Available Now! (click cover)

America's Counter-Revolution
The Constitution Revisited

From the back cover:

This book challenges the assumption that the Constitution was a landmark in the struggle for liberty. Instead, Sheldon Richman argues, it was the product of a counter-revolution, a setback for the radicalism represented by America’s break with the British empire. Drawing on careful, credible historical scholarship and contemporary political analysis, Richman suggests that this counter-revolution was the work of conservatives who sought a nation of “power, consequence, and grandeur.” America’s Counter-Revolution makes a persuasive case that the Constitution was a victory not for liberty but for the agendas and interests of a militaristic, aristocratic, privilege-seeking ruling class.

Thursday, February 02, 2012


My article "Patent Nonsense" was published in The American Conservative and posted online.


MarkZ said...

I'm a biomed researcher, and I attended a talk the other day about how IP relates to researchers. Basically, it was the patent office at the university I work for trying to convince investigators to patent as much as they can, because it makes money for the university.

Anyway, I found two things particularly interesting. 1) The phrase "patent your discoveries" was used several times, which made me snicker each time. 2) Scientists were eating this stuff up, even though they didn't stand to personally profit from it. The university "owns" all IP produced by its employees.

It's odd how IP advocates preach fairness -- that the inventor or discoverer should profit from their invention or discovery -- but that that's generally not what happens. More often than not, the company/institution profits. If you're familiar with research in the academic setting, you know how LITTLE a university itself actually contributes to discoveries. They agree to give you a salary (sometimes), research space, and infrastructure (e.g. animal facilities, access to students) which you may or may not use, but have virtually no influence on the intellectual component of your work. They hold your IP because they're your pimps. IP law just reinforces the hierarchical and bureaucratic structure of scientific research.

Russell Hanneken said...

Excellent article, but are you aware of George Selgin and John L. Turner's critique of Boldrin and Levine? (See also here.)

Sheldon Richman said...

For the record, I note that the Selgin/Turner paper addresses only Boldrin & Levine's account of the effects of James Watt's steam engine patents.

Russell Hanneken said...

True, though George Selgin's stated position is that "although John Turner and I didn’t pretend to refute their general claims concerning the stifling effects of patents, we do claim that Boldrin and Levine only succeed in making the story of Watt's engine appear to support their thesis by offering a factually inaccurate version of the story. That Boldrin and Levine also regard Watt's story as one that fits their theory especially well in turn supplies reason for doubting the theory’s general validity."

Sheldon Richman said...

I await the defense's case.

Anonymous said...

Check out Greenspan's most recent book. He defends patents but his argument is reluctant and half hearted. It boils down to saying, we don't have experience with a patent free system, so let's not risk change.

D. Saul Weiner said...

I think that high drug development costs are not necessarily inherent, but to a large extent driven by having to comply with the FDA regulatory gauntlet.

Another critical item to note in this regard is how the patent regime has very much skewed the practice of medicine toward pharmaceutical usage and away from natural and non-patentable therapeutics. In a system rife with medical licensing (another form of monopoly), it becomes possible for those who profit from patents to ensure that this mode of medical practice becomes the dominant one, even though natural therapeutics are often safer and more effective. This is a "cost" of the IP system which is so large as to likely be incalculable. Bastiat, call your office.