Monday, April 26, 2010

Krugman's Prognostications for the Republican Party

Here in a nutshell is the Republican Party and its future. This is taken from Paul Krugman's NY Times blog:
For a long time the GOP was essentially run by business interests, with the cultural right taken for a ride; in 2004 Bush ran as the nation’s defender against gay married terrorists, then announced that the election gave him a mandate to … privatize Social Security.

But what the Tea Party really signifies, I think, is that the business interests have lost control, that the base, with its fears about the Other, has escaped from guidance. And the sudden immigration outburst is part of that phenomenon.

Democrats think this gives them an opening. I’m unclear about that, at least for 2010. But yes, in the long run you have think that if the GOP becomes the party of angry white men, unleashed — as opposed to angry white men harnessed to the business elite — it will have a poor future.
I would like to think that this signifies more: the death of the Republican party. Once the business group realizes it can't run the crazies as its "base" it will go looking to buy up the conservative wing of the Democrats as its future base. So my fevered imagination has the Republicans disappear and the red state/blue state divide among Democrats leads to two new parties, the Red Democrats and the Blue Democrats. You get the same tension, but without the fundamentalist crazies.


thomas said...

I like your prognostication and I hope you are right.. I kind of have a pessimistic view of the voters, though. I know too many who vote Republican and will vote that way no matter what the facts are or the history or performance of the Republican candidate. Part of the problem is the state I live in, but it could be worse. I guess I will continue to hope for the best.. I wonder what it would do to the loyal Republican voters if their party died..

RYviewpoint said...

Thomas: I'm probably fantasizing. But political parties have been born and die over long periods. The Republicans came out of the Abolitionist movement. They have outlived their "best before" date.

Meanwhile, in Canada we now have a new party, the Pirate Party. I'll be voting for them if they manage to get on the ballot in my constituency. I back what they stand for:

Reform copyright and facilitate access to culture

What is the problem?

If we don’t adjust copyright to today’s realities, artists will continue to be limited in their creative expression as well as their ability to make ends meet while consumers will face ever more excessive measures such as iPod searches by border guards.

How do we solve it?

We want to adjust copyright so that artists can better build on previous works and choose the distribution and licensing model that allows them to make a living. We will also help music artists educate themselves about earning money through other means than selling records, for example by performing live shows and selling fan articles and where feasible, we will evaluate the introduction of levies to further compensate artists. In turn, we want to adjust copyright for consumers to make private, non-commercial copying of content legal. This will promote artists and help spread culture farther than ever before.

Reform the patents system

What is the problem?

A patent grants its owner a 20 year monopoly over the use of an invention. In the fast moving software industry, inventions however always builds on previous work. Issuing patents on software therefore exposes all innovators to the risks of major lawsuits. This reduces innovation, meaning that your software will be harder to use and will not offer the features you need.

How do we solve it?

We want to ban patents on software to spur innovation and allow new start-ups to enter the market without the fear of being sued for building upon previous work. We also want to ban patents on life forms and plants since we find the notion of corporations owning the ingredients to life downright unethical.

Ensure Open Government & Open Access

What is the problem?

In the course of its daily operations, the Canadian government collects and produces large amounts of valuable data. Unfortunately this data is rarely accessible to the public, even though it has been paid for through taxpayer money. For example, results of the Public Service Employee Survey which provides insight into the inner workings of government offices is not made public even though it could inform the public of areas where offices would have to be managed better. This current practice goes hand in hand with the notion of closed doors meetings where government decision are taken out of sight of public scrutiny. With the current practice of non-open government also comes the reality that research results which have been made possible by government grants using taxpayer money, are often not made publicly available either.

How do we solve it?

We see it as our goal to ensure that the government works for its citizens and not vice versa. The Pirate Party of Canada therefore stands for the principle of Open Government. It stipulates that government actions and the data it produced must be made publicly available to Canadians wherever possible, using standardized, open and vendor-neutral data formats. We also strive to guarantee that all research funded by taxpayer money must be made available in the same means as above, thereby ensuring the principles of Open Access. This will help maintain Canada’s cultural and scientific heritage by ensuring equal access to these values for everyone in our society.

In the past, I've supported the Rhinoceros Party

thomas said...

I like the Pirate party.. I like the solutions to the issues you mention here.. I am still stuck on the idea of searching Ipods; I can't believe that things can get that far out hand. We need to fix this music download thing, soon.

RYviewpoint said...

Thomas: I'm not sure that downloading is much of a real problem. Cory Doctorow is a novelist who has done experiments where he makes his writing freely available electronically as well as publishes the physical book. He hasn't noticed any loss of sales. Also, studies have been done that show that downloads don't affect sales. Some people who download music wouldn't have bought anyway. Others act as trend setters who create demand via word of mouth.

I'm for reasonable copyright protection. I don't want to see people ripped off. But it ends up that that the big corporations who fight these vicious battles over copyright are the very ones who don't pay their artists. So most of their complaints are hypocritical.

What bugs me is that the recording industry treats its customers like criminals. Rather than try to find new ways to create customers, they've gone the other direction. They sue their customers, they put more and more restrictions on how you can hand your "property", they turn stuff you buy into rented items where you have to keep "buying" because they change formats, and worst of all, they "sell" you music with DCMA locks and then shut down their server when profits grow thin and you are left with music you "own" but can't play because there no longer is a server that can verify your "ownership". It is all insane. This isn't "ownerhip", it is some kind of new serfdom where they write the rules and keep making you jump through hoops.

thomas said...

We were talking about this today...

I used to have an 8 track recorder and then I had a cassette recorder. My dad and others had reel to reel, and if some one like an album or song we would record it and give it to them... I don't remember anyone being prosecuted. I have bought vinyl at yard sales for a dollar a piece and other forms for cheap at various places... I think of the clubs were you could get 10 for a penny if you joined. How come these things were and some still are legal? I liked the idea that stuff that is a certain age should be OK for download.

I am a funny thing to my kids because I like to buy music. I think it is a generational thing because my kids think that I am stupid if I buy a CD rather than download it.. I like to have the music on a format that I can put in the machine and play anytime I want and MP3's are just a little unreal to me. Funny, because I store pictures on my computer...

RYviewpoint said...

Thomas: In the old days when you bought a record you owned it, you could sell it or lend it because it was yours. What the recording industry is moving towards is the idea that you buy a right to have a single copy (or two or three) that you can keep on your machines but which has to check with a server run by the recording company that decides if you can play what you "own".

There have already been several cases where people have bought music and then wake up one day and nothing plays anymore because the vendor shut down their server that checks licenses. You are out of luck. You "own" your music but it won't work because the vender decided there wasn't enough business to so he shuts down your end and that just happens to mean that nothing works for you anymore.

When I was a kid, an author could write a book and get a 35 year copyright. Then they changed that to 35 years after he died. But then when Mickey Mouse was about to go off copyright, Disney successfully lobbied Congress so it is now 70 years after you die. That was about 20 years ago, so in about another 15 years we will wake up to a new revision of copyright which will be life plus 120 years.

In short, stuff produced before about 1920 is now in the public domain but nothing after that is. Even stuff that the original creator is more than willing to let be in the public domain isn't because it is just too complicated and expensive to officially let something go into the public domain.

In short, corporations have stopped the concept of "public domain".

You might have heard that corporations have bought the "rights" for famous people like Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, etc. They milk them for money. Presley and Monroe make more money now than when they were alive. But it isn't the family or relatives. It is corporations that "bought the rights".

The funny thing is that the corporations justify all this clampdown on copyright as "necessary to ensure that artists benefit from their creations". Well, back in the 1920s to 1950s black artists never got paid for their "creations". And most of the popular artists since then got very little. Most of the money was skimmed by the recording industry. Here's an example of how artists were and still are cheated out of their copyright by the big corporations.