June 26, 2006

Digital Libraries

Posted in copyright, EU, fair use, globalisation, internet law, politics at 3:39 am by thelawthoughts

The EU is establishing a digital library, with cooperation from museums and libraries around Europe.

I am interested in the difference in reaction between this and Google's attempt. I have never even heard of the EU effort in the media. Why don't Europeans care? Why do Americans care so much?

I'm tempted to put it down to a European-sharing stereotype, which is interested in shared culture and cultural heritage, versus an American individual-centred protection of wealth regime.

It must be more than that, but I just can't see it.

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June 16, 2006

EU Constitution

Posted in constitution, EU, globalisation, law reform, politics at 7:16 am by thelawthoughts

Why can't the EU leaders work it out?

Yes, it is probably a good idea for the EU to have a constitutional document. Yes, it is probably in the interests of the EU to centralise lots of Executive functions.

However, the lack of explanation being provided, and the seeming lack of connection between the Executive, the European Parliament, and people on the street means that a Constitution will never be passed as the current requirements stand.

In a union of 25 members, who ALL must pass the Constitution, whether in Parliament or by referendum, it takes a hell of a lot of explaining by political leaders before people on the street are willing to concede power over taxes, criminal law and defence policy to some ethereal EU Parliament and even worse, some back-room EU Commission.

The leaders might be all friends, but they need to remember, they are asking Poles to allow Germans to run their defence; ex-Soviet satellites to give up their new found independence and the UK to allow taxes to be raised elsewhere, when they won't even join the Euro.

It is just not going to happen. 

Raining Bananas?

Posted in free trade, globalisation, politics at 7:10 am by thelawthoughts

Following on from my post about Mirko and his lost bananas, Joshua Gans reports that relief might be in sight.

More bananas for everyone, and stuff the voters in Queensland.  only a few lost votes in sight.

Good news, hey Mirko! 

June 15, 2006

Mirko Wants Bananas

Posted in free trade, globalisation, politics at 1:18 am by thelawthoughts

I'm fair, I'll give credit where it is due. Mirko Bagaric's piece this week discusses the inequity of global trade through the prism of his lack of bananas.

He is right, there is plenty of everything in the world, we just won't let people sell it. I remember hearing John Ralston Saul speak last year, and he said that global welfare is lacking because of dysfunctional distribution, not the lack of ability to actually produce.

He used the example of socks. The world has so many socks we can buy 200 pairs on eBay for $100. Trust me, I almost did. However, we daily see people in Africa with no socks. The problem is not producing this stuff, it is getting it where it is needed.

Governments provide as many barriers as they can to this distribution process, exactly as Bagaric describes. Why would our government let foreign banana producers gain a toehold in our market, when there are no votes coming in from Ecuador? See, the myth of free trade is that the banana producers sending us stuff for a lower price makes our domestic producers sit up and think – 'gee, I can't compete on bananas anymore, I better make a higher value product than simply pulling something off a tree'.

If we let that happen more, we would probably be much better off. However, most of the time that is not what happens. We protect our domestic producers. Third world countries have a busted economy.

Points to anybody who can jog my memory. Who gives more subsidies to domestic producers than foreign aid? I think I read it was the EU, but it is probably almost every rich nation. Why not scrap the subsidies, get cheap product from overseas, and use the money to train people into better situations? Isn't that how things are meant to work?