'I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and incur my own abhorrence.' -Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

Government Regulations on Jobs and IP

by Ethan Glover, Sun, Sep 22, 2013 - (Edited) Fri, Sep 15, 2017

There has been growing talk on the issue of the amount of people on food stamps and even talk of regulations that would raise the standards and take a lot of people off of food stamps.  I am all for getting rid of food stamps and welfare altogether, but it must be said that this simple act is not the ultimate solution. Food stamps and welfare are merely a symptom of the disease, a symptom of government. The real problem lies with government regulations on jobs and intellectual property.

Licensing Laws

Government licensing laws have shut down hair braiders, food trucks, house painting (to include sting operations via CraigsList), carpentry, landscaping, drug dealing, prostitution and panhandling. These are all jobs that allow people to work and make money on their own time and terms. There is nothing wrong with any of them. When people are allowed to start businesses or do side jobs, it increases competition in the markets. With greater competition comes greater power and choice for customers.

The biggest rejection of this is probably the idea of drug dealing. Many people think that if all drugs were legal meth heads would be running around robbing people. The simple answer is that drunks are not doing that. While it may happen sometimes, the crime is theft, not drinking. Theft can happen for an infinite amount of reasons and it can never be 100% stopped. But when you allow people more opportunities and allow them to make money in their own way you drastically decrease theft and violence. Any other excuse for keeping these things illegal is a matter of people trying to tell grown adults what to do with their lives.

Patent Laws

Simple licenses are of course, not the only things holding the economy back. Patent laws are highly disputed within the libertarian world on whether or not they should exist at all. Of course, the idea becomes pretty simple when you consider property. Not only that, but the effects of patent laws have the same effects as government licensing.

Patents create a fake sense of scarcity for a particular product. Or it gives a particular person or company a right of monopoly to sell it. This, much like licensing, drives up prices in a totally arbitrary way not subject to the free market.

When considering actual property and whether or not intellectual property is possible we must consider why property exists in the first place. Property exists only because of the idea of scarcity. It is a way to avoid the tragedy of the commons. Recognizing property allows people in a society to easily solve disputes and resolve almost any problem that comes up. The idea of property originates from the ownership of ones own self. This extends to the ownership of ones own actions and the products of ones own labor. (In the physical, scarce world of course.)

Using somebody else's idea without their permission is not like using their car without their permission. If anyone were able to jump in any car and drive off, it would be easy to hoard and limit the free actions and decisions of others. It is simply harmful. (Plus the amount of car crashes would skyrocket...)

The existence of intellectual property laws limit the use of people's own property. If I own the material to build something that is protected by patent laws, my property rights are being limited and violated. Holding a patent means holding partial property rights over other people's property. Intellectual Property laws are a violation of property laws.

That being said every invention has been built off of and uses other inventions. A TV with a patent uses other patented material inside of it. Or it can be said that it copies and modifies other patented TV's. It would be impossible to assign property via intellectual property laws and allow particular people to gain "royalties" for doing nothing but having their name on a piece of paper that declares "ownership" of something they have no influence over. Again, by claiming ownership over someone else's property a person violates property laws. Intellectual Property is impossible, illegal and does not follow the non-aggression principle.

Further Reading

Make Trade, Not War
Intellectual Property is Not True Property
Libertarian Predatory Lending