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Kinsella v. Wenzel

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SkepticalMetal Posted: Mon, Apr 1 2013 4:52 PM

Or rather, the "Bob Wenzel Loves Hearing Himself Talk Podcast." Wenzel starts off with a series of false pleasentries - and then he begins by trying to strawman Kinsella by citing old insults (which I don't know the full story on) but this notwithstanding, it had nothing to do with IP, and it was just a feeble attempt on Wenzel's part at getting something on Kinsella to help cover up his poor argument. And this is only the start of it - as Kinsella states his position, Wenzel, instead of clearly stating his stance on the issue, begins by just throwing out a barrage of quotes from Rothbard and Hoppe, and a meaningless reciting of passages from their books, most of which went entirely nowhere. To make things even better, he repeatedly said throughout the theoretical "debate" that "I'm going to destroy you, Stef-awn!" and "I've got ya by the balls, man!" It took divine intervention for Kinsella to actually finish a full sentence without a "But STEF-AWN!" and the replies to his points were usually "you don't know what the fuck you're talking about."

Who knows. Perhaps Wenzel teamed up with Kinsella to create a really high-end April Fools joke...I was sort of expecting them to shout it at the end, but no, it ended on a really depressing note which you'd have to hear to get what I mean by that.

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You didn't exactly expect that pompous bozo to say "Kinsella Defeats me on IP", did you?

 

EDIT

What's wrong with the url for the post where you actually got that "ugly" link?

http://www.economicpolicyjournal.com/2013/04/kinsella-crushed.html

or the link that says "direct link"?

http://traffic.libsyn.com/economicpolicyjournal/W.mp3

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Skip to 18:50. Before that it's Wenzel sniveling like a bitch.

Actually, it sounds like that keeps going. "Steff-awn" like 400 times in 22 minutes. Can't take much more. 30 minutes, he can't define IP. "We'll get there". OK, jackass, how about let's start there. Too busy dee-stwoying Steff-awn.

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That's what it comes off as to me as well. Another thing he shouts a lot is "I'M TRYING TO DESTROY YOU STEF-AWN!" How obnoxious. He's sounding like the Comic Book Guy of libertarianism.

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"I am going to hang up if you don't shut the hell up. Now I don't know if you are a genuinely retarded person or what..."

Holy mackeral. I'm surprised it's taken this long for Kinsella to start to lose his cool - kudos to him for keeping it for so long, or most of it.

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So once Kinsella actually gets to where baby Wenzel answers something, those answers are all "...Uh."

SK: Once you release something to the public, anyone can recreate it.

RW: But not everyone will know about it!

...

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Steff-awn: "Bob, you're gonna have to let me answer a question."

LOOOOOOOOOL

 

To paraphrase Marc Faber: We're all doomed, but that doesn't mean that we can't make money in the process.
Rabbi Lapin: "Let's make bricks!"
Stephan Kinsella: "Say you and I both want to make a German chocolate cake."

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This is the most ridiculous nonsense I've ever listened to. How is this moron prominent?

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What I don't understand is how they went on for sooooo long.

 

To paraphrase Marc Faber: We're all doomed, but that doesn't mean that we can't make money in the process.
Rabbi Lapin: "Let's make bricks!"
Stephan Kinsella: "Say you and I both want to make a German chocolate cake."

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@ Stephan Adkins

Wenzel has made decent comments on his blog, however in his interviews he tends to show a strong love of displaying an over-read demeanor - which, in the case of this "debate," made the man an obnoxious baboon. As of late however, his blog has shown a lot of dogmatic tendancies, most of which regarding Ron Paul and an inability to call out strange Ron Paulian acts - of course there are other flaws as well.

@ Daniel Muffinburg

I got the feeling that that aspect of the whole thing originated as a Wenzellian idea - Kinsella threatened to hang up multiple times, and each time it seemed like Wenzel, like a YT comments troll, would say something even more absurd to the point where it lured Kinsella back into the "debate."

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Wenzel: Do you understand multi-variable calculus?
Kinsella: I used to.

To paraphrase Marc Faber: We're all doomed, but that doesn't mean that we can't make money in the process.
Rabbi Lapin: "Let's make bricks!"
Stephan Kinsella: "Say you and I both want to make a German chocolate cake."

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Kinsella's new debate blog post

 

Compare that post with Wenzel's regarding the debate.

 

Stephan's Post Title: Debate with Robert Wenzel on Intellectual Property

Wenzel's Post Title: KINSELLA CRUSHED!!!

Best bit of Kinsella's blog post:

"Ultimately the “debate” was pointless because Wenzel does not know how to engage in subtle discussion, he engages in question-begging repeatedly, he engages in bizarre ad hominem and tangential arguments, he refuses to define terms and seems unable to engage in clear, analytical reasoning. Honestly, he seems to have no clear position at all on IP, so it’s kind of a mystery why he is so invested in it at all, so passionate about it, so hostile to my views. Other than his thinking he has some magical formula for getting Drudge Report links that he wants to be able to sell in his Drudge-Report dominated libertarian paradise. Apparently he is for some reason upset that anyone would dare, DARE, to ever challenge or disagree with Rothard (though there is no way Wenzel could agree with Rothbard’s own contract theory or views on defamation law, and maintain his pro-IP stance), or that the anti-IP position is becoming the default position among modern libertarians (The Origins of Libertarian IP AbolitionismThe Death Throes of Pro-IP Libertarianism)."

 

"Listen if you dare; I cannot promise it will be enjoyable; and I apologize in advance for at times being unable to take Wenzel’s unfounded bluster and bravado and sputtering attempt at arguments seriously, and sometimes myself resorting to sarcasm, mockery, condescension, and coarse language (all accurate and well-deserved)."

"In short: Wenzel embarrassed himself but as expected is saying he “crushed” me—all the while seemingly oblivious to the fact that he did not even attempt to argue for IP must less define it or establish that it is justified or compatible with libertarian property principles."

 

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Wenzel: If you're driving down the price.
Kinsella: What are you; a neoclassical?

 

 

Kinsella: Say you and I both want to make a German chocolate cake.

To paraphrase Marc Faber: We're all doomed, but that doesn't mean that we can't make money in the process.
Rabbi Lapin: "Let's make bricks!"
Stephan Kinsella: "Say you and I both want to make a German chocolate cake."

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Not knowing anything else about him, I have a hard time believing he's a libertarian at all. His thinking is muddled and he doesn't seem to know how to debate. He's highly emotional and more interested in seeking revenge for getting his feelings hurt than arriving at the truth. He talks like Walter Block but thinks like Nancy Pelosi.

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What really baffled me was why Wenzel felt that he had to shout and whine into the microphone the entire time when Kinsella was doing absolutely nothing to provoke him - it could have easily been an easy-mannered, friendly discussion, but ol' Bob was determined to be the most unethical and obnoxious debater this side of 4Chan.

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SoNowThen replied on Tue, Apr 2 2013 12:18 AM

Wenzel is nearly always like this, from what I have heard. Even when I agree completely with his positions I find him totally insufferable. I tried to listen to his Mises Media talk about the Soviet Union and had to turn it off after a few minutes with the same level of frustration that I have when I am forced (whether in airports or someone else's house) to watch CNN/MSNBC. The guy's delivery and attitude are the absolute pits. His blog is pretty solid and useful but damn I wish he would never speak in public. Shrill would be a complimentary way of describing it...

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Guys, Kinsella just linked to this very thread from his Facebook:

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hello-- my own take on the debate is here. Glad some enjoyed it. 

Stephan Kinsella nskinsella@gmail.com www.StephanKinsella.com

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Oh this was so much fun.

Maybe it was my anticipation of it, but I don't know how you guys could stop listening.  It was as entertaining as a good movie.  I even had my popcorn.  (Well, it was tortillas, but still.)

I'm going to address specific points from the debate, so if you want to listen first, go ahead and do that before reading further :)

 

Pre and early debate

My pre-debate guess was correct...despite all his "getting into Kinsella's head" posts on his blog, it was Wenzel who was getting people in his own head.  He all but admits it when early on he proclaims several times how Kinsella "pissed him off".  And he was clearly emotionally affected for the vast majority of the podcast.

What's also telling is how Kinsella laid it out quite clearly (in his intro, no less) that the burden on Wenzel (and any pro-IP advocate) is to actually provide a positive case for IP...that simply picking at Kinsella's argument or anyone else's is not sufficient.  But notice that's exactly what Wenzel starts off doing.  And it's not even a good pick...he picks on Kinsella's opening statements in Against Intellectual Property, where he lists Rothbard as an example of people showing anti-IP sentiments? 

I guess it should have been expected, given Wenzel's obsession with Rothbard (that goes even beyond his fixation with Jeff Tucker).  Wenzel is probably more "If Rothbard said it, it's Gospel" than even Lew Rockwell.  So I suppose it's fitting that his first instinct is to make sure to try and make the point that Rothbard was in favor of IP...because of course that's the side he himself has taken, so of course the most important thing is that that's the side Rothbard was on...and if that means he can show Kinsella was wrong in a statement about Rothbard, so much the better.

 

Wenzel's lack of a positive argument

The trouble Kinsella has right from the start in getting Wenzel to even give a definition of "intellectual property" illustrates quite plainly what has been said in the comments of Wenzel's blog for some time now: Wenzel has basically avoided stating any real concrete explanations of anything he's had to say on IP...so no one has really had any way of actually dismantling his pro-IP position...because he essentially won't give one.

Every time he's ever been challenged on it he just claimed it would be dealt with in his "upcoming book".  For FOUR F-ING YEARS he's been saying that.  No joke.  Here's the earliest mention (earliest I happened to know of, anyway) of this mysterious book ...in 2009.  (To put that in perspective, George W. Bush was still President, just 5 days prior.)  There may be others even earlier, but I'm not sure.

I think this comment from a few months ago was quite apt:

I am creating a new fallacy called "Argumentum ad Pseudo Librum", it's the "Argument by referring to an unpublished book" fallacy. Bob always drags it out when you start questioning his pro-"libertarian IP" views. He says "Just wait for my book" instead of responding to your argument. Then he never publishes the book.

Where is it? HBR? Wiley? Oxford? MIT Press? Who optioned the IP on this one?

I think this debate all but proves we'll never see an IP book from Wenzel.  At least, not one that provides any sort of positive case for it, anyway.  I fully accept he may put out all sorts of crap attacking Kinsella's work and that of any others...but I can pretty much guarantee we'll never see anything of his explicating any of his own actual positions...something that everyone else can pick apart the way he insists on doing with Kinsella.

In fact someone even brought it up back in 2010 on his own blog...

"It will be nice when you finally publish your IP book so we can all start taking swings at your IP views because right now it's unclear what they are and why and everytime people try to critique them you insist we wait to read your book!"

...Again that was almost 3 years ago.

Wenzel has no positive position because he can't.  Kinsella is simply right, there is no way to justify IP within a true libertarian framework.  It's simply unlibertarian.  This is why Wenzel insists on trying to find fallacies in Kinsella's writing, and simply quoting other people, instead of even defining what "intellectual property" is.  He won't even define his terms....probably because he's got at least a few brain cells left in his senility to know that the minute he actually states a concrete position on IP, he'll be taken to the woodshed, not just by Kinsella, but by the entire libertarian population that understands the unlibertarian reality of IP...which is quickly becoming not only the vast majority of the libertarian population, but large numbers of the population even outside libertarian spheres...  (Falkvinge.net; Torrentfreak.com; Legal Scholars: Thumbs Down on Patent and Copyright; The Origins of Libertarian IP Abolitionism; The Death Throes of Pro-IP Libertarianism)

 

Wenzel's lack of understanding

You'll notice this tactic of nitpicking is basically his whole "argument" for at least the first third of the podcast.  When he moves on to his Drudge Report formula, he simply fixates on the the fact that he's (allegedly) the only person who knows the formula (even though there's no possible way he could be sure that he's the only one who has come to know it.  He fully concedes the concept of "independent discovery," yet he apparently knows for sure he's the only person to figure out this formula).  He claims that the fact that no one else knows it, means it's scarce.  When Kinsella says it's not scarce, Wenzel insists Kinsella recite the formula back to him.  As if a single person not knowing something means it's scarce. 

Even on Wenzel's own terms...hypothetically saying ideas can be owned, I fail to see how one single man not knowing the formula demonstrates its "scarcity."  I'm sure Kinsella could have easily asked Wenzel what the 100th digit in π is...does Wenzel's ignorance of that prove it's a "scarce" bit of knowledge?  And just how many people have to know something before it's not scarce, anyway?  25? 250? 1 million?  Where do we arbitrarily draw this arbitrary line?

When Kinsella tries to point out that scarcity in the economic/property rights context implies rivalrousness, Wenzel equates "rivalry" with competition, using an example of himself being pissed off at party C who came to know his secret through breach of contract by party B...that means that him and C now have a "rivalry".  The moron doesn't even know the economic definition of the word...but then again I suppose that's not surprising, considering he won't define ANY of his terms.

This is further illustrated with his fixation with Hoppe's words "super abundant".  He basically takes those words as the litmus test for whether something is "scarce" or not.  (As if that were any less ambiguous than his "does a particular man know it" test from earlier.)  His problem is that he is evidently not familiar with the economic definition of "rivalrous", so Kinsella has no way to explain what truly determines if something is scarce.

Wenzel thinks that if he can make a case that something isn't "super abundant" — apparently because Hoppe is the ultimate authority on this, and his words are gospel, (where Hoppe ranks relative to Rothbard on this scale of supreme edicts from on high, I'm not quite sure) — then that specific something is not scarce.  Kinsella tries to explain multiple times that "abundance" has nothing to do with scarcity in this context.  When talking about scarcity in these terms, as Kinsella points out, the issue is whether they are rivalrous or not...that is, whether one person making use of the thing in question prevents or otherwise hinders someone else from using it.

Of course Wenzel never seems to get this point.  What's funny is that a couple of commenters on his blog in his defense say things like “Yea....keep trying to convince everyone that "scarce" is something other than scarce,” but Wenzel's opponents clearly state that ‘scarcity’ does not have to refer to ‘rarity’.

 

Logical fallacies

You'll notice Wenzel's entire argument — if you can even call it that — almost entirely centers around the fallacies of begging the question and a combination of argument by name (i.e. argument by definition, without stating a definition), equivocation, and appeal to authority...  (And that's of course if you ignore what seems to be his overall argument, the ad hominem that Kinsella is "sloppy" and "doesn't know Rothbard".)

Throughout the whole podcast his overarching theme is that Kinsella's writing is sloppy and Kinsella doesn't know Rothbard very well.  What this does to prove or even support a pro case for IP, I have no idea.

When he's not spouting ad hominem, he constantly seems to essentially make variations of the argument that ideas are property because they can be "stolen", or that because it's "theft of someone's property" if you rent a car from Hertz and sell it to a third party, that means it's also "theft of someone's property" when you pay someone to share some information with you and then you reveal it to someone else...because "it applies to all sorts of property...intellectual property!" (1:51:40)

And when he's not doing that, he's either equivocating on the terms "scarce" and "rivalrous" or quoting Rothbard as saying "copyright is a logical device of property right on the free market", and essentially implying that because Rothbard said that, that makes copyright valid...even though (a) Rothbard is not God, and (b) he wasn't even talking about the same concept we are referring to by the term "copyright".

Wenzel is so focused on Rothbard simply stating that "copyright" is valid, that he doesn't even recognize Kinsella's point that Rothbard may have said the word "copyright" but was in fact talking about something else.  Obviously if I take a bite of cereal and say "I sure do love eating cake"...that is not proof (or even strong evidence) that I actually like the dessert.

 

The closest Wenzel gets to making a point

I think the part at which Wenzel gets closest to making any sort of coherent point is the part about the Mises sign, where he's referring to a blog post he made in which he embedded a picture of a "private property" sign on the parking lot of the LvMI.  It sounds like he's making the point that everyone chooses to what extent they are willing to protect their property...meaning that the LvMI just put up a sign, but they could instead have a moat and sharpshooters.  Applying that to his "Rothbardian" world of IP, it seems like he's trying to say that you get to choose to what lengths you'll go to to enforce your "intellectual property rights"...meaning if you are using information that someone else owns the copyright in, they can choose to simply send you a cease and desist letter, or they can actually go tie you to a chair.  I think.  I can't really be sure.  He never really makes it clear, but either way it's irrelevant because he's still begging the question.  He hasn't established that anything that is currently protected by IP laws is actually property.  So it makes no difference how such things would get "protected" in a "free society"...he hasn't proven that they should be allowed to be "protected" (i.e. that you should be able to use force to prevent others from using them.)

I also understand what he's saying when he tries to say that Kinsella's theory doesn't begin until a contract is broken, but he only says that because in that moment he's limiting his view of what constitutes "intellectual property", or at least, what is currently protected by IP law (again, we never got a definition of IP from Wenzel).

He thinks that the only way things can become super abundant (when the "secret-knower" doesn't want his secret out) is if someone breaks a trade secret-type contract with someone else.  But he's neglecting virtually all forms of copyright.  If my house is near a pavilion, and an outdoor concert is being held there, and a band plays a song and I happen to hear it, under current copyright law I can't just go play that music on my own piano, record the sounds my piano makes, and sell copies of the recordings.  (Not without paying someone a royalty, anyway.)

But there was no contract between me and the person playing the song.  So how can he justifiably prevent me from selling my recordings of my piano playing?  Kinsella addresses this very clearly in his monograph when he discusses how Rothbard was wrong: sure you can set it up so that everyone who buys a book agrees to a contract to not share the information contained within it...but suppose a third party comes across the book left on a park bench?  Or sees words on the page over your shoulder as you're reading it.  Can they now not go write a new story about those same characters?  According to current copyright law they can't.  But what contract have they broken?  What contract has anyone broken?

Kinsella actually starts to get to this point when he actually poses that same book scenario, but he elects to take it in a different direction and point out how no one would even agree to such a contract.  Personally I would have just hypothetically agreed with Wenzel's suggestion of such a contract and gone straight to the third party learning the information without B breaching the contract, because as we saw, Wenzel just used the wiggle room, leading to spit-on-the-keyboard moment starting at 2:16:17. [described below]

 

Funniez and other timestamps

One of my favorite parts comes at 0:24:33 when Wenzel claims Rothbard supports copyright, and Kinsella says that's false.  Then Wenzel quotes Rothbard saying "copyright is a logical device of property right on the free market"...right after Kinsella initially brought up that very section of Rothbard's work himself to show that Rothbard was confusing the term "copyright", as his example was a mousetrap...an invention...which is not covered by copyright, but patent.  So when Wenzel introduces this quote, Kinsella responds "Bob, he's talking about a mousetrap.  Do you understand the definition of..."

Then Wenzel cuts him off with: "THE MOUSETRAP...DON'T YOU KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN COPYRIGHT AND PATENT?  THE MOUSTRAP IS PATENT, IT'S NOT A COPYRIGHT!"

I swear this guy was senile over 2 years ago when I initially said it.  He's so far gone now it's comical.

 

1:18:28 was another one of the multiple parts I almost laughed my way into needing a new keyboard.  Kinsella references Rothbard's "half-hearted" argument for contractual copyright.  The minute he said that I was like: "Uh oh.  NOW he's gone and done it."  And Wenzel so totally delivered: "HALF HEARTED?! ROTHBARD?!??"  Watch out Kinsella.  I'm sure there's now a nice little spot for a doll of you in Wenzel's Rothbard closet shrine.

2:16:17:  Kinsella asks "well how is [the contract] going to be designed then?"  And Wenzel doesn't have an answer: "Who knows?  Let the free market decide."  And then Kinsella sums up Wenzel's argument:

"So in other words, you think maybe you could have a contract that could act something like IP, but what would the contract look like?  'Who knows?!'  What would IP look like?  'Who knows?!'  But I'm still in favor of it!"  (Another nearly new-keyboard moment.)

1:42:19 is probably the best Cliff's Notes boil-down to the basis of Wenzel's amateur position.  I love how he's so forceful with it, but yet still doesn't seem to be able to state it smoothly...all the meanwhile Kinsella is mockingly playing along with "uh huh"s as if he hasn't heard this crap a thousand and one times.

1:50:58 Wenzel gives his own summary of his major points: Kinsella doesn't know Rothbard, Kinsella quoted a paper in a blog post but didn't read the paper, and Kinsella thinks Wenzel's formula to get on Drudge is super abundant.

..I assume, "therefore, IP is valid"?

1:10:01 I was literally at the edge of my seat when I heard Wenzel begin "my alternative theory is..."  And then it finally comes out: "...ideas are scarce."

There it is folks.  That's Wenzel's basis for IP.

Of course now that Wenzel actually stated a position pertaining to IP, Kinsella just as a reflex jumped right into his refutation of that particular flawed justification for IP (the same one he and so many others have fleshed out so many times he could do it in his sleep).  I just wish he would have slowed down to make Wenzel agree with him in a step by step Socratic way, so Wenzel couldn't worm his way around later.

1:41:28  The second admission we finally get from Wenzel of something concrete is that Rothbard would be in favor of copyright into perpetuity (which I think it goes without saying that that means that's what Wenzel is for too.)  Can I just say, "holy shit?"  Of course Kinsella laughs and Wenzel starts looking for a quote, and when he immediately discovers he can't search and talk at the same time, he tells Kinsella to "talk about some...uh...some other thing" (obviously so he can ignore whatever point Kinsella makes and use the time to track down his next Rothbard quote.)

 

Conclusions

Basically this interview exposes that Wenzel has absolutely no new theory of IP or even property rights.  I recall in one blog post a while back when he was defending his delayed book release, he claimed  that his research into IP led to him going even deeper, into analyzing the concept of property and property rights.  Exactly a year ago he mentioned his "soon-to-be-released" booklet Why I Am A Libertarian Even Though There Are No Natural Rights.  And more recently in his post on the Ron Paul vs. RonPaul.com fiasco, he states that all rights are "designed."

I forget exactly which post, but I seem to recall him implying his work was at least to some degree a development of a theory of rights or something to that effect...that essentially his defense of IP was going to be some kind of new understanding of even more basic concepts.

But of course this podcast unequivocally shows Wenzel's position is nothing even remotely new (surprise, surprise).

With all the dancing around and ad hominem, I'm actually a little surprised Kinsella didn't just eventually say "Okay Bob, I'm a total idiot.  I'm the sloppiest writer in the world.  Can we hear your case for IP now?"

 

Overall I find this to be a huge plus for the anti-IP side.  Despite Wenzel's self-promotion and false blog post title, Kinsella clearly destroys him in every relevant way.  (And yes, I realize it usually happens that people say that for the side they support, no matter what happens, because obviously the whole thing is subjective)...but in this case I think it gets as close to empirical as you can...

Kinsella offers clear arguments and expositions of his points, and actually offers such arguments on the topic of IP (the subject of the debate).  Wenzel does no such thing, he simply picks specific quotes from various authors and reads them out loud, and then fixates on tangential irrelevant details, asking the same question over and over, even after Kinsella gives the answer.  He must have asked the "is the formula scarce" question close to a dozen times, with Kinsella answering directly at least three times, and offering a full explanation twice.  And of course when Kinsella ventures to ask him a simple question, or even to simply define his terms, Wenzel is all "well we're gonna get there."

I will grant that Kinsella initially was on the losing in terms of vulgarity, electing to use swear words on multiple occasions, but I wouldn't go so far as to say he got more angry than Wenzel...as Wenzel made it quite clear he was "pissed".  It was evident to me Kinsella was just getting fed up, and being of a younger ilk, curse words seemed to be a much more colloquial, conversational part of his lexicon.  (Notice his use of words like "dude" as well.)

But of course, later the tables turned and Wenzel let his tongue fly as well (1:25:14, 1:46:38, 2:04:39)  LOL (Speaking of which, is Wenzel really a Scientologist?)

But as I said, in the areas that matter, I think anyone listening will find Kinsella to have had the superior showing.  I'd like to say he had the superior argument, but Wenzel never really presented one...which I think is the most damning part of all for him.

 

I've determined that Wenzel really is well on his senility journey.  I had my suspicions a couple years ago...but this was just scary.  He honestly just doesn't seem to have the capacity to actually understand the anti-IP position.  He makes it quite clear especially starting at 2:07:10 that he honestly doesn't understand not only the basis of the concept of property, but he doesn't even understand Kinsella's point about the nature of information.  He literally says that Kinsella's argument is that if A tells B something, and C finds out, that makes the information "super abundant", and therefore not scarce, and therefore not property. 

It's insane.

 

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P.S.

My favorite comment so far:

I thought the debate was funny. Stephan begins with his opening comment regarding IP. Wenzel’s opening statement was used to explore the question, “Am I a worm?”

Stephan defined his terms and explained his position on IP. Wenzel stated his position on IP was based on destroying Stephan, but refused to give up a positive theory.

By the end of the “debate,” Wenzel’s theory of IP had been boiled down to one word: “Rothbard.” I can’t wait for his long-promised book.

“The General Theory of IP”
by Bob Wenzel
copyright 2017 Bob Wenzel
Chapter 1. General Theory
“Rothbard.”
Index:
Rothbard, Murray 1

 

Second favorite:

I know the Drudge formula, and I will share it now.

But first, I must point out that by sharing the Drudge formula, that Wenzel will be crushed and will have to admit the formula is no longer scarce, since I know it. Sharing this knowledge will crush Wenzel.

Now, on to the formula, but first, allow me to gloat in advance over the imminent crushing Wenzel is soon to face! Oh, how sweet it will be to crush Wenzel!

Prepare yourself, as you are about to witness a crushing, the likes of which you've never seen, the likes of which you will never see again, so thorough will be this crushing!

I shall crush Wenzel like a bug! Like a whining, sniveling bug, I will crush him. I shall crush him now!

Now, I crush him, but only after I mention one last time how total this crushing will be! And now, on to the crushing.

The formula is simple: you add "HOT" to a blog title full of otherwise generally known information, throw in a few ad hominum attacks to your libertarian-themed tabloid, and delete comments you find disagreeable.

BOOM! Thus ends the most complete crushing of a man in the short but glorious history of the internet. And thus ends the notion that ideas are scarce.

Jagger out.

 

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Good to see you come out of retirement JJ.

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Conza88 replied on Tue, Apr 2 2013 7:10 AM


The discussion starts off well with intellectual points briefly eluded to by Kinsella... provision of context, defining terms, and indicating assumptions being made...great. Solid intro. Things look promising. Then it's Bob's turn... and the debate gets derailed before it's even begun - with an attempt to address the red herring of how the debate came about... sorry, but who cares? Answer: no-one but Wenzel. Thus commences the side-show.

I had hoped it wasn't going to end up this way. I must say props to Tucker for being way too classy to respond & get dragged in. Props to Kinsella for 'going there', and coming out on top despite all attempts at being dragged down in the face of such incivility. I must say, talk about shooting yourself in the foot. It'd actually have been more beneficial for Wenzel to have remained silent (and be thought a coward / buffoon) than to have spoken up and removed all doubt.

I've actually enjoyed Wenzel's blog for quite some time - until lately where the commentary has become more and more rancorous. I also wonder why there appears to be some kind of emotional attachment to the issue? On a bit of a personal note though, I appreciated when Bob started posting all the Rothbard video snippets I had edited down from the full lectures (an idea to make them more accessible). He then began copying them and hosting them on his own channel.

Obviously I could careless (it's nothing special), and in fact support their proliferation yes...  but what I am interested in though is how he would justify these actions with his IP "stance"? It seems rather contradictory. Again though this is hard to validate given his actual 'stance' is so obscure.

As a quip I'd suggest Wenzel has fallen for one of Rothbard's sociological laws: "Everybody specializes at what they are worst at (e.g. Friedman, and money)."

Except that Wenzel doesn't even reach that level - there isn't any indication of specialization at all.

Furthermore it's a shame that in all his zealotry Bob inadvertently drags down the names of the people he appeals to. Hoppe is clear as day regarding intellectual property:

Daily Bell: Where do you stand on copyright? Do you believe that intellectual property doesn’t exist as Kinsella has proposed?

Dr. Hans-Hermann Hoppe: I agree with my friend Kinsella, that the idea of intellectual property rights is not just wrong and confused but dangerous. And I have already touched upon why this is so. Ideas - recipes, formulas, statements, arguments, algorithms, theorems, melodies, patterns, rhythms, images, etc. - are certainly goods (insofar as they are good, not bad, recipes, etc.), but they are not scarce goods. Once thought and expressed, they are free, inexhaustible goods. I whistle a melody or write down a poem, you hear the melody or read the poem and reproduce or copy it. In doing so you have not taken anything away from me. I can whistle and write as before. In fact, the entire world can copy me and yet nothing is taken from me. (If I didn’t want anyone to copy my ideas I only have to keep them to myself and never express them.)

Now imagine I had been granted a property right in my melody or poem such that I could prohibit you from copying it or demanding a royalty from you if you do. First: Doesn’t that imply, absurdly, that I, in turn, must pay royalties to the person (or his heirs) who invented whistling and writing, and further on to those, who invented sound-making and language, and so on? Second: In preventing you from or making you pay for whistling my melody or reciting my poem, I am actually made a (partial) owner of you: of your physical body, your vocal chords, your paper, your pencil, etc. because you did not use anything but your own property when you copied me. If you can no longer copy me, then, this means that I, the intellectual property owner, have expropriated you and your “real” property. Which shows: intellectual property rights and real property rights are incompatible, and the promotion of intellectual property must be seen as a most dangerous attack on the idea of “real” property (in scarce goods).

As for Rothbard - we can look back with hindsight regarding his position and adequately criticize... but it pays to remember the times. Given the below I have no doubt Rothbard would have been taken by Kinsella's & Tucker's cleaning up of the whole issue... just like when he admitted he was wrong after Hoppe advanced his 'a priori of argumentation':

"...Over 30 years I have been preaching to the economics profession that this cannot be done: that economists cannot arrive at any policy conclusions (e.g., that government should do X or should not do Y) strictly from value-free economics. [...]

And yet, remarkably and extraordinarily, Hans Hoppe has proven me wrong. He has done it: he has deduced an anarcho-Lockean rights ethic from self-evident axioms. Not only that: he has demonstrated that, just like the action axiom itself, it is impossible to deny or disagree with the anarcho-Lockean rights ethic without falling immediately into self-contradiction and self-refutation...."

As usual Rothbard was ahead of the game back then. The article starts off a tad rough but ends well...


"...Finally, there is the almost incredible harassment of VCR owners. If I buy a VCR and a blank tape, I should be able to tape a movie or other program off my own TV set. If the TV or movie people don't like it, they should jolly well have to lump it. It is grotesque that movie producers might get the Supreme Court to agree to outlaw use of the VCR. Worse yet is that the movie producers are harassing poor SONY, who only manufactures and doesn't use VCRs. Obviously, SONY has the deep pockets to enjoin and sue, which most home owners do not. Obviously, too, the government would have a great deal of difficulty mobilizing an enormous Gestapo, armed to the teeth, to break in on and confiscate or destroy the VCRs in many million American homes. Defend your VCRs to the death, fellow Americans! In practice, then, the movie people are not going to outlaw VCRs. They will just force SONY and the other manufacturers to pay a tax to the movie people, a tax which will be passed on to every VCR buyer. But the unfortunate principle—and the higher cost—might well be enshrined in the books.

The problem in all these cases is not whether "property rights" should or should not be upheld. The problem in each of these cases is: Who should have the property right? The computer hacker to do what he wants with his own computer and his access to the telephone lines, or the other computer owner? The signal sender or the signal receiver in the latter's own equipment? The VCR owner or movie producers? In all of these cases I believe that the concept of copyright has been illegitimately extended to become invasive, and that the fact that the common law cannot combat these "crimes" is already an indication that they are not crimes at all.

But I am in an odd position here. Of all the people in the libertarian movement, I probably know the least about computer technology. There are few movement people lower tech than myself. And yet among all the computer mavens in the movement, I have seen no discussion of these thorny issues. But it is important to apply libertarian property rights theory, i.e. judgments in various areas on who is a criminal and who is a victim, to advancing technology. So on these matters I still have a relatively open mind. Before the Iron Door closes, I cheerfully invite libertarian theorists and high-tech mavens to submit papers, on any or all sides of this problem, for possible publication in the Libertarian Forum. Is there computer crime? Are VCR and satellite dish owners criminals? Please send in your discussions, and help advance libertarian theory."

—  Murray N. Rothbard, High Tech 'Crime': A Call for Papers, The Libertarian Forum, Vol. 17, No. 7-8, July-August, 1983.

Kinsella and Tucker have done just that. Advance libertarian theory. I don't think it takes any kind of stretch to come to the conclusion that Rothbard would have been persuaded by the new arguments and clarifications of old ones. Especially given sentiment against the Draconian measures suggested / adopted by statist policy makers in trying to clamp down on "intellectual property". The VCR example is also rather analogous to the music industry and mp3 files re: ripping from radio, online streaming and torrents. "I should be able to tape a movie or other program off my own TV set [computer]. If the TV or movie people [music industry] don't like it, they should jolly well have to lump it."

Wenzel's appeals to authority aren't even good. I do wonder though how he would respond to the above. Maybe that is the only way he'll change his tune? In any case: where's the intellectual honesty at Bob? Hopefully you will bounce back from this with some new found humility and a different take on the issue.

Ron Paul is for self-government when compared to the Constitution. He's an anarcho-capitalist. Proof.
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Autolykos replied on Tue, Apr 2 2013 11:46 AM

Maybe Wenzel won't give his definition of "intellectual property" because it's actually the same as Kinsella's. In other words, Wenzel's whole point may be that he wants (or believes he has) the right to force anyone and everyone else from using their own property in ways that duplicate what he's done with his own property - unless they give him whatever he wants from them.

The keyboard is mightier than the gun.

Non parit potestas ipsius auctoritatem.

Voluntaryism Forum

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Beautiful response, Conza.  I wish there was a way to guarantee that baboon sees it.

 

Conza88:
I've actually enjoyed Wenzel's blog for quite some time - until lately where the commentary has become more and more rancorous.

Diddo.  Obviously some people deserve to be picked on, like bankers and the political elites...but it gets really pathetic when he decides he has an agend against a particular person, and the proceeds to seek out any possible information he can the could possibly be spun negative.  Some recent examples would be the RonPaul.com guys, and of course, Jeff Tucker (which has actually been going on for quite some time.)

 

I also wonder why there appears to be some kind of emotional attachment to the issue?

Do you even have to ask?

I have one word: Rothbard.

Wenzel:Rothbard::Cartman:Gibson

 

On a bit of a personal note though, I appreciated when Bob started posting all the Rothbard video snippets I had edited down from the full lectures (an idea to make them more accessible). He then began copying them and hosting them on his own channel.

...You don't say

 

Obviously I could careless (it's nothing special), and in fact support their proliferation yes...  but what I am interested in though is how he would justify these actions with his IP "stance"? It seems rather contradictory. Again though this is hard to validate given his actual 'stance' is so obscure.

I think you should publicly ask him.  Then again, I guarantee he'd come up with some sort of justification as to how his "stealing" of other people's videos isn't a violation of their "IP rights".

 

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Conza88:

Furthermore it's a shame that in all his zealotry Bob inadvertently drags down the names of the people he appeals to. Hoppe is clear as day regarding intellectual property:

Daily Bell: Where do you stand on copyright? Do you believe that intellectual property doesn’t exist as Kinsella has proposed?

Dr. Hans-Hermann Hoppe: I agree with my friend Kinsella, that the idea of intellectual property rights is not just wrong and confused but dangerous. And I have already touched upon why this is so. Ideas - recipes, formulas, statements, arguments, algorithms, theorems, melodies, patterns, rhythms, images, etc. - are certainly goods (insofar as they are good, not bad, recipes, etc.), but they are not scarce goods. Once thought and expressed, they are free, inexhaustible goods. I whistle a melody or write down a poem, you hear the melody or read the poem and reproduce or copy it. In doing so you have not taken anything away from me. I can whistle and write as before. In fact, the entire world can copy me and yet nothing is taken from me. (If I didn’t want anyone to copy my ideas I only have to keep them to myself and never express them.)

Now imagine I had been granted a property right in my melody or poem such that I could prohibit you from copying it or demanding a royalty from you if you do. First: Doesn’t that imply, absurdly, that I, in turn, must pay royalties to the person (or his heirs) who invented whistling and writing, and further on to those, who invented sound-making and language, and so on? Second: In preventing you from or making you pay for whistling my melody or reciting my poem, I am actually made a (partial) owner of you: of your physical body, your vocal chords, your paper, your pencil, etc. because you did not use anything but your own property when you copied me. If you can no longer copy me, then, this means that I, the intellectual property owner, have expropriated you and your “real” property. Which shows: intellectual property rights and real property rights are incompatible, and the promotion of intellectual property must be seen as a most dangerous attack on the idea of “real” property (in scarce goods).

Exactly what I was wondering. Why doesn't Wenzel have on some guys he respects (Hoppe, Block) and have them explain their position on IP. Will he pull out "But Rothbard..." on those two guys?

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Going through the blog/youtube/facebook comments is even more fun than the debate.

Check em out:

Kinsella facebook

EPJ facebook

YouTube video

EPJ blog 1, 2

Kinsella blog

 

One comment in particular struck me:

I had flashbacks to the Wenzel\Peter Schiff debate. Mr Wenzel had similar tactics and Schiff explains them in the first couple of minutes of the youtube video titled: Peter Schiff Responds to Friday's Guest Robert Wenzel 10-24-11

That's actually what I was thinking (and actually alluded to in my original post).  If you recall Wenzel's appearance on Schiff's show back then, Wenzel was as confused as ever.  I actually provided an extensive coverage of that whole fiasco and the aftermath, starting here.

But get a load of the video the commenter is talking about.  I actually posted it in that thread...

 

It's almost like he's describing the Kinsella debate.  When Wenzel's wrong, he's so wrong, and handles it so poorly, it makes you wonder if he actually has some kind of mental defficiency.  Kinsella suggested he might be functionally retarded.  Some YouTube commentors wondered if he was autistic.  As I did back then, I'm going with good old senility.  You get a similar sounding craziness when you listen to Warren Buffett.  That's another poor bastard that I think has gone off the deep end.

 

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Marko replied on Tue, Apr 2 2013 5:40 PM

Exactly a year ago he mentioned his "soon-to-be-released" booklet Why I Am A Libertarian Even Though There Are No Natural Rights.


Ah, but it's OK for him to deviate from Rothbard. And on something that's far more fundamental to Rothbard's thinking than a few uses of the word "copyright".

Can we all agree Wenzel just isn't that smart?

In his other hits, he insists Lend-Lease won WWII for the Soviets. :facepalm:

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Wenzel has gone full retard.

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Ansury replied on Wed, Apr 3 2013 3:42 AM

This is the most ridiculous nonsense I've ever listened to. How is this moron prominent?

Exactly--what the hell did I just listen to?  Freakin Piers Morgan or Barack Obama could probably have made a stronger case.

"Wenzel" is over-sensitive, irrational, and incapable of even deducing a simple logical consequence.  I truly feel like this guy needs to see a mental health professional, and he is genuinely, incredibly stupid.  His communication skills just never advanced past age 12.  He mixes up and uses words interchangably which are obviously different.  Why have the "extra" words if they mean the same exact thing?  Can't understand the economic definition of rivalry vs a lay person's usage interchangably with competition.

The guy is so delusional he actually thinks he won.

This is embarrasing, all it does is convince me that Kinsella really knows his stuff... and is fantastic in the art of (deserved) comedic insult.

Has Kinsella ever debated someone that can form a coherent argument?  This was like a mentally challenged ping pong game.  

Listening to this will drop your IQ ten points.

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Ansury replied on Wed, Apr 3 2013 3:50 AM

 

Oh this was so much fun.

Maybe it was my anticipation of it, but I don't know how you guys could stop listening.  It was as entertaining as a good movie. 

Is it bad that I want a part 2?  I stayed up almost all night listening and I'm still laughing...

Has anyone tried to count how many fallacies he made? I think it's some kind of record!
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Sukrit replied on Thu, Apr 4 2013 9:38 AM

How is Kinsella saying that Rothbard didn't defend copyright?


David Gordon says the same thing here: "These writers modify and extend the work of Murray Rothbard, who allowed copyrights but not patents."

 

Admitedly I haven't read much into the IP debate but a quick google search reveals many websites saying a similar thing as Gordon.

 

Edit: heres' rothbard's original essay.

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Sukrit:
How is Kinsella saying that Rothbard didn't defend copyright?

If you'd actually listen to the podcast, you'd have the answer to that question.

 

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Ansury replied on Thu, Apr 4 2013 11:44 PM

Yes, it's worth listening to (well... only if you like comedy).  I might listen through the whole thing a 2nd time, it was so flipping hiliarious.

Basically, he explained Rothbard had made a mistake and was confused (at least with the particular quote Bob was parroting).  Since Murray was applying copyright to a mouse trap (rather than patent), it sounds like he had either made a mistake (*gasp*) or was perhaps accidentally equivocating.

But your link looks "interesting", I'll have to check that out later.  However even if Kinsella IS wrong on Rothbard's view, it does absolutely no damage to his position (unless you're someone who reads Rothbard as gospel, or enjoy appeals to authority).  He was willing to concede just to move on during the "debate".

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Sukrit replied on Fri, Apr 5 2013 2:25 AM

If you'd actually listen to the podcast, you'd have the answer to that question.

Yep I understand now. Rothbard's version of copyright isn't the same as the government's legislated copyright, it's contractually based.

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Sukrit replied on Fri, Apr 5 2013 3:10 AM

I really don't understand why this debate went for two and half hours. I got so sick of listening and had to turn it off, they're repeating themselves endlessly.

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Ansury replied on Fri, Apr 5 2013 10:16 AM

The repeating occurs IMO because Bob is so clueless, and maybe senile or something.  Perhaps it's just my immature side, but I found that the insults and frustrations thrown back and forth made it MUCH easier to listen to.  Probably much easier than just having Kinsella (or anyone) speak alone... which probably speaks volumes about my own ADD or whatever.

Kinsella was saying that Rothbard believed you could have a type of contract-based copyright (still haven't read the link above, but skimming it seems consistent with Kinsella's statement), which Bob was essentially defending.  SK explained it wouldn't work, and also that it was even inconsistent with some of MR's other views regarding contract theory, defamation law and anti-patent stance.

If you can't take the audio, try this: http://www.stephankinsella.com/paf-podcast/kol-038-debate-with-robert-wenzel-on-intellectual-property/

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I've been following the whole clash for sometime now, and I think Bob Wenzel is right. In fact, I find Rothbard's idea of IP (based on voluntary, private contracts) to be more in line with Bob's view than with Kinsella's. Quite surprised to see people here in this forum think otherwise.

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Sukrit, I think you're mistaken (or have been misinformed by the polarized crowd I see here). Bob's view on IP is exactly the same as that of Rothbard's. He thinks copyrights are part of the market process arising out of private contracts (thus very much libertarian) while patents are state-conferred production privileges (thus very much statist)--just what Rothbard said.

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Meistro replied on Fri, Apr 5 2013 6:05 PM

the debate was terrible no doubt about it but it would be nice to see more debates in general, perhaps with individuals advocating the austrian point of view vs other points of view

 

... just as the State has no money of its own, so it has no power of its own - Albert Jay Nock

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Meistro replied on Fri, Apr 5 2013 6:06 PM

schiff vs kinsella on limited government vs private property anarchism would be nice, for example

 

... just as the State has no money of its own, so it has no power of its own - Albert Jay Nock

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