Tuesday, April 24, 2018

How Intellectual Property Rights Address Economic ‘Scarcity’

Rebutting the Economic Case That Libertarians Deliver Against Patents and Copyrights

Stuart K. Hayashi

This is a reposting of my essay published in The Savvy Street, which was itself a revised version of this post here.

When it comes to the issue of the legitimacy of intellectual property rights (IP rights or IPRs) we witness an odd reversal. Even many of the most diehard proponents of the regulatory-entitlement state, such as Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr., recognize that an inventor holds rightful ownership of her invention and that an artist must retain rightful ownership over her artwork. Conversely, too many “libertarians,” who proclaim themselves to be the champions of free enterprise and peaceful entrepreneurship, try to denigrate the enforcement of intellectual property rights as misguided at best and hateful at worst. Like socialists, these supposed defenders of free entrepreneurship propound that artworks and original designs for inventions ought to be in a public domain, a commons. To these libertarians, such a proponent of the regulatory-entitlement state as Leonard Pitts is not contradicting himself in upholding the right to copyright, but is being entirely consistent in his support for expansive government. Indeed, these libertarians presume IPRs to be an unwelcome intrusion into the market on the part of the State on behalf of corrupt, rent-seeking copyright holders and patent holders.

According to the image fostered by those who condemn IPRs, we are to believe that patents are legal claims of exclusive ownership over vague general ideas that anyone can pull out of thin air. Worse, they add, the entire notion of intellectual property is unwarranted, as economics demonstrates that the institution of private property rights can only validly address entities which are “scarce,” and that only units of tangible objects — that is, objects consisting of matter, such as metals and trees — can be “scarce” in this manner.

The essay you are about to read shall rebut the following misrepresentations of IPRs on the part of their opponents:

  1. Intellectual property rights are a claim of ownership over a vague general idea for a category of marketed product, and patents grant to the party a government-enforced monopoly over an industry.

  2. Multiple parties working independently, each unbeknownst to one another, can — by coincidence — arrive at the exact same invention at the exact same moment. Yet the patent on this invention is awarded to but one of those parties. As the party receiving the patent holds a government-enforced monopoly, the process cheats the other parties that arrived at this same invention simultaneously.

  3. The misunderstanding most pertinent to this essay: The proper basis for recognition of private property rights is that there are some objects that are “scarce,” meaning that the present number of units of such objects is finite. Yet there is no preexisting scarcity to a design that is copyrighted or patented. If you, as a filmmaker, copyright your motion picture and I make an unauthorized duplicate of it, you have not lost the original print. Nor have you lost the ability to make additional units of your copyrighted motion picture. “Scarcity” is inapplicable to designs that are patented or copyrighted, and therefore privatization of them cannot be legitimate. Furthermore, it is actually the institutionalization of patents and copyrights that imposes an artificial scarcity in the market, as the party possessing a patent or copyright can invoke the IPR in court to restrict the number of units of products that are based on her design.

It is tragic when people who purport to defend free markets and who claim to value the creation of wealth would disparage intellectual property rights and their possessors in such a fashion, as the recognition of intellectual property rights is integral to the process of the creation of new wealth that innovation entails.

The Myth of “IP As Monopoly”
Let us first address the misconception that IPRs are monopolistic. Imagine, for instance, that in 1877 someone named Erlman received a U.S. patent on an invention as simple as the paperclip. We are to believe, then, that Erlman claims ownership over the whole general idea of “paperclip.” Hence, Erlman has gained a government-enforced monopoly on the production of paperclips. The whole industry is under his iron fist. Should someone else — say, a man named Mr. Angell — dare to produce and sell paperclips of his own, the patent enables Erlman to sue Mr. Angell into oblivion. Either Mr. Angell agrees to pay royalties to Erlman — extortion — or Mr. Angell must cease and desist. The patent specifies that Erlman can go on with this racket for seventeen years.

To the opponents of intellectual property rights, this is horrendous, and exactly why patents ought to be abolished.

Now let us look into the actual history. Since the late nineteenth century, in the USA alone there have been many patents on the paperclip, often granted in intervals shorter than seventeen years. That is, prior to one party’s paperclip patent expiring, a patent on yet another paperclip would be granted.

The reason for this is that a patent is not a claim of ownership over a general idea or a whole category of product. A utility patent protects the aspects of your specific original design for a product pertaining to how that product functions. A design patent, on the other hand, protects the aspects of your specific original design for a product pertaining to that product’s aesthetic qualities. When George Lucas obtained a design patent on his “Boba Fett action figure,” for example, it meant that you would need to obtain George Lucas’s permission if you were to produce a toy that carried an obvious deliberate likeness to the character of Boba Fett from The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

Your receiving a patent on your paperclip does not preclude others from patenting or selling their own paperclips. When a patent is granted on a paperclip, the patent is not on the general idea of having a device that holds more than one sheet of paper together. Nay, the patent is on a specific original aspect of the design. The reason why there are so many patents on paperclips is that different designers have made them from different materials, arranged them in different shapes, and employed new methods of producing units of paperclips in bulk quantities.

Another common straw man cited in attempts to discredit patents is the claim that several separate parties, completely unbeknownst to each other, can each come up with the exact same invention at the exact same time. This notion, too, stems from a misunderstanding. Many parties, each working independently, can each arrive at the same general idea at separate times that are within relatively close proximity to one another, yes. And that general idea is not what they patent. Each of those parties arrives at a different specific design, and each party’s patent has features distinct from the others’. A party patents not a general idea, but instead patents its own unique new method for implementing that idea. All the while, there remain myriad different methods whereby this idea can still be implemented.

Where two separate parties’ patents are similar — where there is “overlap” in their function-related features — the common result has been for those separate parties to pool their patents in a single trust. That was the result when Jack Kilby devised one aspect of the integrated circuit at Texas Instruments whereas, at Fairchild Semiconductor, Robert Noyce concentrated more on the process of wiring up the integrated circuit’s components. None of that evinces anything unjust about the principle of intellectual property as such.

When Jack Northrop received his patent on his “flying wing” design for airplanes (U.S. Patent No. 2,406,506), that did not grant him a government-enforced monopoly on the production of airplanes; other parties still designed and patented their own aircraft. Not even the Wright brothers had a patent on the general product category of “airplane”; their patents were on the method of steering. Their innovation was steering the airplane by means of warping the shape of its wings. This did not stop their competitor, Glenn Curtiss, from making his own airplanes. Before the Wright brothers’ patents expired, Curtiss patented the manner in which he arranged the ailerons to be placed on airplanes’ wings. Ailerons are fins on the wings of airplanes that change direction in unison and thereby change the direction in which the airplane is to head. (The Wright brothers did ultimately use ailerons, but their patents didn’t describe them in the same manner that Curtiss’s did.)

A general idea for a product can instantly pop into one’s head. As we shall revisit soon, there is no “scarcity” to such general ideas. But that general idea is not what is patentable. To obtain a patent, a party needs a detailed model. When I say model here, I do not mean a physical working model, such as a prototype. In the context of this essay, model refers to the patent-filer’s specific and detailed explanation of how his or her design can, in scientific terms, plausibly function as promised while operated by someone competent in the trade for which the design was produced. As the U.S. Commercial Code’s Subsection 112 phrases it, what is patentable is not the general idea for a new category of product but the “written description of the invention, and of the manner and process of making and using it,” that is “in such full, clear, concise, and exact terms as to enable any person skilled in the art to which it pertains, or with which it is most nearly connected, to make and use” that invention. That is, if you invent a new sort of furnace for steel-making, obtaining a reliably enforceable patent for it calls upon you to provide a detailed theoretic model (this often includes diagrams) for a furnace that produces steel as promised when operated by someone skilled in steelmaking. That is not something that can be pulled out of thin air or dreamt up overnight, and that has much to do with why patentable designs are so “scarce.”

What it Takes to Produce a Practicable Design Worthy of Patent
Consider Chester F. Carlson and the development of the xerographic photocopier — what is more conventionally known as a Xerox machine. He first came up with the general idea in 1934 working at a law firm. He found it tedious to transcribe documents by hand, and wished there was an effective low-cost method for making clear, legible duplicates of documents. He spent hundreds of dollars on equipment (money he could have instead spent on other amenities, such as better housing) and hours of his life each week (hours he could have spent on earning money at a second job with steadier prospects for supplementing his income) to run experiments to test his theories on how this device could accomplish its intended task. It was not until 1938 when he finally finished a detailed theoretic model ready for patenting. This patent was granted in 1940.

Even then, nothing was easy for Carlson. He approached a multitude of capital-heavy corporations with his proposal to license this technology to them, hoping they would develop units of this device. Twenty of these big firms rejected Carlson’s pitch. It was not due to a lack of capital on their part; they had enough money to produce multiple units of Carlson’s design. Rather, for them the issue was that they judged that there would not be enough demand for this product to justify allocating their capital for this purpose.

Carlson’s fortunate break came in 1944 when Carlson finally was able to license the invention to the Battelle Memorial Institute. In 1947, Battelle turned over this technology to Joseph Wilson’s Haloid Corporation, a company whose name Wilson would change to Xerox.

It was not until 1949 that Xerox had developed a model it felt confident about putting on the market—the Xerox Model A. This ended up a commercial flop. Upon a cost-benefit analysis, the target market for this product — corporate offices, law firms, and schools — decided that this machine was not even worth renting. Joseph Wilson had to start over when searching for a method of producing a model that would satisfy marketplace demand adequately while remaining cost-effective for Xerox to manufacture. This led to the firm unveiling the Xerox 914 in 1959. This was the first model of a xerographic photocopier to generate a profit for any party. Carlson’s original patent had already expired before Xerox could profit from xerographic photocopying. Fortunately for Carlson and Xerox, Joseph Wilson was able to obtain patents on other design aspects on the Xerox 914 that the company had developed during its own R-and-D process. In the 1960s, royalty payments made Carlson one of the richest people in the country — well-earned.

Examine those durations. It took Carlson four years to develop a model that he could patent. The duration between Carlson’s initial inspiration and the introduction of any xerographic photocopier in any market was a whopping fifteen years. And the time it took between Carlson’s generation of the idea and the moment that this idea first generated a profit for any party was twenty-five years.

What happens in all those years? What happens is research and development and experimentation. In the four years it took Carlson to make his original vague general idea into a patentable model, Carlson had to purchase his own equipment to test his models to determine whether they functioned as he planned. Note that the equipment consisted of tangible goods — “scarce” units consisting of matter — that Carlson expended, used up, and depreciated.

The same grueling process of R-and-D and experimentation continued in the dozen years between the moment Joseph Wilson first gained access to this technology and the moment anyone profited from it. Xerox spent thousands of dollars employing engineers and technicians to run tests on how they could minimize costs while still producing units of this technology that were able to satisfy marketplace demand. To run such experiments, they too had to acquire tangible equipment coming in a finite number of units.

Yes, your patent is on something that is intangible — a model describing precisely in detail how a product is to be structured physically and how it is to function. But, by that same token, you would not have been able to come up with the intangible model if not for your using up tangible goods consisting in forms of matter that come in finite units. These are units that are, more often than not, relatively perishable.

How Intellectual Property Rights Do Address What Economists Call “Scarcity” of Units
Timothy Sandefur is among the many libertarian writers proclaiming that “scarcity” is absent in the case of designs and that, for this reason, they ought not to be protected by patents or copyrights. In his words,

In the case of tangible property, real or personal,...the property is naturally exclusive, meaning that if I have it, you simply cannot; if I take it, you no longer have it — you have been “disseised.” Intellectual property, however, is not like this. I can “take” it from you, and yet you still have it. If, for example, you are the greatest musician in the history of rock and roll (that is, John Fogerty) and you have written the greatest song ever (that is, “Born on The Bayou”...), then I can sing “Born on the Bayou” in my shower, and you can still, at the same time, use and enjoy your “property” as you wish: you can perform it, sell it, or leave it alone [emphasis Sadenfur’s].

We will come back to this later: Sandefur’s example of singing a famous copyrighted song in the shower is a straw man. For now, note the frequency with which that argument is repeated by other opponents of intellectual property. To provide an example that sounds less tongue-in-cheek than Sandefur’s: if a filmmaker like Justine produces her own low-budget commercial motion picture, and I make an unauthorized copy of it, Justine is not deprived of the original print; she retains custody of it. That same idea comes across in this Facebook meme:

Sandefur’s misrepresentation derives from this statement from University of Chicago economist Arnold Plant:
It is a peculiarity of property rights in patents (and copyrights) that they do not arise out of the scarcity of the objects which become appropriated. They are not a consequence of scarcity. They are the deliberate creation of statute law, and, whereas in general the institution of private property makes for the preservation of scarce goods… …property rights in patents and copyrights make possible the creation of a scarcity of the products appropriated which could not otherwise be maintained [emphases Plant’s].

Here is a rephrasing of the argument that Timothy Sandefur and Arnold Plant present. Private property rights, primarily being the law’s method of resolving disputes over how finite resources are distributed and allocated, are applicable exclusively to tangible goods — that is, objects consisting of matter — that exist in a finite number of units. If apples and apple trees are commercialized, then private property rights apply to them. Metals count as well. If widgets are machines made for human consumption, then private property rights apply to them. As there is presently a finite number of units of widgets in existence, then if you acquire more units of widgets, that is fewer available for me. If you have more apples, that is fewer apples for me. I could grow my own trees and then graft my own branches on them to grow more apples (all apples on the market are clones from the same ancestral branch; wild apples grown from wild apple trees are not uniform in quality),more units can be produced in the future — this would take time and resource inputs — but the fact remains that in this precise moment, there is a finite number of units of apple trees and widgets in existence.

That is what economists conventionally mean when they say that economics is about “scarcity.” Note that when conventional economists say that markets address “scarcity” in this context, they are not necessarily conceding Rev. T. Robert Malthus’s premise that humans just use up nonrenewable resources and one day will be left with nothing. Rather, the economists just mean that there is presently a finite number of units on the market.

In the understanding of Arnold Plant and those who cite him, if there were no private property rights, then people would always be violently fighting over who gets what. Once private property rights are established, it reduces the risk that such fights will break out. Private property rights, in this interpretation, mean that you and I agree that this belongs to you, whereas that belongs to me, and we leave each other be.

Then those who argue in Arnold Plant’s vein, such as Timothy Sandefur, continue that because intellectual property rights are intangible, they cannot be authentic private property rights. This is question-begging on the part of too many of intellectual property’s detractors. To “win” their argument, these opponents of intellectual property decide that, from the outset, they have to define private property rights as referring exclusively to tangible goods that come in a finite number of units. Upon pretending that this arbitrary premise is some well-established fact, they then point out that intellectual property rights are intangible and that, by their own (arbitrary) definition of private property rights, patents and copyrights are precluded from being authentic property.

First, their conclusion is false, because the government’s attempt to resolve some potential dispute over the allocation of tangible goods is not the main justification for private property rights. The main justification is that you should maintain legal control over the very economic value that you have created. You deserve to maintain control over your art and inventions for the same reason that you, as a homesteader, deserve to maintain control over the patch of land that you have rendered inhabitable.

The economic value that a homesteader wrings out of a patch of land is an emergent property. Emergent property refers to what happens when, once the raw materials are arranged in a particularly fortuitous fashion, some new (sometimes even wholly unprecedented) phenomenon occurs. For example, there was a time when there was no life on Earth; for billions of years, it was the same old chemicals lying around. But one day, those same chemicals were arranged in a new fashion, and what was nonliving matter became the first primitive living matter, some proto-micro-organism.

Similarly, when a homesteader improves a plot of land — meaning she makes it inhabitable for human use — she is not creating any new matter; she is rearranging the matter that already exists. But this new arrangement has rendered this land, once previously uninhabitable, into land that is inhabitable. That habitability is the new phenomenon, the emergent property. It is also the new economic value created. That same principle applies to patentable inventions. The patent for a highly profitable invention is a set of instructions for arranging already-existing matter in a fashion that produces some effect that satisfies marketplace demand, and what makes this patent lucrative is that the patent’s instructions allow for a manufacturer to educe this demand-satisfying effect in a manner that is cost-effective enough to allow the manufacturer to sell units of this arrangement at a net profit. This invention produces a net increase in utility in the economy, utility that previously had not existed. That net increase in utility, that unprecedented economic value that has been created, is also an emergent property.

Both (1) a homesteader’s improvement in the land and (2) an inventor’s contribution of a net increase in utility, are emergent phenomena whereby new economic value has been created, economic value previously unexplored.

For the law to recognize this newly created economic value as being the private property of the party that created it does both of the following: (a) it justly allows the party that created this value to sustain itself while (b) it also signals to other market participants that they, too, will be free to reap the rewards of their own value creation if they, too, produce these new forms of utility.

When someone such as myself points out that there is a “scarcity” component of the time and effort that inventors invest in their inventions and artists invest in their art, such opponents as Tom Palmer conflate our argument with Karl Marx’s labor theory of value. Karl Marx presumed that just because manual laborers directly interacted with factory machinery in their work, that necessarily meant that the manual laborers had a stronger claim to the machinery than did the investors who purchased and legally owned the machinery. That is, manual laborers work hard with the factory machinery, and therefore the factory machinery is rightfully theirs. Tom Palmer and some other opponents to IPR would have their readers believe that we defenders of intellectual property are saying nothing better — that Chester F. Carlson rightfully owns the xerographic photocopier for no reason other than that he worked hard on it and therefore is right to use his oppressive government monopoly to thwart other entrepreneurs who wish to produce photocopiers independently of him. But Palmer’s assumption is a straw man; Carlson has a rightful claim to his design for the same reason that a homesteader has a rightful a claim to the plot of land she improved.

Second — and this is what the arguments of Arnold Plant, Timothy Sandefur, and Tom Palmer conveniently elide — intellectual property rights do address the allocation and usage of tangible goods that are finite in number. Intellectual property rights do address what Arnold Plant calls “scarcity” and what Timothy Sandefur calls the fact that tangible goods, consisting of material substances and coming in a finite number of units, can be “disseised.”

Impractical ideas — ideas for products in which consumers express no interest — are ideas that come cheap. It took me mere seconds to think up the general ideas of “glow-in-the-dark sunscreen” and “edible toilet seats.” One does not invest any “scarce” resources in tossing around vague ideas for products that will not satisfy marketplace demand. By contrast, the designs which inventors and other entrepreneurs seek to patent are practicable designs. For the rest of this essay, the term practicable design refers to an original design for a product that is so practical that, if multiple units are produced from this design, parties would willingly pay money in exchange for access to these units, and this is on account of the units produced from this design functioning as intended. To develop such a practicable design is the opposite of cheap.

In the four years it took for Carlson to develop a xerographic photocopier model worthy of licensing, he had to acquire equipment for testing this model. That equipment came in the form of perishable tangible goods that always had, and always would, come in a finite number of existing units. As Carlson used up these goods in his experiments, they depreciated in value, meaning that if other people tried to use these units of goods afterward, they would not be able to derive as much value from those goods that Carlson could have derived.

The same principle applies in the twelve years it took for Xerox to produce a model of xerographic photocopier that satisfied enough marketplace demand to generate a profit. In its own testing, Xerox employed engineers and technicians running their own tests, again using tangible equipment that came in the form of units that would always be finite in number. For any firm to run its own tests in R-and-D, it must use up resources, and those are units of resources which other parties are not able to access. Even if those resources remain intact once R-and-D is done, those resources have usually depreciated, meaning the same value cannot be wrung out of them as was wrung when the R-and-D process began.

Arnold Plant and the anti-patent forces citing him have made the point that the very economic “scarcity” they believe to be private property’s main justification is what happens to be absent in the case of practicable designs. They point out that if I produce units from your practicable design in defiance to your wishes, that deprives you neither of your practicable design nor the units that you yourself have produced from that design. Yet Plant and those who cite him have overlooked an important aspect of the creation of those practicable designs. Producing those practicable designs involves using, depreciating, and destroying units of resources that are “scarce.” And, for that reason, the practicable designs that result from the process are “scarce” in number as well.

Note, again, Arthur Plant’s false assumption that while there is no built-in “scarcity” to practicable designs, the introduction of the patents to the legal system does impose an artificial scarcity, as a patent holder enforcing her patent can prevent other parties from introducing, into the marketplace, additional units of products cast from her design. Again, Plant says “patents and copyrights make possible the creation of the scarcity of the products appropriated which could not otherwise be maintained.” For his part, Friedrich August von Hayek just takes it for granted that Plant’s assessment of the situation is accurate: “it is not obvious that...forced scarcity is the most effective way to stimulate the human creative process.”

There is no scarcity of impractical ideas that, if implemented, would not satisfy any marketplace demand. But practicable designs that, when implemented, do satisfy marketplace demand, are scarce. And, contrary to the assumptions of Arnold Plant and F. A. Hayek, that “scarcity” was present prior to the passage of any laws concerning patents or copyrights. That “scarcity” is caused by economic law no less present or consistent than the laws of demand and supply.

The Tragedy of the Public-Domain Commons
Recall that before Carlson won a deal with the Battelle Memorial Institute, he approached twenty corporations for licensing and got rejected by each of them. Imagine what those twenty firms could have done if there was no intellectual property protection for the xerographic photocopier: once the Xerox 914 hit the market in 1959 and finally generated a profit for Xerox — after a quarter-century of being in development and profiting no one — those twenty corporations could have pirated that model with legal impunity.

Those who cite Arnold Plant would celebrate such piracy as wonderful because they proclaim that patent protection imposes an artificial “scarcity” on the number of units of xerographic photocopiers on the market. With the Xerox 914 having patent protection, Xerox did not even have to sell these units; organizational clients had to pay rent to use any units. By contrast, continues Arnold Plant’s reasoning, if the twenty corporations that rejected Carlson were able to pirate Carlson’s design, then that would put that many more units of xerographic photocopiers on the market by the early 1960s. The increased competition would lower prices; maybe Xerox Corporation would be motivated to sell units of the product rather than be stingy and only lease them.
Such an argument is shortsighted.

By pirating Xerox’s intellectual property, those twenty corporations would, in effect, be stealing the value of the a net increase in utility in the economy, utility that previously had not existed and the value of tangible goods that Carlson and Xerox needed to use up and depreciate in the process of developing the Xerox 914. Sandefur’s critique fails to acknowledge that this is what gets “disseised” when someone pirates intellectual property.

The four years that Carlson spent on his model would be for naught. The twenty-five years it took for Carlson’s idea to come to fruition, culminating in the first profitable xerographic photocopier, would be for naught. Would-be inventors who saw what happened to Carlson after twenty-five years of this work would be discouraged from coming up with their own practicable original designs for useful products.

If the law did not protect an apple grower’s right to the orchard he homesteaded, and anyone could trespass onto the orchard and pick off the apples freely, then in the long run there would be fewer apples grown. Likewise, if the law does not protect Chester F. Carlson’s right to have exclusive control over the model he produced, and any capital-rich corporation can pirate his model, then in the long run there will be fewer such practicable models being thought up by inventors. This will happen:

If an inventive party’s right to exclusive control over its own specific original design is not recognized by law because the design is not recognized as the rightful private property that it is, most inventors will be Atlases who “shrug.” The long-term consequence would be that far fewer units of new practicable designs will be placed on the market. Such units really will become “scarce” — scarce in that much darker, Malthusian meaning of the term, scarce as in rapidly dwindling in availability.

Artwork Also Cannot Be Created Without the Usage of Tangible Goods Coming in a Finite Number of Units
The same principle applies to the pirating of artwork. No matter how easy it is to duplicate an artwork, the original version of it was the product of many inputs of tangible goods that always existed as a finite number of units. If Justine uploads an image of a painting she did, it might take me a second to make a JPG or GIF of the image and pay her nothing for it. But the painting did cost Justine. She spent hours on that painting, hours she could have spent on a more secure form of employment. She inputted units of tangible goods — units consisting of matter — units that are finite in number. Natural resources went into the creation of the paints and brushes she employed; those are units of natural resources and paints that other people will not have.

The same principle would apply to someone who does professional-quality artwork in Photoshop or Microsoft Paint. It takes years of practicing one’s craft to reach that level of quality, and that is time one could otherwise spend on some steadier source of income.

Consider Justine making a feature-length motion picture that takes place in a haunted house — one that is very low-budget but which she intends should still be of professional quality, as she intends to commercialize it. Either she must construct the set herself or she must rent a set that was already constructed. Either way, that involves tangible goods that will always be finite in number. When Justine uses the set, other parties cannot use the set. When specific objects are added to the set to give it the needed ambiance, those objects are not being used by other parties. Maybe this process costs Justine and her investors $10,000, and they plan to recoup the costs by selling DVDs of the movie.

Now imagine people pirating this work, producing perfect digital copies of the movie and paying nothing to Justine and Justine’s investors. According to the argument of Timothy Sandefur and the meme about copying, no theft occurred. After all, Justine and her investors still have the set; they have not lost any of the props they purchased and which remained intact once shooting had been completed. That the movie was pirated does not deprive Justine and her investors of the original print of the movie.

Here, too, observe what the opponents of intellectual property overlook.

When various parties decide to pirate Justine’s movie and pay nothing for it, they are stealing the value of the tangible goods that Justine used up and depreciated in order to make the movie a reality. And once Justine and others like her realize that IP infringers have overwhelmingly obstructed them from recouping the costs they incurred from using up such tangible goods, such independently-but-still-professionally-produced feature-length commercial films will grow scarcer still.

When a designer puts out a work for commercial purposes, she does so on the implicit understanding that in any instance wherein another party obtains custody over another unit of this intellectual property, this is done with the permission of the IP holder. Normally such permission is granted on the condition that the IP holder receives the monetary compensation she set as her price.

Suppose I hire you to do manual labor for me. Then you do it. Then I refrain from paying you. This contractual breach would, in effect, involve me stealing the value of your time and labor — time and labor you otherwise could have spent on some other endeavor. In this instance, I benefited from the time and labor you invested, and you were left unable to recoup that investment when I skipped out on providing the compensation that was always part of the arrangement. Likewise, for me to pirate your IP is for me to benefit from the value that you invested into it, while you are left unable to recoup that investment when I skip out on providing the compensation that was always part of the arrangement.

To wit: making an unauthorized duplicate of Justine’s motion picture does not remove the master copy from her possession, but it does steal from her the value of the resources that Justine invested, consumed, and destroyed for the purpose of bringing about that motion picture and commercializing it.

And yet, even at this point, there are some opponents to IP who insist on conflating IP with protectionism and tariffs. The claim goes, Isn’t the securing of a party’s investment the very purpose of protectionism? If Chrysler demands tariffs against automobiles imported from Japan, isn’t this on the basis that Chrysler already invested lots of capital — fixed costs — on producing units of its product, and that, without tariffs, Chrysler’s ability to recoup its investment will be jeopardized?

Someone who advances such an argument would not be doing anything new, because this rationalization for undermining IP was common in the 1800s. It was advanced by a British Member of Parliament — John Lewis Ricardo, nephew of free-trade economist David Ricardo. As University of Chicago historian Adrian Johns phrases it, John Lewis Ricardo maintained that patents are “the equivalent, in effect, of the navigation acts or the Corn Laws themselves.”

It is true that, in both examples, filmmaker Justine and protectionist Chrysler are trying to protect their investments. Moreover, both Justine and Chrysler expect to be recompensed financially by customers who consume their respective products. The difference is this: If the absence of tariff enforcement allows Chrysler to go out of business, it is because no one bothered to consume any of Chrysler’s products in the first place. No one benefited from Chrysler’s products and that is why no one sent money to Chrysler. By contrast, if the absence of copyright enforcement causes Justine to go out of business, it was because many people enjoyed Justine’s movies but no one paid Justine the money they owed her for it. Those who conflate IP with protectionism ignore the fact that protectionism is about manipulating customers into purchasing inferior units and inferior substitutes they do not value and do not want to consume, whereas IP calls upon customers to pay the money they owe to the party whose contents those customers do value and do consume.

Notice How Opponents of IP Resort to Caricatures and Straw Men About IP Enforcement?
Let us go back to Timothy Sandefur saying, “If, for example, you are...John Fogerty...and you have written...‘Born on The Bayou,’ ...then I can sing ‘Born on the Bayou’ in my shower, and you can still, at the same time, use and enjoy your ‘property’ as you wish: you can perform it, sell it, or leave it alone.”

The activity of singing in the shower is generally regarded as comical, and therefore this example might seem to be just levity on Timothy Sandefur’s part. Whether or not that was his main conscious intention, this statement of his happens to be misleading in a way very convenient for Sandefur and other opponents of intellectual property. It is convenient for their straw man. If you sing a famous song in the shower — off-key, as is common for those of us who are not professional musicians — and then the recording artist behind the song sues you over it, that would be rather petty on the part of the recording artist, would it not? On some level, opponents of IP recognize that their argument will fall apart if they do not patch together this straw man that caricatures enforcement of IP as generally something horribly petty.

In real life, no professional musician will sue you for singing his song in the shower. My father had paid gigs as a professional musician in his younger days, but I still sing off-key (my refusal to learn about music was part of my rebellion against him). No one is going to pay to hear me sing “Born on the Bayou” off-key. Fans of the song will still pay money to iTunes to hear the original recording of this song; my singing in the shower is not stealing any of the value of the tangible goods that were inputted when Creedence Clearwater Revival recorded the song. By contrast, if people make perfect digital copies of the original Creedence Clearwater Revival recording and pay nothing to the owner, that is stealing the value of the work of Creedence Clearwater Revival and the value of the sophisticated equipment, which could only exist in a finite number of units, operated in the effort to provide such a sharp recording.

Likewise, if a professional musician, who has had years of his own musical training, is paid to perform John Fogerty’s songs to packed houses without John Fogerty’s permission, that is stealing the value of the perishable tangible goods that John Fogerty had to use up as he wrote those songs. There would be nothing petty about John Fogerty having his lawyer send a letter to that professional musician.

Suppose you own a huge apple orchard. One night, I trespass onto the orchard and fill up just one basket with your apples. Before I leave, you catch me. I then reproach you for your self-righteousness. I point out, “You still have an entire orchard full of apples; I just took a basket’s worth. You still have the trees and the branches you grafted onto them. You can always grow more apples.” That defensive retort ignores all of the inputs for which you had to pay when growing your apples. Likewise, those who deny that the pirating of IP does harm are people who just as easily and conveniently ignore all of the “scarce” inputs for which the inventor had to pay in the effort to produce that IP.

The production of a patentable invention or copyrightable artwork is an arduous process into which “scarce” resources are inputted and invested, and we owe it to those who produce these designs that we recognize that they rightfully exercise legal control over the new value they have created. Those who profess to appreciate the originality that arises from free enterprise should understand that most of all.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Facebook Corporate Thinks Indigenous Peoples Are Pornographic

Stuart K. Hayashi

I have seen a lot of hateful material posted on Facebook -- neo-Nazi stuff screeching about brown-skinned people merely moving into white-majority neighborhoods is a form of "white genocide." And often when you report that sort of material, nothing happens; you get a condescending message from Facebook Corporate saying the racist post was reviewed and no action will be taken.

However, Facebook Corporate did decide to delete a G-rated link I posted to an article from New Scientist magazine titled "How Many Uncontacted Tribes Are Left in the World?"  It is about how there are over 100 hunter-gatherer societies on Earth that have not really made contact with industrialized societies. Link to it here.

When I logged in to Facebook tonight, it greeted me with this condescending message:

I thought, "Goodness, me! Is Facebook Corporate confusing me with those alt-right propagandists whom I have criticized repeatedly? Did I type up something that could be construed as especially insulting toward indigenous peoples?"

After thinking about this, I couldn't imagine anything that Facebook Corporate could consider problematic about the post except that the thumbnail picture showed some indigenous peoples wearing loincloths.  I decided to post the link again:

Mere minutes later, Facebook sent me the same reprimand message again -- the one from above -- and then followed up with this:

Because I was too stupid to understand the first time around, Facebook Corporate spelled out for me that the problem is that the thumbnail picture on my link apparently depicted "nudity and sexual activity."

You know what particularly bothers me about this?  The indigenous peoples depicted in the thumbnail aren't even naked; they are wearing loincloths.  On network television, it is generally considered permissible for the TV program to show hunter-gatherer women bare-chested; I understand that Facebook Corporate is under no obligation to follow the same standard.  But take another look at the thumbnail: it doesn't even show any woman's nipples or anything like that; the thumbnail picture isn't any more revealing that a G-rated version of Tarzan or The Jungle Book; it's just that the photo is of actual hunter-gatherers.

Apparently, Facebook Corporate considers indigenous peoples as such to be too lewd and pornographic? 😐

Monday, March 19, 2018

Intending to Help the Poor Vs. Intending to Go Through the Motions of Helping

or, Why Conservatives Are Wrong to Say Proponents of Disastrous Poverty-Sustaining “Antipoverty” Programs “Care About Intentions and Not Results”

Stuart K. Hayashi

This is a revised version of a previously published post, “Symbolater Syndrome, Pt. 2 of 4.”

California governor Jerry Brown insisting his minimum-wage raise makes sense “morally”
after he just admitted that his economics legislation does not make sense “economically.”

Suppose there is no legally mandated minimum wage, and I am jobless. Then someone named Lysander offers to hire me for $5 per hour. I accept. That is a pay raise right there — I went from making zero to making five dollars per hour. Then the government decrees that there is a minimum wage of $15 per hour. If Lysander is caught paying me $5 per hour, he could be fined or imprisoned. On a cost-benefit analysis, Lysander decides that while he could profit from paying me $5 per hour for the value I add to his business, I don’t add enough value to his business where he would still profit from paying me $15 per hour for that same work. He decides he should not have me working for him. As for the people already in Lysander’s employ, either he fires some of them or keeps them all on while cutting their hours. Far from helping the poor, this measure hurts them. Absent of the minimum wage, I would be making five dollars per hour. With this minimum wage, I am stuck at zero.

For decades, supporters of raising the minimum wage have denied that such a measure has any adverse effect on employment. There is nothing surprising about that. Yet in more recent years, I have noticed a more worrying trend: there are people who support raising the minimum wage who do not deny it.

Yes, They Know It Will Reduce the Income of Some Poor People to Nothing; They Still Do It For the Poor?
I first noticed this in my correspondence with a particular woman online. She and I had become acquainted when discussing GMOs (genetically modified organisms). She properly wanted the government to stop interfering with GMOs — and, later, I learned that she improperly wanted the government to continue interfering with pretty much every other industry. Part of her desire for such interference to continue and expand was her tirades demanding an increase in the minimum wage to what she called a “living wage.”

One of our mutual online acquaintances then showed this woman a study that evinced that, everything else being equal, raises in the minimum wage contribute to reductions in employed work hours for the poor and unskilled.

The woman then replied something to the effect of, Yes, I know the economic argument. I support raising the minimum wage because I care about the well-being of low-income families.

I was floored by her reply. I expected that she would deny that the minimum wage contributes to unemployment among the poor and unskilled. She did not deny it. She refrained from denying it and then she still asserted that raising the minimum wage is “for the poor” and unskilled.

That turned out not to be a fluke, as a higher-profile instance of this phenomenon followed. In early April of 2016, California governor Jerry Brown gave this rationale for demanding an increase in the state’s mandated minimum wage [in the link, I cued it to the precise spot where he begins what I quote him saying]:

Economically, minimum wages may not make sense. But morally and socially and politically they make every sense, because it binds the community together and makes sure that parents can take care of their kids in a much more satisfactory way [emphases Governor Brown’s].

He says it at the 1 minute, 24 second mark.

Let’s translate this. What does it mean for a raise in the minimum wage to “make sense” “economically” or not? An increase or decrease in the poor’s average income, as affected by legislation, is an economic effect. For most of the past five decades, hardly any supporter of a raise in the minimum wage would dispute that the very purpose of a law adjusting the minimum wage is to have an economic effect. Legislation on the minimum wage is, by definition, economic legislation. That is just as the purpose of a comedian telling jokes is to make the audience laugh. To say that you don’t care what is the economic effect of your own legislation — legislation that is, by your own design, touted as economic legislation — is akin to a comedian announcing that he doesn’t care if his jokes are funny.

A government-mandated increase in the minimum wage making sense economically means that raising the minimum wage does exactly what its supporters of the past 50 years have claimed it would do: improve the living standards of the poor and unskilled. Governor Brown contradicts himself in proclaiming that a minimum-wage hike “makes sure that parents can take care of their kids in a much more satisfactory way,” because that will only happen if the minimum-wage hike has the economic effect on low-income people that the minimum-wage hike’s proponents have long insisted that the minimum-wage hike would have. That is, the minimum-wage hike will only ensure that low-income people “can take care of their kids in a much more satisfactory way” if minimum-wage hikes do “make sense” “economically.”

To admit “economically, minimum wages may not make sense” is to admit that legally mandated minimum wages do not in fact help the poor and unskilled as was previously claimed, but that they in fact hurt the poor and unskilled. What is the source of Governor Brown’s apparent contradiction? Governor Brown explains that it makes “every sense” to him “morally.”

To wit, Governor Brown first inadvertently admitted that raising the minimum wage harms rather than helps the poor (the poor being his ostensive value), but he will go through it anyway as a gesture to indicate his moral concern for the well-being of the poor.

It Does Symbolize Concern for the Poor...
This is beyond “idolatry”; it is symbolatry in practice. I define symbolatry as someone sacrificing her own purported value in favor of something that merely symbolizes that very same value. If Governor Brown genuinely valued the well-being of the poor, he would do what “makes sense” for them “economically” — refrain from raising the minimum wage and, more than that, work to abolish it altogether. In lieu of that, he performs a ritual that “makes sense” for him “morally,” which is offering a symbolic gesture of concern for the poor that, by his own inadvertent admission, does actual harm to the poor. The same goes for that aforementioned woman who didn’t even deny the minimum wage raise’s actual effect on the poor. What is purported to be the real value (the well-being of the poor) is being sacrificed and destroyed for the sake of performing a symbolic ritual that is intended to be interpreted as a show of solidarity for those same poor.

Some people might respond that, in this context, my introduction of the term “symbolatry” is unnecessary. They might say there is already a term for this, and it is a term much beloved on Twitter by right-wing people who have cartoon characters for their avatars: “virtue-signaling.” But I am not accusing Governor Brown and that aforementioned woman of mere “virtue-signaling”; there are important differences. To accuse a man of “virtue-signaling” is to put emphasis on his desire to convince other people of his own exalted moral status. Rather, my suspicion is that Governor Brown and that woman are performing the ritual of pushing for this legislation in order to convince themselves that they are caring and morally upright. Furthermore, when a man is accused of “virtue-signaling,” the implication is usually that this symbolic gesture is empty and of no effect. My accusation against Governor Brown and that woman is much harsher: they are trying to convince themselves that their performance of the ritual indicates compassion for the poor and yet, on some level, they are at least vaguely aware that the ritual’s completion — meaning successful passage of the minimum wage increase — will actually harm poor people in real life. This symbolatry has graver consequences than “virtue-signaling” does.

Conservatives Who Say Minimum-Wage Apologists Care About Intentions and Not Results, Need to Learn the Definition of “Intention”
When gestures which symbolize help for the poor — and are actually known to harm the poor — are prioritized above the poor themselves, I do not consider that a good intention. As I said before, it is for that reason that I object to the common right-wing accusation that left-wing supporters of antipoverty measures are all about good intentions while not caring the results. As one Wall Street Journal op-ed put it, “Too many policy makers evaluate new interventions — labor rules, wage laws, environmental regulations — only by what they hope to accomplish. They do not consider the consequences, the unintended effects, and the trouble that their policies will cause for employers and workers…” (emphases added). The subheading that Journal’s editors (not the op-ed’s author) chose was, “Free enterprise is under assault from politicians who only care about good intentions, not results.” A conservative who says this reveals a flaw in his thinking far larger than the flaw he imputes to the left-wingers, as that conservative overlooks the very meaning of a sincere intention.

Just as the concept of “50 percent” derives from “a single unit,” the concept of “sincere intention” derives from the concept of “producing the results desired.” Should I have a sincere intention to erect a stable house or not, then I definitely care if, as results of my efforts, the house gets built and remains standing and stable in the ensuing years. But suppose I announce my strong motivation to build a house and, five years later, you notice no house is built and, when you ask me about it, I shrug it off. Moreover, ever since the day subsequent to my announcement, I made no effort to have the house built. Insofar as I am indifferent to the results, it is proper for you to conclude that I held no sincere intention to build that house after all. And a sincere intention is the only kind of intention there is — to be insincere in professing to intend to build a house is to lack the intention of building a house.

 You can observe the degree to which a person intends to do something by observing the degree to which that person cares about obtaining the results he claims to desire. Even if a person enters a competition she knows she probably will not win, if you observe that she made every effort to do her best within the rules, you know her intention was still to win.

Suppose my home has an insect infestation. I decide to do something about it — I obtain Brand A of an insecticide and spray it. I say that my intention in this is to kill the insects. After the first try, the insect infestation remains. I try four more times; the insects remain. I therefore decide that to attain the desired goal — eliminate the insects — I must try some other measure. I therefore hire an exterminator who uses Brand B on the insects. Finally the insects are gone and I am satisfied.

In that scenario, you can tell that when I claimed my intention was to kill the insects, that was indeed my intention. You can tell as much by how I handled my methodology. I said that I intended to bring about a particular result, and that I was using a particular method — Brand A insecticide — to try to bring about that result. After repeated attempts with this one method, I did not obtain the desired results. Because I was not lying to anyone — not even myself — about intending to kill the insects, I was therefore willing to try another method. In short, if the person saying that he intends to reach that desired goal has tried one method to reach it repeatedly and has always failed with that method, you can tell whether he intends to reach that desired goal by observing his willingness to try some alternative method to reach the desired goal.

 It is therefore illogical to assert that someone has a particular intention when not caring about the result. Someone intends a specific outcome insofar as this person concerns him- or herself with bringing about the result that is this same outcome. The allegation that a politician “cares about intentions and not results” implies that the politician does not care if X happens but does care to take an action solely or mainly in pursuit of making X happen. An intention without concern for results is a contradiction in terms.  For a conservative to accuse anyone of caring about intentions and not results is for that conservative to reveal that he does not understand the meaning of “intention.”

Now suppose I say that I intend to kill all the insects in my home and I try Brand A insecticide. I try four more times and it hasn’t worked. I am introduced to other options. I reject them in favor of trying Brand A insecticide 95 more times, contaminating my house and filling it with fumes. Is it really my intention to eliminate the insects? You would be proper in judging the answer to be no. More likely, my intention was not to eliminate the insects but to go through the motions of “taking action” with respect to fighting off the insects. If my intention was to kill the insects, then the result of killing the insects would take priority over trying Brand A insecticide over and over again after a consistent record of failure.  Indeed, “going through the motions” might have been the original expression for someone merely making gestures that put on the pretense of taking constructive action exactly as one refrains from taking constructive action.

Likewise, if a man says that the intention of his legislation is to reduce poverty, you can observe how much this really was his intention by whether he pays attention to the extent that this legislation actually reduced poverty. Should it be the case that this man and his colleagues successfully pass such legislation across the country and, after four decades of failure, they are still pushing for more legislation of this type, there will come a point where you are rational for doubting that their intention is to reduce poverty. The likelier explanation is that their intention is to go through the motions of “doing something” about it, just as a man who uses the same obviously ineffective insecticide a hundred times intends not to kill the insects but instead to go through the motions of “doing something” about the insects.

This is comparable to how I come across millennials who say that the academic Marxists still existing today genuinely intend to have communism implemented to help the poor.  No, that is not the case.  Perhaps someone who lived in 1848 might be given the benefit of the doubt — maybe a nineteenth-century man might have been naïve enough to believe honestly that communism could cure poverty. But after a century of communism wreaking only destruction — killing Venezuela even as I type these words — its apologists have no such excuse. Marxism’s apologists do not bear an honest intention to help the poor; they, at best, intend merely to go through the motions of caring about the poor. And, incidentally, Karl Marx himself stated explicitly and approvingly that he anticipated that at least hundreds of peaceful people would be killed in the name of communism — he was not naïve about that.

A Man Who Intends to Help the Poor Will Rethink His Prior Support for Particular “Antipoverty” Measures  
By contrast, let’s now take a look at someone whose actions suggest an authentic intention to address poverty. When he first started his campaigns to ameliorate Third World destitution, the musician Bono put all his emphasis on the most conventional measures, such as calling for increased foreign aid and trying to pressure the World Bank to forgive debt to developing countries so that they could obtain even more loans. Back in 2002, Bono told People magazine with some ambivalence, “We are taught not to court success here” in his native Ireland. “There’s an old story about an American and an Irishman looking up at a mansion. The American looks at it and says, ‘One day I’m going to live in that place.’ The Irishman looks at it and says, ‘One day I’m going to get the bastard who lives in that place.’”

But after years of his campaigning, Bono observed that to place most of his emphasis on taxpayer-funded aid was not a winning strategy. Because he did intend to fight poverty, he was therefore willing to adjust his methodology. He eventually observed that political-economic liberalization — what he explicitly called “capitalism” — is the most effective antipoverty measure. By 2012 he explained to Georgetown University students, “Commerce — entrepreneurial capitalism — takes more people out of poverty than aid. Of course we know that.” The dramatic nature of that change in opinion was not lost on Bono; he chuckled and said, “ ‘Rock star preaches capitalism.’ Wow! Sometimes I hear myself and I just can’t believe it!”

Three years later Bono admitted to Rolling Stone that he had decided to make it a priority “to understand commerce — I think that’s very important. If you told me 20 years ago that commerce took more people out of poverty than aid and development, I’d have scoffed.” He is not scoffing anymore. True, he has not given up entirely on recommending taxpayer-funded foreign aid or debt forgiveness, but his willingness to shift emphasis and recommend more liberalization is what evinces that his stated intention to try to fight poverty was indeed his real intention.

Bono talks about capitalism at the 38 minute, 4 second mark.

Conversely, consider some elderly political Progressives, such as Ralph Nader. Purporting to intend to reduce poverty, Ralph Nader has continued for a half-century to urge the very same policy of raising the minimum wage, and, after proclaiming that poverty has not been reduced, he urges this some more. If reducing poverty was Nader’s consistent intention, there would have been some reconsideration on his part, self-reflection in the manner of Bono’s. It is not that Ralph Nader cares about his own intentions and not about the results. Rather, Nader does care about the results, and he is getting the results he intends — to go through the motions and make gestures that symbolize concern for the poor. And as Nader and his disciples obtain success in their having their measures ratified, the poor are hurt.

My final analysis can be phrased in the manner that Robert W. Tracinski phrased it when writing about another governmental intrusion in 2008: “…I’m getting impatient with all of this talk about the Law of Unintended Consequences. It lets the...advocates of government interference in the economy...off the hook. . . . How could they help it if there were ‘unintended consequences’...?”

For someone to agitate for legislation that symbolizes helping the poor, all the while knowing on some level that the legislation’s passage will hurt some poor individuals, is not to have good intentions for the poor.

On Wednesday, March 21, 2018, I added the 2012 quotation of Bono about capitalism doing more for the poor than foreign aid does, and I added the 2008 quotation from Robert W. Tracinski.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Acting in One's Self-Interest: Not Something That Can Be Done on Autopilot

Stuart K. Hayashi

Some Objectivists really dislike the Nolan Chart, but that was the inspiration for the chart I made here.

Asked about Ayn Rand's book The Virtue of Selfishness, the late Christopher Hitchens cracked, "I don't think there's any need to have essays advocating selfishness among human beings. I don't know what your impression has been, but some things require no further reinforcement," to the guffaws of his audience. Indeed, a common line of thought goes as follows: The default is for people to do what they want.  And isn't taking an action to get what you "want" the very definition of acting in your self-interest? It is superfluous, then, for a writer such as Ayn Rand to encourage people to act in their self-interest. That was what they were going to do anyway, right?

The answer is no.  To do what one "wants" is too vague; to act in one's self-interest is more specific and complex than doing what one "wants."  For example, I can tell you that I have always loved the taste of butterscotch and, this moment, I want to eat this butterscotch candy.  But I also know that, as an adult, I have become allergic to butterscotch.  If I eat this butterscotch candy, I will experience a terribly uncomfortable rash, and I do not want that.  What, then, is it for me to do what I "want":  (a) to eat the butterscotch candy now, which will give me immediate gratification but also give me an uncomfortable rash minutes later, or (b) to forgo the the butterscotch candy, which will deprive me of such deliciousness but also spare me of a definitely unwanted allergic reaction?

Each of those options will, in some context, give me an outcome I "want."  But I evaluate that one of those options is more in line with my self-interest than the other is.  This is because to act in one's own self-interest is more precise than "doing what one wants"; it is about performing actions that provide lasting happiness, considering future consequences while also taking some time to enjoy the present as much as possible.

On this understanding of "self-interest," to behave self-interestedly is not merely to do what one "wants," what one feels like doing at the immediate moment.  It is also to examine the most viable options available and to consider the long-rang ramifications of each of those options. Hence, to behave self-interested requires putting careful thought into one's chosen courses of action.  In that respect, acting in one's self-interest -- by definition -- cannot be automatic, as careful deliberation is not automatic.  Insofar as having good consequences is in your self-interest, behaving self-interestedly is not something that can be done on autopilot.

The conversation that Yaron Brook had with philosopher Greg Salmieri on the March 18, 2018 episode of the Living Objectivism podcast go me thinking about this.  I have another way to phrase it: if someone does something clearly self-destructive, and tries to justify that action as self-interested (because the self-destructive action seems to bring immediate but fleeting gratification), then that is not acting in one's self-interest. Instead, it is going through the motions of acting in one's self-interest.

Imagine there are pests in my garden. I announce it is my intention to get rid of them. I spray a particular chemical pesticide in my yard, and yet it doesn't kill them. You could say it appears that I honestly intended to kill the pests but that I failed. But suppose that, for five years, every day I apply that same chemical in that same small dosage when, at this point, it is obvious that this method will not destroy the pests. You would be correct in saying, "Intention is necessarily tied to results; to intend X is to perform an action that you expect will cause X to become more likely an outcome. You say you do Y to bring about X, and yet, at this juncture, repeated observation indicates that Y doesn't cause X. If you genuinely intended to cause X, you would try another potential solution, Z. That you haven't reconsidered your method gives the impression that you're not sincere about intending X (to kill the pests in the garden); you do not intend X, but intend to go through the motions of trying to bring about X."

I have previously made this point with respect to whether communists truly intend to alleviate poverty. Perhaps someone who advocated communism in 1848 truly believed that implementing communism would eradicate poverty. But communism has been tried for over one hundred years and, far from mitigating penury, communism's implementation only exacerbates it. After witnessing the dismal results for decades, we are justified in saying, "If you truly intended to alleviate poverty, you admit that communism is a failure and you would opt for something else in the effort to fight poverty, such as the same political-economic liberalization that lifted Hong Kong and Taiwan out of destitution. That you keep implementing communism, when it is now clear that communism does not alleviate poverty, evinces that you do not honestly intend to alleviate poverty. Communism is not a means to the end of alleviating poverty; communism is the end, and the 'intention' to alleviate poverty is the rationalization. Communism does not intend to alleviate poverty; communism intends to go through the motions of attempting to alleviate poverty."

Upon listening to the March 18 Yaron Brook Show podcast, I think that this distinction between (a) intending X versus (b) going through the motions of intending X, also applies to someone who calls himself self-interested on account of his following every impulse.

Someone who repeatedly engages in a self-destructive action, causing pain to those who care about him, is commonly accused of being too self-interested. He is allegedly self-interested because he does what he feels like doing. But to care about one's self-interest is not to indulge every whim; it is to take actions that yield long-term happy results for oneself. What, then, can be said of someone who says he is looking out for his self-interest, and uses that as his rationale for engaging in a self-destructive action repeatedly? If a man refrains from taking care of his own well-being, instead focusing only on what seems to be his  immediate contentment, then that man is not acting in his self-interest; he is going through the motions of acting in his self-interest.

If I want to act according to my self-interest, not just going through the motions of doing so, then I have to ruminate on my alternatives and their likely results. Exercising one's judgment wisely is not automatic, and yet that is what it takes to conduct oneself self-interestedly. Because behaving wisely, for the sake of one's lasting well-being, is not automatic and and does not happen by default, neither is acting in one's self interest something that is automatic or by default.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A Valentine's Day Gift From Stefan Molyneux

Stuart K. Hayashi

To show his appreciation for me, my darling Stefan Molyneux just blocked me on Twitter.

I know this was a recent development, as I could still see his tweets just a few hours ago. 😋

Monday, January 29, 2018

An Open Letter to Dr. Jordan B. Peterson Regarding Appearances on the Stefan Molyneux Podcast

Stuart K. Hayashi

Note:  There are some specific statements of Stefan Molyneux's of which I have some memory and would like to find again and link to, but which, at the time of this posting, I cannot find. Those familiar with Stefan Molyneux's output -- loyal fans and detractors alike -- can attest that he is not known for brevity of speech.  For that reason, even after publishing this post, I might come back later and add those links if I find them. The reason I go ahead with publishing this post before finding everything is that this post is time-sensitive. As I publish this post for the first time, I have concluded that I have included enough evidence to prove my case concerning what Mr. Molyneux is promoting.
This interview happened before I sent the e-mail.

This interview was uploaded onto YouTube after I sent the e-mail (explained below).


Dear. Dr. Peterson,

Aloha from Hawaii!  My name is Stuart Hayashi. Like yourself, I think of myself as someone who is on a journey in search of philosophic truth.  I have e-mailed you twice before on the same matter that is the focus of this blog post.  The second e-mail to you, I enclose on the bottom of this blog post. I thought that perhaps you might not have seen either of those e-mails, and therefore it might be advisable for me to contact you in a more public fashion. Hence, the existence of this blog post.  It is my open letter to you.

Please forgive me if I am mistaken on this:  it is my understanding that you are a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto who has studied the aggression-related effects of drug and/or alcohol abuse, but that, among those who keep track of sociopolitical controversies and "the culture wars," you are most famous for being a vocal critic of political correctness, postmodernism, the politics of "the regressive Left," and what have come to be called "Social Justice Warriors."  If I remember correctly, you  catapulted to international fame in late 2016 after speaking out against proposals that the Canadian government issue penalties against persons who refuse to use allegedly considerate gender-neutral pronouns. A video of you trying to reason with politically-correct student activists went viral in October of that year.  Is all of that correct?

In this very charged and polarized political climate, I can appreciate anyone taking a stand against the excesses of political correctness, especially when some parties intend to enforce political correctness through legislation and government fiat.  I applaud you for arguing against hate-speech legislation.  Sadly, this open letter has to do with your repeated appearances on the Freedomain Radio podcast of Stefan Molyneux.

I understand that there have been too many instances where some activists have attempted to malign someone as a malicious racist based on some relatively minor statements or benign actions.  I understand that some activists have done this so often, that it is easy to become inured to the preponderance of these accusations. Such accusations have often turned out to be so baseless that it is almost tempting to ignore all allegations about racism altogether -- that when so-and-so accuses Mr. X of being a racist, it's plausible that this accusation will "go into one ear and come out the other."  However, there are still some individual cases where, when some left-wing activists finger a particular party as maliciously racist, there are facts available that indicate that such an accusation is indeed true:  that the party really does express racial prejudice and -- worse -- acts on that racial prejudice in a manner that yields harmful consequences for everyone.

That applies in the case of Stefan Molyneux.  You can find, in Molyneux's own recorded podcast -- in the same series on which you have appeared -- Molyneux has proclaimed the inherent inequalities among separate races (a proclamation terribly contradictory toward the data that anthropologists and psychologists have found on the matter), and that Molyneux has cited such arguments to urge that people  shape their own behavior and even legislation according to their belief in these inherent racial inequalities.  The Chronicle of Higher Education quotes you expressing concern that the alt-right suffers "the pathology of racial pride."  And yet the very same Molyneux who has interviewed you four times now is a man who happens to be at the forefront of pushing that very same mentality you have astutely identified as a pathology.

I am cognizant that, in contrast to the approach that too many activists have taken over the past decade, accusations of racism are not to be taken lightly, and should not be thrown around flippantly.  I want to assure you that I am aware of the difference and, for this reason, later in this open letter I will describe my own experience from the previous year in speaking out against activists' frivolous accusations about racism.

Stefan Molyneux's advocacy of public policies that explicitly treat the races differently run contrary to the principles of freedom of thought and freedom of expression, as Molyneux has argued that race-related genetics itself has rendered too many blacks and Latinos and North Africans in general of being congenitally unsympathetic toward the principles of a society as free and open as the West.  Molyneux then says that he has deduced that the law itself should therefore bar these people from participation in Western society, in part because too many of them are programmed to be of an inferior ideology.

As for the allegedly scientific justifications that Molyneux has provided for this political discrimination, Molyneux has contrived them in a manner that is incongruous with the very principles of scientific honesty. For such reasons, I think that it would be best if you avoided future appearances on the Freedomain Radio podcast.  I am imploring that you, in effect, boycott it.

I am aware that some readers will say that for me to ask that you and other well-known commentators boycott the Molyneux podcast -- that you refrain from going onto the podcast as a guest -- is an attempt to violate Molyneux's right to the freedom of speech.  For this reason, I think that in the spirit of acting on good faith, I should tell you what I think constitutes free speech versus what constitutes an unjustifiable attack on free speech.

What I Think Constitutes Free Speech Versus Dangerous Assaults Against Free Speech
I think that there is only one true method of wrongfully stopping free speech:  to threaten physical force.  If an imam threatens that Mr. X shall be met with physical violence if Mr. X says something that the imam dislikes, then that is a heinous assault on free speech.

And governmental restrictions on speech are likewise heinous assaults on free speech, as governmental actions are ultimately enforced at the point of a gun.  If the government threatens to fine someone for using gender-specific pronouns, or the wrong pronoun, then that fine will be enforced at gunpoint.  If the offender refrains from paying the fine, she will be called In Contempt of Court, and the State is authorized to send armed police officers after her to apprehend her and haul her to court.  If the offender struggles against these armed government agents too vigorously, the agents are authorized to escalate the level of violence they can apply against her.  Hence, governmental penalties for the voicing of any unpopular opinion are indeed a threat to free speech.

I think that anyone who is being nonviolent must have the absolute freedom of speech. This means that no matter what this nonviolent person says -- no matter how bigoted, hateful, or stigmatizing -- neither private parties nor the government have any rightful business to threaten force against this person as a recrimination for that person's undesired speech.  I think this principle even applies if someone cites a hateful written manifesto as his inspiration in committing an act of violence -- it is correct for the State to exercise its force as retaliation against the man who committed actual violence, but improper for the State to punish the author upon whose ideas the violent man acted.

With that clear, I do not think it is an assault on free speech for private parties to ostracize someone peaceably based upon his or her speech.  My free-speech rights are not being assaulted if all the world's periodicals refuse to publish my letters to the editor.  I am still free to use my own private property to create my own media to get out my message.  I am also free to attempt to persuade other private parties to allow me to use their property and capital in the effort of airing my message.

If all the world's commentators refused to go the Molyneux podcast as a guest, that would not preclude Molyneux from being able to air his opinions. When private parties refuse to deal with a specific man, they are exercising no coercive power to thwart that man's freedom to act and express himself.  On the contrary, in simply refusing to deal with that man, those other private parties are exercising their own freedom of expression.  In their choices in whom they will or will not deal with, those parties are peaceably conveying to others what their own priorities happen to be.

(In case you were wondering, as I very much disapprove of any bakery that would refuse service to someone for being LGBT, I think a fully free society would have no legislation to compel that bakery to do business with LGBT couples or anyone else that bakery's owners do not like.  By that same token, I am free to boycott that very same bakery on account of my desire to avoid any business that discriminates against LGBT people.)

Hence, in my understanding of the matter, imploring you not to go on the Molyneux podcast in the future is not an attack on Molyneux's freedom of expression.  If you do not go on the Molyneux podcast, Molyneux can still say whatever he wants. Rather, if I ask Mr. Y to refrain from future appearances on the Molyneux podcast, and Mr. Y agrees, then Mr. Y and I are both exercising our own freedom of expression and freedom of association.

Again, lest it may seem that I cannot distinguish malicious racism from innocent good-faith gestures, I will tell you about my own recent experience with activists who have been too flippant in their choice in whom and what they castigate as racist.

An Example of What I Judge to Be a Frivolous Attempt at Crying "Racism!"
You might recall that in February of 2017, the American supermodel Karlie Kloss generated controversy when, in a spread for Vogue magazine, she donned a kimono and was even made up to look like a Japanese national. As I imagine you have probably heard, many politically-correct activists scream that it is racist for a white person to wear traditionally Japanese clothing. In this case, the activists denigrated the Vogue spread as "yellowface" and "cultural appropriation," and they demanded a apology from Ms. Kloss, which she ultimately relented.

On 15 February 2017, I tweeted a link to an article from E! Entertainment titled "Karlie Kloss Apologizes for Appropriating Japanese Culture in Vogue Photo Shoot," accompanied with my own comment, "As someone of Japanese ancestry, what most offends me is that she apologized to those sillies." By "those sillies," I am referring to the politically-correct activists who accused the Vogue spread of racism, regardless of what "race" or ethnicity those politically-correct activists might be.

 As of this writing, that tweet of mine is my second-most retweeted and "liked" tweet. As of my typing this, the tweet has received over 270 "likes" and has been retweeted over 90 times. I know that those numbers are small in comparison to the popularity of tweets from either you or Stefan Molyneux, but these numbers are big for someone like me.

I bring up my public comments on the Kloss Kerfuffle out of the hope that this will alert readers that my objections to Molyneux are not to be dismissed as some gesture in solidarity with Cathy Newman or politically-correct activists.  My speaking out about Molyneux is not some "respectful nod" to political correctness.  I ask for a stand against Molyneux because he really does promote racism.  And I think that someone who does have legitimate gripes about the excesses of political correctness and "Social Justice Warriors" especially ought to be concerned about those legitimate gripes being discredited, in the eyes of the public, on account of his or her appearances on that podcast having the effect of contributing to the "normalization" of a podcast that has done everything to earn its reputation for fostering the worst racist sentiments.

The Warrant for My Accusing Molyneux of Advocating Harmful Actions That Are Based on Racism
Since May of 2015, the second-most-significant recurring theme of the Freedomain Radio podcast has been Molyneux making the claims (a) that discrepancies in average IQ among separate races (East Asians versus whites versus Arabs versus Latinos versus blacks) are most plausibly explained by in-built genetic differences and (b) that, on average, blacks and Latinos are thus largely biologically programmed to be more prone to violent crime, and less economically productive, than whites.

"Screaming 'racism' at people because blacks are collectively less intelligent," he proclaims, "[ . . . ] is insane." Mocking the sort of criticism that he anticipates he will receive, Molyneux says, "You know, people: 'Oh, Stef's identified empirical facts about racial differences. He's a racist!' "  Then Molyneux offers his serious reply:  "No. Mother Nature's a racist; I'm just shining the light [on what Molyneux expects his viewers to interpret as the facts proving racial inequality]."

I expect that, here, there are readers who will ask, "If someone is in pursuit of scientific truth, doesn't that commit him or her to follow the data wherever they may lead, even if this leads to conclusions that contradict political correctness and make everyone uncomfortable?"  The answer to that question is a resounding yes, and that affirmation does not exonerate Molyneux's actions in these matters.

First, Molyneux's repeated claim that race-related genetics is the most plausible primary explanation for such discrepancies brazenly contradicts the data as ascertained by Richard E. Nisbett and other psychologists who specialize in the discrete disciplines that are directly pertinent to Molyneux's claims.

Secondly, if Molyneux's presentations of these claims were about a disinterested pursuit of scientific truth, then Molyneux would simply present the claims and, for the time being, leave the policy implications up to others, as any public policy crafted according to these claims would be normative and not a matter of descriptive hard science.  Yet, in many such videos on this topic, Molyneux's presentations of these allegedly value-free descriptive findings are followed immediately by Molyneux's issuances of policy prescriptions.

He urges -- based on the premise that such claims about biologically programmed behavioral differences among races are now beyond dispute, compounded by different races receiving dissimilar cultural influences -- that the races be kept separated and that the State treat people differently according to race.

 "Races don't tend to mix very well, historically," he states. "[ . . . ] We're a tribal species, and race differences are not insignificant, not just culturally but in terms of biology." Then, in an especially bizarre turn, he exclaims, "So it's because we have this totalitarianism of pseudoscience called 'radical racial egalitarianism.' We have this totalitarianism where people's lives can be destroyed if they do so much as even question the perfect egalitarianism of the races in important cognitive matters. So we already have a kind of totalitarianism in place. [ . . . ] My problem is that the atheists have given up religion, but they have embraced the leftist doctrine -- which is completely anti-scientific -- of radical racial egalitarianism. [ . . . ] Science clearly says the races are not equal."

After months of branding Latinos and blacks "low-IQ" people, and North Africans "low-IQ, rapey people," and repeatedly citing a blatantly pseudoscientific, non-peer-reviewed book on anthropology by an author who stigmatizes Africans as "mental retards" (my blog post on that is here), Molyneux proclaims, "Intelligent people can handle free speech; idiots can't. [ . . . ] Idiots can't handle free speech."

The conclusion logically deduced from this syllogism is that Molyneux means that blacks and Latinos in general cannot handle free speech. He says of North Africans and Arabs that "they don't have the functional capacity to operate in a free-market, postindustrial, democratic society. They're not smart enough to do it."

 In the video "An Honest Conversation With a Middle Eastern Immigrant," Molyneux propounds,

IQ-84 societies -- and, for comparison, the average IQ of blacks in America, who aren't exactly doing in a stellar fashion these days; the average IQ for blacks in America is 85 [ . . . ] -- that's tragic, but, you see, IQ-84 societies are stupid and primitive and brutal and violent and misogynistic and superstitious and all of that, because what other society would they want? And they don't have usually the capacity to defer gratification. Like, what does freedom of speech mean to someone with an IQ of 84? Why would they even want it? It's not like, "Well, if there's freedom of speech, I'm going to publish a wonderful novel." They can barely finish a shopping list. [ . . . ] And you are smart enough to recognize that when you are dealing with a population with an average IQ of 84, you aren't going to set up a new free society, because those people will viciously and virulently fight against a free society. [ . . . ] As you say, the group with the IQ of 84 -- which means that half of them are dumber than that; I mean we are starting to approach not a human population but a geological collection, bags of hammers -- saying how smart they are...  It's like, "No, no, you are not archaeologists; you are stuff that archaeologists dig out and dust off."   [italics are Molyneux's; boldface is mine].

It makes perfect sense to defend Molyneux's freedom of expression -- and yet Molyneux has made explicit that he sees no need in extending this same courtesy on behalf of nonwhites from poor countries who ascertain that they, too, need the freedom to express themselves peaceably. Molyneux has stated that it is pointless for such people to have the freedom of speech, as he figures their IQs are too low anyway. "Why would they even want it?"

Later in that same video, Molyneux says of people who conflate the free-market movement's ideal society with the anarchy(?) of Somalia, "And people say, 'If you love a free society, why don't you move to Somalia?"  Molyneux then gives his sarcastic reply, " 'Yes, because a population with an average IQ of 68 has really worked through all of the theoretical implications of a voluntary society; they didn't just happen to be in a building when it fell down. "Look, they're demolition experts!" "No, they leaned against an old building." ' "

Molyneux is being sarcastic when saying he would agree to move to Somalia; what he does expect listeners to take literally are his notions (1) that Somalis having a low IQ renders them congenitally hostile toward the institutions of a classical liberal republic and (2) this low IQ, and, with it, an anti-freedom ideology, is programmed into Somalis mostly on account of race-related genes.

 Thus he continues that part of his desire to have the State block destitute nonwhites from immigrating to the West is motivated by his fears of miscegenation: "So when you get people from low-IQ populations coming to high-IQ places, then what happens is that people are worried about having kids with those people in case the regression to the mean produces a less intelligent child."

In yet another video he finds it necessary to warn people against having mixed-race babies: "Adolescents who self-identify as more than one race are at higher health and behavior risks. The findings are compatible with interpreting the elevated risk of 'mixed race' as associated with stress. [ . . . ] We're tribal, and if we grow up without a particular tribe around us, for a lot of people -- not for everyone, but a lot of people -- that causes problems. It causes mental health problems, some addiction problems, and so on. So it's [having mixed race children] an elevated situation of risk, right?"

 On interracial couples, he asserts,

Now, of course, the media is promoting interracial-- . . . you can't turn on a show that comes out of Hollywood without interracial couples being promoted left, right, and center, but they don't generally work. In America, when you have interracial couples like black/white couples in particular -- which is the most studied -- they tend not to last as long, they tend to be more subjected to things like domestic violence charges, they tend to get divorced more, they tend to be more dysfunctional. And these are racial groups that have grown up side-by-side for hundreds and hundreds of years, and all speak the same language, and blacks are Christians, and the whites are Christians. They have a huge amount more in common [than do couples in which one person is native-born and the other is an immigrant from a poor country], and the relationships are still hugely problematic relative to other [homogeneous] kinds of relationships. I don't see how it fits.

He adds that it is understandable, and to the credit, of women of East Asian descent to have "in-group preferences" when it comes to dating, "whereas the Caucasian girls have been told for many decades to have no in-group preferences, which is one of the reasons why there are . . . lots of problems." After snickering at that, Molyneux goes on, "The odds are that you would have a more intelligent child if you had an East Asian woman to be the mother of your children than if you had, say -- I don't know -- a Somali woman or . . . I think the lowest IQs are like the pygmies or the natives in Australia or so on."

While Molyneux will concede that some blacks and Latinos and North Africans are very intelligent and nonviolent, he dismisses such individuals as statistically unimportant, affirming that public policy and criminal justice must be shaped by what he (mis)characterizes as statistical norms, and that his sweeping conclusions about blacks and Latinos and North Africans justify sweeping governmental measures discriminating against each of these groups as if all the members of these groups are the same.  (Molyneux fails to acknowledge this explicitly, but the implication is that if the State discriminates against Latinos, in general, based on their statistically average IQ being low, that sacrifices the high-IQ Latinos whom Molyneux claims not to have quibbles against.)

As Molyneux says it, "I can't judge any individuals [in a particular racial grouping]. I'm a philosopher: I don't care about [justice for] individuals. [ . . . ] No, it's patterns [among demographic racial groups]. I don't care about individuals; I do care about ideologies," with Molyneux presuming that a type of ideology is inherent to a specific racial group in general, individual volition be damned.

When it comes to iterating the alleged normative implications of these allegedly baked-in inherent behavioral differences among racial groupings, Molyneux has even gone as far as this: citing David Duke sidekick Kevin MacDonald as if he were a credible source of information about Jews.  Like his podcast co-host David Duke, MacDonald is well-known for spreading conspiracy theories about Jews in general.

Molyneux has even conveyed that Ashkenazi Jews are probably biologically superior to the Jews remaining in Israel (presumably Sephardi Jews and Mizrahi Jews) on account of "diaspora" Ashkenazi Jews leaving the Middle East for Europe and being what Molyneux considers generally whiter (here and here). This is because, he says, "the smartest people in [sic; from] the Middle East left the Middle East a long time ago. All the good sips of coffee from the Middle Eastern cup were taken long ago. We are down now to the dregs. [ . . . ] The vast majority of the smart, able Middle-Easterners left decades ago and are already in the West."

Molyneux's commentaries on race have even included a YouTube upload providing a revisionist history to defend the practice of apartheid in South Africa, offering this whopper of a claim: "The institution of apartheid was not racism but was designed to preserve the white population against the increasing communist militancy of the blacks" (boldface added).

 That assertion is glaringly inconsistent with the memories of those who lived in South Africa at the time, not to mention the historical record at large. As noted by an author who resided in South Africa when apartheid was still in effect, "Apartheid began long before there was any 'increasing' militancy among blacks, communist or otherwise."

In the comments section for this video on YouTube, one viewer posts, "I sincerely hope that all Europeans watch this video. If they allow the hordes of African immigrants to enter their countries, they will soon look like once[-]beautiful South Africa." To that, Molyneux's official YouTube account replies, "Thank you."

That Molyneux immediately follows up on his claims about science with policy prescriptions allegedly justified by these very same claims, casts doubt on the idea that Molyneux's presentation of these claims about racial inequalities is merely the exercise of Molyneux acting in the interest of open scientific inquiry.   Whereas the second-main focus of the Molyneux podcast since May of 2015 has been the presentation of these claims as if they reflect the scientific consensus among psychologists who study IQ, the number-one focus of the podcast has been the urging of discriminatory policy prescriptions that Molyneux insists are properly justified by such claims being irrefutable hard science.

In myriad videos Molyneux has provided on this topic, priority is given not to the claims about science, but to the governmental policy prescriptions that Molyneux advocates as following logically from the claims about science.  That Molyneux has given most prominence to his policy recommendations, and has frequently presented them in terms that are crude and openly sneering toward blacks and Latinos and North Africans, makes it look as if his claims about the science of racial differences are not at all a scientific inquiry made in good faith but, rather, a naked attempt to rationalize the public policy recommendations that he says are logically derived from those claims about science.

The podcast, then, is not about scientific integrity or a straightforward presentation of scientific data, but is about advancing particular highly ideological policy prescriptions which are then supported only by claims about science that are presented and treated in a methodologically dubious manner.

What's the Harm in Going on the Freedomain Radio Podcast and Treating It As If It Is a Legitimate Political Commentary Venue
Yes, people who harbor strong disagreements on politics can remain cordial with one another.  It is concerning, however, when someone has given multiple interviews to an apartheid apologist who has prominently cited a co-host on David Duke's white separatist podcast, and has not had -- at least not publicly -- a long and enlightening word with this interviewer about the spirit and tenor of such racially-charged rhetoric, especially with respect to what would be the likely outcome when this interviewer's most loyal listeners decide to act upon this same rhetoric.

If someone goes on Stefan Molyneux's podcast to confront him about this nakedly racist propaganda, I can understand the rationale behind that, even as I judge it to be a rather ineffective gesture in the effort to combat the propaganda's influence.  But it is something else entirely when a respected commentator goes on Molyneux's podcast and behaves as if he is under the impression that Molyneux is a controversial-but-respectable interviewer.

To be on Molyneux's consistently pro-racism podcast and yet behave on this podcast as if its usual ideological theme is normal is to lend it a mask of legitimacy -- to assist Molyneux in maintaining the pretense that what he is doing is healthy and fine.   It gives the impression that one is tacitly approving of -- or, at best, unconcerned about -- the overall thrust of what the Molyneux podcast has made it a point to promote consistently for the past two years.  It is to reinforce -- to enable -- the pathological nature of what Freedomain Radio is advancing.

A prominent commentator might say that he disagrees with both (a) Molyneux's claims about the science of race and (b) the discriminatory public policy agenda that Molyneux has consistently made it a point to have accompanying these claims, while still finding it worthwhile to continue appearing as a guest on Molyneux's podcast.  In such a case, it still comes across as if this public commentator is tacitly approving and accepting both the claims about science and the accompanying public policy agenda -- or is, at best, unconcerned about them and their ramifications.

It is in the interest of standing up for scientific integrity and intellectual honesty that I ask that prominent and mainstream political commentators, such as yourself, henceforth refrain from appearing on the Freedomain Radio (FDR) podcast of Stefan Molyneux, unless it is to confront him directly and publicly about his dissemination of this overtly racist propaganda.

About My E-mails to You on This Matter
This is how my interest in your appearances on the podcast started: At the end of July 2017, I noticed you had twice appeared on the Molyneux podcast.  The first of these appearances was uploaded onto YouTube on 12 February 2017 in a video entitled "The Architecture of Belief."  The second appearance was put on YouTube on 30 July 2017, in a video called "Sorting Yourself Out."

On 31 July 2017, I wrote you an e-mail to impart the dangers of appearing on the Molyneux podcast.  As I do now, I then wrote that your appearances on Freedomain Radio help give it the appearance of a legitimate political commentary show.  I wrote to you by going to your website and filling out an online form provided, one over here.  However, after I first sent the e-mail, I read on Twitter that you had mentioned that you had been locked out of your Gmail account.

I thought, "Maybe Dr. Peterson didn't see the e-mail I wrote him because of this." Hence, after I learned that you were once again able to log into Gmail, I sent you another e-mail.  The second one was mostly the same as the first, except that I made some grammatical changes.  Enclosed below is the text from the second e-mail.  The screen shots on the bottom, too, are from the second e-mail, which I sent on 2 August 2017.

I do not know if you have read either e-mail.  I know that subsequent to the second e-mail, you have appeared on the Molyneux podcast twice more.  I think that the third appearance was uploaded to YouTube on 14 August 2017, titled "Google Memo: Aftermath," wherein there was discussion about how you were the first person to interview James Damore publicly about Google firing him over his controversial memo regarding psychological differences between men and women, and that Stefan Molyneux was the second person to nab an interview with him.  And I think that your fourth appearance was uploaded to YouTube on 19 December 2017 in a video called "An Antidote to Chaos."

Embedded Video Evidence of Molyneux Urging Racist Public Policy Based on Pseudoscientific Claims
I ascertain that perhaps you might want more evidence that Molyneux has not only made claims that science proves racial inequality, but that he has urged governmental policies, based on such claims, that are openly racially discriminatory.   For that reason, I am embedding several videos of Stefan Molyneux airing this propaganda, with the shortest videos first. If you look at these videos on their YouTube pages, you will find, in the "Description" box, links to the original videos on Molyneux's own YouTube channel, so that you can see for yourself that all of the clips from Molyneux are in context; it sounds as if Molyneux is disgracefully advocating racism because, in the larger and longer video, he is disgracefully advocating racism.

Molyneux says he's not the racist; Mother Nature is the racist for making "races" unequal. This one is only 9 seconds.

Molyneux denies that South African apartheid was racist. 46 seconds.

Molyneux says Israel is not any different from the whites-only nation-state that neo-Nazi Richard Spencer advocates. 1 minute, 36 seconds.

Molyneux endorses neo-Nazi Richard Spencer's rhetoric. 2 minutes and 2 seconds.

Molyneux saying that if you disagree with his politics and an assailant attacks you, you do not deserve to be saved from being murdered by the assailant. 9 minutes and 14 seconds.

Molyneux whitewashing Richard Spencer's neo-Nazi rhetoric for 13 minutes and 33 seconds.

Clips of Molyneux promoting white supremacism and government-enforced racial segregation. 24 minutes and 27 seconds.

Clips of Molyneux asking the State to enact race discrimination. 36 minutes and 21 seconds.

Molyneux citing the anti-Semite propaganda of David Duke sidekick Kevin MacDonald, and repeating MacDonald's talking points. 46 minutes and 14 seconds.

In Conclusion
Composing this blog post and Open Letter, I continue to hold the same concerns I aired when e-mailing you in August.  Based on Molyneux's record since May of 2015, which has not changed even this week, I ask that you reconsider any future appearances on Stefan Molyneux's podcast.  I am concerned about the consequences of someone of your stature seeming to condone, even tacitly, the idea that there is something okay with what has been the main message of the Freedomain Radio podcast for over two years now.

Below is the e-mail I sent you in August and, below that are my nine screen shots of the process of writing out that e-mail and sending it to you through the form on your website.

Once again, I thank you for your time.

Mahalo nui loa,
Stuart Hayashi



Subject:  "Yes, the Left is too quick to cry Racism; Stefan Molyneux does advocate white supremacism (the evidence)"

Dear Dr. Peterson,

Aloha from Hawaii. My name is Stuart Hayashi. I appreciate your stand against the political Left that is trying to intimidate everyone into silence, and I appreciate your having recommended the Stephen Hicks book *Explaining Postmodernism*.

I understand that too many people on the political Left are too quick to label other people as racist, such as in many of them saying that any white person who wears a kimono is racist against the Japanese; I recall an uproar accusing the white supermodel Karlie Kloss as racist for wearing Japanese clothing. I am of Japanese ancestry and I recognize such accusations as ridiculous. I am no Social Justice Warrior.

Since that is clear, I think I should caution you that Stefan Molyneux really does advocate racism. He advocates racial inequality, based on the idea that whites are programmed by their genes to be more economically productive and less violent than blacks and Hispanics. You can see a video compilation of him advocating racism at
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjajrYMwlLo&feature=youtu.be&t=17m52s . That video has links to the original Stefan Molyneux videos from which they are sourced, so that you can see that the clips are in context.

I understand the importance of challenging political correctness and not buckling under pressure when people on the Left make arbitrary accusations of Racism. However, in the case of Stefan Molyneux, there is actual evidence of him advocating racial inequality; he has called it (in his own words) the Clear Science of Racial Inequality. Since May of 2015, he has placed himself in the same category as David Irving and David Duke. In fact, Molyneux has done a video heavily citing a David Duke acolyte: http://stu-topia.blogspot.com/2016/11/stefan-molyneux-cites-and-repeats.html

I have written of my concerns about this at http://tracinskiletter.com/2016/10/02/a-libertarian-icons-descent-into-racist-pseudoscience/ .

I believe that Stefan Molyneux is using you. You have a reputation for being an upstanding and thoughtful critic of the Left. When you go onto the Molyneux podcast, your prestige is transferred to Molyneux, as if he, too, is a respectable critic of the Left. However, that helps normalize what has been the regular theme of the Molyneux podcast for over a year: advocating racism. I strongly think it is best for someone as respectable as yourself to avoid going onto the Molyneux podcast and lending it an image of respectability that it does not deserve.

I thank you very much for your time.

Stuart Hayashi



Part 1 of 9: Beginning of the 2 August 2017 e-mail.

Part 2 of 9.

Part 3 of 9.

Part 4 of 9.

Part 5 of 9.

Part 6 of 9: The end of the 2 August 2017 e-mail.

Part 7 of 9: Confirming to Jordan B. Peterson's website that I'm not a robot sending a form letter.

Part 8 of 9: Pressing "SEND."

Part 9 of 9: Jordan B. Peterson's website on 2 August 2017 says the message "HAS BEEN SENT."