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Archive for December, 2010


USPTO Announce First Satellite Office

I have been an advocate of satellite patent offices.  The USPTO just announced that it will be opening an satellite office in Detroit in 2011.  Here is what I have said earlier about satellite patent offices:

The USPTO is located in Arlington Virginia, next to Washington D.C., where the cost of living is expensive and the 9000 government employees have little significance to the state of Virginia.  By having USPTO west in Denver, Portland, Seattle, Austin, Minneapolis, etc. or some combination thereof, examiner retention rates are likely to significantly increase, since the cost of living is lower.  The pool of qualified, English speaking applicants for patent examiners would increase, since the USPTO has admitted they have a hard time keeping examiners who are not from the northeast.

The USPTO mission is about promoting technology and it makes sense that the USPTO should be located near the centers of technology, not the center of political power.  By having the USPTO near great centers of innovation, examiners are more likely to have a better understanding of the underlying technologies they examine.  Locating the USPTO in multiple congressional districts increases the likelihood it will remain fully funded.

The full press release from the USPTO is reproduced below:

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) David Kappos announced today plans to open the first ever USPTO satellite office in Detroit, Mich., in 2011. The new office is expected to create more than 100 new jobs in its first year and provide a boost to the region’s innovation economy.

The office will represent the first phase of the USPTO’s Nationwide Workforce Program, an effort to hire more patent examiners and seek out additional resources and technical expertise in locations across the country.

“The current backlog of patent applications delays the commercialization of American innovation and the creation of new jobs and economic growth,” Locke said. “Recruiting and retaining top patent examiners from across the country is an integral part of reducing the backlog. We’re very excited to bring the first ever satellite office of our nation’s innovation agency to one of the country’s most important innovation centers—the city of Detroit.”

The Detroit office will enable the USPTO to draw upon Michigan’s highly qualified workforce to help reduce the backlog of more than 700,000 patent applications. A year ago, the patent backlog stood at nearly 750,000 applications, but an agency push to get it below 700,000 has led to the first significant reduction in the patent backlog in a decade.

“The Nationwide Workforce Program represents a shift in the way the USPTO does business from a human capital and stakeholder outreach perspective,” Kappos said. “Establishing satellite offices in geographically and economically diverse areas of the country will enable the agency to better recruit and retain a broad range of talented patent professionals.”

Following an evaluation of the first satellite office, the USPTO will consider opening additional offices, which would provide the patent applicant community and our nation’s innovators greater access to the USPTO and the services it offers.

“We’re thrilled that the U.S. Commerce Department has chosen Detroit as the site to open a new satellite office, which means more than 100 new, high-paying jobs right here in Michigan,” said Michigan Governor Jennifer M. Granholm. “The new satellite office will help serve our state’s innovators and entrepreneurs to make sure they have the resources needed to succeed.”

A specific location and anticipated opening date for the new Detroit office will be announced in the coming months. The office will work closely with the Commerce Department’s CommerceConnect facility in Pontiac, Mich.

The USPTO considered a broad range of factors in its decision to locate the new satellite office in Detroit. The city fulfilled a number of critical criteria, including having a high percentage of scientists and engineers in the workforce; providing access to major research institutions, particularly leading universities; and supporting a high volume of patenting activity and significant numbers of patent agents and attorneys in the area.

 

 
Net Neutrality: Requiem for the Internet

It is a sad day for innovation and freedom.  For more information on why see Does Net Neutrality Inhibit Innovation.  The FCC decided to enact a set of rules called Net Neutrality, which gives the FCC broad regulatory powers over the internet.  These rules are really an assault on property rights and a clear violation of the Fifth Amendment, which states “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”  Regulating the use of private property is a taking of some part of the owner’s property rights.  Property rights are a bundle of rights that define a relationship between something and the owner.  When the government takes, limits or modifies one of these rights it is a taking.

An ironic result about these rules is that the liberal left that pushed these socialist rules is unhappy with them.  They feel that the rules did not go far enough and that the regulatory process was captured by large companies.  Gee, that’s surprising.  Just look at how large Wall Street banks have used financial regulation to get rid of competition.  The large railroads did the same thing years ago.

Another ironic angle of these rules is that no consumer has come forward to complain about the way the internet works today.  A couple of very large technology companies have complained about issues of access.  They are part of the socialist groups that want to take someone else’s property without paying for it.  This is ultimately a fight between large companies that want to use the government to game the system in their favor.

A sad result of these rules is the useful idiots who believed that by supporting Net Neutrality they were supporting freedom and instead were supporting repression.  The FCC is out of control.  This is another assault by the FCC on free speech.  The FCC should be abolished.

 

 
The Value of Charity

From President Bush’s 1000 points of light to President Obama’s biblical argument “aren’t we our brother’s keeper?” for government charity programs it appears everyone agrees that charity is good for our country and may even strengthen our economy.  We are bombarded with the message that “we must give back to our community.”  This discussion even spilled over to Bill O’Reilly and Stephen Colbert where they both agreed that charity was good but disagreed on the extent and implementation of charity.

First, let’s  examine the logic of the “give back” mantra.  In order to give something back you must have taken something.  If you live in a free and just society the only people who can “give back” are those people who are thieves.  The statement is complete nonsense, meant to associate anyone who is successful financially with thieves morally.

Yes, but we don’t want to see our fellow human beings dying in the street for lack of food do we?  About 200 years ago humans in the Western world first escaped the Malthusian Trap.  The Malthusian Trap is when humans are like every other animal, their population expands until they are on the edge of starvation.  This means that until 200 years ago some people did starve to death and it was a real threat for all but the wealthiest people.  This could not have been solved by using charity to redistribute food to those people starving.  There just was not enough food for all the people on Earth.  Even today there are parts of the World where people starve to death.  This problem will never be solved by charity.  While there may be enough food to feed all the people on Earth today, the problem is purposeful manipulation of food supplies in countries for political purposes.

People did not escape the Malthusian Trap because of charity.  The only reason people escaped the Malthusian Trap is because we increased our level of technology.  The only way to increase our level of technology is by inventing and then disseminating these invention.  This occurs when we have strong property rights, particularly for inventions (patents), and free markets.  Why don’t we celebrate people and companies that create and disseminating new technologies instead of charity?  If you truly want to help the “poor,” then you should support free markets and strong property rights, particularly for inventions.  For more information see Source of Economic Growth.

Charity takes (gives) money from a productive person and gives it to someone who has not produced anything.  Since everyone has to consume to live, charity results in a decrease in total wealth.  In addition, the money given to charity is not given (spent) on someone who is productive.  If you really wanted to maximize the “pay it forward” value of your charity, you would give it to the person who was most likely to do the most good with it.  This means you would give it to a person who is productive, which is what generally happens in a free market.

When people donate their time to charities it also destroys wealth.  When engineers, lawyers, architects, doctors, etc spend time preparing meals or hammering nails, they are trading time worth $100-$1000 per hour for labor worth $10 per hour.  This does not help the poor, it just reduces the total wealth created.

Does charity have any value?  I have been both the recipient of charity and have given charity over the years.  I am appreciative of the charity I have received and have no regrets about the charity I have given.  Charity is like manners.  It makes civil society more pleasant, when it is private charity.  Government charity is not charity it is theft.  Even when there is too much private charity it is destructive.  How much is too much charity?  When more than 10% of the people in a country receive charity it is too much.  I remember a United Way pitch I was forced to sit through where they said 40% of the people in our area benefited from the charities the United Way supported.  If that was the case, why didn’t we just pay for these things directly rather than paying United Way to take a cut and redistribute our money?

Here is what Ayn Rand had to say about charity.

My views on charity are very simple. I do not consider it a major virtue and, above all, I do not consider it a moral duty. There is nothing wrong in helping other people, if and when they are worthy of the help and you can afford to help them. I regard charity as a marginal issue. What I am fighting is the idea that charity is a moral duty and a primary virtue. (emphasis added)

“Playboy’s Interview with Ayn Rand,” March 1964.

Note that Ayn Rand believes that charity requires judgment, specifically the judgment of whether the recipient is worth of help and the giver can afford the expense.

People who push charity as a moral issue are immoral and are not helping the “poor.”

 

 
Federal Budget Deficit: Omnibus Spending Bill Killed

The federal budget deficit is $14 trillion not including unfunded liabilities.  Presently, the US is planning on having budget deficits of around $1 trillion for at least the next ten years.  This means that by 2020 the US will have debt of about $24 trillion.  If the economy starts to grow or inflation picks up or US bonds are downgraded, the interest on this debt will be significantly higher than we are paying today.  The most optimistic scenario for the interest rate in 2020 is around 5%.  That would mean the US will be paying $1.2 trillion in interest.  Since I do not believe the US economy will grow very fast this decade, no more than 2% per year – see Long Term Economic Predictions, I do not believe the federal budget will grow very much.  As a result, the $1.2 trillion in interest will by about one third of the federal budget.  If inflation picks up or investors lose confidence in the US government’s ability to pay its debt, the interest could be easily 10% and payments could be as much as $2.4 trillion, which would be 66% of the federal budget.  This is unsustainable.

 
Long Term Economic Predictions

Background

It has been a year since I published my book The Decline and Fall of the American Entrepreneur: How Little Know Laws and Regulations are Killing Innovation.   The book explains that the only way to increase real per capita income is by increasing our level of technology.  This can be accomplished by capital equipment purchases, which upgrade plant and equipment with newer technologies or by creation of inventions.  Since the United States is a leader in technology, we do not have the choice of just upgrading to new technologies produced in another country.  So we must create new technologies if we want our economy to grow.  There are two ways to encourage the creation of new technologies; government funding or private investment in inventions.  Government spending on research and development is not nearly as effective as private spending for all the same reasons that government spending is always wasteful.  A study by the Small Business Administration shows that most emerging technologies are invented by small entrepreneurial start-ups.  Unfortunately, since 2000 the U.S. has undermined the three foundations on which technology start-ups are based.  Those three foundations are intellectual capital, financial capital, and human capital.  We weakened the intellectual capital foundation by weakening our patent system, we weakened the financial capital foundation with the passage of Sarbanes Oxley, and the human capital foundation was weakened by the accounting rules that required the expensing of stock options.

Since my book was published the financial capital foundation has been further undermined by the passage of the financial reform bill.  There has been no change on the human capital front.  There is mixed news on the intellectual capital front.  The good news is that David Kappos replaced the incompetent and traitorous Jon Dudas as the head of the Patent Office.  The bad news is that Supreme Court again illustrated their utter incompetence in the Bilski decision.  For more information, see The US Economy and the State of Innovation.

These problems are being exacerbated by the budgetary issues associated with aging baby boomers.  The Obama and Bush administrations compounded these problems by expanding Medicare to prescription drugs and the passage of Obama Care.  Presently, Medicare/Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) represent 21 percent of the federal budget.  Social Security represents about 20 percent of the federal budget and interest payments represent about 8 percent of the federal budget.  It is estimated that about 10,000 baby boomers will go on Medicare per day for the next twenty years.  However, about 5000 seniors are dying per day.  Each Medicare recipient costs about $10,500, so Medicare costs will expand by $185 billion dollars (today’s dollars) or another 5% of the federal budget.  Roughly, the same calculation applies to social security.  So Medicare and Social Security will consume approximately 50% of the U.S. federal budget by 2020.  In addition, the interest payments are likely to consume around 30% of the U.S. federal budget.  This means that 80% of the federal budget will be spoken for.  This does not include any additional costs for Obama Care.  It is unlikely that the federal budget as a percentage of the economy can grow, since the U.S. had to borrow one third of the federal budget in 2010.

Here are my predictions for the next decade based on this background.  I provide an optimistic, most likely, and pessimistic scenarios.  Note these scenarios are based on what I believe is most likely to occur, not what I believe is the best that could be done or the worst that could be done to the U.S. economy.

Predictions Common to all Scenarios

Properties rights of all kinds will continue to be weakened.  It appears that you can get a PhD. in economics (or even win the Nobel Prize) without understanding even the most basic ideas of property rights and how they affect a free economy.  Even so called free market economists forget that Reagan not only cut tax rates, he strengthened property rights.  Particularly he strengthened patent rights – for more information click here.  He also strengthened property rights by weakening regulations and weakening the power of unions.  A number of so-called free market economists do not understand that property rights are based on productive activity.  As a result, they have joined in an all attack on property rights for inventions – patents.  For more information see Scarcity Does it Prove Intellectual Property is Unjustified.

There does not appear to be any meaningful ground swell against Sarbanes Oxley[1] and the Financial Reform Bill.  As a result, entrepreneurial companies will be starved for financial capital.  Because it appears very unlikely we will strengthen property rights for inventions or property rights generally or strengthen our capital markets so they work for start-up companies, the most optimist scenario is limited to subpar growth.

The growth of the Internet will result in a continued decline in commercial real estate values under all scenarios.  Commodity prices are likely to increase, inflation adjusted, under all circumstance.  Growth in China and inflation will drive this increase in commodity prices.

Optimistic Scenario

This scenario assumes that the U.S. faces up to its budgetary problems, repeals Obama Care, and rationalizes it tax structure.  This scenario assumes that Obama is not elected for a second term.  Government spending will grow slightly as a percentage of GDP.  Supply Side economists would probably consider this enough to create vigorous economic growth.  However, it does nothing to really encourage investment in new technologies.  As a result, real inflation adjusted GDP growth over the decade will probably be around 2%.  Median household family income after taxes will be stagnant.  This will be two decades during which median household income has not grown in the U.S.  I believe that will be the first time in the history of the U.S. this has occurred.

The housing market is likely to be stagnant since family incomes will be stagnant.  Inflation is likely to run 4-6%, but this will not be enough to cause appreciation in housing prices.  In fact, inflation adjusted housing prices will likely decline.

The best economic opportunities will be in government related jobs or businesses.  Commodity based business will also prosper.  Technology entrepreneurs will be few and far between.  Unemployment numbers will hover between 7-9% throughout the whole decade – this will be the new normal.  The U.S. will no longer be the largest economy in the world and based on per capita income among large countries the U.S. may fall below the top ten in the world.  The U.S. will also be one among many equals in technological and scientific leadership.  All social ills will increase slowly including crime, number of welfare dependents, and black market transactions.

Most Likely Scenario

This scenario assumes that the U.S. will not face up to its budgetary problems and Obama Care will not be repealed completely.  Under this scenario, the U.S. will go from financial crisis to financial crisis.  Each financial crisis will be meet with a short term band-aid solutions.  Federal government spending will grow to at least 30% of GDP and total government spending will be 50-60% of GDP.  Inflation will grow to 10-14% by the end of the decade.  Despite this, housing prices will not keep up with inflation.  Median household family income after taxes will decline by 2-7%.  Official GDP numbers will show slightly negative growth, but this will over state the actual growth rate.

The best economic opportunities will be in government related jobs or businesses.  Commodity based business will also prosper.  The financial differences between those who are in the government’s favor and those who are not will be huge.  Technology entrepreneurs will be almost nonexistent.  The brain drain from the U.S. will be apparent and a cause for anxiety.  Unemployment numbers will hover between 9-15% throughout the whole decade.  The U.S. will no longer be the largest economy in the world and based on per capita income among large countries the U.S. will fall well below the top ten in the world.  The U.S. will also be a declining power in technology and science.  All social ills will increase moderately including crime, number of welfare dependents, and black market transactions.  The chance of a major war in the world will be moderate.

Pessimistic Scenario

The U.S. will not face up to its budgetary issues even to get through a crisis.  The U.S. will either literally default on its debt or inflation will be over 20% or both.  Multiple states will go bankrupt and be bailed out by the federal government.  Tax burdens will skyrocket as will the black market.  Housing prices will decrease significantly except in extremely exclusively neighborhoods.  Social order will collapse.  The pretense that the U.S. is a nation of laws or that the Constitution has any meaning will be completely destroyed.  There is a possibility (15%) that there will be a military coup.  Alternatively or in combination there is a possibility that the U.S. will break up into a number of separate countries.  Many parts of the U.S. will decide that it no longer makes sense to support Washington, Wall Street and parts of California that have become use to crony capitalism and government handouts.  The brain drain from the U.S. will be well known and huge.  This may be the driver for politicians and voters to demand real reform.  China and India will dominate the world economy.  Unfortunately, neither will likely fill the U.S.’s shoes and become a technological and scientific leader.  Singapore will likely be the richest country in the world on a per capita basis by a large margin.  They will be the major center of technological and scientific research.  The chance of a major war in the world will be probably.

Caveats

The best reason to be more optimistic is that the U.S. has never had two bad decades in a row.  In the late 1930s and late 1970s there was no reason to suppose that the U.S. would right itself economically.  We pulled out the 1930s because Roosevelt realized that he had to adopt pro-business policies if the U.S. was to have any chance of winning World War II and so did the voters.  In the 70s, there was little hope that the U.S., let alone England, would pull out of the inflationary spiral, increase unionization, increased regulation, increasing government spending and entitlements.  However, there was the glimmer of Ronald Reagan and a surge of free market economists such as Milton Friedman, who still understood property rights.  Unfortunately, I do not see a Ronald Reagan on the horizon and many of today’s free market economists are overly focused on the detrimental effects of Federal Reserve and high marginal tax rates.  Very few seem to understand the importance of strengthening property rights, particularly for inventions or the need to free up our capital markets from regulation.  I hope I am wrong and there is a politician who understands property rights, particularly for inventions, and the need to free up our capital markets, while having the strength to stand up to government unions and special interests.

I cannot decide if we are seeing the collapse of Western Civilization under the weight of the welfare state (socialism) or if we are seeing the last hurrah of the welfare state.


[1] Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich have advocated eliminating SOX.

 
Making Patents Incontestable

This is one the best ideas I have heard for improving our patent system.  It was proposed by Gene Quinn of IPWatchdog.  The idea is that after a certain period of time a patent becomes incontestable, meaning it cannot be challenged on validity grounds.  This idea is similar to the idea of incontestability for trademarks or quite title suits for real property.  Quite title suits recognize that having endless open questions about the title to property reduces its economic value and results in under-investment and under-productivity for that asset.  The same is true for patents.

Incontestability could be part of a package that strengthens inter parties reexamination to allow appeals to the CAFC.  Here is the way I envision it working.  Five years from publication a patent would become incontestable.  This would eliminate the defenses of lack of novelty, obviousness, on-sale bar, inequitable conduct, inventorship, best mode, utility, and statutory subject matter issues.  This would increase the value of the property right.  The evidence associated with these issues is often years old when raised in an infringement suit and not reliable.  All these issues would have to be open for inter parties reexamination.  However, there would have to be safeguards that inter parties reexamination is not just a fishing expedition to increase your competitor’s costs.  As a result, all PTO (Patent Office) and court fees would have to be paid by the challenger.  If a challenge to a patent is unsuccessful the challenger will have to pay the patent holder’s attorney’s fees.  The reverse is not true.  The patent holder has already paid to have the invention examined by the patent office.  This would eliminate a lot of the costs and discover associated with patent lawsuits, which should result in faster, less expensive litigation.  Justice delay is justice denied.

How would this affect the defenses of latches, equitable estoppel, and patent misuse.  Latches should be limited to the statutory timeframes in 35 USC 286.  Equitable estoppel is not appropriate in patent law.  No one should be able to argue that they relied on the patent holder’s representations that are not in writing.  We have many areas of law where agreements (representations) have to be in writing to be enforceable and this should be one of them.  Patent misuse as it pertains to antitrust violations should not be a defense.  All antitrust attacks on patents are based on a misunderstanding (misrepresentation) that patents are a monopoly not a property right.  Exercising a legal property right should never result in an antitrust violation.

Critics may argue that it could be years before a company is confronted with a patent and the potentially infringing company may not even have existed when the five year incontestability period expired.  This may be true, but we do not want companies creating me-too products or reinventing the wheel.  If the company is building on the patent to create a new invention, then they should do their homework and determine if they are likely to infringe a patent.  It is a waste of resources for companies to reinvent a patented invention.  No longer should we reward purposeful ignorance.

Incontestability for patents is based on the same reasons we have for incontestability in trademarks and quite title suits for real property.  It would reduce the number of issues in litigation, making patent litigation quicker and less expensive.

 

 
Regulatory Bill of Rights

As the regulatory state has increased the rights of citizens have been ignored.  The regulatory state avoids the limitations of the Bill of Rights by categorizing the regulations as civil laws, as opposed to criminal laws. Notice and hearing provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act do not provide protection for individual citizens who cannot monitor all areas of the government and who do not have the budget to engage in these activities. Thus, there exists a need for a regulatory bill of rights for citizens.

 

Regulatory Bill of Rights[1]

A) It shall be a defense to any regulatory action that the goal of the regulation can be achieved in a less intrusive manner or in a more cost efficient manner.

1) The relevant regulatory agency shall not define more than two non-contradictory goals for every regulation.

2) Any person subject to a regulatory action in which the regulatory agency has failed to undertake a reasonable analysis for less intrusive manners or more cost efficient manners of achieving the goals of the regulation shall be entitled to attorney fees.

3) Any person subject to a regulatory action can appeal to either a state court in which the alleged action occurred or federal court.  They shall have to the right to a trial by a jury of their peers and shall not be required to post a bond to appeal.

 

B) No person shall be subject to any regulation or law that is contradictory to any other regulation or law of the United States.

 

C) All regulations shall be interpreted strictly against the regulatory agency, any indefiniteness shall be interpreted in favor of the public.

 

D) Any person shall have the right to petition any regulatory agency to consider an alternative, less intrusive or less costly version of any given regulation to achieve the stated goal(s) of a regulation.

(1) Any person who prevails under this section shall receive 10% of any savings for the government for the next ten years.

(2) Any person who prevails under this section shall receive 2% in any increase in tax revenues above the growth in GDP from companies’ affected by the regulation for 7 years.

(3) The regulatory agency shall have six months to act on any such petition.  Failure to review a petition within six months by the regulatory agency shall be interpreted by a court of review as a presumption that the petition is correct.

(4) Any person’s petition that is rejected by the regulatory agency shall have the right of review by any federal court.

 

E) Any person shall have the right to petition any regulatory agency to consider an alternative, less costly manner of conducting the regulatory agency’s business.  The petition must show at least a 20% saving in regulatory agency’s manner of doing business, without reducing the work force of the regulatory agency, the salaries and benefits of the work force, and without reducing the effectiveness of the regulatory agency’s state goals.

(1) Any person who prevails under this section shall receive 10% of any savings for the government for the next ten years.

(2) The regulatory agency shall have six months to act on any such petition.  Failure to review a petition within six months by the regulatory agency shall be interpreted by a court of review as a presumption that the petition is correct.

(3) Any person’s petition that is rejected by the regulatory agency and shall have the right of review by any federal of state court.

 

F) No regulation shall be valid or enforceable that Congress, or the federal government do not have to comply with the regulation in question, with the exception that Congress or the federal government do not have to comply with the regulation in question during a National Emergency.

 

(G) Any regulation, law, or spending provision that does not have a clear national purpose or disproportionately favors or disfavors a particular sector of the country shall be invalid.

(1) Private citizens shall have a right to enforce this Right in State or Federal court.

(2) All taxpaying citizens of the United States shall have the have standing to enforce this Right.

(3) Any private citizen that prevails in an action to enforce this Right shall have the right to 1% of all monies that would have been spent under the regulation, law, or spending provision plus attorney fees.

 

Why is this needed?

There is almost nothing that a regulatory agency cannot do to you and for most cases you are not protected by the Bill of Rights.

Although criminal penalties tend to be more severe than civil and regulatory remedies, perhaps only the death penalty is unique to the criminal law. Property is taken by taxation, civil fines, civil forfeitures, and compensatory or punitive damages; individual liberty may be denied by such civil procedures as quarantine, involuntary civil commitment, and the military draft. Thus, what principally distinguishes the criminal sanction is its peculiar stigmatizing quality, even when sentence is suspended and no specific punishment follows conviction. (Emphasis added) Read more

This article then points out that in criminal cases strict subject to strict standards under which the government may act.  It has to comply with strict due process, search and seizure rules, and issued of unconstitutionally vague statues.  None of these is true if the agency characterizes the penalty as a civil penalty.[2] As the article explains

The U.S. Supreme Court has had some difficulty in determining which of these various civil-criminal hybrids (in particular, involuntary civil commitment of dangerous persons, civil fines, civil forfeitures, and occupational disqualifications) are subject to constitutional criminal procedures. After some vacillation, the Court, in a series of cases decided in the late 1990s, seemingly held that constitutional criminal procedures are either fully applicable or do not apply at all; such procedures will be deemed applicable only to offenses that are labeled as criminal or which are overwhelmingly punitive in purpose or effect (Klein).  (Emphasis added)
Read more

This means that government can avoid constitutional protections in most cases just by “deeming” then civil instead of criminal.  Clearly, the regulatory state has made most constitution protection irrelevant.

 

History of Citizens Demanding Government Respect Their Rights

England and it colonies have a history of demanding that their government respect their rights.  This excellent article, A Brief History of the Bill of Rights,traces the history of our Bill of Rights.[3]

The Bill of Rights, ratified in 1791, was the result of more than a century of experience with rights in America and many centuries before that in England. The major British precursors to the Bill of Rights are:

The Magna Carta (1215) In 1215, a group of English barons, tired of heavy taxes and arbitrary actions by the king, forced King John to sign the Magna Carta (Latin for “great charter”). It guaranteed such fundamental rights as trial by jury and due process of law, a requirement that government be fair in its actions. Originally, these rights applied only to noblemen, but over time they were extended to all English people. The Magna Carta established the principle that the monarch’s power is not absolute.

Petition of Right (1628).The monarchs of England did not always respect the Magna Carta in the 400 years that followed its signing. Parliament, the English legislature, gradually grew in influence. In 1628, Parliament refused to approve more taxes until King Charles I signed the Petition of Right, which prohibited the monarch from arresting people unlawfully and housing troops in private homes without the owners’ consent.

Bill of Rights (1689).Before William and Mary could take the British throne, a condition of their rule was agreement to an act of Parliament in 1689 known as the Bill of Rights. It guaranteed the right of British subjects to petition the king and to bear arms. It prohibited excessive bails and fines and cruel and unusual punishment. This British Bill of Rights protected far fewer individual rights than the American Bill of Rights adopted a century later. Also, the British Bill of Rights was a statute, part of everyday lawmaking — and could be changed easily — rather than America’s constitutional amendments, part of the most important, most fundamental legal document of the land.

It is time for all common law countries to remind their governments that their power is not absolute and governments work for the citizens not the other way around.  This regulatory bill of rights is a step in changing the balance of power between governments and their citizens.  It demands, at the least, government regulations not be contradictory and that they be effective, efficient, and as in obtrusive as possible.

 

Input

I would appreciate any input in improving the Regulatory Bill of Rights.


[1] My good friend, entrepreneur, and economist Rodney Preisser provided me the inspiration for this idea.

[2] This article points out that a few rare exceptions, such as regulatory takings.

[3] There is no such thing as “positive rights” and “negative rights.”  Positive rights are an attempt to require slavery and are complete nonsense.

 

 

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