Saturday, March 31, 2012

"Owning" History

Trey Smith

The great American selloff continues with cities and states selling parks, government buildings, and other sites (here and here and here and here and here) to raise money — as we continue spend billions in Iraq and Afghanistan where our allies have called us “demons” and sought to create governments that deny basic rights to citizens. Even national parks are being pushed on the chopping block. The latest such example is Baltimore which is preparing to selloff over a dozen historic sites.
~ from Baltimore Moves To Sell Off Historic Sites by Jonathan Turley ~
Nothing seems to be sacrosanct anymore! Almost everything in the world has become a commodity. Symbols of our shared history can now become someone's private possession. Parks, paid for and maintained by the public for 100 years or more, can now become private paradises. Seeds that have existed in the public commons for centuries can now be patented. Genes and portions of DNA from a wide variety of creatures and plants can be outright owned as well.

For those of you who defend capitalism as a moral economic model, please explain to me how the commodification of life benefits the public. And you better offer your opinions quickly BEFORE someone swoops in to patent, copyright or buy them too!


  1. While I don't deny that when everything has a commercial value, eventually nothing has an intrinisic value. However, intellectual property rights protected under patent and copyright law have encouraged innovation and protected against piracy. More or China, someone once told me when I observed a "China Cola" logo that looked exactly like the Coca Cola label and noted that that would be considered a copyright violation. (Although when I tasted it, there was certainly no patent violation; it was horrible stuff.) "In China," my friend said, "nobody gives a damn about copyright." I know the example won't resonate with you, but what if it were your music or a book you had written that was being sold without royalty or even permission? To the extent that your livelihood or the success of your business depends on that protection is the extent that you care about patent and copyright protection.

    1. Your comment seems out-of-step with the post. My ONLY reference to copyright was a tongue-in-cheek aside that some big corporation might swoop in to copyright your opinion (not theirs) as soon as you said or typed it.

    2. It was just an aside. But patents and copyrights are crucial in "ownership" issues.


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