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Jason Kuznicki

Jason Kuznicki is a research fellow at the Cato Institute and contributor of Cato Unbound. He's on twitter as JasonKuznicki. His interests include political theory and history.

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  1. Avatar Stillwater
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    Good post. I’m gonna re-read it again, but I found this interesting:

    a world without copyright would also be a world without multi-hundred-million-dollar musicians.

    I know this isn’t a new issue here at the LoOG, but I have to ask again: What is the difference between intellectual property and material property such that eliminating protections for one but not the other are justified? It almost sounds like you’re providing a pragmatic justification for eliminating IP. But I’m pretty doggone sure that that’s not right.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Stillwater
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      Noodling out an alternative regime to intellectual property is a pretty daunting challenge at this point in history. What I can see is augmenting the concept of fair use and creating some sort of mandatory or at least broadly-accepted opt-in regimes for profit-sharing in derivative work situations. I’ve never heard anything on The Gray Album but I’ll assume it’s a work of genius. Whether it is really that or not, it seems to have sold a lot of copies and thus generated some economic value. I would ideally like to see a regime where DangerMouse, Paul McCartney (and the Jackson estate, which owns the rights formerly held by John Lennon), and Jay-Z, all get a reasonable piece of the action. Giving McCartney and Jay-Z a veto takes all the incentive out of DangerMouse’s side of the creative equation, but leaving the whole pie with the derivative artist does not properly reward the creator of whatever it was that was good enough that the subsequent artist found inspiration in it.Report

    • Avatar James K in reply to Stillwater
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      I’m more of a consequentialist, so I approach all property from a “what regime has the best outcomes” direction. And from that perspective the correct property right regime is contingent on a host of factors. Unlike tangible goods, ideas are non-rival, which changes the conditions under which they should be legally excludable.

      As it is, I don’t think intellectual property rights should be abolished, but I do think they have become overly strong. For instance, I don’t think having copyright expiring on the author’s death would be unreasonable (with some comparable term, like 25 years for corporate authors). I think some kind of adverse possession law for copyrights and patents with no clear owner would be a good idea too. Patents are also badly in need of review.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to James K
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        I’m more of a consequentialist, so I approach all property from a “what regime has the best outcomes” direction.a

        Yeah, I like that approach as well. But some things about it should be noted. For a specific regime of property rights is justified over any other regime by the criterion of best outcomes, then outcomes must be measured by some other criterion than rights. That makes accepting any particular right (or provision) in the regime contingent, and analyzed in terms of other values. (So rights aren’t necessary, or sui generis, or analyzable, or immutable, or etc.)

        Like I said, I’m OK with that view, but Jason is committed to a conception of rights under which they’re both apriori determined and necessary. Which leads to the question I asked up thread: Is there an a priori analysis of rights such that intellectual property can be distinguished from material property (or what Fnord called “natural” property) which doesn’t beg the question or sneak in some consequentialism? It seems like a tall order to me, but that’s why I’m asking.Report

        • Avatar Fnord in reply to Stillwater
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          I said below that I’m not a big natural rights guy. But if you choose to take that perspective, distinguishing copyright from material property rights is hardly a stretch. Indeed, I think you’d be hard pressed to make a claim that intellectual properties rights existed in the state of nature, when they were invented essentially ex nihilo in 171o. Was there some great injustice done to Shakespeare when he was denied copyright to his plays?Report

        • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Stillwater
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          Like I said, I’m OK with that view, but Jason is committed to a conception of rights under which they’re both apriori determined and necessary. Which leads to the question I asked up thread: Is there an a priori analysis of rights such that intellectual property can be distinguished from material property (or what Fnord called “natural” property) which doesn’t beg the question or sneak in some consequentialism? It seems like a tall order to me, but that’s why I’m asking.

          You’re quite right, and as a matter of theory, I don’t really have a good explanation for intellectual property. Pragmatically, I don’t see our society giving it up anytime soon, but I’d happily settle for a sharp reduction in its term.Report

    • Avatar Fnord in reply to Stillwater
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      Calling it “intellectual property” is begging the question, defining the debate in terms of a comparison to material property that isn’t entirely natural, for the reason James mentions among others. May as well ask “what’s the difference between a song and chair?” How do you even begin answering that question? They’re different things.

      You could just as well call it “intellectual monopoly rights”; in many ways the comparison to taxi medallions (for example) is more apt than the comparison to physical goods.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Fnord
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        Calling it “intellectual property” is begging the question, defining the debate in terms of a comparison to material property that isn’t entirely naturalReport

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Fnord
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        Calling it “intellectual property” is begging the question, defining the debate in terms of a comparison to material property that isn’t entirely natural

        I don’t see how calling it “intellectual property” begs any questions at all, unless viewed from within a theory which is already committed to the distinction – for example, by distinguishing legitimate property rights from illegitimate ones based on the property of “naturalness”. It seems to me that concept does lots of work here, and is in itself question begging wrt IP.Report

        • Avatar Fnord in reply to Stillwater
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          I don’t mean to call one type of property rights “natural” and the other type “unnatural”. I’m not a big natural rights guy. I meant that the comparison was not natural; that it’s a forced comparison.

          You ask a question like “What is the difference between intellectual property and material property such that eliminating protections for one but not the other are justified?” Should a taxi medallion be treated the same way as material property? If someone calls for an end to a local taxi monopoly/oligopoly, should we ask “what is the difference between taxi medallions and material property such that eliminating protections for one but not the other are justified?”Report

        • Avatar Jeffrey Straszheim in reply to Stillwater
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          Because words mean things, and as much as people claim they are not unconsciously influenced by such things, psych. research shows they often are. The desire for a neutral term is a reasonable one. When people fight to maintain the non-neutral term, we can wonder at their motives.Report

  2. Avatar RTod
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    JK – After the running post, I think this is the best thing you’ve done since I’ve been here. I kind of want to write a post about this now, but I think I’m going to have to be thinking hard for a few weeks.

    Serious wheel spinning going on right now.Report

  3. Avatar trizzlor
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    I’m echoing Stillwater above, but you seem to suggest that artists – by their very nature – are not entitled to sell/license the fruits of their labor the way that other businessmen are. And your justification reads oddly like social justice: it feels unfair that DangerMouse can’t profit off the Grey Album even after the blessings of Carter/McCartney therefore Apple Records must be rent-seekers trafficking in intellectual feudalism. But the usual libertarian caveats apply: Apple Records provided the space and equipment that allowed The Beatles to record their masterpiece as well as the promotion, merchandising, and distribution that allowed The White Album to be heard by anyone at all; later, The Beatles chose to forfeit partial song rights in return for investment capitol which allowed them to pursue successful solo careers; eventually, Michael Jackson acquired the song rights and used the profits to produce his own music; and in the end, DangerMouse has become a successful producer and fully embraced the major label model (Warner Bros.). So why shouldn’t we celebrating Apple Records as job creators?Report

    • Avatar RTod in reply to trizzlor
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      “So why shouldn’t we celebrating Apple Records as job creators?”

      I guess the disconnect comes from the answer to the question, what is the purpose of the music industry – or, for that matter, music?Report

      • Avatar trizzlor in reply to RTod
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        Allegadly, the music industry provides investment and expertise for rising musicians to get their work made and produced. That may not be as necessary in the digital age, but then the label model has always been voluntary – no one but the bill collector is stopping musicians from releasing their material with minimal licensing. I can’t tell if Jason is saying that minimal licensing should be encouraged or required.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to RTod
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        what is the purpose of the music industry – or, for that matter, music?

        Good question.Report

    • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to trizzlor
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      [Y]ou seem to suggest that artists – by their very nature – are not entitled to sell/license the fruits of their labor the way that other businessmen are.

      That’s not an implication I intended. I think copyright terms are probably too long. I think they shouldn’t typically extend much past the life of the creator, and if I had to pick a term for them, it would be twenty years from the date of publication. The current term is for the life of the author plus seventy, which I think is absurd: If I live to a typical lifespan, this comment will be under copyright until well into the next century. Opposing that isn’t an attack on artists. It’s a plea for common sense.

      And your justification reads oddly like social justice: it feels unfair that DangerMouse can’t profit off the Grey Album even after the blessings of Carter/McCartney therefore Apple Records must be rent-seekers trafficking in intellectual feudalism. But the usual libertarian caveats apply: Apple Records provided the space and equipment that allowed The Beatles to record their masterpiece as well as the promotion, merchandising, and distribution that allowed The White Album to be heard by anyone at all;

      Apple Records was the creation of the (already fantastically wealthy) Beatles, who set it up the year before The White Album appeared, as a vehicle for their own music. While they did choose to forfeit partial song rights, it can’t plausibly be argued that if it weren’t for Apple Records, we would not have had their creation.

      But obviously this shouldn’t settle the legal or policy questions before us. Legally, a contract’s still a contract, and there is no case here for voiding it. In policy, I still think copyright terms are too long, and this is a good example of why. Appropriation is part of a healthy culture, and just because we’re capable of preventing it doesn’t make it a good idea to do so.Report

      • Avatar Jeffrey Straszheim in reply to Jason Kuznicki
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        Dude! I am still *pissed* at that hack Virgil for totally ripping off Homer. Jerk! There should been a law. If only The Disney Corporation or Sony or someone had been around back then. This could have been stopped!

        And the Protestants should need to permission of the Catholic church for stealing their intellectual property. After all, the Protestants didn’t write the bible. There is no apostolic succession to the Protestants. Did the Lutherans have someone at the Council of Nicaea? I didn’t think so!

        The Scientologists figured this one out. Truth is property.

        (Uh, you get that I am kidding, yes?)Report

        • Avatar James K in reply to Jeffrey Straszheim
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          After all, the Protestants didn’t write the bible.

          If you’re talking about the King James Version, then actually they did. Vernacular bibles were considered heretical to the Catholic Church at that time, so that was clearly a Protestant innovation.

          Not that this changes your substantive point of course.Report

        • Avatar MikeSchilling in reply to Jeffrey Straszheim
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          And the Protestants should need to permission of the Catholic church for stealing their intellectual property.

          As if the early Christians had bothered to pay licensing fees in the first place.Report

  4. Avatar Robert Greer
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    “I’d have liked to have seen him give more consideration to the heterogeneous applications of human capital in elaborating and entrenching our increasingly unequal class structure.”

    This is my perennial complaint with libertarians. Too often, they obsess over the facial neutrality of the political order while the history of race and class relations are completely ignored.

    I agree wholeheartedly with libertarians that the violence of the state perverts our economic decisions and our private relationships, and I think conventional liberals should take more seriously the libertarian critique of the welfare state. But libertarians don’t often seem to appreciate how their fundamental voluntaryist concerns actually clash with the capitalist programme: too much difference between groups’ current net worth can be explained by relatively recent racial and political violence. I have a lot of respect for libertarians who worry about these kinds of problems while still advocating for relatively unfettered capitalism. But sadly these interlocutors are few and far between, while the deontological dogmatists predominate.

    As a result of this imbalance, libertarianism has long had difficulty with recruiting people who haven’t been on the pleasant side of history. Until the movement does some serious soul-searching about why this is so, it will remain electorally marginalized.Report

    • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Robert Greer
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      A provocative comment. I don’t think it’s quite what I was aiming at, but there’s something important to it.

      In my view, this isn’t a story primarily about race. It’s rather more about class, with the very unfortunate add-on that many of the institutions we have now were set up by upper-class people of several decades ago, nearly all of whom were racists. There’s not a lot of overt racism in these institutions anymore, but there’s a lot of subtle and in-effect racism. The War on Drugs is the prime example.

      Also, when a libertarian says “class,” it’s important to remember he means something more like “relationship to the government” rather than “relationship to the means of production.”

      The government isn’t a means of production. It’s a means of extraction. Brink’s “human capitalism” would be a fantastically amazing and very decentralizing, humanizing, democratic development if it were not for the fact that people with high human capital do much more than just hold the means of production between their ears. They also hold the keys to the system of extraction. And that’s a huge problem.Report

      • Avatar Dan Miller in reply to Jason Kuznicki
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        Sentences like “The government isn’t a means of production. It’s a means of extraction.” are basically a guarantee of pissing off any liberal reading this, and strike an off note in an otherwise excellent post. Public education and public infrastructure are actually important, especially to the development of human capital. We can argue over what form they should take (more charter schools? vouchers? toll roads?), but to deny that government can create useful goods–especially human capital–is shortsighted in a fashion that’s peculiar to libertarians.Report

        • Avatar Chris in reply to Dan Miller
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          Outside of a certain ideological perspective, those two sentences together border on the nonsensical.Report

          • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Chris
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            Every time I see a Libertarian go on about how the Government is a Means of Extraction, I think back to one sunny day in Hyde Park, London, listening to a particularly obnoxious Marxist.

            The Libertarians really are Marxists. They just don’t know it, yet. Capitalists without a Clue.Report

            • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to BlaiseP
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              Marx himself wrote that he had taken the idea of class struggle from the earlier classical liberals. He applied it in a new context — not the old social classes of the nobility, the church, and everyone else, but the new ones of capitalists and workers. He’s the one cribbing, not us. My take on Marx is that his classes were less rigid than he imagined, and that they have gradually become less and less relevant. Something more like Brink’s human capitalism has been taking over for quite a while. And of course the old classical liberal classes may have shed their ermine, they’re very definitely still around.

              You may still think that both Marx and the libertarians are wrong, but that’s a different question.Report

              • Avatar Dan Miller in reply to Jason Kuznicki
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                I’m not up on my Marx, but it seems odd to say that me and Bill Gates belong to the same class, just because neither of us is a government employee. In most people’s usage, class has at least a strong correlation with “how much money you have”, and it’s been growing more relevant, not less, as income and wealth concentrate more heavily at the top of the spectrum.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Jason Kuznicki
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                Marx was hardly a classical liberal. Read the Communist Manifesto. Where Locke had some optimism for government, Marx had none — unless that government was Communist.

                I am not surprised to see you lot carry on about copyrights being a form of feudalism. Marx had a lot to say about feudalism. The Libertarian seems quite willing to let someone else’s intellectual property horse out of the barn and ride it for a while, an entirely Marxist concept. So much for Locke and the Libertarians’ much preaching on the subject of Property: if it happens to be a tune they like, the artist should share. Contracts are good, copyrights are less-good. Heh heh. Hark, I hear the soulful strains of Beasts of England emanating from the barn at Animal Farm.

                All this business about Extractive Government is ignorant tub-thumping of the most egregious sort. Government has an entirely necessary role to play in our lives and yes, it must be paid for.

                Human capital is a contradiction in terms unless we can put price tags on people.Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to BlaiseP
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                Government has an entirely necessary role to play in our lives and yes, it must be paid for.

                Blaise, no argument and it’s obvious that using phrases that imply gov’t is necessarily & solely & always parasitic obviously get hackles up. Can you suggest a better metaphor for gov’t? I’m thinking something along the lines of the transmission or gearbox in an IC engine – gov’t doesn’t produce the power, but it can direct or help transmit it, so that we get somewhere?

                On second thought, this one will never work for libertarians, a transmission looks too much like central planning. Forget it.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Glyph
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                If you must have a metaphor, I would choose the computer operating system.

                There’s no magic to an operating system: it’s just a program like all the others. The OS encapsulates the concepts of security, ownership, resource management, services and task scheduling. Applications rely on operating systems.

                There are various sorts of OSes. Some are monolithic kernels, like Linux, supporting modules. Some are just microkernels, with a bare-bones abstraction over the hardware. Some, like z/OS, are usable in many different modes over a nucleus which hosts a bewilderingly complete set of compatibility features. Mostly I’ve used it running huge numbers of virtual Linux instances.

                As with governments, OS design philosophy is driven by prosaic considerations. They all have strengths and weaknesses. But mostly, they service the needs of individual programs, sparing the poor applications coder from dealing with resource contention.Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to BlaiseP
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                Good answer. Thanks Blaise.Report

              • Avatar wardsmith in reply to BlaiseP
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                Heh, so you’re really talking about a Tronopolis?Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP
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                No, no, Ward. See, the browser you’re looking at, reading this comment, needs individual rights, permissions, security guarantees, certificates and that’s just the start. Though obviously it’s not the only program running on your computer, it needs to exist in a nice tidy container, free from interference and trespass.

                But it shouldn’t hog up the resources, either. Fact is, it doesn’t want to be a hog, but sometimes it is. Programs ask for resources and aren’t always so good about returning them. Sometimes they’re careless and don’t know how to respond to errors, leading to “hung” programs. A good OS can protect against a good deal of this sort of thing but fools are ingenious, especially in high-level languages where things go wrong farther down in the system.

                A joke which might convey what’s going on in there: a guy pulls his car up beside a large farm truck at a stop light. The truck driver is leaning out the window, beating on the side of the truck with a ball peen hammer. A terrible, continuous, tumultuous noise is heard from the back of the truck.

                The car driver yells over the din at the truck driver “What the hell is going on over there?”

                The truck driver responds, without missing a beat with his hammer. “See the load rating on this truck?”

                “Uh, yeah, you’re rated for three tons!”

                “That’s right. And I have four tons of live chickens back there. I have to keep one ton of them airborne at any given moment.”Report

              • Avatar wardsmith in reply to BlaiseP
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                Uh Blaise, I was making a joke. LOL. Of course I know about OS’s hell I’ve /written/ OS’s. When Tron came out all the geeks I knew were /so/ looking forward to it, after all they’d used a Cray to do the rendering. Naturally we were all horribly disappointed. Naturally we all bought the ridiculously large and expensive 12″ laserdiscs (which suffered from laser-rot BTW) anyway. Tron probably set back the next generation of geeks by 50%Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP
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                Heh. Okay, Ward. If I ever ruled the planet, by imperial decree I would command HTML to support jokes and sarcasm with tags to that effect.

                Hollywood will never get tech right. Ever. Which is surprising, because these days what’s done in Hollywood is mostly post production.Report

              • Avatar wardsmith in reply to BlaiseP
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                They’re already working on that Emperor Ming, er I mean BlaiseReport

            • Avatar Chris in reply to BlaiseP
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              I’m actually fine if we’re talking about the means of extracting surplus labor/value, for instance, but that interpretation doesn’t really make sense here, because the means of production and the means of extracting surplus labor/value aren’t separable in the way that Jason seems to be implying.

              Also, I don’t think Marx ever denied his background in classic liberalism. In fact, that’s part of his point.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Chris
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                Yes, Marx started with classical liberalism. That’s not where he went and his conclusions were completely antithetical to what the classical liberals had always preached.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to BlaiseP
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                Yeah, like I said, that was sort of the point, though I don’t think his conclusions were entirely antithetical to those of classical liberals.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Chris
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                I suppose cats and dogs are both mammals, so they have that much in common. Look, both Libertarianism and Marxism have the cart before the horse, both literally and metaphorically. Both these camps claim to descend from Locke but they have devolved into petty, quarrelsome theologians. Confront them with anything their founders ever said and they will fan-dance around it, saying they don’t believe that sort of thing any more.

                Lord knows what they actually believe: they don’t need to define themselves. That’s our job. Their job is to deny our definitions. It’s rather like the Islamic theology of God: Allah cannot be described except in terms of what he is not. It’s all so much pseudo-intellectual marzipan. Would that they were the children of Locke. They are more properly styled the Children of Lenin, a man who had a great deal to say about Voluntary Association, not that they’ve read him.Report

  5. Avatar Kimmi
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    … navigate a complex…social…environment.
    Romney speaks a good counterargument to this.Report

  6. Avatar Mike Schilling
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    The excerpt, at least, confuses intelligence with the knack of making money. Philosophers and nuclear physicists are not earning outsized rewards. It’s the same mistake Ayn Rand made, thinking that there’s some commonality between capitalists and inventors.Report

    • Avatar Glyph in reply to Mike Schilling
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      Mike, this is a fair comment, but spotting genius and encouraging/facilitating/backing it financially in hopes of making piles of cash is not exactly stupid either.

      The guy who spots and backs the next Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, he’ll probably be no dummy (though he could just be extremely lucky), though of course he’ll probably be less ‘intelligent’ than the actual inventor.

      But overall I see your point.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Glyph
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        This comment would carry more weight if history wasn’t littered failed businesses. Of course, you could say that those businesses failed because the people who undertook them weren’t smart enough to succeed. But that get us right back to the initial claim: that financial success is a sign of intelligence, and failure of stupidity.Report

        • Avatar Glyph in reply to Stillwater
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          It’s not 1:1 – many smart people fail, and many stupid ones succeed, through many factors unrelated to their intelligence – but I hardly think it controversial to say that ‘intelligence’ is positively correlated to ‘success’ in business? That all things considered, the smart person is more likely to get the thing (whatever it may be) to fly?Report

          • Avatar Liberty60 in reply to Glyph
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            Yes, it is controversial.

            In a market, money flows towards those who can convince others to give it to them.
            That is, if you can convince everyone that they need a left handed plotz, and only one of the sort that only you make, you will make a lot of money.

            If you can’t, you won’t.

            By the same token, if you are the guy at Left Handed Plotz Inc who convinces the shareholders that they should give you a massive bonus for management advice, but only half that to the guys building the plotzes, you will make a lot of money.

            There really isn’t a strong connection between intelligence and business success. I’m not even suggesting that there could, or should ever be.

            Skill at gathering money isn’t some proxy indicator for general intelligence, anymore than it is a proxy for moral stature or The Favor Of The Gods.Report

            • Avatar Glyph in reply to Liberty60
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              You have got to be kidding me.

              At bare minimum, being able to convince others is indeed a sign of a kind of intelligence. Particularly if they don’t really need left-handed plotzes.

              Really, you believe there is no correlation between intelligence and success in business? I suppose poker is also completely a game of luck as well? Winners and losers all completely random?

              Are you pulling my leg?Report

              • Avatar MikeSchilling in reply to Glyph
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                “A” kind of intelligence? There is only one kind of intelligence, the great god g measured by IQ tests, and the point of capitalism is that it can also be measured by wealth.Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to MikeSchilling
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                Sure, call it cunning instead of intelligence if you want. I make no moral claim that the successful businessman is better, or more favored by the gods – he may be an evil, vicious SOB. But to claim he has no smarts (or is no more likely to be smart than the next guy) just seems crazy to me.

                If in a lab experiment with monkeys, one monkey consistently maximized his trades (or whatever the task was) so as to accumulate a whole buncha grapes, I’d have no problem saying that monkey was probably smarter (at least in this respect) than his fellow monkeys (and again, there are obviously many many types of ‘intelligence’)

                Or, to go all totally stereotypically leftist for a moment, if you consider the rich/successful by definition predatory, well, it’s my understanding that successful predation in the animal kingdom usually requires a fair amount of processing power. Seeing an opportunity and exploiting it successfully (regardless of the moral component of the opportunity or exploit) requires memory, planning, extrapolation, timing, etc. The Complete Doofus is usually not good at these things.Report

              • Avatar Liberty60 in reply to Glyph
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                What I’m pointing out is that the mental skills that correlate with business success aren’t general intellilgence, but more specific mental skills at persuasion, at being able to play the social manners and mores.

                Poker, actually, is a good example- it isn’t raw mental processing power, like card counting; poker rewards those who can spot the subtle tells and cues in others faces and mannerisms. IQ tests don’t really have a metric for that sort of intelligence, but Wall Street (by their own claims) is filled with gamblers who are rewarded handsomely.

                Which is sort of the point- when we say “intelligence” in common parlance, we assume it is an overall metric of reasoning ability. Its trafficking int he idea that being “smart” is a universal good thing,a proxy indicator for “Value to Society”. It isn’t.Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to Liberty60
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                This is much more clear as to what you meant, so I think we can come back together somewhat here. Being smart is in and of itself obviously morally neutral, since smarts can be put to evil ends, and because it is possible to be smart in one area and completely clueless in another. But I do maintain that successful businessmen are rarely idiots (though some are and became successful via luck or sheer bloody-mindedness).Report

    • Avatar Liberty60 in reply to Mike Schilling
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      Matthew Crawford makes a good point in “Shopclass As Soulcraft” where he describes how the modern information economy rewards not intelligence, but social skills; those who are adept at manipulating and navigating the worlds of human interactions, like salesmen, are rewarded; simply being smart is about as valuable as being brawny.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Liberty60
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        I dig a lot of what Crawford says. I met him last year, when he gave a talk in Austin. Smart and interesting dude. Plus his joke about Harley’s cracks me up every time I think about it. When people ask him why he doesn’t work on Harley’s at his motorcycle shop, he says, “I fix motorcycles, not lifestyles.”Report

      • Avatar MikeSchilling in reply to wardsmith
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        Despite these needs, the Canadian education system continues to underperform in the production of business, as opposed to science and engineering, graduates.

        That is, all the calls for the US to produce more STEM graduates really means “We need more of the kind of people who’ll make other people rich.”Report

        • Avatar wardsmith in reply to MikeSchilling
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          There are a few STEM’s who can successfully cross-train into the business management side of things, I’m one. The graphic on that article really struck me because of a conversation I had with my (last) manager many moons ago.

          He said, “All the other engineers are head down working on their jobs and you’re always looking up and around at everyone and everything else”.

          I said “I like to know what’s going on and you’ve seen how much I improve processes here by doing it, I think it’s a mistake to have tunnel vision”.

          He said, “I know and that’s the problem. You’re making me and the other managers look bad”.

          I said, “I quit”.Report

          • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to wardsmith
            Ignored
            says:

            As part of the educational process, everyone should spend at least six months behind a cash register. Absolutely essential skill: without a fundamental understanding of how to handle money and deal with the 54 varieties of a$$holes who appear at the counter (I counted) and literally run a store, they’re completely unfit to operate in the business world.

            UPS makes everyone put in some time on the loading dock. Doesn’t matter what job you’ll eventually do in that firm, you start on the loading dock.

            I’ve worked for the jackass manager you describe in various incarnations. I never pay a dime’s worth of attention to him. I always go to the engineers and the people who have the problem. My job is to keep that jackass out of the loop and tell him what he wants/needs to hear.Report

          • Avatar Liberty60 in reply to wardsmith
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            says:

            Every successful business needs two basic types of people- Salesmen, and Beancounters.

            Salesmen need to go out and network and sell the product or service; Beancounters actually produce the deliverable.

            Salesmen tend to be risktakers and entrepreneurs; Beancounters tend to be cautious, circumspect, and reflective. There are of course, overlaps, and all of us have varying degrees of risktaking and caution within us.

            It is a colossal mistake to assume that one is superior to the other, or that success is a matter of maximizing one to the exclusion of the other.Report

            • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Liberty60
              Ignored
              says:

              And this is why 75% of new businesses fail. Salesmen start businesses. And then they talk themselves into losing their shirt.

              do not start a business before you can balance your checkbook, and account for every penny with no slack.Report

            • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Liberty60
              Ignored
              says:

              Salesmen need something to sell and beancounters aren’t going to design it. That’s where the “geniuses” come in, high tech has the STEM folks. Unfortunately I’ve seen and invested in companies where they had the best mousetrap on the planet but couldn’t sell it. The more complex the mousetrap, the more you need a competently intelligent salesman to move it. When STEM’s try to sell they focus so much on how groovy the technology is, they forget to address the customers’ needs and wants so can’t close the deal. Great salesmen can sell lousy products (viz everything around you) but lousy salesmen can’t even sell great products.

              There is a truism in business. All the money in the world eventually passes through a salesman’s hands. Salesmen can be highly compensated but they are the grease that lubricate commerce.Report

        • Avatar Kimmi in reply to MikeSchilling
          Ignored
          says:

          it’s good for all of us.
          Besides, rich is overrated.

          I’d rather see fifty working businesses, than someone ground to dust trying to run one of them. Ideas are cheaper than grit, somedays.Report

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