Monday, February 21, 2011

Unions and Copyright

Reposting this after loosing it.

What with the events in Wisconsin and a recent post by Matt Yglesias on copyright, I’ve been wondering about the absurdities of our current political discourse.

Consider that some people wish to organize themselves, independent of any government help, into a union so they can negotiate for higher wages and earn a greater revenue from their labor. The response from a large section of our population is that they should be prevented from doing so, with the full force of the government exerted to stop them from so organizing, because the market doesn't support those higher wages, they should not be able to use the coercion of their organization to capture these wages unfairly. (In the perhaps vain hope of avoiding flames, let me say that this is NOT my position).

On the other hand if some people earn their living from writing songs, plays and books an activity which the market alone has never priced very high, then in light of the above, many of the very same people, of course, believe that the government should organize on its own organize a system of copyright to guarantee that these people earn as much money as possible from their labor, without requiring that the beneficiaries do anything on their own. In fact it would apparently be very wrong for us to so much as charge these people money for providing this protection to them.

Very strange. I believe that one of these positions, at least, must be wrong.

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