have all the rights he has now. (There is no private use right for photography.) However, what about the situation where I go to your phtography site and download, strictly for my own pleasure, the material you have posted. Would you like to see a little money coming from that?)

The essential distinction you is between commercial use - where the standard copyright regime makes good sense - and non-commercial uses where that regime is worse than useless.

If anything, my modest proposal to extend the media levy to internet connections and mini-hard drives is designed to further protect creators' property rights by capturing revenues which it would be uneconomic to litigate over.

I agree creators should not have their incomes subject to the whims of some governmental apparatcik. A point underscored by the fact that the current media levy, as of about 2004,has never actually paid out most of the 50 million or so it has collected; but that has more to do with the remarkable incapacity of artists to really get serious about collecting what they are owed. And also, frankly, the relatively insignificant amounts that have been collected under the levy.

A broader levy would begin to pump out real dollars. There are around 6 million households in Canada with highspeed. Say $2.00 a month and you are looking at 144 million a year...Retail music sales in 1999 (and I am too lazy to dig for more recent figures) were 761 million so 144 million would be enough to interest the artists.

Now, by comparison, imagine if the Canadian Record industry sued the tradition 50 or so customers a month and they all sold their skateboards and CD collections and were able to settle every case at $3000.00 a piece. Assuming the music lawyers worked for free, that's a whopping 150k a month.

The essential problem with the enforcement model is that there is simply no way of reaching realistic levels of compensation even if the technology had not already made the low hanging fruit of open P2P swapping networks obsolete.

Time to ditch the industrial age thinking along with your enlarger and your process's going digital, baby! Time for the law to catch up.


Libertarians and Conservatives

Anyway: the Schiavo case (and our recent experiences up here) proves once again that libertarians and conservatives are (surprise!) irreconcilable.
relapsed catholic
Kathy Shaidle has it half right. There are areas in which libertarians and conservatives, by which I think Kathy really means socons, cannot, in conscience, reconcile their differences.

As much as anything it is because of differing conceptions of the role of the state. Socons tend to want the state to do something on certain issues, libertarians would prefer, in almost all cases, the state to forebear from acting.

Like many of the libertarian commentators Kathy cites in her post, I have not written anything about the Terry Schiavo case. Not because I am untouched by the sadness which attends all side of the case; rather because I cannot see the argument for state intervention. But that is because I accept the notion of brain death and the legal necessity of that notion.

States are about legal certainty. At the margins this makes for extremely difficult decisions. After all, the definition of brain death or the precise instant human life begins, is as much a philosophical and theological point as it is a matter of scientific certainty.

Human life is all about uncertainty. There are plenty of things about which we have no clear answers. There are others about which, in principle, it is impossible to have clear answers.

Some religious people would deny this is the case: they will argue that the tenets of their religion provide the answers. And they may very well be right. But not in the sense that those answers can be acted upon by the state.

If, as a matter of faith, you believe life continues until the heart stops beating you are perfectly entitled to that belief; but why that belief should be embodied in public policy is not obvious.

Libertarians tend to want to maximize the sphere in which indivduals are free to act according to their own beliefs. And to do that libertarians cast a jaundiced eye at any attempt to extend the state's reach into individual's lives.

On gay marriage this is a no brainer - there is no compelling reason for the state to be involved with marriage in the first place. Decisions about the beginning and end of life are far more difficult.

The irreconcilability Kathy writes about often arises because of a socon inclination to treat all their issues as having the same weight. This is tactically foolish and leads to the silly situation where the CPC is willing to create second class Canadians as part of a deal to keep abortion off the floor of their policy convention.

Now, frankly, were I a socon, I would be far more interested in conceeding on SSM in exchange for a promise to regulate third trimester abortions. One is important, the other is semantics.