|Beware lest a stone idol fall on you!|
The argument in support of intellectual property (IP) boils down to: the need for innovators to recoup costs.
This is Marxism, plain and simple.
COST VS. UTILITY THEORY
Karl Marx, like Adam Smith and David Ricardo, believed that value was determined by costs, e.g. labor. Marx, focusing on labor, preached that if one worked a certain amount of ‘labor hours’ or some other labor unit, a product’s price would reflect such labor.
The Austrian school of economics (and several Frenchmen before it) set things straight, recognizing that it was a product’s value to an end-user that determined the cost of inputs. Gold is not valuable because it is hard to mine; people undergo the difficulty of mining because gold has characteristics deemed valuable by buyers.
There’s a federal tax, and a state tax,
and a city tax, and a street tax,
and a sewer tax... I figure
if he doesn’t sing too often,
he can break even.
― Groucho Marx, A night at the opera
IP’S ASSUMPTION OF COSTS
It’s clear what this has to do with intellectual property. How could the ‘recoup-costs’ argument continue to be exploited (pun intended), once we realize that costs are higher on account of intellectual property?
By restricting production of goods to patent holders, these goods are bid up higher. It is on account of such high prices that input goods are bid up higher as well. If the government did not restrict such production, R&D equipment and labor would be less cumbersome.
(SORT OF) FINAL WORD
IP might be a legitimate concept after all. But its proponents would have to find something better than the ‘according-to-need’ argument of costs.
Then of course there is the other Marxian assumption that one’s thinking of an idea or the application of such an idea equates to ownership. If working with capital equipment doesn’t equate to ownership of such equipment, how does thinking make for a claim on another’s physical property? Simple: it shouldn’t. As it is, ‘thinking’ is a service like any other labor, for which employers pay.