Most people have probably seen this stencil. But what most people haven’t considered is that the stencil is wildly inaccurate.
Capitalism isn’t about robbing customers. Sure, some companies do rob customers. In any field there are those who would rather cheat or steal, than provide what they are being paid for.
Capitalism as a system does work fairly well. It’s not perfect. No system designed by humans can be. Even a system designed by God wouldn’t be perfect, if humans had to implement it.
The problem is that certain corporate entities are going to destroy what is a relatively good system for humans to interact with each other through greed.
Yesterday in a post I mentioned Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand’s science fiction novel. In many ways Atlas Shrugged is an inspirational work. But it is fiction. Like a lot of really good science fiction, it takes a fictional situation, and extrapolates societal effects, using a set of ethics, to come to a conclusion.
A lot of people who have read Atlas Shrugged have made the mistake of thinking that Rand was writing about the real world. Atlas Shrugged is fiction – by definition it’s unreal, just like any other fiction.
Much of the best fiction is set in a reality that is close to the real world, with a minor twist of some sort. In Atlas Shrugged, the twist is that no one except a very few people, like Dagny Taggert, is ethical. In the real world, most people are ethical. Society couldn’t work if they weren’t.
But Is Management Ethical?
Howard Knopf has been writing about the differences between Canadian and American copyright laws, and has pointed out that the current Canadian copyright laws are actually tougher than American copyright laws. Michael Geist has also covered this – one of his articles covered the hidden ISOHUNT lawsuit in Canada. The RIAA and MPAA member companies sued ISOHUNT, proving that Canada did have the laws in place to handle copyright infringement, at the same time as they were claiming that such laws didn’t exist!
So why are the American companies that are members of the RIAA and MPAA complaining so much about Canadian copyright?
A total lack of ethics appears to be a big part of the complaints. It’s not that Canadian laws don’t provide the tools that they need, it’s rather that they are trying to block competition. We’ve heard a series of complaints also aimed at the Creative Commons licenses. They don’t want artists to be able to choose the license that they use.
They are also trying to block alternative distribution mechanisms, like Bit Torrent, apparently to force artists to work through the content distribution companies. Rather than compete by providing a valuable service, they’d rather make competing with them illegal.
Anti-competitive moves like this could damage the image of Capitalism with the general population, which could have a negative impact on creators.
Monday February 21, 2011