Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Aaron Swartz' Blood for Oil

A man died on Friday. He should have lived. His death was entirely preventable.

Aaron Swartz was a victim of overreaching malicious prosecution. He hung himself, leaving behind a gaping hole in the public sphere, and among his friends and family. Over 25,000 people signed a Whitehouse gov petition to remove the head of the US Attorney's Office overseeing the prosecution.

Thousands die every day, and their deaths of entirely preventable poverty. By one estimate, 21,000 of them are children.

These facts are not unrelated, even if exactly how eludes people. Timothy Burke, a history professor at Swathmore writing, for Inside Higher Ed writes a j'accuse:
Faculty who tell me passionately about their commitment to social justice either are indifferent to these concerns or are sometimes supportive of the old order. They defend the ghastly proposition that universities (and governments) should continue to subsidize the production of scholarship that is then donated to for-profit publishers who then charge high prices to loan that work back to the institutions that subsidized its creation, and the corollary, demanded by those publishers, that the circulation of such work should be limited to those who pay those prices.
"Academe Is Complicit" January 15, 2013
His central argument is that now legal arrangements are being used to substitute the protection that print used to offer: a physical barrier to information, in order to limit access.

In itself, this is not entirely a new realization. The fear that machines would put people out of work, and into poverty led to movements we call "Luddite," from an anti-textile movement that flowered in 1811, and culminated in smashing textile machines.
By the 1940's speculative fiction was confronting the new reality of mass production: the ability to rapidly and cheaply produce almost anything as undermining value systems is the main topic of the Venus Equilateral series by George O. Smith. The answer to the question of mass production attracted the economic intelligence of John Maynard Keynes, who concluded, in line with an idea by Malthus and expanded on by Veblen, that once subsistence was met, leisure would become the goal of economic activity.

In the post-war era, one can define the "post-modern" problem as the point where production of information undermines information monopolies, this includes money, religion, and academia. This leads, in Marxist and Marxian thought to the continental movement now labelled "post-structuralism," the work of Derrida, Lacan, and others. On the right it leads to fundamentalist movements and traditionalism. Both left and right assert what I will label the "neo thesis." The neo-thesis states that the early 20th century was a disruption, that it is impossible to return to the time before it directly, but, largely agreeing with Hayek, that the disruption can be returned to by re-asserting a social control. What Derrida calls "the game itself," is the means to return to a Pre-World War II normalcy. Hence, a neo- world, where movements assert a three fold argument: the present is corrupt, the solution is to return to some imagined better moment, and the means is by having some particular ideology as the primary one which rules over others. Thus fights, even over small disagreements, become brutal, because the are a fight over the very most basic rules of social participation, the "other" is alien, not merely in disagreement.

However this ideological framework is not dominant for randomly or because of its intrinsic aesthetic appeal. It grew up because the reality is that control of a few key pieces of capital, knowledge, and resource, dominate over all the others. It was Derrida who quipped that two things would never be viritual: oil and Jerusalem, everyone wants the real thing. In this he encapsulated the problem: control over the keys to the mechanized economy and control over the brand equity of the "game itself" are the basis of all power, and since power is needed to maintain the benefits of the present, the basis of present society.

Oil was called by Yergin "The Prize" and it exhibits a unique power because of its property of both creating fungible labor, and portability. If Adam Smith lived in the "labor theory of value," that is the value of anything is the cost of labor to make or obtain it, and Marshall in the marginal theory of value: the cost of everything is the cost of the last one that can be made and break even, the our value is the value of the last barrel of oil that can be made. However, it is a mistake to oversimplify to oil alone, but to understand that it is the ability of oil to substitute for other rents. What Smith observed as the trade off between pay a land rent, and pay in time. Oil, enough of it, allows that trade off to be institutionalized. It means that people can turn non-tradeable value, such as land, into tradable value, that is oil and the capital which uses oil.  Rather than paying your peer competitor a higher rent, and then face him using the money you just paid him to bid up the very things you want to buy, or paying an employee to afford a house near your business, which may well have been located near where the owner of the business lives, buy oil, and give money to people who do not bid up the price of the land you live on, the cars you buy, or the food you buy.

To unpack this: oil's power is that it allows people to avoid paying money to people they compete with. It is a trade off of rents.

When the West had to start importing oil – the US reached peak oil production in 1972 – this created a problem, very quickly the oil producers formed a cartel, and raised the price of oil. While the revenues from oil are small compared to the revenues from the revenues of capital, their advantage is that a small core of people can produce most of the value, and thus there are few stakeholders. The enormity of the costs of social control as a percentage of revenues is seen by the large sums of money spent on defense, and on religious rationing: using religion as a means of convincing people they do not want to buy Western entertainment filled with "sex, drugs, and blasphemy."

This allowed enormous concentration of liquidity in few hands, and this wealth was invested, largely, in the United States. This created a cycle: the United States had use of the oil, and the physical prosperity, at the cost of losing control of the capital base.

The answer to this, in the west, was the Red Queen's Race: fight the concentration of wealth in the resource regions, by allowing concentration of wealth here. Thus wealth inequality became a goal of political economy: cuts in "capital gains" taxes, cuts in income taxes, ending restrictions on consolidation, deregulation and privatization to allow turning public functions into profit making businesseses, change from saving to "retirement accounts," all have the effect of creating larger streams of private revenues at a profit, those profits become stock value – the value of stock is, after all, the market estimation of the value of its future earnings available for dividends and stock buy backs.

Temporize, and bet that technology and capital would eventually overwhelm rents. It had the additional virtue of creating a plutocratic upper class, and an entrenched and privileged suburban class, as well as funding the security industrial complex, creating a society which was meaner, as being too "soft" was seen as the cause of the crime and chaos of the late 1960's. The Dirty Harry myth became social policy. 

Because oil's distribution was fixed a priori, it is a rent. In the end to temporize meant that everything in the West had to be turned into a rent, and that stream of rents had to match against the rents of oil. To make up the difference between what we sell, and what we buy – and that gap is oil, and oil in drag in the form of cheap exports, we must sell capital and "services," which includes education, and finance.

Enter Intellectual Property, and the role of academia. The West had two important rents: one is the path dependency of finance, which the very nature of the oilarchies could not easily duplicate, and the other was the path dependency of knowledge creation, which the oilarchies did not want to duplicate.

Thus part of the drive to create streams of income, was to propertize information, at the same time, cut the oil cost of its storage and transmission. These two goals are in fundamental contradiction: knowledge, the more it is digitized, and internetworked, acts less and less like property, and more and more like heat. It diffuses.

This is what bothered people who dealt with this system. Viewed in terms of the marginal, that is capital, cost, a copy costs almost nothing, and enough copies, and the value is enormous. At the same time that information became more important, the value of creation dropped to almost zero. The value of a song writer is less than zero: most musicians spend more on the tools to make music, than they earn. Rent has a value, thus a brand name musician, who is easy to find, is worth a million hits for nothing.

Academia is part of the path dependent rental advantage of the US, and as such, its price rose through the roof, going up by far more than inflation for the last 30 years.

It is this connection: the need to create rents to say ahead of the ability of low stake holder resource billionaires, that made IP and Academia behave like rents. The problem is that while academia does, indeed use rents all the time, for example, naming mathematical theorums after the creator, scientific laws after the discoverer, footnoting and textual apparatus, these rents are difficult to impossible to monetize directly. Academic rent created the drive to larger and larger administrative systems, and more and more power being given to people who controlled the money flow. With every passing year, there was the need to squeeze larger rents.

Consider academic publishing: it takes work done as the goal of being an academic, that is work that would have been done for free, pays nothing for peer review, and turns this into a rent: it reinforces the value of US acamdemic institutions, gather the best and  the brightest, and forcing them to go through an extended period of indentured servitude. That is what is being defended, a rent.

On the other side of this coin is the social utility of the people who are privileged in this system. Wealth inequality makes the very rich, very much richer. Mansions, massive yachts, buying islands, flying by helicopter, access to special health care, all of these things are positive luxuries largely unavailable to similar levels of wealth 40 years ago. There is also the matter of control: power for those who want it, is worth more than money.

The collision course is that the enforcement culture needed to turn everything into property, and to incarcerate those who disturbed the system, is more than a marginal utilitarian decision, it is a social choice, and creates a class of people whose role it is to torture, threaten, bully, kill, and torment others. As anyone who has worked with lab animals knows, there are many people, who get perverse pleasure out of causing pain. Couple this with rewards for being "a crusading US attorney" and the ability to enter into the upper class by running a private prison, and there is an environment ripe, quite distant in people's minds, from its ultimate purpose. The Carmen Ortiz was thinking about higher office, not about the need to protect rents as part of an means of political economy. What was a policy regime was turned into laws: the anti-circumvention aspects of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and the extensions to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

That these laws, and other IP laws, are matters of public policy, rather than public morality, is seen by the extreme differences between harm done and potential penalty, compared with similar commercial violations. Swartz was facing a potential maximum of over 50 years in prison, and the government was going to seek 7 years at trial. The plea bargain offered required a guilty plea to 13 felony counts, and years of prison time. Ted Rall points out that this is less time than the average rapist.

This has been contrasted with the absolute lack of sentences for crimes committed as part of the massive housing bubble collapse, with the picayune sentence for killing people with untested medical devices, to the complete absence of prosecution of a pharmaceutical company which created a fungal meningitis outbreak that has killed 44 people, and destroyed the lives of many more. Economically necessary activity cannot be punished as harshly, for the same reason that robbing a store at gunpoint can bring someone the death penalty, where as killing someone in a drunk driving accident can lead to almost no charges. We sell liquor, we need people to drive. Mortgages underpinned the US financial advantage: they were the paper we sold for oil, the Red Queen's race requires creating paper to sell. Swartz was treated so much more harshly than an banker, because a banker was upholding the order, and Swartz threatening it.


What this case shows is that people have completely lost sight of why the system was created, the are alienated from their own political economy. It also shows that the morality of toughness and property created to run the political economy, is now on a collision course with the society that it is part of, and with itself. Aaron Swartz created value, that in turn became paper. Without the bright, inquisitive, inventive, personable individuals like Aaron, there is no value to turn into paper, no paper, no red queen's race. The very suburbanite world that the Reagan coalition was created to foster, is aimed at producing a bright child who does well in the world.

This means that the thousands who die from preventable poverty, because it is better to extract quinoa, or diamonds, or coffee, or even sex trafficked children, from them, are not part of the consciousness of ordinary members of the developed world. It is not worth the oil to keep them alive. However, that same system has metastasized into the very heart of the developed world. Viewed from the outside, a child being beaten and sold into servitude to make rugs, is no worse that driving someone to suicide, however,  in the second case, the suicide was of one of the people that the society was designed to protect. The same disease kills both the civilians bombed in a geopolitical war, and the young man whose sin was to want to make public knowledge public.

The dominant narrative is that this case represents and abuse. It is not, it is a necessity. Aaron was not the first hacker driven to take his life by the Massachusetts US District Attorney's office. He is far from the first questionable prosecution for computer crimes. Draconian sentences, such as a $675,000 fine for sharing 21 songs, are routine. Aaron Swartz' death was not an abuse of the system, it is the system. His death merely underlines that the profits and benefits of the system are going to fewer and fewer, while the costs to those who do not receive them, are getting higher and higher. It underlines that the kind of people who can run the Red Queen's Race, are increasing divorced from the people the rule over.

This points to a coming moment, where the next wave of people will reach the de Tocqueville Limit:
Ce n'est pas toujours en allant de mal en pis que l'on tombe en révolution. Il arrive le plus souvent qu'un peuple qui avait supporté sans se plaindre, et comme s'il ne les sentait pas, les lois les plus accablantes, les rejette violemment dès que le poids s'en allège. Le régime qu'une révolution détruit vaut presque toujours mieux que celui qui l'avait immédiatement précédé, et l'expérience apprend que le moment le plus dangereux pour un mauvais gouvernement est d'ordinaire celui où il commence à se réformer. Il n'y a qu'un grand génie qui puisse sauver un prince qui entreprend de soulager ses sujets après une oppression longue. Le Mal qu'on souffrait patiemment comme inévitable semble insupportable dès qu'on conçoit l'idée de s'y soustraire.
Or if you prefer the English translation:
It is not always going from bad to worse that a government falls to a revolution. It often happens that people who bear without complaining, and as if they did not feel the laws most damning, violently rejects the weight when it is alleviated. A regime destroyed by Revolution is almost always better than the one that had immediately preceded, and experience teaches that the most dangerous moment for a bad government is usually when it begins to reform. It takes a great genius who can save a prince who undertakes to relieve his subjects after long oppression. Evil patiently endured as inevitable suffering seems unbearable if when one conceives the idea of escape.

In other places he details the softening of feeling toward the public in the late regime, and how this lead to a belief that change was at hand. He was writing this under the Second Empire, and to a great extent was warning the then current government that the prosperity it was producing would not save it from Revolution in due course. 

The de Tocqueville limit, is that point when the people in power no longer see the necessity of the harsh measures required for the order that the run. The very success of an era creates a break between what is done, and why it is done.

The contradiction: Marcy Wheeler patient lays out that creating intellectual rents requires intellectuals, and intellectuals live and breath freedom to read, speak and know. But the government is now dedicated to secrecy. This is exactly correct as far as it goes: the people who are the knowledge workers, who can make value with out buy oil, threaten what is being sold. This contradiction creates intolerable cognitive dissonance. 

Wheeler summarizes it this way: 
The government, when it explains why it will neither prosecute banks for both foreclosure and LIBOR fraud on a massive scale nor for helping drug cartels and terrorists finance their crimes, points to their systemic importance.

The explanation is from the above, we sell information as a rent, but to reduce the cost, we remove the protections of physicality that make it a rent. The post-modern problem was how to do this, the answer is power. What happens when the two arms of that power are in conflict?

While that wealth inequality creates the inability of bright people to access what they need to be intellectuals, that the system of thuggery required to maintain the property system of those rents kills the very people who do the work of creating value. But free exchange, is in opposition to rent. The people who must do the work, now will realize that they are not hindered by bureaucracy, but hunted by technocracy. The game requires that people believe in it, and as dozens of essays show, even people who accept the premise that the work of academics that is not paid for, can be give to another to collect a rent, for example Larry Lessig, cannot stomach the means needed to enforce it. What is policy required, that is ethical under the current system, is no longer morally commensurable.

This was not one prosecutor, it was not an exception, the draconian laws are to protect with overwhelming force that which physics makes difficult.

The next wave is not revolution, but "reform" designed to ease the consciences of those who must run the system, find ways of making the right exceptions, but these cannot be made without creating more corruption: an exception is, by definition, inconsistent, and the same cognitive dissonance will simply alight at the new boundary.

Aaron Swartz died of the system of paper for oil, by challenging the rent that generates paper, and privilege, for those that run that system. But without Aaron, and people like him, that have a boundless faith in meritocracy, the people left behind come to understand that the State, the Society, are intrinsically inimical to the very lives they lead. Reform will weaken the very architecture that enforces the creation of intellectual rents, and path dependent rents of finance and capital creation, but without it, the very people who create the original value which is turned in to product, will be dead, swinging from a cord in their room, to be found by a friend or family member, and mourned by the people who knew them.



  1. great piece of writing, typos and all.

  2. Thank you for taking time from your music project to write this. "In the post-war era, one can define the "post-modern" problem as the point where production of information undermines information monopolies, this includes money, religion, and academia."

    I agree that there was a key inflection point. I would argue that it came when intellectual production became the source of most profits. Intellectual production requires a different structure from product+service production. Trying to squeeze intellectual production into the rules that worked (kind of) for product+service production throttled economic development. This has been partly obscured by profits from arbitraging populations newly entering the capitalist system (Soviet bloc, China, most of India), by Soylent Green-ing 1st world working classes, and by scavenging infrastructure, especially social trust infrastructure.
    But despite these factors keeping up appearances somewhat (and the extensive and sophisticated social apparatus for image manipulation and psychological colonization), the basic reality in the 1st world for decades now has been a system in decay.
    (Question: Which 1st world country is run more humanely and democratically than it was 30-40 years ago? Not comparing one country to another here, but each country to itself a generation or two ago
    Answer: Sorry. Trick question. As far as I know, there is no such country. Not in the 1st world. There was a point where racist and sexist systems were somewhat dismantled. Since then it has been class warfare. Gentler in some places than others.)

    I agree with your portrayal of the larger details, but when it comes to minor elements, such as JSTOR, I think this is not the product of a coherently functioning system, but rather a system slowly breaking down into its component parts. Every shard of the elite for itself, so to speak.
    What distinguishes the Democrats in the US, especially the Obama variety, from the Republicans, is that the Democrats are trying to hold the decaying system together (thus the "efficient" brutality of so much of Obama's government).

    I agree with your praise for Aaron Schwartz and condemnation for those who helped drive him to a tragically early death. A crime against humanity.

    There is one piece that I wish I knew how to spread. It will come some day.
    Meditation and related technologies of inner development, when practiced well, can lead to states that I think might help all of us through these dark days. Not the super spiritual not-of-this-world states, but rather a certain state in which we can see that the kinds of people we need to be in order to create and enjoy the kind of society we want, we already are those people at a deep level.
    It is inherent in our nature. We do not manifest it as societies. Yet. And the fact that it is inherent in our nature does not mean that it will automatically manifest at any time. This is not the Age of Aquarius or the unstoppable march of history either.
    But I think many of us, and more and more as time goes on, can see or at least sense somehow, the much better people and society we could be, yet we are stuck in this one. And we don't know: Is this Amsterdam 1939 (you think it is bad now, just you wait) or East Berlin 1988, hell even 1989 a week before the Wall came down. That is a burden. I think that to know that we share that experience and that the very fact that the current system sticks in our craw is proof of our better inherent nature might help us through the dark days.

  3. To identify some dates for you:

    Luddite movement is 1811, the argument between Malthus and Riccardo about Say's law and equilibrium is in the 1830's. This is the identification of the modern problem of demand and the shift from a subsistence (labor) theory of value to a capital theory of value.

    The post-modern problem, that production is replacing authority based on skill or tenure, is identified by Dada – for example Duchamp's urninal – in the 1920's. Keynes' leisure society formulation is 1936 - almost exactly a century after Malthus' original description. Monetarism and the emphasis on procedural democracy date from the 1940's (Friedman, Justice Jackson), originalism from Justice Black. All of these are post-modern, that is non-axiomic, responses. Post-structuralism becomes visible in the 1950's.

    The profit inflection point is later than the ideological inflection point, because profit is a social permission, and thus will post-date the changing of laws, which in turn lag ideology. Deregulation becomes a core ideological fact of law starting in 1978 (airlines) and 1979 (finance), in response to the arab oil embargo and the increase in oil prices (1973) though the inflection of value is directly related to the Vietnam War (1967). In 1980 15% of profits are finance, in 2000 40%, by 2007, 60%. The paper for oil economy is deliberate construction (see Wanninski "How the World Works")

    "I agree with your portrayal of the larger details, but when it comes to minor elements, such as JSTOR, I think this is not the product of a coherently functioning system, but rather a system slowly breaking down into its component parts." The control over higher education and academic IP is quite deliberate, see DMCA, and its extensions in the Patriot Act, as well as the attempts to pass SOPA (which Aaron was involved in defeating) that it is coherent, as the post points out, is seen by the disproportionate punishments meted out for IP violations of contract, in contrast to common law crimes (criminally negligent homocide) for a discussion on that see Perlstein in Rolling Stone on the FBI inventing terrorists ( http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/national-affairs/how-fbi-entrapment-is-inventing-terrorists-and-letting-bad-guys-off-the-hook-20120515 ) What is disappearing is the ability of higher levels to maintain coherency between actors who are unaware of the larger picture except peripheral. Javert types who know they are defending the status quo, who are morally devoted to it, but can no longer connect the two, and who are increasing seen as excessive (the de Tocqueville Limit: the public will not support the actions the public needs to stay as it is)

    1. Thank you for your detailed reply. It is dense and will take me some time to digest and consider.

      "The control over higher education and academic IP is quite deliberate, see DMCA, and its extensions in the Patriot Act, as well as the attempts to pass SOPA"

      Yes, this is coherent, but I do not think it has that much to do with higher education or academic IP. I think that primarily the national security/"war on terrorism" apparatus is always eager for any excuse to eliminate democratic freedoms. That Hollywood and universities are happy enough to give them cover is fine by them.
      Also, there is another factor at work here, I think. A zombie factor.
      In all zombie stories that I know of, whether they are the slow, lumbering zombies or the fast ones, zombies always have one talent: they can sense the living. The one thing our current system is still good at is sensing that which is truly alive. I don't think this is just politics. It is something going on deep in the human soul, something to do with the inherent structure of an identification with being only a separate being.

      Your description of the decay in terms of Javerts is very good. I would add that there are a lot of simple opportunists in addition to the sincere Javerts.

      Yes, most of the profits are in finance. The rest are in branding and other IP. Little money is made making real things anymore.
      The only forms of knowledge production the current obsolete system can deal with are those that can be constricted into a thing-like form. This is why we have a metastasized financial sector.


  4. You are correcting in identifying sharding of elite interests, but the ability of elites to pass laws 80-7 in the Senate indicates that there is still a wide agreement in the core (see the recent tax deal passing in the Senate). Remember this will be a break down in the core of the game - the players who are at a Nash Equilibrium that is optimizing. As long as there is an optimizing core, there is no need for coordination because "everyone out for himself" makes matters better (formally each iteration is closer to one Nash Equilibrium and Pareto Optimality, and at least as close to both). Even if there are core losers, they can block movement until they are compensated. As long as there is a minisup curve to follow, or which can be imposed, that's all the coherence that a Steve Heynmann needs to go about his business.

    Sharding then can be seen by dysfunctionality, as core players refuse to assent. We can see this, for example in the budget fight, because once upon a time reduction in government subsidies was part of the neo-classical reduction in inflation pressures, but the protection of the financial system, an absolute advantage, requires more spending. Or in otherwords the less oil part of paper for oil is in conflict with the more paper part. Hence the debt ceiling fight, and dysfunction in Washington.

    Where the public is changing is the realization that suburbia is no longer part of the core, they are cattle to be harvested, and what they thought they were getting (retirement, home values, political power, advantages for their children) is no longer so.

    The Democrats are the urban party of finance (more paper, more value) the Republicans are the ex-urban and out suburban party of extraction (import less oil, concentrate more wealth). Thus they are the two wings of an unraveling Reaganite consensus.

  5. So to pin the tail on the donkey:

    Aaron, by downloading, showed he had the unilateral power to improve his position (the game is not at Nash Equilibrium), and he was trying to prove that the game was a stag hunt (cooperation as dominant strategy).

    The persecution showed techies that they are not part of the core of the game (there was move had a unilateral response that was at worst, without cost, name prosecute, and reap the personal benefits to career)

    Academics (e.g. MIT) thought before that allowing the prosecution was cost free to them (the results were at, or close to their line of indifference)

    The result of the moves showed that the game is now a prisoner's dilemma (dominant strategy pessimalizing).

    Thus the people who do not have betray as an option are left realizing their, to use the technical term, fucked (literally, since anal rape is considered as part of the penalty)

    So you are a bit ahead of the curve: the ideology is still coherent, but the vector is towards the point where there is not a large enough core of the game to enforce it.

  6. "the ideology is still coherent, but the vector is towards the point where there is not a large enough core of the game to enforce it."

    You are right that it is coherent enough to keep the thing functioning. However, I don't think it is coherent enough to steer the thing. It can maintain itself but has no direction into or vision of the future. I think this is relatively new. Certainly in the 50s and 60s, the system had direction.
    I think that this lack of direction and vision means that the system is capable of violently attacking any perceived signs of real life, but it is not capable of evolving in any way that will incorporate anyone knew. The game we are playing is musical chairs.
    The elite in China have had a vision and direction: to modernize the country and move most folks into at least the bottom rungs of the 1st world.
    Most of East Asia ran on the same vision and bargain and much still does: the masses STFU and let the elite go about their business, but their business includes most people moving out of poverty.

    (Aside: I am going on very shaky evidence, but I think the Chinese may be succumbing to the Euro-American disease of financialization. If so, they are losing the capacity for direction and a lot of people there will be really, really pissed. The sense I got during a brief visit there was that everyone hates the place (and each other mostly too), but they put up with it in hopes of getting rich (or least middle class) someday.)

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. The difference is that the CCP leadership is aware that screwing things up in China could lead to a catastrophic state failure and another civil war. That's happened enough in Chinese history that people are aware of the consequences, and probably have personal family narratives that include what went down last time. I think people in China, especially younger people are much more interested in freedom of expression,as seen with the recent Southern Weekend protests. Moreover, my contacts tell me that the younger (middle school) generation simply isn't going to "buy" the bargain of STFU and get rich. Partly because the income disparity in China is becoming pretty ridiculous again. For some time (3 years at least) there simply aren't enough jobs for all the college graduates.

      The US is different, in that our elite leadership appears blind to the consequences of a collapse. Their well paid stenographers among the media can't see the warnings of increasing regional separatism, preferring instead to mock the separatists as "insane" or "ridiculous." The problem is that if there are lots of insane people that want to secede and they have security service buy in, then making fun of them isn't going to stop anything.

      But the liberal elite have no choice but to take this line. On the coasts they have done a good job of filtering out any effective radical challengers to the system. They are by and large deeply dependent on the security services to protect them, even though at the rank and file level a lot of the security services have nothing but contempt for people they see as feckless and weak. The white liberal/progressive political movement is so weak it cannot and does not understand how to make inroads into areas in the center of the country, nor does it have any strategy to do this. We can look at the fate of abortion rights in much of the red states as a key example of exactly how well the progressive/liberal movement can protect things it claims it values. Which is to say, it can't.

    3. One of the most important parts of off shoring is it keeps the most reactive and easily radicalized parts of the working and under-class far away, and it makes them more alien to the developed world. Once upon a time, the people rioting in China, among others, would have been "a stone's throw away"

  7. "However, I don't think it is coherent enough to steer the thing."

    Yes, it is fairly clear, even to many former conservatives, that the costs of enforcing the order are going up faster than the profits, which is why almost all political discussion center around what is the next group of poor people to throw into the pot.

  8. I will also add that it is finally being admitted that wealth inequality, the Red Queen's Race of keeping our rich ahead of their rich, is intentional, see NYTimes Magazine quoting Mish:


  9. Have you looked at this case at all:


    It has parallels to what they murdered Aaron over, though it's not as high tech.

  10. Yes, ending fair use effectively means that individuals own nothing, they merely are given a license that may be revoked at whim.

    1. I'm sending a DVD ("All Star Superman") to my godson in Thailand. The DVD companies tried to shove Thailand into a 3rd world ghetto using their CCS (backed by the force of th DMCA) but the Thais just ignore them and watch any DVDs they want.

      (Meanwhile back in the US of A, we put up with disgusting region based censorship as a matter of course. I wonder why they went after Aaron worse than DVD Jon who brought us DeCCS... jurisdiction, probably.)

    2. CSS and DeCSS I always have issues with corporate acronyms.

    3. And if they can change this rule, there is no telling what other rules they can and will change.

  11. In honor of Aaron, I just added your blog to my rss feed. I have just made a new resolution to stop reading anything which does not require me to research any of the embedded words, ideas or history. This post definitely qualifies.

  12. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  13. Typing/proofing flames summarily deleted. If you are too stooopid to understand the connection between tweezing as a gate and IP, then you are too stupid to pay attention to.


  14. Hello Everybody,

    My name is Mrs. Monica Roland. I live in UK London and i am a happy woman today? and i told my self that any lender that rescue my family from our poor situation, i will refer any person that is looking for loan to him, he gave me happiness to me and my family, i was in need of a loan of $250,000.00 to start my life all over as i am a single mother with 3 kids I met this honest and GOD fearing man loan lender that help me with a loan of $250,000.00 U.S. Dollar, he is a GOD fearing man, if you are in need of loan and you will pay back the loan please contact him tell him that is Mrs. Monica Roland that refer you to him. Contact Mr. James Bone via email: (easyloans@outlook.com)

  15. Hello Everybody,

    My name is Mrs. Monica Roland. I live in UK
    London and i am a happy woman today? and i
    told my self that any lender that rescue my
    family from our poor situation, i will refer
    any person that is looking for loan to him,
    he gave me happiness to me and my family, i
    was in need of a loan of $250,000.00 to
    start my life all over as i am a single
    mother with 3 kids I met this honest and GOD
    fearing man loan lender that help me with a
    loan of $250,000.00 U.S. Dollar, he is a GOD
    fearing man, if you are in need of loan and
    you will pay back the loan please contact
    him tell him that is Mrs. Monica Roland that
    refer you to him. contact Mr.James Bone
    via email: (easyloans03@gmail.com)