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Category Archives: Economy

Commentary – End intellectual property

End intellectual property – Copyrights, patents and trademarks are all important, but the term ‘intellectual property’ is nonsensical and pernicious

“There are four areas of US federal law linked under the rubric of ‘intellectual property’ that we ought to keep separate in our minds. In an essay published in The Politics of Law (2010), Keith Aoki defines each as follows. Copyright protects ‘original works such as books, music, sculpture, movies and aspects of computer programs’ that are ‘embodied or fixed in a tangible medium’. This protection does not require a work to be entirely novel and extends only to its ‘original aspects’, to ‘a particular expression … not the underlying ideas’, and not to ‘independently created or similar works’. Under the umbrella of copyright law are original, concrete expressions, not ideas – the same story and script idea can generate many distinct movies, for instance. Then there are patents, which cover ‘new and useful inventions, manufactures, compositions of matter and processes reduced to practice by inventors’ with ‘rigorous requirements of subject matter, novelty, utility and non-obviousness’. Patents protect realised inventions and ideas in gestation – eg, here is a new method for collecting rainwater, and this is a machine that does just that. Trademarks (and the related ‘trade dresses’) meanwhile protect consumers from ‘mistake, confusion and deception’ about the sources of commercial goods: the ‘G’ in Gucci, Apple’s apple, a distinctive packaging. Finally, there are trade secrets, or secret information that confers economic benefits on its holder and is subject to the holder’s reasonable efforts to maintain its secrecy…”

Why Aren’t U.S. Workers Working?

FRBSF Economic Letter 2018-24 | November 13, 2018. Why Aren’t U.S. Workers Working? Mary C. Daly, Joseph H. Pedtke, Nicolas Petrosky-Nadeau, and Annemarie Schweinert. “The decline in labor force participation of U.S. men and women ages 25 to 54 stands in stark contrast with other industrialized nations, where participation rates for prime-age workers have increased… Continue Reading

Pay group reports Federal employee salaries lag by average of 31 percent

Washington Post: “Federal employee salaries on average lag behind those of the private sector by almost 31 percent, an advisory council said Tuesday, while splitting between union and non-union members on whether to recommend potential changes in the way it arrives at that figure. The average salary difference of 30.91 percent reported by the Federal… Continue Reading

How Enforcing Competition Law Could Have Stopped Big Tech

New York Magazine – The Intelligencer: “Yesterday, Amazon announced that it was opening two new campuses in Crystal City, Virginia, and Queens, New York. The preceding audition process, with dozens of local and state governments offering ridiculous financial incentives to Jeff Bezos’s megalith, made Amazon’s power over the public sector plainly clear. Elsewhere, the parliaments… Continue Reading

The Pentagon’s Getting More Secretive and It’s Hurting National Security

Defense One: “At a time of rampant executive branch corruption and large increases in defense spending, Americans are rightly concerned about the need for governmental transparency. People deserve to know how their money is being used, and what life-or-death decisions the Pentagon bureaucracy is making in their names. As President Trump asks for more defense… Continue Reading

EY explores belonging in the workplace, with new Belonging Barometer study

Ernst & Young: “Research uncovers that workers prefer check-ins and personal connections over facetime with senior leadership While today’s social climate has been associated with controversy and disagreements, it also seems to be banding people together in a more positive way – surprisingly at work. Regardless of background, gender, sexual orientation or race, individuals are… Continue Reading

An Economist’s Guide to Climate Change Science

An Economist’s Guide to Climate Change Science. Solomon Hsiang, Robert E. Kopp. NBER Working Paper No. 25189 Issued in October 2018. [h/t Mary Whisner] “Climate change management is a global challenge that requires social science as much as it requires natural science. We provide a brief introduction to the physical science of climate change, written… Continue Reading

World Bank Opens 2017 Global Financial Inclusion Microdata

Via Gallup: “With the release of the World Bank’s 2017 Global Findex microdata last week, policymakers and researchers — for free — can now dig deeper into how billions of the world’s adults use bank accounts, mobile money, digital payments, savings and credit. In April, the World Bank published its country-level data and released its… Continue Reading

Your Airline Travel Survival Guide

Consumer Reports: How to snag deep discounts, get the best seat for your money, avoid nasty surprises, increase your comfort, and more – “In September, American Airlines began service from Miami to Los Angeles—a flight of just under 6 hours—on its Boeing 737 Max aircraft. The plane is a feat of aviation engineering that Boeing… Continue Reading

How the Economic Lives of the Middle Class Have Changed Since 2016, by the Numbers

The New York Times: “The United States economy is the strongest it has been in ages. Growth has been robust, and the unemployment rate is at generational lows, as new data Friday affirmed. Yet the Republican Party, which controls the White House and Congress, trails Democrats substantially in polling on which party is preferred. It… Continue Reading

Wyden Releases Discussion Draft of Legislation to Provide Real Protections for Americans’ Privacy

Bill Requires Radical Transparency About How Corporations Share, Sell and Use Your Data; Creates Tough Penalties and Jail Time for Executives – “Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., released a discussion draft of sweeping new legislation that would empower consumers to control their personal information, create radical transparency into how corporations use and share their data, and… Continue Reading

Retirement Savings Toolkit

U.S. Dept. of Labor – Employee Benefits Security Administration “Taking the Mystery out of Retirement Planning” is a good workbook. This publication with interactive worksheets is designed to help individuals ten years or less away from retirement see if their retirement savings are on track. Here are some helpful tools employees can use to calculate… Continue Reading