If your ideal is at odds with reality, your claims are useless.
Do you watch “Shark Tank” on ABC? We rarely miss it. I like to see eager strivers showing how they’re putting a dent in the universe – and I like to evaluate their presentation skills. But watching the investors is worthwhile, also. A “Shark Tank” pitch
is a better mousetrap, and three cheers for innovation. But a “Shark Tank” deal
is a business model, where the term ‘business model’ almost always means a plan to exclude potential competitors. Kevin O’Leary and Laurie Grenier are particularly adamant about spiking the competition, but all of the investors seek to know how the wantrepreneurs plan to extract maximum profits from their businesses by making it difficult or impossible for other vendors to compete.
How do they do this? By rent-seeking, of course, especially by deploying the patent system to forbid alternative mousetraps.
The argument for intellectual property law is utilitarian: Forbidding Jerry to profit from what he has learned from Jim’s innovations is bad for Jerry, but it’s good for everyone else, the claim runs, since without the state imposing monopoly protection to Jim’s exclusive benefit, Jim will have no incentive to innovate in the first place. The proposition itself is dubious, and utilitarianism is never more that elaborately-rationalized crime. In an actually-free society, how Jim defends his property is his own problem, not something to be collectivized in pursuit of alleged collective benefits. And whatever argument there might have been for patent laws in 1789, it is by now obvious that the patent system is simply odious rent-seeking.
The same logic applies to every other kind of government “help” for business: It is all Rotarian Socialism – lining Jim’s pockets with wealth extracted by threat of violence from Jerry and everyone else.
The Federalist’s Robert Tracinski gets this, at least with respect to full-time professional rent-seeker Elon Musk. Good on him. I expect he might trip over the larger problem, though: Rotarian Socialism is the only kind of business left in America.
Which brings me to my pet bête noire, Yaron Brook, evader-in-chief (more…)