From the category archives:

Politics

Why are big businesses trying to force governments to sign
secret trade agreements that ban innovation and freedom of
speech?
A thirty year old change in the way salaries are calculated
has changed the way companies deal with people.

Baby boomers made a lot of money.
They worked hard and made a lot of money.
The reason they made a lot of money was that their salary was
linked to there production. They got a guarantied 90% of the
value of their own production.
Profits were 5% of their production and the other 5% was used
for the cost of the tools they used.
So not only did they make a lot of money for them selves. They
also made a lot of money for there companies.

But of course there were companies who wanted more. They tried
to earn more money by making use of the fact that wages in
Asia were lower then in Europe and the US.
But they found that the costs of transport were so high that
is wasn’t profitable.
That is, until 1973.
Everything changed after 1973.

In 1973 the OPEC closed the oil faucets to demand a higher oil
price.
And they won.
After the boycott there was money to be made so they turned
the oil faucets all the way open.
But of course. When supply increases prices fall. So by 1975
or ’76 there was a big pool of relatively cheap fuel that made
production in Asia profitable.

In 1979 companies made their big mistake.
They thought that if they’d lower wages in the US and Europe
they would get a bigger piece of the pie.
But it backfired.
It turns out that when you have a boring job and a fix hourly
income you have no incentive to work harder. (And I’d rather
be unemployed then have my boss profit from my hard work.)

In the early 80s production both in the US and in Europe
dropped and a lot of people lost there jobs. By 1983 the
unemployment rate in the US reach it’s highest point since
WWII. Even higher then the unemployment rate of 2010 (10.8%
in 1983 vs 9.9% in 2010
)

Over the 80s profits and dividend on shares kept falling and
by the early 90s shareholders went looking for a new way to
make money.
They found that in the trade in stock.
Which meant that the price of stock had to be increased and
there is a very easy trick to do that.
You make large production deals and hire a lot of temp workers
to fulfil orders. That way your turnover increases but your
profits drop. Then you use the companies working capital to
invest on the stock market and your profits go up.
That way it seems as though your company is doing well and
stock prices rise.

But there are three down sides to this practice:
Temp workers don’t really have a job. They can be sacked at
any moment.
Investors no longer are stakeholders in the companies whose
shares they owned. Even when companies go bust, investors
make money.
And of course you can use tricks to increase the price of
anything. The price of credit for instance.

By the mid 90s governments in the US and Europe stepped up and
created new jobs. In the US by increasing the size of the
police force and the army. In Europe by increasing the number
of civil servants.
So now the US is stuck in a war on drugs that is going
nowhere. But can’t be stopped without increasing unemployment.
And in the Netherlands every abused child has ten case workers
who spend so much time in meetings that they don’t have time
to help the child.

Meanwhile blacks markets flourish.
Every product varying from marijuana to Louis Vuitton purses
can be bought at a black market. Usually for prices far lower
then the official price. Some products are even given away for
free. Music for instance.
World wide governments are involved in the war on intellectual
property and copyright and it seems as though many politicians
don’t understand how markets and innovation work.
They do.
But they also understand that governments that have become the
biggest employers, need a lot of money to pay wages. And
people who download free music don’t pay sales taxes.

ACTA and TPP

There is a very good reason why US owned companies with
factories in Asia want governments to sign secret trade
agreements like ACTA and TPP that ban music downloads and the
copying of products.

When the first factories where build in Asia in the 70s
standards of living were low and people could make more money
on fix hourly income then in Asian owned factories.
But as the number of factories increased they created their
own black markets.
Articles that are sold on the Asian black market aren’t copied
from branded articles. They are stolen articles that where
produced in the same factories as the branded articles.

In black markets, as in any market, wages are based on article
price times sales volume.
They have to reserve money to reinvest (as in buying new
articles) and they pay bonuses for risk (both the risk of
stealing articles and the risk of putting up the money to
create the shop).

Selling a lot of articles on black markets causes the standard
of living to rise. As the standard of living goes up, prices
will rise. Which means that wages will rise.
There will come a point where black markets will pay higher
wages then fixed hourly income.

I’m guessing that point was passed a few years ago.
So as the black markets grows bigger and the number of people
that can make a lot of money from black markets increase. The
number of people willing to work for fix hourly income will
fall.
Which means that there is a real danger that those US owned
companies will go bust.

Which is the reason why they are pressuring governments to
sign secret trade agreements that ban black markets.
These companies are fighting for their survival.
They clearly don’t care what else is lost.
As long as they survive.

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Senator Lamar Smith and child pornography

by Henk ter Heide on Saturday February 11, 2012

in Politics

Senator Lamar Smith, who gave us SOPA, is at it again.
This time with the Protecting Children from Internet Pornographers Act that is supposedly
meant to make it impossible to spread child porn on the web.

Lamar Smith is not the only politician to claim that there is a lot of child porn on the
internet. It regularly happens that politicians claim that the internet is littered with
websites on things like how to become a suicide terrorist, how to build your own bomb and
child porn. But I never believed that. So a while ago I decided to research it.

Suicide terrorist

It surprised me to find that there is actually a manual on becoming a suicide terrorist
written by Al Qaeda. It surprised me even more to find this manual on the website of the
FBI.
But when I started reading it, it quickly became clear why the FBI would want to publish
this.
It turns out to be the most boring document you’ll ever find. With page up on page filled
with boring rules and regulations a good Muslim should follow before qualifying to become a
suicide bomber.

Then there is the English language Al Qaeda magazine.
Although I can’t speak for other countries. The information they have on terrorism in the
Netherlands is far less then what I can find on any website of a local news paper.

Searching the Google list I found hundreds of news articles about terrorism.
Some videos of children playing to be a terrorist.
I found one video of a stupid Chinese kid who called himself a suicide bomber, put
firecrackers on his tummy and lit them.
But I didn’t find any information on how to become a suicide terrorist.

Building bombs

The same is true for building bombs.

Following the Google list I first found a lot of sites claiming they could tell you how to build
your own atomic weapon. But where would you get your uranium from?

Searching further I found some information on the “Anarchist cooking book”.
That was a pamphlet floated around several American universities in the seventies, which
apparently contained recipes on building bombs.
But the pamphlet lost it’s popularity long before the internet gained popularity. And so
is was lost.

Then I came across a website that issued a warning:
Since there are no countries where it’s legal for civilians to make bombs, you’ll never find
a website written by anyone who has experience building bombs.
You only could find a site written by a wannabe.
And since wannabees don’t know what they’re talking about, and since most chemicals used in
explosives are not only explosive but also toxic. It’s very likely that anyone trying to
build a bomb would end up dead long before finishing the bomb.

Searching further it actually became funny. As I reach the smoke and seed bombs.
I assume that you’ll know what a smoke bomb is. But do you know what a seed bomb is?
I didn’t.
A seed bomb is a small ball of clay filled with a few seeds, a little dirt and a little bit
of water. You throw it over your neighbors fence to plant some flowers in the middle of his
veggie patch. (Beware in the US this might be a felony.)

After that I found a lot of news paper articles, movies about bombs and history on bombs.
I only found one link to a social website titled “how to build a bomb easy” but that page
was deleted by the domain owner.

child porn

If you do a search for child porn you get the same kind of results.
A definition of child porn on Wikipedia.
A lot of sites with the laws on child porn in different countries.
Even more site from anti-child porn organisations.
A few scandals.
But no child porn.

(Disclaimer. Since it is illegal to download child porn, even by accident.
I couldn’t research this subject as thorough as the other two.)

The big list

At first glance it seems a bit strange that you can’t find any information on these three
subjects. Even if the web isn’t littered there should be some information.
But after more thinking it becomes clear that there is a very good reason why I can’t find
anything.

In a sense Google is a big list with the most interesting subjects of the web sorted by
demand. Not by supply.
Of the millions of people searching for suicide terrorist, only a very tiny fraction is
interested in becoming one. The large majority is interested in information on the damage
that is done by terrorism.
So websites with information on how to actually become a terrorist are sorted to the bottom
of the list.

The thing is that Google doesn’t show you the whole list.
Google finds about 53,600,000 links but only shows the first 800.
The most popular sites are shown and the rest disappears in oblivion.

So even if Al Qaeda was able to create thousands of websites on terrorism they would never
show up in the search results. And the same holds true for the other subjects.

Which also explains why the content industry is always complaining that their content is
placed below the illegal downloads instead of at the top of the list.
Of the millions of people searching for Lady Gaga only a fraction is looking for tracks to
buy and the majority are looking for tracks to download.

Ironically this means that if the content industry would ever succeed in banning illegal
content they would end up even lower on the list, because more people would search for stuff
to download.
So just banning illegal content wouldn’t be enough.

Raising the cost of the internet

Which brings me to the question why an US senator would want to sponsor a law that makes it
impossible to find information that is impossible to find.
Is it that he just doesn’t know that much about the internet or does he have alternative
motives.

As it turns out it mostly the latter.
Senator Lamar Smith is payed millions of dollars by the content industry to create laws that
will make it impossible to download music and movies via the internet.
This law will do just that by raising the costs of the internet.

This law compels ISPs to monitor everything their customers do and to save everything they
upload and download and every website they ever visit. And keep that information for at
least a year.
To comply with that law ISPs would have invest tens of millions of dollars in computers and
hard drives to save all this information.
And of course they would charge this to their customers. Thereby raising the price of an
internet subscription with hundreds or even thousands of dollars a month.
Which would take it out of reach of most people.

Thereby in effect breaking the internet.

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