Friday, December 28, 2007

"Legal" Immigration

This is the continuation, or expansion, of this small item, that I posted on another 'blog. In that post, I asked what benefit is provided by the legal immigration process to those of us already living in the good old US of A. I'd like to examine the question a bit further to see what fallacies underly the belief that immigration must be a formal process.

When you enter a doctor's office, there is typically a diploma (or several) hanging on the office wall. If you take your car to a reputable auto repair shop you will often see a certificate from ASE or some other certifying body. When I interviewed with my current employer I presented my credentials as a Microsoft Certified Database Administrator (MCDBA). All of these documents indicate that the bearer has completed some sort of training or testing to verify that they are qualified to provide a particular service. Even though in some cases these certificates are required by law (which is a discussion for another time) they nonetheless add value to their services in the form of consumer confidence, and most people are willing to pay a bit more for the services of a certified provider versus one who is uncertified.

What if, however, you entered your doctor's office or auto repair shop and saw, not a certification, but the provider's birth certificate? Likewise, what if I had simply provided my prospective employer with a copy of my birth certificate, rather than my MCDBA certification? Would this document have indicated a single thing about the ability to perform the service offered? What about a work visa, passport, or green card? Do these documents add any value for consumers of our services? No, of course not. Why, then, is there the presumption that they are necessary for an individual to live and work in a particular country?

Do any of these documents serve to reassure us that the holder will be a productive member of the community? Do they, in fact, say anything useful about the possessor at all? If you have racist or nationalist tendencies, then perhaps they do, but I can think of no other reason these documents should hold any weight whatsoever.

Many who oppose illegal immigration do so simply because the rest of us are already saddled with a myriad of stifling rules, taxes, and regulations, and so everyone else who desires to come to this country must abide by those same laws. This completely ignores the question of the validity of those laws to begin with. However, rather than call for the abolition of taxpayer-funded entitlements, most people prefer instead to rail against the "flood of illegals" that are supposedly "draining our economy." They fail to realize that these "free" services may be part of what attracts immigrants to the US in the first place, though one wonders how an immigrant without a valid government ID would go about obtaining government services.

These people are correct in one regard...the taxes and endless entitlement programs are indeed a drain on the economy, as are the rules and regulations. Exactly how they affect the economy is a subject for another post, but the fact is that the government programs should be the target of public ire...not illegal immigrants.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Doing the Right Thing

A strange thing happened to me yesterday...

I had taken my wife's car to our local Honda dealership on Monday, as the check engine light had come on and it was running poorly. A few hours later, the service adviser called me to tell me what the problem was and how much it would cost to fix it. It wasn't cheap. Also, they didn't have the part, so it would be overnighted to them and they would fix it the next day. The following day I received another call. The part had been replaced, but it hadn't entirely fixed the problem. There was another part that was needed, and again, it had to be overnighted. It also increased the total repair charge by about 65%.

This put us in a bit of a bind. The money wasn't really an issue, but having the car out of commission for two days created transportation problems for us. My wife needs her car to get to work, and since part of her job is coaching a soccer team she has a lot of stuff to carry around. She also has to be able to get from work to the soccer field and all that good stuff.

So, while I'm still on the phone with the service adviser, wondering how we're going to resolve our transportation problem, he offers to reduce the overall service bill by 10%. I didn't ask him to. Nobody told him he had to. He just offered. How weird is that?

Then, as I was expressing my gratitude for this generous gesture, I told him that we would need to come get some items out of the car and casually mentioned our transportation problem. I certainly didn't expect him to do anything about it. I was just communicating that I hoped we wouldn't run into any other setbacks in the repairs. You won't believe what happened then.

The service adviser offers to provide me a rental car for the duration of the of charge! I was blown away. This was not the typical car dealership treatment. This was above and beyond, as far as I was concerned. I actually thought about declining the rental car offer, but we really did need the transportation, so that afternoon we headed to the dealership, picked up the items we needed from the car, and waited about 15 minutes for the rental car to arrive.

So what's the point of this anecdote...the moral of the story, if you will?

I've often heard the argument that in order for a truly free market to work properly, it requires that people do the right thing. However, as Adam Smith and loads of economists since him (and a few before as well) agree, the exact opposite is true. In a free market people do the right thing because it's in their best interest to do so. To quote Adam Smith directly:
It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own self-interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own neccessities but of their advantages.
The service adviser at the dealership didn't offer to reduce my bill out of the kindness of his heart. He didn't call Enterprise Rent-A-Car because my need was great. No government official told him he had to bend over backwards to make sure my life was disrupted as little as possible while my car was being repaired. He did these things because he knows that I own an older vehicle that will likely require more repairs in the future, and if he treats me right in this instance I won't hesitate to bring it back to his dealership the next time it's in need of service.

The free market provides a framework wherein individuals, acting in their own self-interest, do the right thing without really meaning to. Business owners treat their customers fairly and with respect in the hopes that they will come back and do business with them later. The very survival of any business depends on it...or at least it would were it allowed to work. More often than not, however, government skews the incentives provided by the free market to "do the right thing." Heavy-handed government regulations replace incentives to "go above and beyond" in order to keep customers happy with a more costly incentive to merely comply with regulations to keep bureaucrats happy. Subsidies replace incentives to be efficient and reduce costs with more lucrative incentives to keep costs stagnant and push for even greater subsidies.

On the other side of the coin, a lot of people get hung up on motivation. They think people should be altruistic, and feel that if someone does something good for you just because they want your money it somehow invalidates the act. I say, "Who cares?!" When the levees (built by government) in New Orleans failed, and thousands of people were left homeless or worse, Wal-Mart had hundreds of trucks filled with supplies standing by to help the victims of government failure get on with their lives. But many people thought Wal-Mart shouldn't be allowed to help, since they were "only doing it to improve their image." Those evil bastards! How dare they try to help for the wrong reasons! I'm betting, though, that the people whose homes had just been washed away were probably more than happy to accept Wal-Mart's help, and didn't care in the least about their motivation.

Friday, August 31, 2007


President Bush intends to outline a plan to assist those who will soon suffer hardship by their choice to live beyond their means.

Here is the email I sent to my senators and representative in Congress on this issue:

If he hasn't already, President Bush plans to urge Congress to pass legislation to provide assistance to subprime mortgage holders. This message is to urge you to VOTE AGAINST ANY SUCH LEGISLATION.

As a homeowner and standard mortgage holder I have made conscious, responsible choices regarding my finances. Like most people I have at times overextended myself in the past, but I have NEVER expected anyone else to pay my bills or bear the cost for my mistakes. President Bush's proposal will do just that. It will lay the cost of others' mistakes at the feet of responsible individuals like myself and the millions of other Americans who have worked hard to keep their finances in order, live within their means, and have good credit as a result.

You may be inclined to blame banks or "predatory lending practices" for this problem, but this would be placing undue blame on those institutions that merely operate at the whim of the Federal Reserve (FED). By guaranteeing every loan, no matter how risky or unsound, the FED has encouraged irresponsible lending and created the very "crisis" we now face. Spending the money earned by taxpayers to assist those who face hardship as a result of this policy will make us all victims of the FED. Bailing out those who have made poor choices will only encourage more poor choices, and it will render meaningless the hard work put in by the rest of us. By mitigating the consequences of irresponsible behavior, further and more egregious irresponsible behavior will be encouraged.

DO NOT use my tax dollars to support this effort.


Ron Jennings
Truly, this does suck for the people who have entered into these high-risk mortgages, but I believe that in any transaction there is equal responsibility on both sides. This means that the borrower has a responsibility to understand what he/she/they are getting into and what the consequences of insolvency may be. Some believe that subprime mortgage holders have been duped into overextending themselves, and it is certainly possible that the lender used some fancy language or persuasive arguments to close the deal on a risky loan. But how is this any different than say, buying a used car? Though smarmy and slimy, used car salesman can be awfully persuasive...but you still don't buy the car without driving it, and if you do there's no one to blame but yourself. Until fairly recently (perhaps 10-15 years) a prospective borrower hired a lawyer to at least review the mortgage paperwork, much like a prospective used car buyer might hire a mechanic to check out a car they were thinking about buying. That practice has fallen out of favor somewhat as mortgage companies have started "cutting out the middleman" and providing their own closing agents. Again, it is the responsibility of the borrower to ensure that he/she/they are protected. To do otherwise opens oneself to undue risk.

On the other side of the transaction...while I certainly don't hold smarmy lenders harmless in this instance, the lending of funds to sub-prime borrowers holds a great deal of risk. This risk is mitigated to a great extent by the Federal Reserve's backing of every loan. The FED creates credit (money out of thin air) for banks to lend in an effort to stimulate consumption. This brings with it a great deal of hidden cost, in addition to inflation. In a free banking environment (absent the Federal Reserve) banks would be much more risk averse, as the cost of a defaulted loan would depend on the bank's ability to liquidate the asset tied to the loan. Banks wouldn't put themselves at risk of losing millions of dollars loaned to unsound borrowers. The elimination of the FED and a return to free banking would do much to stabilize the mortgage market and prevent "crises" such as these.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The "Threat" of Wal-Mart

All over America, communities are fighting the blight of the ubiquitous Wal-Mart Super Store. These heroic Wal-Mart fighters are champions of the little guy, protectors of the Mom and Pop business, and defenders of historical integrity...or so they believe. While many of them may mean well, there is nevertheless a great deal of contradiction in the beliefs held by those who oppose Wal-Mart and other "big box retailers". Viewed from a distance, their efforts may seem noble, but close inspection reveals a more insidious line of reasoning.

People love to hate Wal-Mart for a variety of reasons, but there are a few standards that come out nearly every time a Wal-Mart "threatens" a geographical area with its presence. Many decry Wal-Mart's low wages and lack of employee benefits. Others hate that Wal-Mart drives smaller, less competitive businesses out of the market. Some dislike the fact that a Wal-Mart often attracts numerous other businesses to its locations, thereby contributing to "sprawl". On an emotional level these things all certainly seem deplorable, but when considered rationally these arguments all break down. One simple question puts them all into perspective: How many people, in a given geographical area, are harmed when a Wal-Mart opens up, and how many people in that area benefit from it.

The people who may be harmed tend to be obvious. Local businesses who face competition from Wal-Mart may indeed be forced to close their doors as consumers exercise their preference for lower prices and greater convenience by shopping at Wal-Mart. This does, indeed, bring temporary hardship to the owners and employees of those businesses. Some may argue that all the members of a community are harmed when a local business closes, but I fail to see how that could be true. Some may bemoan the loss of a local establishment, and friends and families of the affected business owners may feel some grief, but again this is a temporary condition, and it shouldn't render anyone incapable of ever obtaining another job or finding some other productive means of making a living.

Others who may be "harmed" are those who prefer to (and can afford to) shop at local businesses rather than at big box stores. This is not so much harm as inconvenience, and the fact remains that if there are enough people who refuse to shop at big box stores then boutique shops should have no fear of losing revenue.

The number of people harmed when local businesses close due to competition from Wal-Mart may number in the tens or possibly even 100s. These are the "victims" that Wal-Mart haters claim to be protecting. What is rarely considered, however, are the thousands who benefit when a Wal-Mart comes to their town. Poor families benefit greatly from reduced grocery bills, clothing costs, and household item costs. In addition, Wal-Mart brings valuable jobs to any area in which it's located. But often this fact is turned completely on its head and used as an argument against the store, as outsiders claim that the wages paid and benefits provided are too low. It must be kept in mind, though, that the people who apply for and accept jobs at Wal-Mart don't quit higher-paying jobs with benefits in order to take a lower-paying job with no benefits. They work at Wal-Mart because it offers a better alternative than what they would have otherwise had.

In the end, those who oppose Wal-Mart are simply attempting to impose their own preferences on others, without consideration for the costs of doing so. They attach inflated importance to "historical preservation" or apply some arbitrary standard of what wages and benefits Wal-Mart should offer their employees, with no regard to poor families who must bear the costs for those preferences by being forced to pay higher prices. Competition is the nature of Capitalism. It is what causes quality to constantly improve and prices to continue to fall. It raises the standard of living for everyone, and in absolute terms the poor benefit the most. To stand against it under the pretense of protecting a few people from temporary hardship isn't noble or heroic, but harmful and elitist.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Libertarianism is a utopian ideology?

Here's a good quote from paper I just finished reading:
The free market is not a panacea. It does not eliminate old age, and it won't guarantee you a date for Saturday night. Private enterprise is fully capable of awful screwups. Both theory and practice indicate that its screwups are less pervasive and more easily corrected than those of government enterprises.
It's from an article on externalities, written by Gene Callahan.

Libertarianism, particularly in its support of the free market, is not at all utopian. We realize that there is no perfect answer to the problems facing society. We just understand and accept that private solutions always work better than government coercion.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Let's Talk About Freedom of Speech

In March, 2004, Elizabeth Book was arrested for going topless in protest of a Daytona Beach, Florida, law prohibiting women from exposing their breasts in public. On appeal, a Florida appeals court ruled that Book had a right to bare her breasts because she did so in protest. While many would consider this a victory for 1st amendment rights, I feel that it's disingenuous, and that it further muddles the issue of what, exactly, "freedom of speech" really means.

There are two things at issue here. First, the ruling reinforces the belief that only certain kinds of speech are protected by the 1st amendment. Because Book bared her breasts in protest her actions were permissible. Had she done it just for fun or to even out her tan, she would have remained guilty of violating the law. Again, this brings up two questions: First, is speech only protected under The Constitution if it's done in protest or meets some other arbitrary and necessarily subjective set of conditions, or is all speech protected? Second, is any activity protected so long as it meets that same set of conditions? As one commenter to the afore-linked-to article so aptly put it, "So then in Florida car jacking someone in protest of a law making car jacking illegal is exercising their rights?" By this logic anything is permissible so long as it's done for the right reasons.

The second issue is one of property rights, and there are a couple of facets to this as well. First, and most obvious, is that Elizabeth Book's breasts are her property, as are all of her body parts. As such, in a society that respects the right to private property she would have the right to do with them as she pleases, so long as she's not violating someone else's rights in the process. Unfortunately, American society largely does NOT respect the right to private property, so others are able to dictate what Elizabeth is and is not allowed to do with her breasts.

The other facet of property rights in this case deals with the question of on whose property Book bared her breasts and whether or not its owner would have permitted her to do so. Again, in a society that respects private property, the owner would be free to dictate what types of activities were and were not permissible on his or her property. The problem is that Book wasn't on private property when she removed her shirt...she was on "public" property, which is property owned by everyone or, more appropriately, by no one.

The institution of public property confuses a plethora of issues that should be relatively simple. In the case of freedom of speech the existence of public property necessarily creates controversy over who is allowed to say what, why, and where. On private property the owner decides, making the issue a non-issue. On public property the "public" (often in the form of a jury or ballot initiative), or a government official (in this case, a judge) decides what is and isn't acceptable behavior, so the decision must be left to the arbitrary whims of the majority, the persuasive powers of a litigator, or the subjective valuation of a bureaucrat. With all of these voices subject to persuasion by the whims and fancies of the day, the concept of "free speech" can never be truly defined. It is only through the institution of private property, from which stem all other individual rights, can freedom of speech be put into its proper context.

As previously stated, Elizabeth Book (and indeed all humans) is the owner of her body and all its parts. If she chooses to expose it to the elements that is her right, and she violated no one else's rights by doing so. Not a single person was forced to view her nudity, as by a simple turn of the head or the aversion of his or her gaze any and everyone could have avoided looking at Elizabeth's breasts. She is, however, bound by the responsibility to not violate the property rights of any other person in doing so. This means that she cannot expose her body in a manner inconsistent with the wishes of the owner of whatever property on which she happens to be at the time. If she doesn't want to abide by the property owner's wishes she is free to find some other piece of property whose owner is amenable to her nakedness.

Indeed, the city ordinance prohibiting women from exposing their breasts in Daytona Beach could be considered a violation of the property rights of business owners in the area. It is entirely possible that the businesses who choose to operate in the area do so in anticipation of attracting a particular type of clientele, and prohibiting certain activities may actually hinder their ability to do so, thus costing those businesses to lose potential profits. For those of you who would argue that decency is more important than profit, I challenge you to define "decency" in any objective manner.

By the same token, a ruling stating that any woman MUST be allowed to expose her breasts on public property violates the property rights of those businesses who wish to attract the type of customers who may find nudity offensive. Herein lies one of the problems with the concept of public ownership of streets and roadways. Behavior may be protected in public streets that is harmful to the owners of adjacent private properties, but it must be allowed because the law says so.

The 1st amendment was a valiant attempt to protect Americans from a government that would at times desire to suppress dissent by curbing free expression. As glad as I am that it exists, I take umbrage to its being trotted out to defend any activity that violates the rights of private property owners. The classic example of yelling "Fire!" in a movie theater is a perfect illustration. The yeller has clearly violated the property rights of the theater owner (by costing profits and possibly physical damage to the theater) as well as the rights of all the patrons who paid to see the movie, but many a lawyer would argue that his right to yell "Fire!" is protected by the 1st amendment. Elizabeth Book's right to bare her breasts shouldn't have been protected under the 1st amendment, but rather by a basic right to private property, not only Elizabeth's right to ownership of her body, but also the rights of private "real estate" owners to use their property as they see fit.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Morality and the Market Economy

For all of you out there who still think that I (along with all other Libertarians) am a soulless, ethically challenged corporate shill because I support a truly free market, I present the hereto linked article: Plunder or Enterprise: The World's Choice, by Thomas E Woods

It clearly illustrates the exact reasons for which I support the market economy...not because I think businesses are all great and wonderful, but because the free market is a framework that encourages morality and ethical behavior while punishing the opposite. I encourage you to read the whole thing, but there are a few passages that I think are particularly poignant:

One of the market's virtues, and the reason it enables so much peaceful interaction and cooperation among such a great variety of peoples, is that it demands of its participants only that they observe a relatively few basic principles, among them honesty, the sanctity of contracts, and respect for private property.

By observing (and enforcing) these few simple rules, a very strong ethical and moral system is that fosters peaceful exchange and concern for the well-being of others:
The market all but compels people to be other-regarding, but not by means of intimidation, threats, and propaganda, as in socialist and statist systems. It employs the perfectly normal, morally acceptable desire to improve one's material conditions and station in life, both of which can grow under capitalism only by directing one's efforts to the production of a good or service that improves the well-being of his fellow man.
The author also addresses various objections to the market by its critics. For instance,
It takes little imagination to surmise how critics of the market would respond to such a claim [that the market itself encourages moral behavior.] Doesn't the market encourage greed, rivalry, and discord? Does it not urge people to think only of themselves, accumulating wealth with no thought to any other concern?
And responds...
That human beings seek their own well-being and that of those close to them is not an especially provocative discovery. What is important is that this universal aspect of human nature persists no matter what economic system is in place; it merely expresses itself in different forms. For all their saccharine rhetoric, for example, communist apparatchiks were not known for their disinterested commitment to the common good. They, too, sought to improve their own well-being — except they lived in a system in which all such improvements came at the expense of their fellow human beings, rather than, as in a market economy, as a reward for serving them.
The author goes on to challenge several criticisms of the market economy, each time responding with what I feel is an excellent illustration of some of the best reasons to support the free market.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Please Help Me Understand

I need some help. I'm having a difficult time understanding something, and I'd like your input on the subject...

In general, there is a great deal more distrust of the market than of government. Many people put a lot more faith in government to solve problems and provide for us than in the free market.

Why is this? If you are one who has little or no faith in the market and instead trust the government to protect and provide for us, please tell me why.

I'm not baiting anyone for the purpose of blasting them, I just really want to get a handle on that side of this argument. That said, here are some lead-in questions and observations:

  1. Corporations are made up of people. Government is also made up of people. Both are subject to the same human shortcomings, desires, vices, etc. What makes one more or less trustworthy than the other?

  2. If your answer to the first question was something like, "Corporations are motivated by profits, and profits are evil." Then my question is, "What, then, motivates government?" Are the individuals in government somehow motivated by some higher or more legitimate cause? Are they somehow less corruptible than the individuals who make up a corporation?

    My bet is that this is not likely. Politicians have to be motivated by something, and I'd stake my left nut on the bet that they're motivated by power. Now, it could be that they only desire power so they can "do good things", but it's power nonetheless, and being human means that they are corruptible...just as much so as the individuals who run corporations. In fact, they may be more susceptible than corporate shills simply because they stand to suffer little or no loss for their mistakes or outright corruption. At best, they receive a slap on the wrist for their wrongdoings. In a free market setting, however, there are numerous mechanisms to ensure that the costs of corporate corruption are born by those who are corrupt...until government interferes to shift those costs to taxpayers, of course.

  3. Finally, if we don't trust the individuals in government any more than the individuals in corporations why do we keep putting government in charge of more and more of our money, freedom, and personal affairs?

Let the enlightenment begin!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

TV - "Educator" of the Masses

I get irritated with television a lot. Of course, I'm not the only one. With all the different programming on television anymore, probably every viewer gets irritated with it at some point. My beef, though, isn't with the boring programming, inane "reality" shows, or sex and violence (in fact, I'm all for those latter two). What I specifically object to is the "message" that most television programming seems to tend toward, particularly with regard to economics, history, or government.

Now, as a free market advocate, I realize that it is not my place to determine what others watch or don't watch. I'm not advocating that any particular programming be taken off the air or censored for any reason (even if it just plain sucks). So, this post is basically just me bitching about something that irks me. (Enough of a disclaimer for you, Kathy? ;)

My wife and I watch Law and Order: SVU a lot. We like the drama of the show, the cases are usually interesting, and Mariska Hargitay is totally hot, so there are lots of good reasons to like it. Too often, though, the point the writers seem to be trying to make about politics, society, or whatever, bugs the crap outta me.

One recent episode in particular set me off on a tirade...

A convicted pedophile was being charged with the rape and murder of a young girl, to which he confessed. He claimed, though, that he had been successful in resisting his urges until he started receiving emails from a porn site featuring photos of 18-year-old women doctored to appear many years younger. The web site's owner was then indicted as a responsible party in the crime by virtue of his marketing to known pedophiles via email. The pedophile claimed to have attempted to unsubscribe from the site's mailing list to no avail, and the repeated emails wore him down to the point where he could no longer resist the urge to take advantage of young girls. The site's owner was found guilty as an accessory to the rape and murder of the pedophile's victim.

Now, I agree that the practice of marketing child pornography (or virtual pornography in this case, since the photos were of legal-age women) to known pedophiles may be deplorable, but I don't believe it constitutes a crime. At worst, the site's owner was guilty of fraud because the pedophile's email address was not removed from their mailing list when requested. Even so, there were plenty of other measures the pedophile himself could have taken to make the emails stop. There is a lot of spam-blocking software out there, and most ISPs and email programs allow the user to create a list of blocked addresses. Failing that, he could have just as easily changed his email address altogether. Had he wanted to resist, the tools were available for him to do so.

The owner of the website may indeed be among the world's biggest assholes, but again, being an asshole isn't a crime. Noone's rights were violated by his marketing tactics, so the commission of the crime against the young girl was the responsibility of the pedophile, regardless of any outside influence.

Yes, I know we're talking about fiction here. It's just television. It's not real. Still, people believe a lot of what they see on TV, and I doubt that many people took a minute to think about how the outcome of the case on Law and Order fit into their own system of beliefs. More than likely their response was purely emotional...agreeing that the filthy evil porn-monger should go to jail for feeding on the weakness of his fellow man...feeling that the real victim was the pedophile, who just couldn't help himself.

Again, I'm in no way advocating censorship. The First Amendment protects the porn-monger equally to the Law and Order writers and all our various news media outlets. It falls to each of us to question how what we see on TV fits into our own system of beliefs, rather than allowing ourselves to be swayed by an emotional response presented as entertainment.

Copy Wars

So somebody has finally cracked the code needed to remove copy protection from all high-definition (HD) DVDs, and in a move that's been described by some as "liberating" they've posted it all over the 'net. Download junkies can now freely copy and redistribute any HD-DVD they like, and no one would be the wiser. Hardly surprising is that the HD-DVD Consortium has declared this a criminal act, and more than one website has removed the code from message boards and blog posts., however, has chosen to allow the code to remain on its website in a dubious effort to fight a "way for big business to gouge individuals." ABCNews calls the decision "irresponsible" and even "craven", saying that Digg's founder should have stood up to his customers and protect the Consortium's trade secrets. I believe, though, that they've missed the point entirely.

The ABCNews article talks about patents, the First Amendment, and the value of information, but I think it's all really a lot simpler than that. When you, as a consumer, purchase a CD, DVD, book, magazine, newspaper, or any other type of media, you enter into a voluntary contract with the media's publisher which states that by purchasing the item you agree not to copy its contents for redistribution. If you then copy and redistribute the contents in a manner that violates the contract you've committed a crime...a breach of contract. That's it...period.

On another note, I have no opinion on what Kevin Rose should have done about the content that was posted on his website, but trotting out the First Amendment as an attempt to protect oneself from retribution for wrongdoing is crap. The First Amendment doesn't allow you to say whatever you want to say with impunity. Words can constitute a crime just as easily as actions can, and the person(s) who broke the copy protection code committed a breach of contract by doing so. The fact that they then turned around and shouted it to the world doesn't absolve them from the crime or bestow upon them some magical protection from recourse by those from whom they have stolen.