I've just had a rather large argument with two asian-american "friends" of mine. They are hell-bent on either proving to me that piracy, bootlegging, and illegal sales of goods are a GOOD thing, or writing me off as a "tool." But I refuse to accept either the weak arguments or the label. Because my views are not based on irrational acceptance of the status quo or mere self interest. They are thought through, logical, parts of an ethical system which I have developed for myself and which I happen to think is damned good.
It starts with contrasting the views of capitalism and communism/socialism. Now I will readily admit that in an ideal world I would vote for communism in a heartbeat. It would be great if everybody would work as hard as they were reasonably capable of while having all their needs provided for, but I'm pretty sure we all know that this is NOT going to happen. Socialism and communism both overestimate the productivity and morality of people. The fact of the matter is that most people who aren't seeing rewards for their labor DON'T labor as hard as those who do see rewards. Very few people work just for the sake of working, and those who do aren't doing menial tasks. So how do you keep a janitor or assembly line worker motivated during communism? Well you don't. According to Marxist theory communism might be the end of job specialization but of course with that comes a HUGE drop off in productivity.
So I submit that in the absence of strong internal motivation communism doesn't work.
Now we turn to capitalism which brings its own problems like differentiation of classes and the poor being alienated from their labor power etc...etc...
Capitalism isn't perfect and it DOES need fine tuning and things like welfare/footstamps are important to prevent people from slipping through the cracks, but god damn it it's the best system we've got and to say it's not just because it's flawed is STINKIN' THINKIN'. It's multiculturalist the grass is always greener apologetic bullshit. Check out http://intellivu.netscape.com/mainb.asp?fnum=117
for a guy who has more to say on the matter.
Now we come to the sticking point in terms of intellectual property. In capitalism entertainment and most writing is funded through capitalist means. It is produced and sold to people who are willing to pay the price to buy it. It's not like in Communism where producers of intellectual property would be state funded and then that music/art/philosophy becomes public domain. Instead we have private domain copyrighted intellectual property. When a man writes a book that book belongs to the man as more than just a physical object. It represents his labor and he is the one who has the right to harness it for profit and to decide who else gets to read it. There are people who do not think this should be so. Who think that once that book/film whatever is produced it should be avialable for consumption by whoever wants it. But if this happens then who is going to produce? They don't get any profit out of it. So what we end up with is a compromise. Some people (the Good People) pay to use the product and some people (the Bad People) piggyback on the good people's investment and enjoy the product for free, or even worse pay someone to steal it for them and provide it at a reduced price. This amounts to freeloading off paying customers, and UNTIL there is some other way to reward the producers of intellectual property it is immoral. Nobody should have the right to enjoy the fruits of someone elses labor, which is what happens when Joe works to earn money which he pays to Kajagoogoo for their greatest hits album and then Jim (or Kawah) downloads those songs from a pirate for free. Jim is getting pleasure from something that only Joe worked to support. That's wrong.
Even worse is the people who steal an item from the people who created it and sell it for their own profit. This extends to non-entertainment realms like FDNY hats because sales of FDNY licensed hats pay for equipment for the FDNY or money for the widows of dead firefighters. The Fire Department Of New York risks its collective lives on a daily basis and should have the right to reap the rewards of that risk from anyone who wants to be associated with them or their logo. Bootleggers serve NO purpose in society just like thieves and con-men serve no purpose. They leech without producing and they deserve to be punished. They are worse than prostitutes who at LEAST provide SOMETHING for the cash they take and only damage themselves with their behavior, not other innocent hard working novelists or the children of dead heroes.
All of this seems pretty self evident to me and the only counterargument that I get is "But these people are POOR, they can't afford entertainment and they have to steal to survive." The first count is easily countered by the fact that nobody NEEDS entertainment. People survived for millenia without recorded music or film. And there is SO much entertainment available in this country for free it's rediculous. Radios are DAMNED cheap. Being poor in capitalism SHOULDN'T entitle you to the same benefits as the wealthy, otherwise why would you work? If poor people can just steal the stuff the wealthy pay for what reason do they have to produce? And as for the second argument about it being hard to get jobs, it's a LUDICROUS one. Of course it's hard to get a job if you won't learn English, and if you thought you could get by in a new country without having to learn the language then you're a fool.
But Ben they can't learn English whine tweedledumbanddumber
There are plenty of English as a Second Language programs available ignoring the fact that you can be taught by community members or buy a FUCKING book and some tapes. People would learn english if they were acountable for not knowing it, and that's what it all comes down to...acountability.
If we hold people accountable for their behavior they will prosper and if we don't they will NOT benefit and they will act immoraly and improperly. That is where capitalism assumes nice things about human nature and communism does not. Capitalism assumes that people, if held accountable for their own survival and status will be capable of doing what it takes to survive and prosper where communism babies everybody and offers a giant set of safety wheels. Eventually you have to take those wheels off.
I should add that it's more rediculous that these TWO people are arguing about how hard it is to succeed in America since one of them is already in a masters program, has an immigrant dad making more than one hundred thousand dollars a year, and went to an excellent free high school and the other has worked his little stupid ASS off every day of his life to try to make himself a success. So they are self defeating of their own arguments about how other people should be babied and not held accountable for their behavior.
The argument was not laid out PERFECTLY but I feel that you can at least see that I base it on logic and evidence and not MERELY my position in society. Capitalism is more productive and useful than communism. In capitalism purchasing power must support entertainment. Someone should not get for free what someone else had to buy because it's unfair. Poverty is not a permanent condition nor an excuse. Etc.
P.S. I don't object to SMALL violations like waiters who don't pay tax on tips because there ARE unfair advantages that the wealthy get, like how the fucking tax cuts send the VAST majority of the money to the richest people and the WHOLE idea of corporate welfare and tax shelters. The system is unfair and cheating it a little is alright, heck I'm even okay if a poor boy like Kawah downloads some music because he can't afford to buy it as long as he doesn't TELL me about it because I DON'T want to know, but there are limits and one of them is surviving PURELY on bootlegging. Get a REAL job and then talk about loopholes.
P.P.S. if this didn't make complete sense it's because I'm still tired from whatever I had yesterday that was so bad I was forced to take 2 aspirin, something I do about once every few months and HATE doing when I do it. So I'm not saying this is COMPLETELY logical but it's the best I could do at the time.