Walter Williams makes I point that reminds me of something that happened back when I was in high school. One of my English teachers was an old hippy who considered himself to be very progressive and who thought socialism was the best thing ever. Now, having been born and grown up in a socialist worker’s paradise aka the wrong side of the Iron Curtain, I knew the reality of that life and disagreed most vociferously with his characterizations of it.
One time, when discussing the difference between political systems in the West and East, he presented what he considered to be an unassailable argument: “If you are hungry, and somebody hands you a steak, you don’t ask where it comes from!”
I pointed out, rather sharply, that there is a big difference: the Western way, if you were hungry, people would hand you a steak out of the goodness of their heart. The Socialist way was to hand you a gun and say: “Your neighbour eats steaks every day and that is not fair. Go and take them from him at gun point!”
This is born out again and again: the more robust the ‘social support net’ is perceived to be, the less people give to charity.
The more wealth in a society is redistributed at gunpoint, the less people are predisposed to share with the less fortunate people out of the goodness of their heart – and rather understandably so. No longer do they feel it is their job to help – they are already paying the government to do it for them!
And we all know how good kind and caring large bureaucracies like the government are!
DRM – Digital Rights Management, is the digital copyright protection placed on electronic media by the major manufacturers/distributors of content (movies, CDs, etc.). And while some people argue that some copyright protection is reasonable, the rules regarding DRM are so one-sided and shortsighted that all impartial observers criticize them – for many reasons.
We can now add one more reason for valid and legitimate criticism: DRM directly discriminates against the visually impaired:
‘Any digital text can be read aloud through text-to-speech, granting people with visual impairments the basic human right to read — unless there’s DRM in the way.
Tricking the technology used by Amazon, Apple, Adobe and Google to stop blind people from adding text-to-speech to their devices isn’t hard — but it is a felony, thanks to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. A UN treaty intended to help people with visual, cognitive and sensory disabilities access copyrighted works has been all but killed by the big publishers.’
If you are new to this debate, I encourage you to get informed because there needs to be a balance of rights: protecting the rights of the content creators/owners must not rob purchasers of said material from being able to access it in a format that they would like.
At the current time, the rules governing content purchased on electronic media are created by politicians on the advice of industry lobbyists – very powerful and rich industry lobbyists – without any weight being given to the needs, much less the rights, of the consumer.
More balance is needed or electronic vigilantes WILL gain widespread public support.
The Robin Hood myth has survived many centuries for a reason. Unless the society wishes for hactivists to become the next incarnation of the Robin Hood character, fixing the deeply flawed and corrupt copyright governance is a necessary first step!