A Philosopher's Blog

Is SOPA a Shakedown?

Posted in Ethics, Law, Philosophy, Politics, Technology by Michael LaBossiere on January 18, 2012
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I must admit that I have become somewhat cynical over the years. While I still believe in truth, justice and all that, I view politicians in general and congress in particular with considerable skepticism.

Congress is currently considering SOPA and PIPPA. While these sound like Pokemon names, they are being put forth with the stated purpose of combating piracy. Critics, of which there is a multitude, contend that SOPA and PIPA will be devastating to the “small” players in the internet realm.

Being a professional writer and an ethical person, it is hardly surprising that I am against online piracy and have argued that it is immoral. As such, I do support reasonable, just and fair means of combating piracy-if only for the selfish reason that I would prefer that people not steal my work. However, I would prefer to live with the risk of piracy than have draconian laws and regulations in place. Naturally, this is a false dilemma: we can obviously have mechanisms to combat piracy that are not draconian.

Getting back to my cynicism, I suspect that SOPA and PIPA are shakedown tools. In the current political system, members of congress need to spend significant sums of money in order to be re-elected. In order to keep this money flowing in, they need to give people and corporations a reason to fork over that sort of cash. One obvious way to do this is to create legislation that folks with large sums of money are interested in passing or preventing. SOPA and PIPA are backed by many large media corporations and they have, as might be imagined, dumped a lot of money into the campaign coffers of the folks in congress. Those who oppose SOPA and PIPA will need to lobby against them and this also involves money being tossed into those same coffers. As such, these laws are a win-win situation for the folks in congress in that they help them generate the vast sums of cash they need to ensure that they will remain where they can get even more vast sums of cash.

On this matter I find myself agreeing with true conservatives: I am opposed to this expansion of government regulation.

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15 Responses

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  1. anon said, on January 18, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    You should agree with normal people who want “smart government” no matter if it is “big” or “small” (those words really don’t have any meaning anyways when they are used today to describe government).

  2. T. J. Babson said, on January 18, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    “On this matter I find myself agreeing with true conservatives: I am opposed to this expansion of government regulation.”

    Baby steps, baby steps…

  3. T. J. Babson said, on January 18, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    Regulators at work:

    The Failure of the FDA: Why We’re Still Using Antibiotics on Livestock

    Roughly 70 percent of all antibiotics used in the United States are given to healthy farm animals to foster rapid growth and make up for unhygienic living conditions. Many bacteria that live on animals adapt and transfer to humans, spreading superbugs that are often resistant to treatment.

    For more than 35 years, the FDA has recognized that giving antibiotics to farm animals poses a risk to human health, yet the agency has done almost nothing to stop it. Indeed, it has mastered the art of making inaction look like action. Last May, NRDC and our partners sued the FDA to prompt it to take action. Instead, the agency retrenched.

    It started by claiming the livestock industry could police itself. In our lawsuit, we asked the FDA to finally rule on two citizen petitions — one filed 12 years ago, the other six years ago — urging the agency to stop the use of antibiotics in healthy animals. In November, the FDA announced that although it shares concerns that the use of antibiotics to make animals grow faster is dangerous for humans, it would deny the petition because it was pursuing an alternative strategy.

    This “alternative strategy” turns out to be just another name for the status quo. Instead of banning the use of antibiotics in healthy animals, the FDA is allowing the livestock industry to follow a voluntary approach. But we already know voluntary doesn’t work. The FDA has been operating under that model since 1977, yet the practice has expanded exponentially over the years. Talk about the fox guarding the hen house.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/01/the-failure-of-the-fda-why-were-still-using-antibiotics-on-livestock/251442/

    • T. J. Babson said, on January 18, 2012 at 11:01 pm

      After 35 years of failure–are we allowed to draw a conclusion?

    • anon said, on January 19, 2012 at 9:47 am

      “the FDA is allowing the livestock industry to follow a voluntary approach. But we already know voluntary doesn’t work”

      I thought the free market could take care of itself?

      • T. J. Babson said, on January 19, 2012 at 10:01 am

        Regulators allowing a “voluntary approach” is not the same as a free market, now is it?

        • anon said, on January 19, 2012 at 10:21 am

          Isn’t the “free market” all voluntary?

    • dhammett said, on January 19, 2012 at 2:58 pm

      “It started by claiming the livestock industry could police itself. ” . . . . . . . . ‘
      “This ‘alternative strategy’ turns out to be just another name for the status quo. Instead of banning the use of antibiotics in healthy animals, the FDA is allowing the livestock industry to follow a voluntary approach. But we already know voluntary doesn’t work. The FDA has been operating under that model since 1977, yet the practice has expanded exponentially over the years.”

      In addition to FDA ineptitude, it appears that industry self-regulation, at least in this case, is a joke.

      The government can’t do it; the industry can’t do it. Who can?

      I would consider volunteering for the job, but I believe this problem “transcends any one individual.” So I’ve decided to throw my support behind Newt Gingrich. ““a conservative visionary who can transform our country” and our farm animals.

      And off the subject: Does anyone on here believe the story coming out of Iowa? Now Santorum’s the winner.
      BUT: “It’s done,” said a party spokesman, who asked that his name not be used. About the missing votes, he said: “We never got ’em. We tried to track ’em down, and for whatever reason, we don’t have them.” Wash Post Online. Votes from eight precincts were never counted. They’re apparently irretrievable.

      All this a few days before the SC primary and what is perhaps the last chance to derail the Mormon Romney train.

    • Anonymous said, on January 19, 2012 at 5:44 pm

      As I’ve said, regulations should do what they were intended to do. If not, get rid of them.

      Magus

      • T. J. Babson said, on January 19, 2012 at 10:13 pm

        Exactly. Good intentions are not enough. We all want safe food, but if the current system is not working it needs to be changed. Why is that such a difficult concept?

        • dhammett said, on January 19, 2012 at 11:21 pm

          “Why is that such a difficult concept?”
          For many of us, that’s not a difficult concept at all.

          Unfortunately, some think that their ideologically charged ideas for change are best, whether those ideas are practical or not. As I’ve pointed out many times, someone, somewhere, at some time has to make the final decision about what works and what doesn’t. So far, nobody I’ve heard has even presented a sensible means by which to determine the who, when, and what.

          This is another task I’d volunteer for, but I still believe the issue of regulation “transcends any one individual.” So I’ve decided to throw my support behind Newt Gingrich “a conservative visionary who can transform our country”** and our very way of life. :)

          **Is Rick Perry full of it or what?

  4. T. J. Babson said, on January 19, 2012 at 9:18 am

    Khan explains it masterfully:


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