upon the world
I tell my tales
though spoken for
In hellish scenes
through heaven’s spore
I wish the best
But fear the worst
Can dreams survive
This manic burst?
I get the get
I got the got
It’s not the nought.
Hello old friends
Good bye to foes
God only knows.
Music by Chris McGraw
Lyrics by J. Neil Schulman
Performed by Sleep Rebellion
Video by J. Neil Schulman
Music and Videos Copyright © 2015 by J. Neil Schulman and Chris McGraw
All rights reserved.
“Ideas” can’t be property. “Information objects” may be property but information as such can’t be property. Only things can be owned. If a thing can be copied then it’s a thing. Property rights aren’t the property itself. You can’t point to a right. The debate about IP is a moral debate about human action, the same for any other property right. If you think a novel isn’t scarce, write one people beg to read.
The above YouTube video is probably the cleverest, catchiest, and most cogent argument in favor of eliminating I.P. laws I’ve ever seen. As a piece of advertising for a concept it’s hard to top. Bravo!
Now I will destroy it.
The argument of “Copying is Not Theft” is that by copying a novel, a song, a movie, the owner is still in possession of the original and therefore by making a copy nobody is doing anything to deprive the owner of the original of anything of value.
Clever. Very clever.
But wrong. Very wrong.
Remember the scene in the movie The Net where Sandra Bullock’s character, Angela Bennett, arrives home to find her house empty and a real-estate agent selling it? The real-estate agent has a copy of the deed to the house with a copy of Angela’s signature on it. Hey, those are just copies — Angela still has the originals … somewhere. She wasn’t deprived of anything by the act of making copies, was she?
Let’s say you graduate from medical school and get a diploma, with additional certifications so that you’re entitled to put “MD, FACS” after your name. Now, anyone copying those diplomas and certifications hasn’t deprived you of anything if they perform surgery in your name and a few patients die in the O.R. right?
Or for my last example — and you gotta love this one — you’re a scientist working at a lab that stores various viruses — weaponized anthrax, as an example — that if released could kill millions of people. Hey, you still have all your original security passes, ID’s, and clearances if someone clones your biometric data and uses it to go grab some anthrax and drop it into the Lake Mead reservoir, right?
Come on, Neil, now you’re just being arch, argumentative, and ridiculous. Get to the point — copying a book, or a song, or a movie.
I never left the point. It’s exactly the same subject.
I spend five years of my life writing a novel — go through eight drafts before I finally have it right. That’s a major investment of blood, sweat, toil, and tears.
I put it up for sale on my website as a PDF file, or on Amazon.com as a Kindle file, or get it accepted for sale through iTunes for reading on the Apple iPad.
The next thing I know, all these versions of my novel are free Torrent downloads for which I don’t get anything in return.
Oh, Neil, you still have your original. Copying Is Not Theft. By making a copy I haven’t deprived you of anything.
Except, why should anyone making a rational economic calculation pay me for something they can get for free? So people get the benefits of my five years of blood, sweat, toil, and tears, and my checking account doesn’t have money in it to pay for doctor’s visits and prescriptions needed to treat my Type-II Diabetes.
Or, I spend four years of my life and a half million bucks of my family’s dough — including fourteen cuts in an editing bay — making a movie. Then I put it up for sale on Amazon.com as a Video on Demand. Someone with software to get by any copy protection Amazon.com has takes my movie and presses it into DVD’s for sale in kiosks in Hong Kong … and, once again, as a Torrent.
Now before I even get the chance to sell my movie for commercial distribution — which might get me back the cash, talent, and time invested in making this movie so I can afford to make another one — people are getting the benefit of my blood, sweat, toil, tears, and cash … and I am prevented from self-financing my next movie.
If I invent, compose, or craft something original, it’s part of me. It’s part of my identity.
The basic libertarian principle of liberty starts with self-ownership. Preventing me from owning the sole right to offer copies of things that are part and parcel of my personal identity — preventing me from owning the exclusive right to make copies of what I make as part of my personal identity — is the destruction of my life and liberty … and quite literally could end up killing me.
Think about it. Please. None of this is theoretical for me. This is how I make my living. This is how I survive … or not.
Kyle Bennett (presumably no relation to the fictional Angela Bennett I referred to in the movie The Net) wrote in a comment on my Facebook wall this morning:
All of your examples are of fraud or trespass secondary to the copying. There’s a difference between my selling a copy of “Lady Magdalene’s by J Neil Schulman,” and selling a copy of “Lady Magdalene’s by Kyle Bennett,” or a copy that has different content than the buyer was led to believe it was.
Kyle admits that someone making a copy of “Lady Magdalene’s by J Neil Schulman” and selling a copy of “Lady Magdalene’s by Kyle Bennett” is committing the fraud we call “plagiarism.” Putting your own name on someone else’s work product without their authorization and distributing that mislabeled product as your own is misrepresenting the pedigree and provenance of that product to the end users. It is claiming someone else’s accomplishment as your own. It’s cheating.
So let’s look at the cases where you make copies of something I made and still keep my name on it. That is no longer plagiarism.
It’s now a different form of fraud, which in the art world is called “counterfeiting” and in the world of other commercial products — such as designer clothing or luxury watches — is called “forgery.”
Remember: my first premise here is the libertarian premise of self-ownership. I own my name when it refers back to me, my biographical details, my resume, my accomplishments, the proprietary artifacts I’ve used to generate my reputation, my personal expertise and taste. All of these are elements that when attached to my name make it a personal brand. Someone else using my name — my identity — for things not owned or authorized by me is committing identity theft — and I gave examples of that in yesterday’s article.
But let’s say I write a novel and put my brand — my author’s name on it: J. Neil Schulman. The first claim of authorship of something I write is my byline attached to the writing. In a novel this is on the cover and title page. I write a dedication and acknowledgments, giving the work a purpose and a pedigree. On the copyright page is a claim of ownership — in land terms the posting of a “No Trespassing” sign, to stake out the boundaries of ownership.
Often I will personally affix an additional brand enhancement — my signature. This is called an inscription or an autograph. That takes the particular copy from merely being authentic — authorized by its author — to being an object of memorabilia and gives it additional trade value in the marketplace. If the author is particularly noteworthy then under the right circumstances a personal signature can make an authorized copy many times more valuable than a copy that has merely the original commercial brand authorization.
You see this all the time in designer clothing lines, or perfumes, or celebrity photographs, or luxury watches. All of these products have enhanced market value by affixing a known celebrity brand.
The celebrity brand tells the buyer that the celebrity had personal input into the design, quality control, and manufacturing conditions of the product. The celebrity is risking his reputation if the quality control of the copy fails to meet top standards. This is an argument I made in another of my recent articles — What’s Your Bible? — when I argued:
As a professional writer whose name is his commercial brand, I can no more allow someone else to rewrite me as they like and put my byline on it than the Walt Disney Corporation can allow someone else to publish cartoons of Mickey Mouse buggering Donald Duck.
In a comment in reply to a challenge from a reader, I further wrote:
No true craftsman allows someone else to ruin their work and keep their name on it. A license that allows unlimited rewriting but keeping the original writer’s name on it is an abomination to anyone who gives a damn about the integrity of their work. Deal breaker. … I have contempt for people in any field of human endeavor who don’t care about maintaining the quality of their work product. If that makes me a snob, so be it. I call it having standards.
I have sat next to celebrities at conventions while the star signed personal memorabilia, taking cheaply manufactured objects — photographs of themselves, shirts, objects memorializing their career accomplishments — and charged up to several hundred dollars to sign it for a buyer — with lines around the block for them to do it.
Auction houses and auction websites make markets out of common objects that would be trash except for a celebrity having owned or used or once touched it.
A set of golf clubs or a box of golf balls is worth far more in a pro shop if the brand name “Tiger Woods” is on the label, because by affixing the name of the golf legend the buyer is being told that Tiger Woods had personal input into the quality of the products.
Anyone who copies that box of golf balls with the Tiger Woods label on it — without proper authorization — is committing an act of forgery.
Anyone who copies something I make without my license to make authorized copies is committing Identity Theft against me and some form of fraud against the person to whom they’re providing the copy: either plagiarism if they substitute their own brand or forgery and counterfeiting if they keep my brand name on it.
Sell knock-offs of Tiger Woods label Nike shoes to the wrong person and don’t be surprised if you get capped upside your head, mutha!
The questions of how copyrights, trademarks, and patents are currently defined and enforced by States are an entirely separate issue from the arguments I have been making since the 1980’s about property rights in identity and information objects.
For now I would be entirely satisfied if libertarians and anarchists recognized my property rights in the things I create and respected my right to license copies, using no other enforcement mechanism than social preferencing.
If we ever get there, I would only sign a General Submission to Arbitration with an arbiter whose legal code recognized my property rights in name, brand, identity, and information objects I create.
But if libertarian/anti-statist writers and organizations continue to deny property rights in Identity and Personal Brand — both violated by unlicensed copying of created works — the libertarian movement fails to be an effective defender of the right to self ownership — the center of all libertarian thought — and belongs in the dustbin of history along with all other failed forms of socialism that treat the individual as a slave to the wants and needs of their brothers.
Reprinted from the Journal of Social and Biological Structures, Volume 13, Issue 2, 1990, Pages 93-117
This article was originally my half of a November, 1983
debate, at a supper club meeting of Los Angeles-area
libertarians, on the question “Is Copyright A Natural Right?” I
revised my debate presentation for publication as a booklet
published on December 2, 1983 under the title TOWARD A NATURAL
RIGHTS THEORY OF LOGORIGHT and, on March 16, 1989, for on-line
publication through the Connected Education(r) Library, but it is
still helpful to understand that these arguments are largely
directed to libertarians who already agree with the fundamental
concepts of natural rights, or at the very least presume a
sympathy with libertarian and natural rights philosophy and
It is generally thought that discussion of rights is a
political or ethical issue. In fact, the argument must begin at
the level of basic epistemological and metaphysical premises and
proceed from there.
Antebellum debates on slavery hinged on the question of
whether Blacks were People, thereby having rights, or whether
Blacks were only animals, and therefore could be the property of
People. Political analyses were being made by Southerners in
which they attempted to demonstrate that, economically, slavery
was good because it benefited the Southern economy. And even
moral debates hinged on the metaphysical question: if slaves
weren’t people, but were animals, then what could be morally
wrong in owning them?
It did no good to discuss the morality or economics of
slavery until one had arrived at the simple metaphysical fact
that skin color does not definitively answer the question: What
is a Human Being?
Moral and political questions often hinge on such differing
perceptions of reality. This is one reason such discussions are
often so heated: differing premises at these levels will make one
question the sanity and logical faculties of someone who
disagrees with one’s own obvious conclusions. The feeling for
someone who has a divergent vision of reality is: “He must be
blind or crazy if he can’t see something as clear as daylight!”
So it is that on an issue involving “rights,” one feels an
opponent is not merely wrong, but unbelievably wrong. Even among
professed advocates (and practitioners, one hopes) of reason, it
makes it hard to understand how one who disagrees can be so
obstinate on so easy a question.
That there are disagreements about natural rights even among
strict advocates of them proves that the question is harder
than we might have originally thought.
Therefore, let advocates of human rights not trade insults,
but get down to the business at hand, which is establishing the
premises from which we’re arguing. Then one can either see
whether our views are fundamentally incommunicable to another, or
find basic agreements and proceed from there.
I’d like to start off with an image to have in your minds
during the course of this article–and this image is a mnemonic–
a memory aid–for a point I want you to remember.
You’re in the Land of Oz, and you come across Dorothy, Tin
Man, and Scarecrow at a fork in the Yellow Brick Road leading to
the Emerald City.
Dorothy is arguing to go down one fork of the road, and
Scarecrow is arguing that they go the other way.
After the debate between Dorothy and Scarecrow has gone on
pointlessly for what seems an eternity, Tin Man turns to Dorothy
and says, “We’re never going to settle anything this way,
Dorothy. Don’t you realize that you’re arguing against a Straw
Now, I didn’t say that just to make an atrocious pun–I want
you to keep that image firmly in mind, and I think this will
The reason I started out with this mnemonic–this memory
aid–is that I don’t want to have to answer or defend all the
theories of “intellectual property,” “copyright,” and “patent
law” that I will not be advocating herein.
So let me start out by stating what I am not talking about,
when I advocate what I will eventually be defining as
I am not talking about a grant of privilege from the State.
If it can be demonstrated to me (but I don’t think it can be)
that the only way the concept I am advocating can exist is
through the State granting it as a privilege, then I will concede
outright that it has no place in natural rights theory or
practice, and the concept should be abandoned.
I am also not going to be talking about a defense of ideas
as property, or defending what historically has been called
intellectual property. Whatever the merits of these concepts,
they are not part of the concept I am going to be putting forward
here. Therefore, any attack on “logorights” which involves
disproving the validity of ideas as property or intellectual
property will be arguing against a Straw Man.
What I am going to be doing is to put forward what I believe
to be a new and original concept of copyright–a word which I’ll
be replacing in a few hundred words as inadequately defined for
the concept I’m really advocating.
“Defining A New Concept”
There are two kinds of definitions that can be given.
The first way to define a concept is with a lexical
definition–that is, with a definition by other words, such as
you’d find in a dictionary.
The second way to define a concept is with an ostensive
definition–that is, with a definition abstracted by pointing out
with several examples just what it is you’re trying to define,
and demonstrating what is common to each example and can
therefore be induced from the examples as an isolated concept.
With a new concept, it’s always better to give the ostensive
definition before the lexical, so you can get an idea of some of
the contexts in which the new concept appears.
So before I give you a dictionary definition of this new
concept, I’m going to define it by example several times. I
think the best first example is to be found in the following
Is computer hardware the only thing that can be property, or
can computer software be property also?
And I’d better define those terms for those of you who
aren’t familiar with computer jargon.
In computer terminology, hardware is the computer itself and
all the machinery used with it–the microprocessors, the disk
drives, the monitor, the printer–and software is all the
recorded orderings of bits–recorded information signals–that
you feed into the machinery to make it operate.
And let me be exact in my meaning: because a computer
diskette–a round piece of plastic with a magnetic coating–is
what software is usually stored on, it is common use to refer to
computer diskettes as “software”–but really, the diskette is
hardware, too–and the information on it is actually the
If you don’t believe me on this last point, then listen to
the language that comes out the mouth of a computer user who
plunks down several hundred bucks for a package of diskettes
labelled “Wordstar” that the salesman said contains information
telling the computer to do word processing, if, when the user
gets it home, she discovers that she’s just purchased two
diskettes with random, meaningless characters.
Is it the diskettes themselves that the user has just paid
three hundred bucks for? If so, she just got overcharged by
several hundred dollars–she can buy a package of blank diskettes
for around ten bucks.
Okay, here’s my second example: the same concept in a
You go into a Waldenbooks and plunk down cash for a book
that says on the cover “ATLAS SHRUGGED by Ayn Rand.” You get it
home … and the first sentence is, “It was the best of times, it
was the worst of times.”
Now, what you bought is a book and this book has got
everything that makes a book a book: a binding, hundreds of
sheets of paper with printed ink impressions on it, and a cover.
Let’s even pretend that the book you took home has the same
number of pages, the same dimensions and weight, the same binding
and style of printing as the book with the composition called
ATLAS SHRUGGED. Do you have any just cause of complaint if the
composition of words inside the book turns out to be something
other than what the cover says? If you answer no, then you got
everything you paid for. But if you answer yes, then you are
saying that the composition of words makes this book a different
commodity from the book you thought you were buying, and
therefore you are rightfully entitled to a copy of the
composition of words labelled ATLAS SHRUGGED.
Next definition by example:
A college student figures out a way to put together a few
commonly available hardware items into a cheap device that
moistens stamps without having to lick them. Nobody ever has put
together these commonly available items in this configuration
before. Has she invented anything? Is there anything new that
didn’t exist before? Has she, in effect, performed an act of
An artist does a design logo for a company’s product–let’s
call the product a stamp moistener called Stamplix. Stamplix
stamp moisteners are put on the market with that design logo on
it … and two weeks later the company’s competitor puts that
same Stamplix logo on a different type of stamp moistener they’re
marketing in competition.
Is that second company violating anybody’s property rights?
Now you might have already abstracted the concept from the
examples–but I have to assume you haven’t for the sake of
completeness. In the first case–software–what I was discussing
was orderings of bits; in the second case, the composition of
words in a book; in the third case, a new configuration of
materials; in the fourth case, an identifying mark.
And, what is common to each of these is “logos.”
“Logos” was a word used by the ancient Greeks. In fact,
logos was the word the Greeks themselves used for “word.” But
they meant a good deal more than that: logos meant not only
“word” but also “thought,” “speech,” “science,” “study,” “reason”
and “rational principle.” Logos meant the pattern of creation
manifest in the universe–what we libertarians might refer to as
the principle behind natural laws and natural rights.
Later on, the Christians adopted Logos to mean the Second
Person of the Christian Holy Trinity–identified by them as
Christ when according to them he visited Earth–and the Gospel of
St. John accordingly starts out, “In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
Logos meant “knowledge.” It’s the root behind the suffix
“-ology” found at the end of biology, psychology, technology,
ornithology, herpetology, and radiology.
Logos is the root word behind “logic.”
Logos is also preserved in the modern words “logistics,”
“logarithm”, and “logo”–short for a commercial logogram.
In using the word “logos,” I’ll be going back to what is
meant by all those usages, all of which refer to an observable
order, array, pattern, form, or identity to be found in the
By logos I mean exactly: an order, array, pattern, or form
of information which can be imposed upon or observed in a
material substance: specifically, a thing’s material identity.
It is the logos of bits imposed onto a blank computer disk
that makes it software. It is the logos of words in a book that
makes it a novel. It is the logos of an object to make it
perform a particular task that makes it an invention. It is
the logos of a mark that gives it the ability to identify a
And it is property rights in logos that I’ll be advocating
in this article.
Earlier I mentioned that the word copyright is inadequate to
define the new concept being advocated: property rights in logos.
The new word I’m going to use for property rights in logos
is, as promised before, “logoright.”
Now, for me to defend a particular kind of property right as
being a “natural” right relating to the concept of identity, we
need to understand, first, what do we mean by “identity”; second,
what natural rights and property rights are in general; third,
what property is in general and how it comes to exist; and
fourth, how property rights are established and what they mean in
Only after that ground is cleared is it possible for me to
get to the case for logorights in particular; but by that point,
the logoright case will be seen as only one instance of a general
theory arguing that ALL property rights derive from Identity.
“Things and Their Observers”
Metaphysics as a study questions as one of its subjects what
constitutes an entity and what constitutes its identity, or to
phrase it more colloquially, what a thing is and what is its
“thingness.” Epistemology asks how we can know whether and what
a thing is. Where one begins and the other leaves off is the
main event in the history of philosophical debate.
Let’s start with several divergent views.
In the Platonist view, identity is not an attribute of a
material entity but, merely or not, an attribute of a Soul, or
Ego, or Mind viewing and manipulating this universe in which we
exist but not itself being a part of it. Existence does exist
but it is only the faculty of Reason that breaks existence down
into “identifiable” parts. If a soul/ego/mind perceives a
pattern on a thing, the perceived identity fundamentally remains
an attribute of the soul/ego/mind, rather than the thing itself
which is merely a poor copy of the Original. Identity in this
view resides not primarily in those Things that Exist, but to the
Consciousness which is apart from Existence.
The Nominalist view would be the same view of Identity as
the Platonists, except that the Consciousness in question is part
of Existence. But in any case, “identity” still refers to the
observation rather than that which is observed: existents still
have no identity of their own, apart from identifications made by
souls, or egos, or minds.
The view to which I subscribe, which I would classify in
this respect as Randian, neo-Aristotelian, or “Objectivist,” is
that Identity is a fundamental attribute not of Consciousness as
such, but of an Existing Entity, whether or not a soul/ego/mind
chooses to perform an act of identification of that Entity. This
is my understanding of what Identity means: that the thingness of
a thing is not only that it exists independent of our senses, but
that each entity has a specific nature, with specific attributes
and features, that makes it what it is independent of our senses.
Whether or not a soul/ego/mind is part of existence itself is
moot: in either case, a soul/ego/mind may impose an attribute on
a thing, and thereafter that attribute is an attribute of the
thing itself: something which can be observed, by that or any
other soul/ego/mind, as an objective attribute of that imposed-
Continuing: if an entity has within its nature specific
attributes that are its identity, then either:
(I) One or more of those attributes can be observed in or
duplicated onto another entity, making them in that respect
(II) An attribute cannot exist twice or more, or be
duplicated: no two things could share any attribute, and
therefore each existent would be in all respects a different
entity from every other existent.
Since, obviously, (II) reduces to epistemological absurdity
instantly (if no attributes may be duplicated or shared, we would
have no way of inducing universal concepts from reality at all),
then logically an attribute, or attributes, can be duplicated.
And if all attributes are duplicated, we now have two existents
which are, for all intents and purposes, the same thing: two
separate existents are in the respect under consideration, the
same entity. They are identical.
Some corollary premises follow:
Corollary One: There are fundamentally two things a
consciousness can do with an entity: observe it, inducing
universals which construct percepts and build into concepts; or,
it can impose new attributes in that entity.
Corollary Two: If a new attribute is imposed on a thing,
that thing, in that respect, is different from the way it was
Corollary Three: If a new attribute imposed on an entity
changes the fundamental nature of an entity, it becomes a new
Corollary Four: In the case that a particular attribute, or
set of particular attributes, defines what a thing is, that
attribute or attributes define what is the thing itself: they are
that entity’s identity.
Corollary Five: Impose this identity on a thing, it becomes
an entity of that identity: a thing of that type. Remove that
identity, it is no longer that thing.
Now the metaphysical question on which answer my logoright
position will later rest: Are two separately existing Entities,
sharing the exact same Identity, (A) identical in themselves (that
is, metaphysically the same Entity, though observably not the
same Existent, since each exists apart from the other), or (B) not
identical in themselves but identical only to the consciousness
that perceives them.
I see the answer is necessarily (A), for the same reason
that I rejected the view that an attribute can’t exist twice or
be duplicated: if no two existents can share any attribute, and
therefore each existent is in all respects a different entity
from every other existent, then we would have no way of inducing
universal concepts from reality at all: epistemology itself, by
failing to answer the problem of universals, would reduce to
I also believe that answering (B) at this point, even
starting with Objectivist premises, makes one, for all practical
intents and purposes that follow on this question, either a
Platonist or a Nominalist. That may be all well and good when
discussing realities beyond our experience, but it is to the
“neo-Aristotelians” or “Objectivists” that I will be directing
the remainder of my argumentation, for I believe that regarding
the universe we find ourselves within as anything less than real
leads one quickly to a philosophical discussion suited only to
the Afterlife … which is where denying everyday reality
delivers one rather quickly.
“Natural Rights and Property Rights”
Natural rights and property rights theory has a long history
of development, but it is my purpose here to define natural and
property rights then move on, not trace their history.
And, the best short definition of natural rights and
property rights I can give you is to be found in five paragraphs
from Ayn Rand’s essay, “Man’s Rights,” in the book THE VIRTUE OF
SELFISHNESS–Copyright 1963 by The Objectivist Newsletter, Inc.,
and reproduced here under the Doctrine of Fair Usage:
“A right is a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man’s freedom of action in a social context. There is only one fundamental right (all the others are its consequences or corollaries): a man’s right to his own life. Life is a process of self-sustaining and self-generated action; the right to life means the right to engage in self-sustaining and self-generated action–which means: the freedom to take all the actions required by the nature of a rational being for the support, the furtherance, the fulfillment and the enjoyment of his own life. (Such is the meaning of the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.)
“The concept of a ‘right’ pertains only to action– specifically, to freedom of action. It means freedom from physical compulsion, coercion or interference by other men.
“Thus, for every individual, a right is a moral sanction of a positive–of his freedom to act on his own judgment, for his own goals, by his own voluntary, uncoerced choice. As to his neighbors, his rights impose no obligations of them except of a negative kind: to abstain from violating his rights.
“The right to life is the source of all rights–and the right to property is their only implementation. Without property rights, no other rights are possible. Since man has to sustain his life by his own effort, the man who has no right to the product of his effort has no means to sustain his life. The man who produces while others dispose of his product, is a slave.
“Bear in mind that the right to a property is a right to action, like all the others: it is not the right to an object, but to the action and the consequences of producing or earning that object. It is not a guarantee that a man will earn any property, but only a guarantee that he will own it if he earns it. It is the right to gain, to keep, to use and to dispose of material values.”
Now, Rand uses two phrases in the section I just quoted
which give us the beginnings of what property is and how it comes
about. So I’ll focus on these then expand on them in detail.
The first phrase, when interpolated slightly, is: the
product of a man’s effort.
The second phrase is: material values which are gained,
kept, used, and disposed of.
And these two phrases lead us right into the discussion of
what property is and how it comes into existence.
“The Creation of Property”
What does it mean to say that property is the product of a
man’s–or using a word I prefer, a Person’s–effort?
Do we mean property is that which a Person “creates”?
If so, we need a concept of “creation.”
We are told, by physicists and chemists, that we live in a
universe where matter and energy can be neither created nor
destroyed, but only changed. This change may include the
transformation of matter into energy–or theoretically energy
into matter–but existence does not allow us the possibility of
creation ex nihilo–out of nothingness.
If we start with this premise then it becomes curious–at
the very least–how human beings have talked casually for quite
some time about how anybody “creates” anything.
Why do we speak of engineers “building,” musicians
“composing,” architects “designing?” Each of these speaks of
people, by their actions, bringing into existence something that
wasn’t there before.
Here’s where the concept of logos comes into play again.
Creation is a Person’s action which imposes that Person’s
logos on something which exists to give that thing a unique
identity it did not previously have.
The fundamental act of creation is the act of patterning a
logos on something: patterning notes into a musical composition,
patterning words into a novel, patterning bits into computer
software, patterning ink into a blueprint, patterning steel into
an automobile, patterning images and sound into a movie,
patterning furrows into a farm, patterning flour, water, and
yeast into bread.
There are, of course, questions about greater and lesser
orders of logos that can be brought up now. But I am not arguing
that every act of creation is on an existent that previously had
no identity at all. I am merely saying that the act of creation
is the act of imposing an aspect of a Person’s identity–a
logos–on something to give that object an identity it did not
“The Thermodynamic Paradigm”
As a paradigm, but one which I think is useful only in
proper context, let’s consider creation in thermodynamic terms as
a localized and continuing lowering of entropy.
Entropy is that universal process which takes things from a
state of greater improbabilities to a state of lesser
improbabilities–commonly thought of as the decay of order into
Creation–the act of imposing on natural objects a logos not
naturally found–is the act of moving things from a state of
lesser improbabilities to a state of greater improbabilities.
Some specific examples: iron and carbon are both elements
found in nature–in fact, iron ore can contain carbon in large
amounts. But steel–which requires the combining of a specific
ratio of iron to carbon at specific temperatures for specific
spans of time–is rarely if ever produced by the automatic
processes of nature.
If you make iron and carbon into steel, the resulting
substance is much less probable–therefore it is tempting to use
the language of thermodynamics and say that an act of taking iron
and carbon and creating steel is lowering the entropy of that
iron and carbon. If you take that steel, and press it into
rectangular sheets of even thickness, length, and width, the
result is even less probable–therefore it is tempting to say
that the act of finding steel and creating sheet metal out of it
is lowering the entropy of that steel.
And, if you take that sheet metal, form it into the body of
an automobile, and paint it so the steel doesn’t rust, the result
is less probable still, and it is tempting to say that the act of
taking sheet metal and creating painted auto bodies is lowering
the entropy of that sheet metal.
One should resist the temptation. Taking the “lowering
entropy” argument too far into the area of physical
thermodynamics runs one quickly into problems of both fact and
theory; the comparative “entropy levels” of a car, a piece of
junk, and a chunk of ore are incalculable. Nevertheless, I
believe the “entropic” paradigm of regarding creation as a
“calculable increase in improbability” is sound within the
context of information theory, where one discusses the “entropy”
of a signal; and, in fact, I’m told there are existing formulas,
used by the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI), to
calculate the “improbabilities” of a signal being a “natural”
occurence as opposed to being artifically generated
Unless one accepts a “Watchmaker” argument about the
creation of Earth–that in fact what we believe to be nature is
in fact the artifice of an earlier Creator–bridges are less
probable than rivers, symphonies are less probable than bird-
songs, and houses are less probable than caves. But regardless
of whether the Watchmaker under discussion is mortal or deity,
engineers, composers, and architects each make their surroundings
more improbable of existing than it would be without their
For example, scientists know that Mars has water, so a
Martian river isn’t all that improbable; but photographic
evidence of an artifically constructed bridge across such a
Martian river would double the number of planets in the universe
which we would know to have hosted intelligent life … likely to
be, even without cynicism, one of the most improbable things
Specifically, then, creation is the act of patterning less
improbable substances and objects to produce things more
improbable of having resulted from the automatic processes of
Now, the only sort of creation we’re concerned with in this
discussion is the creation of property–and we find that “things
rarely if ever produced by the automatic processes of nature” is
a good jumping off point for defining property.
What we may, in one sense then, define property as is: that
which a Person makes improbable enough to be generally recognized
as an “artifact.”
If you then compare this definition with the two phrases
drawn from Rand–the product of a man’s effort and material
values which are gained, kept, used, and disposed of–you find no
contradictions and a good deal of implied overlap.
Now I want to focus on Rand’s phrase “material value” long
enough to point out the following: Rand’s definition of “value”
is “that which one acts to gain or keep” and a material value
would by her definition be “something material which one acts to
gain or keep.”
Since the question of materiality is one which will come up
again later, I wish to point out that Rand’s use of the word
material in this context did not prevent her from referring to as
property things not comprised of matter such as radio
frequencies, in her essay “The Property Status of Airwaves” in
CAPITALISM: THE UNKNOWN IDEAL or patents and copyrights in
“Patents and Copyrights,” her very next essay in that book.
Before I leave the area of defining property, I wish to
bring out what libertarian property theoretician Robert LeFevre
used for his tests in his book, THE PHILOSOPHY OF OWNERSHIP.
LeFevre asked three questions:
First, is that which is said to be property claimed by
Second, does that which is said to be property have boundary
And third, is that which is said to be property under an
And these lead us to the next discussion necessary before we
get to logorights:
“Establishing and Using Property Rights”
Let me quote once more Rand’s statement on property rights:
“Bear in mind that the right to a property is a right to
action, like all the others: it is not the right to an object,
but to the action and the consequences of producing or earning
that object. It is not a guarantee that a man will earn any
property, but only a guarantee that he will own it if he earns
Therefore, a property right by its very nature refers to an
action with respect to a property.
The question arising in the establishment of property rights
is: what actions are required to gain rights with respect to that
And, the definitions of property we’ve already discussed
provide (in no particular order) the following answers to the
establishment of property rights:
That which is to be your property must be valued–that is,
you must act to gain or keep it.
That which is valued as your property must be claimed as
property–that is, it must be publicly available knowledge that
you are declaring it your property.
That which is being claimed as property must in some sense
be a product of human effort. It must be created–that is, a
Person must take it from a state of lesser improbability to a
state of greater improbability.
The claim to the property must be defined within observable
And, the property must be subject to the control of the
person claiming it.
The question arising once property rights have been
established are: what actions is the owner permitted respecting
And, the question of what actions the owner is permitted
respecting that property are dependent on the question: what
rights specifically does the owner have in this property?
The best way to show the import of this is to give some
Do I have the right to build a house on this lot and live in
Do I have the right to raze the building on the next lot
over and build a three-car garage?
Do I have the exclusive right to use this driveway, or is
there a public right-of-way?
Do I have the right to eat this sandwich?
Do I have the right to divert this stream so the water
doesn’t flow to the next parcel of land?
Do I have the right to broadcast radio signals on a certain
frequency, at a certain power output, from a certain location,
during certain times of the day?
Do I have the right to take this book home from the
bookstore–and what may I do with it when I get it home?
Note than none of these actions requires the property itself
to be anything: the property right–being a statement referring
to the definitions of moral action–adheres not to the property,
but to the owner and actions that owner may or may not take with
respect to that property.
One last set of property rights concepts, and then we’ll be
ready to discuss logorights.
“Exclusive Use, Consumption, Bundles of Rights, and Properties”
From the instant a property is created and claimed by a
Person, all rights to that property are held by that Person–who
I’ll refer to as the property’s First Owner.
Since property results from an act of creation, it should
come as no surprise that the answer to the question of what an
owner of may do to a property includes its consumption.
Ultimately, an owner may exercise property rights to the complete
destruction of that property, without the consent of anyone who
does not share rights in that property.
Again using a thermodynamic paradigm, it would be tempting
to say that the entire process of owning property begins with a
lowering of its entropy, continues with maintaining its entropy
at a level relatively lower than that of the natural substances
from which it is made, and ends with consuming that property
until its entropy is as high as the condition in which its First
Owner found it–at which point it is consumed entirely and ceases
to be property as such.
What ownership of a property means is that all rights to
exploit, consume, keep unconsumed, control, destroy, trade, or
otherwise decide the ultimate disposition of a property may be
made by its owner without sharing the decisions regarding the
property–or its benefits–with anyone else.
That property–by its very nature–is owned to the exclusion
of all non-owners: any use of that property by anyone other than
the owner requires the owner’s permission.
When an owner creates a property, that property is totally
and exclusively its owner’s.
Here we have the necessity of property rights to begin with:
the origin of property rights stems from the need of adjudicating
conflicting claims about the exclusive use of something.
Since a property can only be owned exclusively, property
rights are the means of determining who holds the exclusive claim
on that property.
Utilitarians argue that these claims should be adjudicated
for the benefit of society as a whole: “the greatest good for the
greatest number.” The utilitarian premise is at the base of all
non-theistic political systems: democracy, republicanism,
communism, fascism, socialism, national socialism, and
militarism. Even the worst dictator claims to act in the best
interests of “the people” or “the will of the blood” or “the
proletariat” or “the folk.”
Libertarians, on the other hand, say that property rights
adhere not to society but to the individual Person, arising out
of the specific nature of humans having to control their material
environment in order to survive as rational beings. To survive,
a human being must be able to control the environment–that human
being’s domain. To control that domain, the human being must
identify the nature of each existent in the environment, and
arrange them all in such patterns that they contribute to the
purposes of survival and well-being.
Since the right to pursue survival and well-being is
distributed universally, no good or utility to one person or
group can be greater than the good or utility of any other person
or group. There is no possible “calculus” of good that can say
that one person’s or group’s rights outweigh another’s; a right
is a moral absolute allowing no exceptions or head-counting.
The necessity of property being, by nature, exclusive stems
from the necessity of dedicating an object to a specific
function–giving it a form to perform that function–and having
some security that the form to perform that function will not be
interfered with by someone else.
And, this is precisely what the act of creating a property
is: the act of imposing a new form on something found in a more
probable condition to dedicate it to a function that is highly
improbable of being performed without that imposition.
The creation of property, therefore, is an act necessary to
human survival–and as such the requirements of our survival as
human beings sanction our taking those actions, and those
sanctions are called rights.
Now, because the first ownership of any given property is
total and exclusive ownership, the owner can dispose of the
property in any fashion that owner sees fit.
The owner can choose to abandon the property–in which case
it reverts to a state of not being owned anymore.
The owner can choose to sell the property.
The owner can choose to break up the property into smaller
parts, and sell those parts.
The owner can turn it into junk–then call the junk art.
Switching context to the first definition of “property”
found in WEBSTER’S COLLEGIATE DICTIONARY–“a quality or trait
belonging to and especially peculiar to an individual or thing”–
it is correct to say that this property consists also of its
And we can see from this first definition how use of the
word “property” as something belonging to an owner came about:
that which was owned was thought of as a quality or trait–a
“property” in the first definition–of the owner itself.
Therefore, it is etymologically correct to refer to each
property–each quality or trait adhering to that which is owned
as a whole–as a property as well.
This leads us to the additional possibility that an owner
may choose to break the property down into its constituent
properties–that is, each of the various qualities or traits
adhering to the property as a whole–and sell, as a separate
property, the right to exploit that quality or trait.
When this is done, a property is said to be made up of a
bundle of rights which are then broken into distinct and
separable rights–each separate right referring to a separate
action that can be taken with respect to the property in
Two cases showing how “bundles of rights” are dealt with in
respect to land use will illustrate this.
If I own a parcel of land outright, then I own all the
rights–the entire “bundle”–in that parcel of land, and I may
exercise any and all of those rights as I see fit.
As I’ve said, this is the situation enjoyed by a property’s
First Owner or creator.
However–and this is a big however: a previous owner may
have broken up the bundle of rights on her parcel of land–the
bundle of rightful actions that may be taken with respect to that
land–and sold me only the single right to build a house on that
land. The right to dig a coal mine there can be owned by someone
In this case, then, the rights to the various actions that
can be taken with respect to it have been divided up by quality
or trait among more than one owner–and the owner of each
particular property right must exercise that right in such a way
that it does not interfere with rights held by other rights-
The various discrete properties taken from the original
property are still owned exclusively–but the original property
itself is no longer under the exclusive domain of a single owner.
We are now ready to ask whether there are, in fact, property
rights in logos–whether logorights can be property.
“Does Logoright Exist?”
Earlier in this discussion, I referred to the necessity of
imposing a logos on material objects as a precondition to
creating them as property.
That is not the question under discussion.
Having established that an object receiving an imprint from
a Person’s logos becomes that Person’s property–has it been
established as well that the logos which the Person is imposing
also can be owned as a separate property?
The answer is yes.
Here’s how it happens.
When a logos is imposed on matter, creating a new property,
the logos becomes a material quality of the property it is
imposed upon. Simultaneous with the creation of a new property,
the logos becomes the trait of that property to display the logos
itself, which includes the possibility that the logos can be
copied onto other matter and make that property as well.
Starting from the creation of a new property, the First
Owner has total and exclusive ownership of that property and all
its different parts, qualities, and traits: all its different
One of the properties included in this total ownership of
the created property is therefore the logos itself.
Consequently, if the First Owner–or any subsequent owner of
the total property–decides to break the property into bundles of
rights–and maintain ownership of some of those rights while
selling others–this is perfectly within that owner’s
Now, this next point is crucial:
Placing any restrictions on how the owner may dispose of the
property–or its constituent properties–would deprive that owner
of the exclusive and total ownership which belongs to a first
You cannot attack the rights of a total owner to divide up
rights to that property without destroying the concept of
property being exclusively that owner’s.
And, a property right not exclusively owned is not a
property right at all.
Once the property is broken up into separate properties–
each property requiring a separate right to exploit that quality
or aspect–each property right from the original bundle of rights
can be traded separately.
Remember: rights–being moral sanctions of what action a
Person may take with respect to a property–adhere not to the
property itself, but to the owner.
If you declare that property rights are inherent in the
property rather than in the owner, then you are reduced to the
absurdity of saying that property–apart from the actions of its
owner–is capable of committing moral or immoral acts.
Thus, is is perfectly within the prerogatives of that owner
to maintain ownership to the rights in the logos–the
logorights–in that property, by valuing it, claiming it,
defending its boundaries, and continuing to control it.
“Four Tests of Property”
Let’s take those four points one at a time.
First. Is the logoright of value?
Yes. Remember Rand’s definition of value: that which one
acts to gain or keep.
The owner has either created the logos–thus demonstrating
that it is something worth gaining–or the owner maintains
ownership in it–thus demonstrating that the logoright is
something worth keeping.
If you say the logos doesn’t have value, then why does
imposing a logos on two dollars worth of computer diskettes make
them several-dollars worth of software?
A blank diskette and a diskette with a logos of information
on it are two separate goods with two separate qualities: two
different properties which can easily be told apart.
Perhaps you can’t tell those diskettes apart by looking at
them, but my computer surely can: if I stick in one diskette with
a certain logos of information on it, the computer’s display
gives me an OPENING MENU. When I stick in a blank diskette–
otherwise identical–it says: NOT A VALID SYSTEM DISK.
And if a logos has no value as a separate property from that
object which it is imposed upon, why would you be upset it you
brought home the book you thought was ATLAS SHRUGGED and found
that the first sentence was not, “Who is John Galt?”
To state the principle explicitly:
If a logos has no value in itself, then removing it from the
objects on which it is found should make no difference in the
values found in those objects.
As a corollary: the value of the logos is demonstrated by
removing it from an object and seeing whether that object is
valued as a separate good or commodity.
Second. Does the owner claim the logoright?
Yes: and here’s where the term copyright may be used exactly
Copyright is a claim of a logoright–and the claim is made
by embedding what is called a “Copyright Notice” onto the logos
being claimed–putting anyone finding that logos on notice that
the property rights in logos are owned and not open for a new
The nearest equivalent in common law requires the posting of
No Trespassing signs on land if you wish to preserve the
exclusivity of your property rights to prevent the land from
lapsing into being a public thoroughfare.
I might also add at this point that registration of the
copyright is the exact equivalent to the registration of the deed
on a piece of land: a formal recorded proof that the property
rights are claimed as of a certain date by a certain owner.
Such registration, of course, need not be with a State, but
merely with a person, company, or organization generally trusted
to maintain such records.
As an example of private copyright registration: the Writers
Guild of America maintains an office for depositing copies of
screenplays and screen treatments as proof that a certain person
had possession of it on a certain date. Such proof is commonly
used in private arbitrations, performed by the Writer’s Guild,
regarding disputes over rights and credits.
Third. Can the owner of the logoright ascertain the
boundaries of her property rights–that is, are there limits to
that which is being claimed?
The answer to boundaries–limits–on a logos is again “yes.”
But–and this is a crucial point to be understood–limits always
are dependent on the nature of the property right being claimed.
When one speaks of boundaries of property rights in land,
one speaks of dimensions of area.
When one speaks of property right boundaries in the radio
spectrum, complaining that there are no boundaries of an
electromagnetic wave’s area would be meaningless: in defining the
limits of that kind of property, one rightly speaks of limits in
an electromagnetic wave’s amplitude and frequency.
And, when one speaks of the property boundaries on a logos,
one speaks of the limits of identity, the signal of which is
defined and limited by the principles of information theory, and
the content of such signal which must be defined by each use to
which the information can be put.
In discussing the identity of a logos as a signal, one
discusses its limits and boundaries in terms of the minimum
number of informational bits necessary to identify that logos as
a distinct creation, the resolution of a logos, the threshold of
predictability of that logos as against background noise, and
other criteria commonly used in dealing with information storage
In discussing the identity of the logos as content, one must
make a metaphysical argument. Since by definition, each logos
has a specific informational identity that differentiates, binds,
and delimits its nature–the qualities and traits through which
it is capable of being exploited–the boundary limits here are
set by its identity itself.
Now, I can anticipate the following question at this point:
Since a logos can be copied infinitely without depriving the
owner of the original, how can you say that a logos is a scarce
resource and therefore an economic good?
The first answer here is: The scarcity of a logos is a
function of its being, like all other kinds of property, a
product of human effort. Someone had to put work–the scarce
resource of human labor–into the production of the logos in the
first place–and storing that labor in a recorded form–
patterning the logos into a material object as a material value–
constitutes the creation of a scarce good–a property.
But the answer here that I prefer to give is: if this logos
is so damned unlimited as not to be an economic object–then why
do you want to reproduce mine?
The limits on this kind of good are not drawn by its
infinite ability to replicate itself, which is a way in which the
logos is not limited. However, just as property rights in the
radio spectrum are not limited by area but by amplitude and
frequency, the limits on logoright are not to be found in its
ability to be infinitely reproduced, but in the finite identity
to be exploited for its qualities and traits that distinguish any
given logos from any other logos.
In terms used by economists, when defining the scarcity of a
logos we must look to limits of horizontal competition between
different kinds of goods, rather than to the limits of vertical
competition within a kind of good.
The fourth and last test: does the logoright’s owner control
Most definitely, in three ways:
The owner of a logos controls property rights in that logos
by maintaining ownership of the logoright and “licensing”–that
is, leasing–the various rights.
The owner of a logos, through limiting the license to
reproduce the logos, is preserving the integrity of that logos.
And, the owner of a logos is using that logos as a
producer’s good to create consumer’s goods.
You hear libertarians speak a lot about human rights and
property rights–but what I’m most used to hearing about–as a
working writer–are primary rights and subsidiary rights:
hardcover rights, trade paperback rights, mass-market paperback
rights, electronic rights, first serial rights, transcription
rights, character rights, story rights, merchandising rights,
dramatic rights, movie rights, episodic TV rights, live TV
rights, radio rights, English rights, and foreign language
Each of these is a separate right in the bundle of rights
created with the original property–a separate action to be
performed by using the logos–and each one can be sold or
licensed separately as the logoright owner wishes.
“If A Thing Can Be Copied, Then It’s a Thing”
Traditional arguments against copyright have begun by asking
how one is depriving a person of her property by copying it and
using the copy, since presumably the owner still has the
I submit that the first question is not whether someone’s
rights are being violated by copying but whether, in fact,
anything exists which can be copied.
If a human being isn’t performing an act of creation by
imposing an identity on an existent making it a new entity, then
there is literally no thing which can be copied in the first
place. If there is something distinct and observable which can
be copied, the case for it having been newly created by someone
is already made, and–to the propertarian who already believes
that that which is newly created is the property of its creator–
the case for exclusive property rights in that new thing follow
directly upon the self-evident axiom of property identity.
Conversely, if there is no identity to speak of, then there
is nothing there to be copied that is distinguishable from
anything else, and there is no question to debate at all. The
pro-unlimited-copying case bites its own tail in saying that that
which may be copied without limit does not exist at all, and
therefore the argument reduces itself to absurdity.
The rule by which one recognizes an axiom is that if denying
something logically requires that itself which is being denied,
then that which is being denied is self-evident. Therefore, the
pro-unlimited-copying case just reaffirms the axiomatic nature of
the material identity of that which is being copied as a distinct
entity–material identity being the definition of a logos which I
presented earlier in this article. Denying the very existence of
material identity as a distinguishable property of a thing leaves
no Distinguishing Property to debate further.
Since That which one Creates, Owns, Consumes, Buys, and
Sells is an Entity, not merely an Existent, then it is irrelevant
that the Identity (thingness, if you will) can be observed in or
duplicated onto more than one Material Existent. What a Creator
Creates, what an Owner Owns, is an Entity (including that
Entity’s Identity) and it is a reductionist argument to a thing’s
materiality as an existent, rather than its being an entity
having identity, to deny ownership because more than one existent
The “lack of scarcity” argument fails in not recognizing
that the scarcity, on which the concepts of property
and economics rest, refer to the scarcity of an entity qua its
identity: it is scarce by being limited to its identity. It can
be no other. That an entity can be in or on more than one
existent is irrelevent to the questions of ownership.
When it comes to questions of identity, the copy IS the
original; an entity is an entity: A is A.
One may wish, at this point, to expand the discussion to
entities which are similar but not exactly identical, and put
forward the position that each copy is a different entity as well
as a different existent.
The discussion would then have to continue to take in
boundary effects and threshhold limits of which attributes define
an entity and which do not, but the principle would remain
intact. Such boundary problems and threshhold effects relate to
all questions of ownership and property–otherwise shining a
flashlight onto someone’s lawn could be considered, on the face
of it, photon invasion of that property. Obviously whether
damage is or is not done to the lawn has to be asked at some
point: this is what I mean by boundary limits and threshhold
It strikes me that the clearest illustration I can give that
property rights are dependent on a thing’s identity, not merely
on its material existence, is the following question: have I
violated your property rights if I pulverize your car, but leave
you in possession of every microgram of dust?
Answering no defeats one’s argument by reducing to
But if one answers yes, then what one is claiming ownership
of was a thing–an entity–and one must claim that by removing
the identity of that thing I have violated one’s property rights.
This concedes that property rights are bound to the identity, as
well as the mere existence, of a property, and if this is so,
then does it not follow that the ownership of that property’s
identity is as exclusive to its owner as everything else about
Thus, to a propertarian, my logoright case is proved by the
Law of Identity alone, regardless of whether my further
theorizing regarding a thermodynamic model of property-creation
furthers my case or does not.
“Refinements and Objections”
This next section will treat some of the objections to
logoright that were brought out both during and after the debate
for which this article was originally written, and refine the
concept to demonstrate how these objections do not invalidate it.
Objection One: A logos is nothing tangible; it is an idea
and therefore not capable of being owned.
Answer: I am answering an objection usually brought against
copyrights and patents because these have been defined as the
products of ideas, and defended with the concept of “intellectual
But the theory of logorights as presented herein does not
treat logos as being a product of an idea: it is treated simply
in terms of information which is observable in material form.
“Information”–as a term used in information theory–does
not require that which is being dealt with as information to have
meaning or purpose; it need only perform a function. Information
is a mathematical, rather than a teleological, concept.
As such–speaking colloquially–we’re in a whole new
ballgame when discussing a concept of property rights in logos,
which is a discussion not of “intellectual property” but of
Objection Two: By saying that only the owner of a logoright
is entitled to the profits from making a copy, aren’t you denying
the profits accruing to the labor of those who copy it?
Answer: Not at all. Copying a logos is a separate act from
creating a logos, and must be compensated separately. If I write
a logos on a manuscript, I must pay someone if I am to be
entitled to their labor in copying it–and if they copy it onto
their own materials, I must pay for that, too. This happens
every time a manuscript is taken to a quick printing store to
However, the question really being asked is: doesn’t the
labor of copying something entitle someone to the rights accruing
to the ownership of the logos?
And the answer to that question is a clear no. That labor
is involved in copying something makes no statement and produces
no claim over someone else’s property.
If it did, the labor used in stealing a car could be used as
a case for transfer of property rights in that car.
Property rights must be determined first, then and only then
do questions about the profits accruing to labor done on or with
that property arise.
The most exact analogy here to the taking of a property,
applying labor, and producing additional properties is that of a
factory–let’s say for simplicity that it’s an automobile
The factory as a property is a “producer’s” good, and it is
owned by whoever created that factory or the owner’s market
descendants. Workers come into the factory and–applying their
labor on new materials using that factory–produce the consumer’s
good of the automobile.
Would one therefore conclude that the workers own the
automobiles they are producing?
If you say that, then you are back to “labor theory of
value” and discount the necessity of capital in the production of
Even if the workers were bringing their own raw materials
into the factory and producing automobiles, this would not be
sufficient to establish their titles over the produced
automobiles: it would first have to be established that they had
the right to use the factory as a producer’s good.
Likewise, the logos is a producer’s good for which the
rights must be obtained before it may be used to create
additional goods–whether those goods are additional producer’s
goods or consumer’s goods.
Objection Three: How can you say that a logos is a separate
property since it can be imposed on someone else’s property?
Answer: the same way that a house can be a separate property
from the land it is on.
Objection Four: What about two or more people who come up
with the same invention or story independently? Who owns the
Answer: As I’ve discussed earlier, creation means the taking
of something from a state of greater probability to a state of
To the extent which a given logos of invention or story can
be produced independently more than once, to that extent the
probability is still great enough to question whether an act of
creation has been performed at all.
One of the objections brought against copyrights and patents
can be dealt with this way: that a person being sued for
infringing on a previous copyright or patent has had the burden
of proof in demonstrating that their story or invention is a
separate and distinct creation from that which they’re accused of
Here is precisely a case where information theory provides
answers to definitional problems that previous theories were
unable to deal with.
By using a process of correlation of the information in each
logos, one can find out precisely how much overlap exists between
Only if the correlation is proven by the petitioner to be
significant enough to warrant a charge of copy infringement would
independent creation have to be established as a defense by a
respondent. If the respondent succeeds in demonstrating
independent creation, then the petitioner’s original “creation”
wasn’t inherently improbable, therefore questionable as a unique
creation–and therefore possibly not property at all–for either
In a practical sense, however, I think twin logoses of
sufficient complexity and resolution to be considered created
property at all are about as likely as a million monkeys typing
for a million years and producing the play Hamlet.
Objection Five. What about a case where a randomly
generated logos is found and claimed as property? Has an act of
creation taken place? Can there be property rights in something
randomly or accidentally produced?
Answer: Any given logos–to be considered a logos at
all–must be, in some sense, unique. The shape of a blade of
grass is neither complex enough nor uncommon enough to qualify as
a logos. Where a unique array has been produced by random or
natural processes–and a person decides, for whatever reasons–
that it is worth preserving, it is the act of preserving that
array that is the essential act of “increasing improbabilities”
which is the definition used herein for the creation of a logos.
Objection Six. What about a person who copies a logos
accidentally? Isn’t that person potentially a victim of the
owner of the logoright?
Answer: this case is exactly equivalent of an accidental
trespasser on someone’s land.
In common law decisions, it has been determined that land
must be clearly posted with No Trespassing signs to remove the
liabilities involved in a trespasser coming to harm on your land.
The “Copyright Notice” is prominently placed on a logos for
the same reason: to warn trespassers that they are responsible
for their own liabilities if they violate the owner’s property
Objection Seven. Isn’t the “Doctrine of Fair Usage” you
relied on before an admission that the exact point at which using
a logos becomes a property violation can’t be determined
The “Doctrine of Fair Usage” is a legal definition in use
under current–and admittedly statist–copyright laws.
It is a utilitarian decision that says that so long as the
use of part of a copyrighted work is educational or isn’t a
significant enough part to adversely affect the market value of
that work, it will be considered that the property owner is going
to allow this as a courtesy to the public–whether that owner
likes it or not.
Nevertheless, the utilitarian basis of this decision does
overlap similar common law decisions regarding courtesies and
rights of access in private lands–which is also a utilitarian
As a strict propertarian, I would have to say that the use
of the smallest identifiable part of a logos–that is,
identifiable by an objective process such as correlation–
requires its owner’s consent.
However, as the owner of a number of logoses, myself, I am
willing to allow “fair usage” as a general courtesy to the
public, which includes many logos owners some of whom have
logorights not protected by the State, and I am presuming–until
otherwise challenged by a particular logos owner–that such
courtesy is also being granted to me.
I do, of course, risk having to pay restitution if my
assumption of reciprocal courtesy turns out to be mistaken.
Objection Eight. Doesn’t a logoright restrict the contents
of a person’s mind? Are you going to say a logos can’t be
memorized–that is, the logos imposed on a human brain? Are you
going to then say that a person can’t use the memorized contents
of her own mind in any way she sees fit–including the imposition
of it on matter?
Answer: Assuming that the logos can be taken intact into a
human brain, then that copy of the logos has been swallowed by
that person–in the same way that if I take a diamond and swallow
it, that diamond ceases to exist as recoverable property while it
is in my stomach.
In neither case would someone have a right to violate the
boundaries of that person’s sphere of self-ownership to retrieve
either the swallowed diamond or the swallowed logos.
However, swallowing someone else’s property does not
constitute a transfer of property rights, which–being a
statement of morally permissible action relating to a property–
attach not to that property but to the owner.
Swallowing someone else’s property does not constitute in
itself a transfer of property rights to that property, even
though the owner of the swallowed property may not invade you to
Moreover, if while that logos resides within you it
stimulates better digestion–that it, aids you in creative
efforts of your own–then that good digestion is yours to keep,
regardless of whatever rights the logos’s owner may have in the
But if the person who swallowed the logos reimposes that
logos on outside matter–if the person redraws the blueprint from
memory or retypes the novel from memory or reproduces an
invention from memory–then the logos to be found in matter must
still be regarded as the property of the logoright’s owner: in
essence, the person reproducing the logos without obtaining the
rights has just regurgitated or passed the diamond again, and the
true owner has the right to demand that her property be returned.
Objection Nine. What about the reenactment or performance
of a logos–such as singing in my shower? Since I am not copying
or reimposing on matter that logos, how can I be said to be
violating the logos owner’s rights?
Answer: Logoright is not, per se, copyright–restricting
only the right to copy onto matter. Logoright refers to any use
of a logos, each use of which is a separate right in the bundle
of rights created with the logos.
Again: “right” refers to an action which a person may or my
not take with respect to a property.
The right to reenact or perform a logos is a use of that
logos, and often–such as with live performances of musical
compositions or plays–the rightful use must be licensed from the
However, in all the cases of copyright I have ever heard
about, I have never heard of someone being successfully sued for
singing someone else’s song in the shower. Presumably this is
not a public performance?
I suspect the absence of such case law would survive the
demise of the State and its copyright laws, to a society which
recognizes and enforces the concept of logoright.
Objection Ten. Isn’t it a historical fact that as soon as
printing presses were invented kings began handing out copyright
protection? Isn’t this proof that copyright has always been
nothing more than another grant of monopoly by the State, and a
privilege that is dependent on the State for its existence? Even
today, isn’t it the existence of copyright laws itself that has
led to the domination of publishing by a few oligopolies?
Doesn’t a value-free analysis of the publishing market
demonstrate that eliminating copyrights wouldn’t affect authors
much since (a) most books published are for the first time and
(b) an author’s royalties are only a small percentage of the
price of a book? Since most of the income an author receives
comes up front as an “advance,” isn’t it true that an outright
sale from an author to a publisher wouldn’t make much difference
to the author anyway?
Answer: These arguments were raised by Samuel E. Konkin III
in an article titled “Copywrongs,” published in a magazine titled
THE VOLUNTARYIST in the year following the debate that sparked
this article. Since the editor of THE VOLUNTARYIST at the time
was Wendy McElroy, who was the other half of this debate, I took
her commissioning of Konkin to write on this subject as a
reaction to my presentation. Since Konkin is a long-time
libertarian ally, and one with whom I have usually sided on most
issues, I found it worthwhile to write a response to his article.
THE VOLUNTARYIST did not, however, see fit to print my response.
Some of the more general arguments contained in my unpublished
reply to Konkin have been incorporated into this version above;
the segment that I include here deals directly with Konkin’s
arguments, and I’ve eliminated duplication of text used elsewhere
in this article. I’ve also updated my reply as necessary. Those
wishing a copy of the original “Copywrongs” article can obtain it
from Samuel Edward Konkin III, P.O. Box 1748, Long Beach, CA
Herewith my reply to Konkin’s “Copywrongs”:
“To start off with, I am dubious regarding the usefulness of
concentrating on a value-free or even value-laden analysis of
copyright until a factual metaphysical question is settled: is
that which copyright protects with the status of property rights
something which actually exists, or is it, at best, a delusion
and, at worst, a vicious fraud? …
“Of course Sam did say that ‘The point of all this vulgar
praxeology is not just to clear the way for the moral question.
The market (praise be) is telling us something. After all, both
market human action and morality arise from the same Natural
“And so I agree with Sam in principle, if not with his
application. The question is: what is the natural law here? The
answer is: the Law of Identity. …
“But even leaving this aside–if one can leave metaphysical
facts aside–Sam’s value-free economic case is standing on
quicksand, since he is arguing from empirical observation of
current market conditions–a dangerous thing for a libertarian to
do, since it can so easily be turned back against us.
“For example, we argue in libertarian theory that monopolies
can’t arise in a free market. A liberal then points to existing
monopolies. And we retort, ‘We don’t have a free market today to
point at–what you’re seeing is monopolies in a state-controlled
economy.’ And, Sam would have to agree that the market his
empirical case examines is state-controlled, since he’s arguing
that the current market is structured by, among other factors,
the current copyright laws.
“But, copyright is only one of the many ways the state has
intervened into the publishing industry. (I assert that the
effect is largely neutral as compared to a purely propertarian
marketplace since the state intervention roughly parallels the
actual property rights.) In the publishing industry, as in all
other industries, there has been endless non-copyright state
intervention: limited liability laws, anti-trust suits preventing
publishers from owning bookstores, labor laws creating union
shops, wartime paper rationing, interstate commerce regulations,
obscenity laws, tax laws, postal and shipping regulations, FCC
“I would therefore caution anti-copyright debaters of a
libertarian persuasion to be very hesitant at looking at any
current market condition and categorically asserting that any
particular factor, such as copyright, is the final cause of any
particular market end state, even though–in Sam’s observation
that most of that which is published today is for the first
time–I believe Sam has, in fact, shown a final cause which
destroys his own praxeological case.
“I would also caution anti-copyright libertarians against
assuming their conclusion in using anti-monopoly and ‘privilege’
rhetoric against copyright. Arguments against ‘monopoly
privilege’ in the exclusive ownership of a logos ignore the
fundamental difference between all property rights, which are
monopolistic in the sense of being held exclusively, and monopoly
practices, which are invasive.
“Moreover, that printing presses and state grants of
copyright protection arose at the same time in history is not
conclusive evidence that the state was not protecting that which
would be considered property in a stateless society anyway. It
is only circumstantial evidence of two events coinciding–a
‘coincidence.’ The same ‘argument from coincidence’ could be
used against any property right–proper or not–arising from new
technology under current state law. Since the state claims the
airwaves as ‘public property’ which as a ‘scarce resource’ is
licensed ‘in the public interest,’ are we likewise–by the
argument from coincidence–supposed to conclude that broadcast
frequencies are not potential property?
“But let me focus on Sam’s contention, at the foundation of
his economic case, that for Big Publishers, ‘royalties are a
fraction of one percent of multi-million press runs.’
“It just ain’t so. Let’s take, as an example, the 1986
Avon edition of my novel, THE RAINBOW CADENZA. The raw
manufacturing cost of each book–typesetting, printing, and
binding–was roughly $0.60. My royalty was 8% off a cover price
of $3.50. This is a royalty of $0.28 per book, or about 47%
added to publisher’s cost over manufacturing. Hardly negligible,
“This is a base cost figure before they start figuring in
editorial salaries, commissioning cover art, office overhead,
advertising–all of which are start-up costs for an original
edition of a book in addition to buying ‘rights’ from the
author–before then calculating in markups to wholesalers,
shipping costs, percentage of returns, etc.
“Now, consider that without copyright protection–statist or
otherwise–four days after a book starts selling well (that’s all
it takes to manufacture and distribute an ‘instant book’) any
reprint publisher could come out with its own competing edition
of a book–at a huge discount since this publisher wouldn’t have
to pay any of the start-up costs: royalties, editorial salaries,
typesetting costs, commissioning cover art–anything other than
pure manufacturing and distributing costs. I expect that the
competitor’s copy edition could be put on the market for about
half the price of the original edition. The first publisher
would be stuck with all the risk and startup costs, then be
undersold by half by a competitor’s edition.
“In purely economic terms, what publisher would risk
investing in publishing a book knowing that if he or she hits it
lucky with a book anyone actually wants, everyone else will get a
much-lower-risk return on investment?
“The publishing industry would quickly become a game with
One Rule: Let George Do It. If you think a book might make
money, reject it. With luck, someone else (somebody real stupid)
will take the risk of publishing it first, and you can clean up
by knocking off a cheap reprint after it’s been developed and
market-tested at your competitor’s expense.
“Thus, all economic incentives would shift from being first
on the market with a product, to being second. Original
publishing would cease to be a profitable market at all. If, in
a market with copyrights, Sam sees the great majority of
publishing being first-time, and a much smaller amount being
reprint, then this statistical distribution is an effect of the
existence of copyright in the marketplace to begin with. Remove
this causative factor, making reprint publishing more profitable
than start-up publishing, and value-free deductive logic leads
directly to the conclusion that the reverse would be true:
reprint would be the rule, and original printing would be the
“This structure of publishing in a copyright-free market
would be that of a regressive industry, at first largely
parasitic on works created before the abolition of copyright
(unless we assume copyright never to have existed at all, in
which instance there is a case to be made that publishing never
would have become an industry at all) and later dependent for its
product on those persons not at all motivated by the desire to
make a livelihood out of authoring. What would be left to be
published would be the works of hobbyists, dilettantes,
psychological ‘flashers,’ and preachers. Perhaps this might
leave something worthwhile to be published–a work occasionally
by a J.R.R. Tolkien–but it would certainly never have produced a
Robert A. Heinlein, who started writing to pay off a mortgage.
Even the Tolkien case is questionable, considering how offended
he was that Ace Books took advantage of the accidental omission
of copyright on THE HOBBIT and THE LORD OF THE RINGS to reprint
his works without his permission.
“Thus, beginning by denying the Law of Identity and the
specific nature of that which is being written and published, Sam
ends by eliminating both authorhood qua work and publishing qua
industry. Just as C.S. Lewis demonstrated how denying the
existence of objective referents for standards of subjective-
valuation would logically result in the Abolition of Man, the
logic of praxeology demonstrates how denying the objective
identity of a Created Work would logically result in the
Abolition of Creative Industry.
“And if, as Sam states, that ‘both market human action and
morality arise from the same Natural Law,’ then my praxeological
analysis should give one a pretty clear indication that my case
that copyright is protection of natural rights in logo-property
(primarily a metaphysical, rather than moral, case, since I’m
arguing that logoright derives from the Law of Identity) follows
“An Ill-Tempered Conclusion”
Now. If after all this you still think a logos can’t be
property because it isn’t a “scarce economic good,” or if you
think creation isn’t essential to the origin of property–then
compose your own damn symphonies, write your own damn novels,
invent your own damn computer–much less figure out how to
program it–design your own damn houses, film your own damn
movies, and come up with the damned recipe for bread on your own,
–because a person who makes his or her living by creating a
logos for license isn’t going to work for free.
If logorights aren’t recognized as property, a Creator of a
logos is left with two choices: limit the circulation of the
logos only to those who sign contracts agreeing not to copy it–
and pray that someone doesn’t accidentally leave a copy
unprotected for an hour in the vicinity of a Xerox machine or
camera–or produce only the least-labor-intensive sort of logos
that can be quickly exploited in the time before someone can
undersell the licensed product by reproducing its logos without
having to pay royalties.
If you don’t think a logos is a scarce good, you’ll find out
how scarce it is damned quickly if you declare open season on
ripping them off.
And, yes. I did say “rip off.” Logorights are property
rights–and they are entitled to the same respect and protection
as property rights in land, butter, guns, cars, radio
frequencies, and gold that I have heard property rights advocates
Just as the communist anarchist argues that it is only the
monopolistic grants of privilege from the State that makes
property itself possible, so the anarchist opponent of copyright
has been arguing that it has been only the monopolistic grant of
protection from the State that makes copyright possible. Both
are making the same error.
If anything, the State is constantly violating logorights by
imposing through fiat the State’s own copyright laws on logoright
And that is why, as a propertarian anarchist, I proudly
declare that this essay is my property–herein claimed by giving
you notice that this article is
Logoright (L) 1983, 1989 by J. Neil Schulman
and anyone who attempts to violate my property rights in this
logos should expect to hear from the legal firm of Smith &
Logoright (L) 1983, 1989 by J. Neil Schulman
The logos in this Work is its material identity, an “information
object,” separate from the materials upon which it may be imposed
or observed, which has been created as a unique structured
artifact by its author’s labors. Since each artifact resulting
from the labor of a person is, by natural right, by decency, and
by common law, beyond all limitations imposed by sovereign force,
the morally claimable property of that being, each use of that
property must be authorized by its owner, and all unauthorized
uses of it are tresspasses of a person’s natural rights and a
violation of that person’s spirit.
The Logoright notice is an explicit marking of that object to
declare to all that it is owned.
This Work is licensed for reading purposes only. All other
rights and uses, including the right to make copies, are reserved
to its Owner.
My comment just posted on “IP: The Objectivists Strike Back!” at http://www.againstmonopoly.org/index.php?limit=0&chunk=0&perm=593056000000002117
The reason I argue that “any conceptually identifiable ‘thing’ is ownable” — although I never put it that way — is that without identity differentiating things nothing could be ownable.
The reason that creation is the beginning of the moral case for property rights is that without creation nothing other than brute-force possession defines ownership.
As for “the obvious conundrum of people coming up with the same idea” that is just one of the questions I answered 25 years ago in my essay “Informational Property: Logorights,” newly available at http://jneilschulman.agorist.com/2009/12/classic-j-neil-informational-property-logorights/.
“Creation is a Person’s action which imposes that Person’s logos on something which exists to give that thing a unique identity it did not previously have. … If the respondent succeeds in demonstrating independent creation, then the petitioner’s original “creation” wasn’t inherently improbable, therefore questionable as a unique creation — and therefore possibly not property at all — for either of them.”
Another comment I just posted on “IP: The Objectivists Strike Back!” at http://www.againstmonopoly.org/index.php?limit=0&chunk=0&perm=593056000000002117
“I would also caution anti-copyright libertarians against assuming their conclusion in using anti-monopoly and ‘privilege’ rhetoric against copyright. Arguments against ‘monopoly privilege’ in the exclusive ownership of a logos ignore the fundamental difference between all property rights, which are monopolistic in the sense of being held exclusively, and monopoly practices, which are invasive.” –J. Neil Schulman, “Informational Property — Logorights”, at http://jneilschulman.agorist.com/2009/12/classic-j-neil-informational-property-logorights/
My comment posted on the Austrian Economics Blog at http://austrianeconomicsblog.com/4554/ip-the-objectivists-strike-back/
There’s another side to this argument in my article “Informational Property — Logorights,” newly reposted at http://jneilschulman.agorist.com/2009/12/classic-j-neil-informational-property-logorights/
No one who takes property rights seriously can afford to dismiss property rights in information objects without refuting the proofs and the detailed discussion of objections I raise in this article.
Stephan Kinsella has been claiming since 1996 that he’s done so. Read it for yourself and decide whether you agree with me that he hasn’t.
From my replies to Stephan Kinsella at Query for Schulman on Patents and Logorights
I use a screenwriting program called “Movie Magic Screenwriter.” It’s not ethereal; it’s loaded on the same computer I’m writing this from, This currently existing commercial software software package can compare any two scripts and highlight the overlaps and differences between them. No speculation is involved. No counterfactuals. It merely uses a process memorialized in the Sesame Street song “One of These Things is Not Like the Other.” Only it can count higher than two.
If two scripts were written independently and correlate as the same (yes, a hypothetical), then neither one was original.
But in the real world, if you encounter this, what has happened is plagiarism, even if of an author lost to antiquity.
Creation requires something unique — a one-up. If two inventors independently come up with the same “invention,” the question arises whether what they did was not invention but discovery. The movie Flash of Genius is a great exposition of a real-life patent case which explains the process of correlation (and differentiation) between two claimants.
There is only one Atlas Shrugged.
There is only one A Christmas Carol.
There is only one The Rainbow Cadenza.
The processes of differentiation and correlation can prove whether or not they are unique creations. And if they are unique creations, they are the exclusive property of their creator.
“If the state exists, my IP claims however evaporate with the state, as do my claims to social security and medicare.”
Social Security and Medicare are state payments. Transfer of money taken by force from taxpapers.
My ownership of the things I’ve written are private property independent of the State and its copyright laws. I don’t own them because of a grant of privilege from the State. I own them because I made them and they’re mine by natural law and natural right. I took them from no one else. Their existence is dependent on one one but me. They would not exist except for my creating them.
According to Stephan Kinsella, writers make nothing and own nothing.
According to Stephan Kinsella composers make nothing and own nothing.
According to Stephan Kinsella architects make nothing and own nothing.
According to Stephan Kinsella digital filmmakers make nothing and own nothing.
According to Stephan Kinsella digital graphic artists make nothing and own nothing.
According to Stephan Kinsella Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, John Lennon, Charles Dickens, Robert Heinlein, Rudyard Kipling, Mark Twain, George Orwell, Ayn Rand, L. Neil Smith, and me made nothing and deserved to own nothing.
This is so ridiculous that I am ashamed that I waste my time responding to it. It is absurd and self-annihilating nonsense and those who believe it if they put this vile nonsense into effect kill the geese who lay the golden eggs — from a story by Aesop, who according to Stephan Kinsella made nothing and deserved to live as a slave.
I advocate the substitution of statist law with market-derived law, a position I have advocated since the mid 1970′s. So do I advocate the abolition of statist copyright and patent law? Absolutely — when the state’s tyrannical edicts are replaced by liberty.
All statist protection of property rights is flawed — and copyright law, patent law, and trademark law is as flawed as statist protection of any other “property” rights which involve violation of others’ natural rights.
All propery rights questions involve defining boundaries. Again, covered in my original article.
If I shine a flashlight on your land, am I committing photonic trespass? What if my flashlight triggers your burglar alarm and the ADT agents shoot you thinking it’s an intruder?
If I grow peanuts and peanut dust blows into your child’s bedroom and sickens your child who has a severe peanut allergy?
There is no property right that can’t generate extreme cases.
What I think you have most failed to understand in my defense of logorights is how high a bar logorights theory sets for a claim of exclusive ownership. Yes, my theory requires a proof of uniqueness before a property right can be claimed. Failing that standard there is no rightful claim of property right.
Stephen King’s new novel, 11/22/63, is about a time-traveling teacher who goes back in time to stop the JFK assassination.
Is his plot an infringement of my own Twilight Zone script, “Profile in Silver”?
The burden would be on my to prove that it would have been impossible for Stephen King to come up with that plot if “Profile in Silver” hadn’t been broadcast in CBS prime time, first. If I can’t, there’s no violation of my rights.
But if Stephen King has in his novel identical characters and story elements to my writing so numerous as to defy common sense for independent creation, then he’s committed plagiarism and he’s violated my rights. That’s common sense.
By the way, the only people who say that “nothing is original” are people who don’t trust their own powers of creation. That statement is the hallmark of the quitter.
Do you own a house with a county-issued deed, Kinsella? If you do, is the statist issued deed sufficient reason for you to abandon your property?
How about your car? You can’t own it without DMV permission in many states. Ooops. Statist laws. No property rights. Give me your car!
How about your kids? Agree to keep them in school so the county doesn’t arrest you for violation of truancy laws and place your kid in a state home? Or divorced and got a custody arrangement issued by a judge? Ooops! Not your kids anymore unless a statist judge grants permission.
There are no private property rights not in effect without permission of the State. You expect me to abandon my rights because the state actually allows me to keep some of my own property?
You’re not stupid. You’re not evil. You’re not trying to abolish all property rights. You’re merely mired in a three-century old Lockean paradigm of property rights that is so reductionist that it is ludicrous.
I was an atheist for almost half my life.
When I was an atheist the concept that God could exist was impossible to me, because the cosmology I accepted as evidently true precluded the existence of such a being.
One of the authors who most influenced me in this view was George H. Smith, author of Atheism: The Case Against God. Judging by 258 reviews of this book on Amazon.com, this is a popular book on the subject, and judging that seven out of ten Amazon.com readers’ reviews are four or five stars, I’m not the only person who has regarded this as an important and compelling book on the subject. I knew George personally when we both lived in Southern California in the 1970’s and 1980’s, and I considered George a friend.
It’s easy to be friends with someone you agree with. Disagreements are the test of whether a friendship is real. It’s possible to be friends with someone who has profoundly different ideas if that person is generally congenial and if one has respect for their mind and character. It becomes impossible when congeniality is replaced with rudeness and one has contempt for the other. This isn’t just true for friendships. How many marriages have broken up because one spouse’s good regard for the other has turned to contempt?
I maintain Google alerts to send me email whenever there’s online discussion of my works, my projects, or my web presence. On December 11th Google sent me an email that a discussion had been started on the website “Objectivist Living” with the title, “Is J. Neil Schulman justified (logically) in believing in God?”
In the same queue was an even earlier email from David M. Brown, a fellow libertarian novelist and long-time correspondent, suggesting I participate in the discussion.
I’ve since published a chapter-by-chapter transcript of that audiobook for free reading — retitled I Met God — God Without Religion, Scripture, or Faith — beginning here.
The dedication of my book is:
To Charles Darwin, Madalyn Murray O’Hair, and Ayn Rand
If They Still Know Anything, They Know Whether I’m Right
You can find the Objectivist Living discussion on whether or not I’m a complete whack job here.
I quickly discovered that George H. Smith was participating in the discussion when the second comment was his. George wrote, “Does God ever have nightmares? Yes, according to Neil’s account, and they last for ‘the better part of a day.'”
So much for the respect necessary to maintain a friendship. Buh bye, George.
What distinguishes my approach to God from others is that I’ve never abandoned my view that one should not accept the existence of anything on faith. Nor religious dogma. Nor scripture. Like anything else, I always have viewed existence of God as a fact that needs to be verified or negated. One can negate something by showing how the concept is impossible. But once a proposed existent survives the intellectual challenge that the very idea is impossible, one is still left with the problem of what constitutes sufficient reason to regard it as real.
For someone who is not put off by suspending rational analysis in favor of accepting the truth of a proposition by faith, this is not a problem.
For a rationalist it is.
I was a rationalist when I was an atheist. I’m a rationalist still. What overcame my skepticism were personal experiences that challenged my cosmology, my epistemological premises, my concept of what the nature of God is, and my view of the nature of man and his place in existence, itself.
Yet I did this without abandoning my reliance on any of the axioms or rules of logic that Ayn Rand used to dismiss the concept of God. I thought George H. Smith would have some respect for that.
I was wrong. It just annoyed him all the worse.
The discussion has now gone on for several weeks and now comprises over 22 long web pages.
I’m not going to participate anymore. I’d just be repeating myself.
But for the hearty, curious, and patient, I do recommend reading it, and possibly even continuing the discussion in my absence.
I’ve satisfied myself that I met the gauntlet thrown down at me. Beyond that, some third party not Me and not Them will have to decide whether I’m justified (logically) in believing in God … and whether my challenge to the atheists is deserving of any intellectual respect.
Summation: Objectivist Living Discussion — “Is J. Neil Schulman justified (logically) in believing in God?”
by J Neil Schulman on Saturday, January 15, 2011 at 3:47pm ·
I think the title of this thread asks the wrong question, or at least one which requires other subjects to be addressed long before we ask whether I’m logically justified in “believing” in God.
Here are questions that have been debated in this thread, but I think which have not been resolved to anyone’s satisfaction. These are the premises upon which the question of my logic must rest.
Are there any axioms of existence or known scientific laws which preclude existence comprising multiple continua, some of which are designed, rather than the whole of existence being a single undesigned universe?
Is there any conclusive proof that human consciousness is solely a product of evolutionary biology, or could human consciousness precede evolutionary biology?
Is the human brain a generator of human consciousness, or merely a modulator of it?
Is human consciousness of an identity and nature that it can escape the termination of a human brain?
Could the “afterlife” be an actual physical destination for a human’s conscious identity located in another continuum?
In the event where a phenomenal experience presents itself as paranormal or supernatural, is there anything other than an unproved assumption of impossibility that necessitates interpreting such an experience as unreal?
I repeat that I’m unable to present evidence of the reality of my paranormal experience of a person I’ve identified as God to anyone else.
Nonetheless, my experience has caused me to examine each of these questions and reach my own answers.
I suggest exploring each of these questions with epistemological and scientific rigor is no less of a requirement for anyone else who wishes to assert flat conclusions about the nature of existence and human consciousness.
If one agrees with Richard Dawkins, as I do, that concluding God’s existence should not rely on an act of faith, but should survive a rational thinker’s potent skepticism, one comes to consider Dawkins’ central argument against the existence of God as the creator of our universe.
Dawkins submits to us that the complexity of our universe requires a long chain of prior events to become so complex.
Dawkins further submits that beings capable of creative design are not at the beginning of such a long chain of events but follow such a chain of events.
Dawkins sees human beings as being the result of a long chain of prior events, and sees us as creative designers. So, Dawkins and those who regard God as a creative designer are at least in agreement that such preconditions for a creative designer to exist can be satisfied, since here we are. But could a creative designer create an artifact as complex as an entire universe?
Dawkins submits that for a creative designer to have designed the universe, the creative designer, himself, would have had to have undergone a long chain of events prior to the creation of the universe.
If we regard the universe we perceive as the totality of that which exists, Dawkins has ended the discussion by reducing the thesis of a creator of the universe to absurdity, and his denial of the very possibility of a universe-creating God is justified.
But if a cosmology is possible in which that which we regard as our universe is not the whole of that which exists but is merely a part of existence, the paradox vanishes followed close order by the absurdity of the proposition that the universe could be a created artifact.
The Hebrews identify God in their scripture as being Eternal — as having always existed. If there exists a being with this trait, we can derive from that premise:
1) An eternal being would have sufficient time to develop his intellect, imagination, and other prerequisites of creative design;
2) Such a being would have time to learn a great deal, try out different philosophies, paradigms, methods, and so forth.
The possibility of the Eternal Hebrew God, so long as God’s existence is something additional to the universe as we regard it — that existence is more than that which we regard as The Universe — therefore survives Dawkins’ challenge to our reason.
Dawkins is free to demand a proof that such a being exists, but if, like existence itself, consciousness is a property of existence itself — then like existence, itself, there is no basis to demand a proof for that which would be the self-evident foundation for all further proofs.
We would not therefore be looking for proof of God in the sense of a mathematician deriving one, or in the sense of a scientist conducting experiments to test a thesis, but in the sense of seeing if we encounter such a being who can present us with experiences sufficient to satisfy our doubts.
Dawkins has not had such experiences. I have. Dawkins hasn’t convinced me that my conclusion that my skepticism was sufficiently satisfied was irrational. Unless Richard Dawkins has experiences that personally convince him that his skepticism has been satisfied, it is reasonable for him to continue disbelieving in God until he has experiences satisfactory to his reason.
But Richard Dawkins demand for reason to be applied to the question of God existence is, itself, quite godly, seeing as how to create a universe as complex as the one we find ourselves in one would require a being who is himself a scientist.
J. Neil Schulman, author
I Met God
This article is Copyright © 2007, 2010, 2011 The J. Neil Schulman Living Trust. All rights reserved.
Winner of the Special Jury Prize for Libertarian Ideals from the 2011 Anthem Film Festival! My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available free on the web linked from the official movie website. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!
The hallmark of modern tyranny is the government demand that private citizens have no privacy while officials claim the right to privacy for their public affairs. The same government that despises Julian Assange for whistleblower journalism is the one sticking its hands down your pants if you want to board a private commercial jetliner.
Portrait of Galileo Galilei by Giusto Sustermans
Carbon dioxide emissions threatening global ecological catastrophe is the biggest hoax since the Inquisition tried Galileo for criticizing Church denial of the Copernican model.
Beware of Scams: My Warning to the LinkedIn Film Financing Forum
Artists are always victims of scammers because there are a lot more of them than there are real opportunities available.
The Society of Authors Representatives — in essence the guild for literary agents — had strict rules that only agents who made their living by taking a percentage of sales they made for their clients could be members. Agents who charged potential clients reading fees were shown the exit.
Before Amazon.com made it possible for any author who desired to publish their book on the Kindle platform, a lot more subsidy or “vanity” publishers made a good living by charging authors thousands and sometimes tens of thousands of dollars to read manuscripts, edit them, then charge authors to print them. These books rarely got ordered by bookstores and authors found themselves with a garage full of book cartons they couldn’t even give away.
In the film business indie producers sooner or later will run into distributors who will acquire the distribution rights to films which producers have spent tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to produce, sometimes charge producers up front fees for “deliverables,” then charge off against distribution costs their own office overhead, bundling dozens of films together into packages and selling the packages, with nothing or practically nothing left over for the out-of-pocket production investors.
Many film festivals and screenwriting contests rise to the level of scams. Producers and writers are charged submission fees sometimes more than $100 which are in essence lottery tickets where most films get rejected and only a few are accepted for screenings. Then the festivals sell tickets, and share none of the ticket sales revenues with the producers who have not only spent tens or hundreds of thousands of production dollars but also travel and publicity costs — and sometimes major studio releases are played by these festivals, free publicity subsidized by the submissions fees from indie producers whose own films are never shown at the festival — and not even a thank you in the program book.
We also find here on LinkedIn the equivalent of the old literary agents asking producers for reading fees for projects seeking financing. Finding financing for a film is what executive producers do. It defines the job title and requirements — and executive producers receive fees and points when a movie is funded and goes into production.
Another scam is film “financiers” who are only looking for films with A-list stars attached, a completion bond, and a distribution deal in place. If I had that, I could walk into any bank and walk out with a loan for production funds. Once again, the scammer wants to do none of the actual work of producing but reap all the benefits.
Anyone asking a producer to pay for these sorts of services are parasites on artists’ hopes and dreams.
Let’s not mince words. Environmentalism and population control, as opposed to humanism, is the purest and most perfectly conceived form of evil misanthropic nihilism ever advocated. It’s so purely evil and anti-human that it’s almost enough to make me believe it originates not with human beings but with either extraterrestrials planning invasion and occupation or supernatural and jealous demons.
Environmentalism (as opposed to conservationism) is and has always been a subterfuge for the destruction of human rights and property rights.
The libertarian solution to the “pollution” of the commons has always been to eliminate the commons. The problem of externalities has always been: if you don’t like free riders, keep it hidden.
The idea of “right-sizing” the human population is Nazi-like from the ground up. If I want and can support one thousand children, it’s no one else’s fucking business.
Excuse me, I need to apologize for my previous comment. I was unnecessarily harsh on Nazis, who only wished to kill off inferior human beings, as opposed to the current generation of environmentalists who want to kill off the entire human race.
Plus, the idea that there is any sort of “natural” environment is pure unadulterated misanthropic horseshit. To paraphrase Heinlein, it assumes that beaver dams are natural but human dams aren’t. Or that a wolf eating a sheep is natural but a human eating a sheep isn’t.
Any human being who thinks the earth is overpopulated has my sincere wishes that they reduce the human population starting with themselves and their devil spawn.
Who wants to take a pledge carefully to ration the carbon emissions by ammo used to take on anyone who tries to ration our food supply? I mean, I don’t believe in wasting ammo. Shouldn’t every shot count?
The reason libertarians are consistently hostile to discussions on environmentalism and the size of human population is that the very premises necessary to be assumed by both are anti-libertarian from the ground up.
Libertarians don’t acknowledge the concept of “an” environment.” The function of private property rights is to create multiple environments, a sphere of control within each of our own property boundaries. Significant and damaging incursions onto someone else’s property is almost always regarded as actionable under any conceivable libertarian legal system, minarchist or agorist.
The very concept of “population” is collectivist and anathema to the libertarian who regards all human rights as held by individuals. Reproductive rights are a subset of individual rights, and others have no more right to limit someone else’s fecundity than they do to demand someone else produce children for them as workers or cannon fodder.
The libertarian premise bypasses the entire question of whether there is such a thing as a “right” number of people, just as much as libertarians reject the concept that there is such a thing as too much or too little property, or that the “globe” is the wrong temperature.
Then you add in that most of “environmentalism” and “population science” is based on crackpot junk science, and the hostility rises to my statement that these are nothing but evil and nefarious schemes to create a holocaust of the human species itself — one which makes the Nazis desire merely to kill off people they regarded as racially inferior seem charming by comparison.
I’ve come up with a term for these sort: not Greens, but Gangrenes.
Of course the Gangrenes want to wipe out home-growing of food — how else can they gain control of food production and ration it only to their own cronies, wiping out their political enemies the way Mao Ze Dong starved 80 million Chinese during his Great Commie Revolution?
Hanukkah candles burn for about a half hour. They’re supposed to be lit after sunset. But on Friday nights you’re not supposed to light a candle after sunset. How many more millennia will it take before Jews understand that God is just fucking with them?
The one Hanukkah riddle I know, and it’s one I wrote.
Q: What’s the real danger of Jewish/Christian mixed marriages?
A: Hanukkah candles set the Christmas tree on fire.
The existential argument I always thought applied to my fellow Jews. Let’s see, 12 million Jews, a couple billiion Christians. And Jesus wasn’t the Messiah … why?
The more I believe any businessman who says he’s in business primarily to help others, the less I trust him.
The Vatican can’t have it both ways. Either Roman Catholic clergy are citizens of the countries they live in and are subject to local laws, or they’re agents of a foreign power and countries can treat them as such.
Roman citizens were complaining that Rome was granting citizenship to a bunch of unwashed foreigners in territories they’d conquered. “These people, they come to Rome, take tutoring jobs away from Roman teachers, piss in our aqueducts …”
I can always go for a nice piece smoked salmon. Bagel and cream cheese optional.
Glenn Beck on his Fox News Channel show said how “Struggle is liberating.” *sigh* Would someone please tell Mr. Beck that the title of Adolf Hitler’s most-famous book was My Struggle and that the Arabic word for “struggle” is “jihad”?
What I like about Glenn Beck is that he wants to be a real boy.
I don’t know what you call it when a bank charges 20% interest to lend me money but only pays me 1% when I lend them money, but it sure as heck isn’t capitalism.
Maybe I’m just old enough to remember that when you put money into the average bank savings account the competitive interest rate was around 4% to 6% — and car, boat, and home loans were not that much different. I’m talking about the early 1960’s, when I opened my first savings account. Back then charge cards were something gasoline companies and department stores gave out, and my dad used to pay off all charges every month.
There was no national credit card debt because revolving credit was a rarity in American life.
Major banks no longer lend out money deposited with them and instead lend out money they get to create by fractional-reserve banking through the Federal Reserve system. This drives down interest rates for deposits to practically nothing even in smaller institutions that do have to rely on deposits for lending. This makes banks rely on treating consumers not primarily as depositors — except when they can empty their accounts through overdraft fees, ATM fees, and other schemes — but as consumers for high-priced credit. That’s the business they’re in.
And as I said up top: this is not capitalism any more. It’s fascism.
The reason so many movies are financial disasters is that the people who decide which stories are profitable to produce are clueless about the interests and values of the vast majority of their potential audience. So they slice off shavings from a much larger market and play only to niche markets.
There are probably as many good writers working in television today as write movies or novels — when they’re not replaced by unscripted game shows, reality TV, and singing or dancing competitions. Glenn Gordon Caron and Chuck Lorre immediately come to mind.
Simple consistency: whatever age you declare someone is a child for the purposes of statutory rape is the same age that if they commit a heinous crime they may never be tried as an adult.
Without carrying information, drama becomes masturbation — a roller coaster, a thrill ride — the old joke about Chinese food, that an hour after consuming it you’re hungry again. Without message, drama becomes redundant of music and without the distinct purpose of telling a story: not just to move, but to edify, enlighten — and yes, teach.
The master storyteller learns to convey information through drama, not eliminate information from drama.
If you can’t do that, you’re still a journeyman apprentice, no matter how successful you are.
Storytelling is how ideas are sold. Movies today are even more than novels the public transit for storytelling.
Time to remind everyone once again that it was precisely TSA screening and disarming passengers that gave us 9/11 in the first place.
I swear to God, the second they can’t make anyone believe anymore that carbon dioxide pollution is destroying the earth, they’ll come up with some excuse why the presence of oxygen in the earth’s atmosphere is the problem.
This article is Copyright © 2010 The J. Neil Schulman Living Trust. All rights reserved.
My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available for sale or rental on Amazon.com Video On Demand. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!
I Love God. It’s religion I hate.
There are fundamentally two kinds of dreams. 1) Inner dreams are interactive movies your brain makes for you. You’re the only player. They can be creative but they end when you wake up. 2) Outer dreams connect to other places, people, continua. They’re transportation as much as communication. Most people don’t even know there’s more than 1).
Impress your friends! Prove you’re smarter than Sherlock Holmes or Monk. Within the first ten minutes of any crime drama, simply pick out whichever business person has been introduced as a character and say: “That’s who did it!”
Here is the power elite’s plan: Let’s fuck up the free market then blame the free market for being fucked up.
I’m thinking the next movie I produce is going to be called “Fire!!!” I’m aiming for a huge opening weekend in crowded theaters.
Do the vultures at airport security show extra interest in your carrion bags?
I drive a Marginal Utility Vehicle.
Just saw a Victoria’s Secret commercial on TV. You know what Victoria’s secret is? If you have the Victoria’s Secret models, you don’t need the stupid Victoria’s Secret lingerie.
One of these days I’m going to be alone in a dark alley with Brady Center Vice President Dennis A. Henigan. I’m going to be packing heat. Henigan is going to look at me with fear in his eyes. Then I’m going to shoot the crap out of the scumbag who tries to mug Henigan, and Henigan will finally have a Come to Jesus moment about the usefulness of honest citizens carrying concealed handguns for protection.
There is only one right answer to the question, “Honey, does this make me look fat?” It’s, “No, darling, actually, it’s quite slimming.”
Is there no end to the propaganda needed to continue kidnapping children on a daily basis and forcing them into the mind prisons called schools? The day I was first legally allowed to quit school was the first day of freedom of my life. I then went back long enough to start college … and realized within a semester that quitting college was as necessary to my ability to think and learn as quitting school in the first place.
My parents taught me to read before I ever entered a classroom, and I’ve spent my life reading a grand all-you-can-eat buffet of knowledge. Nothing that was ever shoved at me by some dead-eyed bureaucrat in a classroom was ever as interesting to me as what I first learned by reading comic books, then later books of every other sort.
The education level of this country could be raised immeasurably by shutting down every school and using the money to fund libraries.
Of course today — with virtually the entire store of human knowledge available to anyone with an Internet connection — even the public library is unnecessary.
If I can read, I don’t thank a teacher — I thank my parents.
I thank the authors who wrote the books I read.
And now I’ve written a dozen books of my own, and articles, essays, poems, and screenplays.
All despite the effort of schools and bureaucrats to shove my mind into their little jello molds.
Every snow day — every little sniffle that keeps a child out of the reach of monsters who blame children and parents for not wanting to listen to their boring crap — is a day well spent.
I went years thinking Fritz Weaver played Dr. Falken in the movie WarGames — it was John Wood — and for years I thought it was James Cromwell playing the President in Clear and Present Danger — it was Donald Moffat.
I might as well just accept it. It’s impossible to oppose people without being lumped in with people who oppose the people I’m opposing but whom I oppose as much as the first people I’m opposing.
Let me try saying that another way. Just because I oppose B, and C also opposes B, doesn’t mean I agree with C, including agreeing with C on the reasons I’m opposing B. I’m A, damn it!
1933 Nazi Book Burning
Hey, can we all play? I propose we all get together for a mass burning: the Quran, the King James Bible, The Book of Mormon, Dianetics, Atlas Shrugged, an American Flag … and since I don’t want to feel left out, Alongside Night. Damn, how else can I get rid of all the used copies selling on eBay so I can sell new ones?
Why is it that everyone who tries to rewrite me thinks they’re gilding the lily, but they’re really gelding it?
The difference between bad and good screen acting — particularly for the independent filmmaker often working with less experienced actors — is how little the director can convince the actor to do.
Dialogue of the day: [Said in church] “Until I saw you here I felt like an alien in a whorehouse.”
I have no enthusiasm to support the rights and customs of those who have no enthusiasm to support my rights and customs.
I would recommend reading Ludwig von Mises’ Human Action to Jesus Christ, Himself.
Libertarianism is a moral philosophy entirely dependent on the concept of abstract rights providing moral limitations on human action. Negating either the concept of “morality” or negating that rights are abstractions referring to moral boundaries on human action negates libertarianism as well.
If I had to choose the most memorable character from any novel I’ve ever read in my entire life, it would be Colonel Richard Baslim — AKA “Baslim the Cripple” — from Robert A. Heinlein’s 1957 novel, Citizen of the Galaxy.
The heartbreak, to me, of watching a movie like Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story is not how much Michael Moore gets wrong but how damnably much he gets right.
The purpose of having a legal system enabling the free market is not to enrich a non-productive Wall Street thief class who conspire with Washington power-brokers to protect their mega-thefts.
It’s to protect the property rights of productive individuals to keep what they earn. That Michael Moore’s solution is worse than the problem doesn’t eliminate the problem: capitalism is supposed to enrich the builders of better mousetraps, not rats.
No is easy. Yes is hard.
Jesus Christ is not your slave.
Even by anarchocapitalist standards, a State’s defense of a property right does not invalidate the natural right of ownership of the property right being defended.
I have always hated the word “blog.” I’ve always thought it belonged in a sentence like this: “Dude, I got so wasted last night I bent over to kiss my girlfriend and blogged all over her tits!”
”Gun, a kind of metal wand that Muggles use to kill each other” — J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Hmmm. Given the Order of the Phoenix, I wonder whether Rowling believes in the right to keep and bear wands?
God is the King of Heaven, right? It says so in all the prayers. You know who has a really tough job? His court jester.
Here’s a thought from the Twilight Zone. I wrote “Profile in Silver.” I’m arguing that the profile can be property, not just the silver.
Arguing that existing copyright laws nullify an author’s right to license copying of a novel he’s written is like arguing existing eminent domain laws nullify a builder’s right to lease a house he’s made. It’s changing the subject to the crimes of statists who trample all property rights when supposed defenders of all property rights carve out an exception denying rights of ownership for those whose product is Art.
This article is Copyright © 2010 The J. Neil Schulman Living Trust. All rights reserved.
My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available for sale or rental on Amazon.com Video On Demand. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!
Arizona has an interesting history for law enforcement.
It is, after all, the location of Tombstone, the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, and such colorful rogues as Wyatt Earp, “Doc” Holliday, and the Clintons — er, Clantons.
Arizona still maintains a lot of its Wild West image. Just a few weeks ago Arizona joined Vermont and Alaska as states where it’s perfectly legal for any adult who is legally permitted to own a gun to carry it concealed without a license.
Arizona is home to Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who has a national reputation for being creatively ruthless — some who’ve read the Bill of Rights might say “cruel and unusual” — in the punishment of his department’s prisoners.
For many years I lived in Southern California and drove several times cross-country to the east coast, and many more times to visit my parents in San Antonio, Texas, and my sister in Colorado Springs, Colorado. My drive always took me through a scenic, mountain-lined thirty-mile section of Arizona as soon as one drove over the Nevada border, where I learned by hard and repeated experience that if I drove even one mile-per-hour above the posted speed limit — which got progressively and erratically higher and lower every mile or so with poorly-visible signs to notify drivers of the changes — I ended up getting a very expensive ticket from well-concealed Arizona police.
I’m white. It wasn’t about the color of my skin. It was about skinning me.
But where the controversy about how Arizona handles matters of law enforcement has recently come into national focus is its new law designed to clamp down on residents of the state who are in non-compliance with the federal immigration regulations. I’ve done what Fox News and Republican point-talkers keep asking Obama administration officials to do: I’ve read the complete text of the law.
The Fox News and Republican point-talkers keep making the talking point that the new law specifically forbids law-enforcement stops asking for papers based on ethnic characteristics — commonly called racial profiling. This is true. It’s in the text of the law — twice.
But while the new Arizona immigration law specifically outlines penalties which any legal resident of Arizona may trigger with a lawsuit against Arizona officials who fail to enforce federal immigration regulations, the new Arizona law does not outline any penalties for Arizona officials who make stops asking for papers based on ethnic characteristics. Unlike ordinary criminal cases where a judge can throw out an indictment based on police misconduct, in the case of a person arrested by Arizona law-enforcement officials and turned over to federal authorities for deportation, there is no court case or judge to release the prisoner if the bust was illegal.
But even if the Arizona police don’t want to cherry-pick ethnic persons who look like they might not be in compliance with federal immigration regulations, there’s an easy work around — the same one used to give me tickets. It’s based on the old teacher’s tactic that if you don’t know who threw the spitball you give the entire class detention.
Simply stop and ask for papers from as many white dudes as ethnic dudes, and at the end of the day every cop can honestly say he or she did no racial profiling. Polling data suggests that seventy percent of Arizona residents are perfectly willing to be harassed like that if it will rid the state of ethnic persons who look like they might not be in compliance with federal immigration regulations.
So the law’s intent to rid Arizona of persons out-of-compliance with federal regulations has teeth; the intent to forbid racial profiling is toothless.
Further, Arizona now piggybacks just about every other felony or misdemeanor offense into this new immigration law by denying civil rights due citizens — for example, the right to keep and bear arms — to anyone determined to be in the country without being in compliance with federal regulations.
Do you notice that I keep saying “federal regulations” rather than law? There is very little actual law involved in determining who is and is not in the country legally. It’s largely a complex maze of bureaucratic regulations designed to sanction federal law-enforcement and Homeland Security officials to bully anyone they want to by threatening to throw them or someone they love out of the country.
A lot of these regulations — and the new Arizona law — operate on the hostage system. By threatening third parties law-enforcement officials can use perfectly legal extortion as a tactic for nullifying any rights or legal protections written down in what’s supposed to be the real law of the land, the Constitution of the United States.
I wrote about one such vulnerability — hiding “illegals” from the authorities — in my earlier article “The Diary of Anna Francisco.”
Now, am I in favor of Mexicans sneaking into our country, evading minimum-wage laws, not paying income tax or Social Security, getting free schooling for their kids and free medical care at overtaxed hospital emergency rooms, and committing heinous crimes?
Of course not. I’m an American.
So don’t export Mexicans so much as import Americans.
Get rid of the minimum-wage laws that do nothing but forbid freedom to contract between job-providers and job-seekers.
Get rid of federal income and Social Security taxes, and if you have to have taxes to pay for the federal government, the Constitution says you put duties on all those imported goods that used to provide jobs here and are now providing jobs there.
Close down the public schools and if you feel public education is still necessary take that tax money and use the money to endow libraries. Public schools are bureaucratic propaganda factories that can’t teach anything worthwhile anymore anyway.
Make the providing of health and medical care efficient and responsive to people’s needs by eliminating all government regulations, taxes, subsidies, licenses, and mandates over the practice of medicine. That’s the way it was at the time the Constitution was written, when this was a free country.
And if you don’t like living in a free country, may I suggest you might be happier in Mexico?
My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available for sale or rental on Amazon.com Video On Demand. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!
Arizona’s governor just signed two laws in the past few days.
The first removes the requirement that to carry a concealed handgun legally in the state one needs a government permit.
The second authorizes state, county, and local police to ask for papers from anyone they have “reasonable suspicion” is in the country illegally, and makes harboring an illegal immigrant a crime.
I spent years “harboring” a man who was never legally classified a “permanent” resident of the United States. He was like a brother to me.
That he was from north of the border rather than south of the border should only matter to a bigot.
Nonetheless, he never applied for permanent resident status or a “green card.” He never filed income tax returns in the United States. He may have had a Social Security number issued to him when he was in the country legally as a graduate student; if so, I never saw him use it afterwards.
When he was stopped by police on occasion — for jaywalking, or on one occasion because his common-law wife swore out a complaint against him — he showed the police his Canadian passport, which satisfied them.
He crossed freely and repeatedly between Canada and the United States, and only had problems with American authorities once when his Canadian papers weren’t in order.
And he never worked as an employee for any American person or company; anyone who wanted his services had to pay the Canadian-based corporation he owned, which used a British bank with branches in the United States and Canada.
He died in the U.S. having overstayed his student visa by 29 years.
A United States Congressman spoke at his memorial service. So did businessmen who would have been happy to sponsor him for a green card and legal permanent residency.
My friend didn’t do that because, being an anarchist, he did not recognize the moral authority of the government of the United States to license and tax his residency, any more than citizens of the State of Arizona recognize the moral authority of their state to license and tax carrying arms. In both cases the argument is in favor of natural rights.
Now, the United States and Mexico did fight a war between 1846 and 1848, which the history books usually call the Mexican-American War. It was a territorial dispute. The United States military won the conflict and imposed on the Mexican forces in disarray the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. That treaty gave residents in the disputed territories a year to decide if they wanted to live in Mexico and be Mexicans or live in the United States and be Americans.
The problem is, the United States was a capitalist society with a tradition of English liberty and a Protestant work ethic and Mexico wasn’t. The country to the north thrived and grew a rich upwardly mobile middle class. The country to the south stayed pretty much as it had been, with peasants and aristocrats.
So the terms of the treaty haven’t held up very well.
The political justification of the second Arizona law just signed is that illegal immigrants are bringing with them criminal violence from Mexico to Arizona.
Today Mexico is a country overrun by gangsters who use violence to control monopolies on who gets the profits from the sale of illegal drugs to the United States. The gangsters even pay Mexican police and soldiers to work for them, so we sometimes have Mexican soldiers crossing into the United States on missions for these gangs. That meets the definition of either an invasion or espionage. The United States could put these Mexican gangs — and this invasion — out of business overnight by the simple expedient of legalizing these drugs and pulling the rug out from under these Mexican cartels.
Another political justification for the second law is that illegal immigrants partake of government or government-mandated services in the United States — schools, welfare, medical services — thus overburdening American taxpayers. Moving these services to the private sector, and removing the government mandates, would relieve American taxpayers of these burdens.
There are other political justifications for the second law. Mexicans who work off the books — not abiding by licensing and other bureaucratic requirements, not paying income taxes or FICA, not being unionized — can work cheaper than American workers burdened by these regulations, taxes, and price supports imposed by the lobbying of organized labor. Eliminating these regulations, taxes, and price supports eliminates the market advantage of working off the books.
So, basically, if illegal immigrants work for a living there’s a political objection to them, and if they don’t work for a living there’s a political objection to them.
This is known as “Heads I win; tails you lose.”
Now, the interesting thing is that the only objection any of the Framers of the American system of government would have been concerned about was the invasion by foreign soldiers. The rest was none of the government’s business.
There was no prohibition of drugs.
There was no welfare.
There was no income tax or Social Security.
The practice of medicine was paid for by a patient paying a doctor.
There were no labor unions.
There was no mandatory public schooling.
There was no minimum wage.
And there were no laws regulating immigration, except the importation of slaves.
There was hardly universal freedom, especally if your skin was black or you were a woman. But if you were a white man, you were free. It would take close to two centuries before blacks and women achieved full equality to white men under the law, but by then they achieved equality with white men who were no longer free.
Here’s a real irony. The Governor of Arizona doesn’t have a clue that by signing the first law she pretty much made the second law superfluous, at least as far as the Founding Fathers’ concerns. By allowing Arizonans to carry arms for self-protection, the Mexican invaders stand a good chance of having someone shoot back. They will find they do much better back in their own land, where the government officially disarms their victims. This alone will act to drive them out.
Many of the immigrants who came through Ellis Island decades ago had as little understanding of what made America special as Mexicans who come here today. All the older immigrants knew was that America’s streets were “paved with gold.” They didn’t understand the principles of free-market economics that made America different from the European and Asian sewers they were escaping from.
But they learned the advantages of freedom. If there’s not enough freedom left here for the Mexicans to learn the advantages of it, that’s hardly their fault.
Mexicans know Mexico is broken. They come here because America and Americans have a reputation of being a free and generous people. If we are less free than our reputation — and our government more profligate — whose fault is that?
Let’s fix the problem rather than fix the blame.
Eliminate the bureaucratic laws, market-entry-barriers and taxes that grant undocumented workers market advantage.
Stop punishing free-market hiring of labor on terms acceptable to buyer and seller.
Stop blaming Mexicans for wanting to escape from Hell. Let’s recognize them for what they are: not illegal aliens, but refugees from tyranny.
Mexicans are the new Cubans.
And if the law says it’s illegal to hide them so they won’t be returned to the tyranny they escaped from, consider that some righteous Americans will hide them in an attic, and future school children will read the Diary of Anna Francisco.
Winner of the Special Jury Prize for Libertarian Ideals from the 2011 Anthem Film Festival! My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available free on the web linked from the official movie website. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!
No, thank you. I don’t want to replace a Two-party system with a Tea Party system.
The 9th Circuit Appellate Court just upheld the words “under God” remaining in the Pledge of Allegiance. The ACLU is expected to appeal the case directly to God, since given how things are going in the United States the Almighty is likely to reverse the decision.
There is nothing innocent about any public service — even the public library … not when being late returning a DVD borrowed from the library turns a speeding ticket into being handcuffed and taken to jail. Rip up your library card. Netflix may cost more but it’s a whole lot safer.
Next up on the political horizon: The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, Exercise, and Fat.
Would someone please tell me when the financiers who fund movie productions decided to turn over the keys to illiterates who can’t tell the difference between an action movie and a Roadrunner-Coyote cartoon?
No, no, no! I’m sick of hearing radio ads for the U.S. Census with the socialist message, “It’s how we get our fair share of funding for the things we need.”
Here’s everything that the Constitution of the United States originally said about the census:
Article I, Section 3: “Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several states which may be included within this union, according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons, including those bound to service for a term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three-fifths of all other persons. The actual enumeration shall be made within three years after the first meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent term of ten years, in such manner as they shall be law direct. The number of representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty thousand, but each state shall have at least one representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the state of New Hampshire shall be entitled to choose three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three.”
Article 1, Section 9: “No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or enumeration herein before directed to be taken.”
The Constitution was amended so that slavery was no longer an issue, and that taxes could be laid on incomes without respect to enumeration (though this is still controversial).
So the only remaining purpose of the census is apportionment of Congressional representatives.
Nowhere in the Constitution is anything said about passing out spoils, tax money, bribes, and goodies on the basis of the counting of heads.
You won’t find “funding” in the Constitution.
So whoever is running these ads for the census, you’re lying. Please shut your pie holes.
“The number of representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty thousand…”
Which, if followed today — assuming a U.S. population of around 300 million — would give us a House of Representatives with 10,000 seated Congressmen.
I say, yeah!!!!!!!
I just watched socialist Michael Moore on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, plugging his anti-capitalism DVD, Capitalism: A Love Story. Meanwhile, I’m an avowed capitalist filmmaker who can’t get on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon to plug my movie, Lady Magdalene’s, which doesn’t yet have a distributor. Wouldn’t that make Michael Moore precisely equivalent to the character of tobacco publicist Nick Naylor, portrayed by Aaron Eckhart in Christopher Buckley/Jason Reitman’s, Thank You for Smoking?
It’s amazing to me that all the Greens who argue about finite resources never seem to focus on the finite resources that the State sucks up and destroys.
When all is said and done, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is a military prep school with a strong emphasis on preparing its students for college studies in hard science, and likely the military.
If I’d lived in the old West and was in the business of selling brands to ranchers to brand cattle, I think I would have called my business Brandy Brand Brands.
According to Wikipedia, ABC — which is broadcasting the Academy Awards as I write this — “first broadcast on television in 1948.” Just another failure of capitalism, since you’d think 62 years later there would be a GHI Network by now.
If only the Eighty-second Annual Academy Awards really lasted only eighty seconds. I just love Hollywood liberals twisting their brains into a pretzel voting for a film that isn’t actually anti-U.S. military just so they can screw the best film of the year — the one that actually revolutionizes making movies as much as the introduction of Sound or Technicolor — out of Best Picture and Best Director so they can have their politically correct “I am Woman” moment giving the award to the Best Picture Director’s ex-wife.
More and more I see my role as a cadmium control rod in that nuclear reactor we call America, trying to prevent a China syndrome, when the meltdown has already started.
Calls I don’t answer or return (1) Recordings; (2) Calls me by my first name; “Law offices of …” I pay for phone service for my convenience. Just because you phone me doesn’t mean I have to take any calls I consider annoying, by my arbitrary rules.
So who’s looking forward to Quentin Tarantino’s next movie being a documentary set at Sea World, San Diego — Kill Willy?
Too many books chasing too few readers.
Can someone start teaching symbolic logic again, starting with the basic Venn Diagram?
A psychiatric patient commits a violent act. Now everyone tries to disown him. Lefties say he’s a righty. Righties say he’s a lefty. Lefties and Righties try to blame him on the unaligned Libertarians.
Whatever John Patrick Bedell read it doesn’t explain his actions. There are accusations aplenty in all ideologies, sufficient to find a guilt-by-association for any faction of which one doesn’t happen to approve.
You draw the Venn Diagram, with circles for any ideological group you don’t like. There will be some inevitable overlaps with the circle of Violent Psychiatric Patients, because they seek out such groups.
The illogic of guilt-by-association of the groups themselves for the overlap with Bad People who do Bad Things has sometimes been called McCarthyism, but everyone does it, from Bill Maher to Glenn Beck.
What everyone here might consider is that setting us at each other’s throats — Caesar’s old scheme of divide and conquer — is something the really bad guys are good at to keep us away from their gates.
In reading the Supreme Court argument in the McDonald case, I wonder whether the liberal justices would be happy if First Amendment rights vanished when one left one’s own home — as they suggest is possible for the Second Amendment?
No argument about the Democratic leadership. But take some spice from Dune and look at the alternative world where John McCain won the 2008 election — and with the support of both parties leadership passed cap and trade (McCain believes in global warming), bail-outs and stimulus packages, government takeover of health insurance (McCain just introduced a bill to give the FDA the power to ban health supplements which are keeping me alive), and a Neocon foreign policy of globalization, US as world policeman, and nation-building.
You ever notice how spaceships use the moon for a “slingshot” effect to get an extra boost? Politics can work the same way.
If I had “held my nose” and voted for McCain in 2008, today we would have had both major parties pushing for increased statism and no opposition party.
Instead I voted for Obama, and the Republican rank and file are finding that they win support not by supporting bailouts, cap and trade, and more socialization of the economy, but by opposing it.
Sometimes you win by losing first.
The third Shrek sequel, Shrek Forever After, is opening the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival. Thank you, Robert De Niro, for financing your festival with submission fees from thousands of starving independent filmmakers like me then using our hard-found money to highlight high-budget studio sequels!
I submitted Lady Magdalene’s to all the major film festivals — sometimes more than once — which took submission fees ranging as high as a hundred and twenty bucks — some of them from thousands of filmmakers each year — then turned around and used the money to promote major studio releases.
This year it’s Tribeca opening with a Shrek sequel, but the gone-and-not-missed CineVegas took hundreds of thousands of bucks in submission fees from indie filmmakers like me … and opened its festival a couple of years back with Oceans 13 — the second sequel to a remake.
I submitted for the 2007 and 2008 Tribeca Film Festivals, not 2010. After they took my money twice and sent me emails telling me how many swell submissions they got so they weren’t accepting my movie for festival play I decided not to throw good money after bad.
My point is, these big “indie” film festivals take submission money from thousands of indie filmmakers, pick a few to play at their festivals like they’re lotto winners, then spend the indie filmmakers moneys giving free publicity to major studio releases.
And let’s say more people attend a festival because they get to see a studio release. It does no good for the filmmakers whose money they took and didn’t accept their films. And if they sell extra tickets to fill the theater, the festival keeps all the money — not a dime of festival box office is shared with the filmmakers.
And the chances of an indie film making a sale to a distributor because of festival play are minuscule anyway.
No, there aren’t any refunds if your movie isn’t accepted for play at a festival.
It’s a real sucker play, worthy of Bernie Madoff.
I’ve been thinking a long time about how I’d run a film festival.
First, I would not charge filmmakers a submission fee. If they wanted to buy an ad for their film in the program book — not a requirement for submitting their film — they could do that. But that’s the only thing I’d consider charging a filmmaker for, since they’re providing their film to the festival for free, and the festival is selling tickets and not sharing the receipts with them. Some festivals find all sorts of things to charge filmmakers for — award banquet tickets, press conferences, premium display of posters, etc. This makes the festival concentrate on squeezing revenue out of the very people it should be supporting — the filmmakers who have already struggled with the costs of making the movie which the festival is going to sell tickets to see!.
The festival should make its money off ticket sales, sales of refreshments, sale of memorabilia.
Sponsors and advertisers should pay for the rest, and provide product placements. At the San Diego Black Film Festival all the parties were hosted by Tommy Bahama rum and vodka — which provided both free food and an open bar.
One other thing. I think there should only be one track of film programming. Films at a festival shouldn’t have to compete for audience with other films. Run the festival extra days if necessary.
A movie theater setting isn’t required, but there should be theater quality projection of films — and that means high-definition players and projectors should be used, and nowadays that means Blu-Ray disk — as well as standard-def DVD — should be the main projection formats, in addition to 16 mm and 35 mm film.
Sound is important.
And seating needs to be comfortable, when you have people sitting for entire days.
One big advantage of existing theater seating is that it can be raked — that is, you don’t have a flat floor where people can’t see over the heads of the people in front of them.
Or, the screen can be raised. But that means people will get stiff necks from looking up.
Plenty of bathrooms. Plenty of water.
And decent security, so people don’t steal the filmmakers’ posters.
Publicity, promotion, and advertising is crucial.
And this is the most important thing:
The movies selected for play have to be appealing to the audience. If it’s all depressing movies about how much everything sucks — artsy fartsy, nihilistic, evil-always triumphs stuff — don’t bother inviting me. I like uplifting movies with heroes, great music, great stories, and lots of laughter and pathos.
1) Every film submitted needs to be watched all the way through by someone with some cred, who will fill out a form on whether it meets the various criteria the festival is setting as its standards for selection, and add up the points in each category for a numerical score. Categories might be quality of writing, acting, directing, editing, cinematography, music — etc. Plus somewhere the viewer can notate that a film was so good it knocked them on their ass.
2) I would eliminate from consideration any film which already has distribution through a studio.
3) A film festival is a convention, and needs some experienced people running it — and probably a lot of volunteer labor.
There’s a start.
Without Facebook and the rest of the Internet I’d be stuck in the middle of nowhere and no one would even know I exist.
The truth is, a book has to be a bestseller before it gets banned. I’m still working on that.
I tried eHarmony, Chemistry.com, and Match.com … but my computer didn’t like the other computers I tried to set it up with.
When I was in seventh grade I could have written a better re-commitment to founding principles than the Mount Vernon Statement. If this list of non-specific, warmed-over clichés is the best the conservative movement can come up with, they can pack it in right now.
I’ve been in long debates making the argument that refusing to recognize property rights in material identity leads to universal identity theft — plagiarism and forgery. In the absence of a theory of property rights in Identity presenting someone else’s informational creations as your own would not be theft because no property rights would have been violated.
If you don’t regard plagiarism as a violation of the author’s property rights, don’t come back at me claiming to be a defender of anyone’s property rights in anything.
@Time.com: Global warming causes blizzards? Tell me how sticking my hand in boiling water causes frostbite. How abstinence causes pregnancy. How I can lose weight by eating 5 pounds of bacon, waffles, and ice cream every day. At a certain point this sort of mendacity becomes criminal, the sheriff is called to remove the public nuisance, the snake-oil salesman is tarred and feathered then driven out of town on a rail.
This whole climate change business is a bunch of retards trying to figure out climate using an Etch-a-Sketch.
A question for my skeptical anarchist friends. Is there anything in our worldview that makes it at all unlikely that if an extraterrestrial craft had crashed outside Roswell, New Mexico in July 1947 that the United States Army wouldn’t have been ordered to collect all crash debris and bodies, and in the name of national security threaten and discredit all witnesses into a six-decade-long ongoing cover-up?
It’s not a secret. There’s a movie about it titled Roswell. It’s part of the pop culture. But any hard evidence of an ET crash landing at Roswell — the debris and bodies that Isaac Asimov said he’d need to be convinced — is, if it happened, still being kept secret by the government, along with a new “explanation” every decade or so. The last one was a spy balloon. The trouble is, I’ve met Dr. Jesse Marcel, Jr., and he knows what his dad Major Marcel showed him debris from in July 1947 — and it wasn’t any sort of balloon.
Jews don’t expect anyone to be perfect. Not even God.
Precisely how do Christians expect Jesus to perfect their character? Neurosurgery? Brainwashing? Zapping with Gamma Rays? Or simply a continuation into the Afterlife of what we’re already doing here on earth: working on ourselves, trial and error, and — well — living?
Not once did God ever ask me to call him Master. Why then, in the name of God, would I ever call another mortal man Master?
If you catch me staring blankly, ignoring everything around me, for minutes at a time, don’t worry, I’m probably not dead or just had a stroke — I’m just writing.
Why was a Bobble-Head Doll placed behind President Obama during his State of the Union address yesterday? It was very distracting. Oh, wait a second. That was Vice President Biden, wasn’t it?
Aslan, in the Narnia books, tells Lucy Pevensie that one can never know what would have happened. In Frank Herbert’s Dune, one needs to be mainlining spice to see alternative timelines. Yet, Timothy Geithner has the chutzpah to tell Congress that he knows the economy would have been worse without the AIG bailout?
I’m thinking of starting a club that gets us down to one meeting a month: libertarian-science-fiction-anti-War-pro-Second-Amendment-Toastmasters-Weight-Watchers-Speed-Dating. Who’s in?
If there is life after death then there is economic life after death, because the axioms of praxeology apply to immortals equally well as they apply to mortals. Volitional consciousness, itself, necessitates the desire to act, thus Nirvana is only achievable if death is real.
Would someone tell Fox News that George Washington was the father of the country, and that you don’t get to be father of the country by being elected president? Geez. These people really do literally believe in paternalistic government, don’t they?
I just saw Hannah Montana: The Movie on Starz. It’s a cute, funny movie and Miley Cyrus has one of the best singing voices I’ve ever heard. Before anyone calls me a pervert for liking a Disney movie starring a 16-year-old girl, am I also no longer allowed to like The Jackson Five or Stand By Me?
Should Ben Bernanke be fired for looting the economy of the United States of America? Absolutely. Preceded by a blindfold, a last cigarette, and “Ready … Aim …”
The purpose for SETI is to discover life on other planets … so we can sell them shit.