Paper Pushers

Excellent piece by Tim Carney:

Five years ago, a new quirky-sounding consumer-rights group set up shop in a sleepy corner of Capitol Hill. “Consumers for Paper Options is a group of individuals and organizations who believe paper-based communications are critically important for millions of Americans,” the group explained in a press release, “especially those who are not yet part of the online community.”

This week, Consumers for Paper Options scored a big win, according to the Wall Street Journal. Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Mary Jo White has abandoned her plan to loosen rules about the need to mail paper documents to investors in mutual funds.

Mutual funds were lobbying for more freedom when it came to mailing prospectuses — those exhaustive, bulky, trash-can-bound explanations of the contents of your fund. In short, the funds wanted to be free to make electronic delivery the default, while allowing investors to insist on paper delivery. This is an obvious common-sense reform which would save whole forests of trees.

You won’t be surprised to lean that Consumers for Paper Options is funded by paper mills, timber firms and the Envelope Manufacturers Association.

What bothers me about these stories is not the rent-seeking–that is to be expected. What bothers me is that there is a law that prescribes how mutual funds must inform their customers. Why must every aspect of commercial life be governed by a gun? And this is where I expect pushback–the mutual funds will rip us off if we don’t have these laws, blah, blah, blah. Fine, believe that if you must, but then you have no cause to complain about rent seeking. You created the conditions for its existence.


The urge to regulate everything is so pervasive and accepted, that's it's hard to notice it anymore.

Unless you get out more.

Could it be that the riots in Wisconsin are a direct result of the cost of regulations in the US?

Start with the assumption that the majority of people get their start in life not from schooling but connections. We reach the beginning of adulthood with little in the way of skills or abilities, and our first employer is taking a chance on us. We get a job locally, either through social connections or neighborhood, doing something menial, probably low paying. We learn, meet people, develop skills, and maybe figure out what we want to do. We take that basis, the references, maybe even more connections to get a better job. Someone trains us because they see someone worth investing in. And away we go.

Everything along that path has been almost regulated out of existence. Either directly by making every step more expensive that it is worth, or making it impossible to be profitable locally so some chinese young kid gets the lift somewhere else.

The current administration went on and on about food deserts and lack of retail availability for good quality food in poorer places. Then they go about making regulations that will increase the costs of refrigeration I would estimate ten fold. I'm sure that will work wonders for these places.

So we get Wisconsin.

It seems highly unlikely that the SEC--which adopted Access Equals Delivery for equities securities 10 years ago--is susceptible to this kind of rent-seeking. Would the Commissioners actually worry that Congress would overrule them? Or that Big Envelope would hurt their future job prospects? This seems dubious. There's a decent story to be written about Access Equals Delivery not applying to mutual funds and ETFs, but this doesn't seem like it.

I work in financial regulation in Washington DC. I don't know about mutual funds, but the banks definitely crave very specific, micromanagerial type rules, rules that specify things like what size font to use on disclosures. They crave safe harbors: they want to be able to tell their shareholders that they are 100% for sure not going to violate the law. If we give them discretion, that creates risk for them that their interpretation of the more flexible rule will end up being deemed not okay.

Yes, very annoying to get US bank monthly statements, though these days you can turn them off with paperless. Unlike the Swiss banks, which send out a once a year statement. That said, for special cases like in mine where I'm presently in Athens, Greece doing forensic accounting to figure out where my going-senile uncle stashed his millions of euro (cash, yes he withdrew ALL of his money from banks a few years ago, and I found some, as did the part-time domestic help), a monthly mailed statement would be a plus. Do you know how long it takes for Greek banks to give you historical statements for an account? A letter from a lawyer, then 1 month (quickest) to six months wait, after a review from the Greek banks legal staff to see if your request is proper (already one bank has rejected my lawyer's request for bank statements on a technicality; you have to fight for your consumer rights in Greece). Unreal. And $40 Euro per account per year. If you have several dozen accounts, as my uncle has, over many years, the money adds up.

I'm praying to see in my uncle's mailbox, year end, a statement from some Swiss bank that I don't know about, but sadly I doubt my uncle had the wherewithal to stash his money in a Swiss bank. I found most of the money under a coffee table, an obvious place in the bedroom, and literally under a mattress. Places a senile old man would store money.

I hope you can find your uncle's (I mean your) money before he dies Ray.

Thanks Jan, I think I got most of it. There's a persistent rumor from several sources that my auntie (who passed away recently and was 'in charge' while she was alive and my uncle was senile--and she never told my family anything was amiss) had Italian gold "lira" coins, a lot of them, but I can't find any. Either the part-time domestic help found them (this guy had keys to nearly all rooms, except a few where I found money), or, it's buried someplace. I have a metal detector (illegal in Greece) and might go prospecting for it, but I doubt my aunt, being old, buried it. I recently found a note indicating where she hid money, in her handwriting, indicating she was also losing her memory, and when I searched these places it was clear they had already been searched by the domestic help.

Anyway, don't cry for me too much, I found enough money that it's equivalent to what I would have saved in twenty years, and I was making low six figures when I was working. Working is overrated compared to a treasure hunt. :-)

"Work is overrated compared to a treasure hunt."

And the treasure hunt stories are better, too.

Why are metal detectors illegal in Greece?

@Mitch Berkson - people use them to find buried ancient gold, of which there's a lot of (rumor has it a relative of ours found some while plowing a field; the site is now a museum). I was surprised to learn from a professional archeologist (she was Nordic, looked like a model, I thought she was a stripper) that ancient sites surprisingly often still have a lot of gold in them. I would have thought the gold would have been looted by now.

And the treasure hunt girls are prettier, too.

What bothers me is how you can get to late middle age and still write "Why must every aspect of commercial life be governed by a gun?" Libertarians are trapped in a state of perpetual adolescence.

Stop paying your taxes and see if the gun analogy is right. See Wesley Snipes case. The point being: why must tax evasion be criminal? In Greece, it's only a civil offense (the state will not put you in prison, except in extreme cases, but simply but a lien on your property).

Not paying is civil. Making obvious errors is civil. But obviously swearing falsehoods and defying cout orders and judgements is when it becomes criminal.

You basically get one chance to claim taxes are unconstitutional, and then pay the taxes and penalties and interest and civil court fees.

After that you are slowly headed to prison.

civil or criminal don't matter, the end game will always be guys with guns and badges at your door

The question is why it is so bizarre and outrageous to suggest that government laws are backed by the threat of violence. This is something that should be understood by everyone. It doesn't mean that you need to shit your pants but that is reality. Just like in a natural state, every walk is life or death. If you are not careful enough, you will be eaten by a lion. Just the way it is. Let's not delude ourselves that regulations are trivial just because they are byzantine.

"Why must every aspect of commercial life be governed by a gun?"

...only "commercial" stuff is gun-governed ??

Politicians and bureaucrats feel fully entitled to dictate every aspect of your life... including what you ingest and inject, see and hear, and the size of your home toilet flush.

Government is arbitrary organized force. Every law/regulation is a reduction in liberty.
Those who favor any new law/regulation are advocating violence as a fundamental problem solution. ALL government law, no matter how trivial, has as its final enforcement--your death - should you decide to resist to the bitter end.

Which is why I only kill people in the precious few ungoverned areas AKA paradise. I want the freedom to murder without he ultimate enforcement tool--murder--being applied to me.

Governments are the greatest killers throughout human history... of their own people and outside societies.
No private ("ungoverned") individuals, organizations, criminal gangs or conspiracies come even slightly close to the magnitude of deaths inflicted by governments. Mao killed over 40 Million in your lifetime. Your government isn't quite that bad, but your bias will not tolerate an honest historical body count; however, you might initially ponder official government treatment of native American Indians in the 19th Century, the endless U.S. Drug War, and the noble U.S. "interventions" overseas in the past 25 years.

Like the guy who sold individual cigarettes in New York.

The benefit from killing him is no doubt worth millions of lives. Or maybe a child somewhere. Or something.

The benefit is not in millions of lives, but in (many) thousand$ in cigarette sales.

If I were a nearby bodega owner, the cop who killed the cigaette guy would get comp'd lunches for Soprano-ing the tax free competition. That's a NY value.

"Government is arbitrary organized force"

Yes, it's We the People.

The Republican Party is a real representation of this given the however many candidates to represent the party in ~465 Federal elected offices there have been, with Trump being the most arbitrary.

But it could be worse. You could be in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, South Sudan

In large areas you would have no government to kick around.

Yes, the "threat of violence" and "gun" stuff just make them sound small.

I have somewhere in my records a letter from some government agency threatening prosecution and imprisonment if I don't pay $10.41 by some date.

Again, maybe you should get out a little.

Boo hoo. There are laws. Living in a country is a social contract. You can leave. I recommend you get to one of these government-free paradises soon!

There are American laws ... 99% of which are totally unknown to you... and the 1% remaining of which you have almost no competent legal understanding. You don't even understand the full automobile traffic laws in your home state.

And somehow we are all bound at birth by these laws --and an invisible mystical, life and death social contract?
What's the legal age in America for agreeing to contracts?
Do Federal Consumer protection regulatory agencies frown upon contracts being imposed on average people sight unseen?

So your last statement is actually an admission that in fact there is no where anyone can go and nothing they can do to escape such predation?

For murder sure guns are reasonable, for defaulting to electronic delivery of statements not so much.

+1. At least he's consistent; he's also a huge Rush fan, I believe.


Not only is John's point well-taken, there is a good reason for requiring certain basic information be provided. Absent a requirement, it won't be, free-market fantasies notwithstanding.

It no doubt will come as a surprise to an economics professor that financial information is often complicated and difficult for many people to understand. It is also fertile ground for deception. Some rules requiring at least a bit of clarity don't hurt.

"Absent a requirement, it won’t be, free-market fantasies notwithstanding"

Evidence free?

Not really.

I have had some experience looking at proposals major financial firms have made to friends to manage their retirement funds and whatnot. They are pretty scandalous. I simply don't trust most of those firms, and I'm talking about big names. I think that they will try very hard to blow smoke at individuals who generally do not have a sophisticated understanding of investing, and that includes making comparisons difficult.

Further, I wonder what the situation was before some of these regulations. Was it a free-market paradise of transparency? I don't think so, but perhaps I'm wrong. If so, tell me.

Good AlexT post, reminds me of the conclusion of this 1970s book (now in reprint by Brookings) by H. Kaufman:

Kaufman's conclusion is that red-tape is not 'evil' per se, but in response to well-meaning (road to hell paved...) people who want to make things more fair for the 80-100 IQ crowd. But that costs money and creates red tape.

I think the story here is less "let's protect dumb people" than "the government is depressingly slow to adapt to technological advances." Prospectus delivery made more sense 80 years ago.

It's rather late in life to discover that while jaywalking laws may keep people safe, they also mean you can't cross the road wherever you want. A gun pointed at every pedestrian!

Is jaywalking a criminal or civil offense?

'Why must every aspect of commercial life be governed by a gun?'

Strangely, in the real world, government agencies like the SEC don't use guns, they use fines.

Fines backed by... guns. I get that the language is leading, but it's not wrong. While I'm not a fan of leading language, I figured it has its uses - in this case, I figured it is useful getting hoplophobes to realize the soft oppression of bureaucracy. If this is not an effective tactic, what is?

Otherwise, I enjoyed the post.

But that wasn't the argument. It was that any rule creates the opportunity for rent seeking, so supporters of any rule are the origin of the problem.

"And this is where I expect pushback–the mutual funds will rip us off if we don’t have these laws, blah, blah, blah. Fine, believe that if you must, but then you have no cause to complain about rent seeking. You created the conditions for its existence."

It's hard not to think that is "disband the FDIC" crazy, fringe libertarian, thinking.

And yet, most pushback to this point has been against the ludicrously expressed question 'Why must every aspect of commercial life be governed by a gun?'

Let's be honest, it would be perfectly easy to reformulate such a sentence, along the lines of 'Why must every aspect of commercial life be governed by regulations?' That question is actually reasonable, and who knows, it might even lead to Prof. Tabarrok's hoped for pushback, as people point out that measuring the temperature of a refrigerator in a commercial establishment that sells food is in the interest of making sure that something like meat does not become a source of foodborne illness, based on more than a century of empirical public health science.

Of course, that then makes Prof. Tabarrok's next sentence, 'Fine, believe that if you must, but then you have no cause to complain about rent seeking.' seem equally ludicrous when talking about how commercial food places are seemingly regulated in the interest of rent seeking, but then, this is a Prof. Tabarrok post and such flights of unimagined fancy are why they are often so reliably entertaining.

Anon, I think you may be over-generalizing here. AlexT didn't end his post with #notallregulations, true, but regulations and rent seeking are common companions, as the example above shows. So, Anon, saying "any rule creates the opportunity for rent seeking, so supporters of any rule are the origin of the problem" is not really fair. Some rules are better and more effective than others. Some are wholly unnecessary. If you have ineffective or unnecessary regulations, you'll have more rent-seeking. #notallregulations.

Prior_test2, there's something called Root Cause Analysis in engineering, safety, etc. The Root Cause here is that if you don't do what the government says, you're forced to do what the government says by force. The government does not resort to firing guns at the tip of a hat, of course not. They'll use warnings, fines, and court orders and tax levies. Life will get progressively worse for you if you ignore them, and yes, Mr. Sheriff will come to arrest you at the end of it.

I agree it's leading language. The use of hoplophobia was intentional - I often see the phrase "gun nut", no reason to not have the contrary phrase in use as well. I don't think enough people bat an eye at the phrase "gun nut", however, so turnabout is fair play. Also, this is a separate topic, but if you are suggesting that the heads of companies should suffer criminal punishment for their companies criminal misdeeds, I agree. CEOs are not above jail and other criminal punishment.

'Fines backed by… guns.'

Really? I thought that a company that did not pay its fines faced additional fines, and was not lined up and shot.

And remember, we are not talking about actual crimes, such as fraud, we are talking about a company breaking a regulation - no one jails a company for not following a regulation concerning the correct labelling of a clothing item's origin.


What an interesting term - 'Hoplophobia is a political neologism coined by retired American military officer Jeff Cooper as a pejorative to describe an "irrational aversion to weapons."' -

Here I was, thinking that Prof. Tabarrok was referring, in his own special metaphorical way, to the idea that the power of the state is used to kill those who do not follows its regulations in commercial life. But then, some people seem obsessed when it comes to weapons, apparently to the point of not realizing that an expression like 'regulators were holding a gun to head of a company's business' is not meant literally.

"government agencies like the SEC don’t use guns, they use fines."

They use both.

When they do perp walks for arrested inside traders, the arresting officers are armed. It is of little consequence that they may be US Marshals or FBI agents instead of directly employed by the SEC.

I'd actually challenge you, Alex. Rewrite this as a moderate piece on the need to balance safety and freedom. It's probably not that hard to do. You don't have to make it public. You'll recenter your soul.

What we need more of in America right now is people who recognize trade-offs and seek optimization, and not people who go to the most tired, worn, hyperbole on every issue.

A regulation? A gun!

OMG the health department checked the temperature of that refrigerator? Did they shoot anyone?

How quickly we forget.

So no, the health department didn't shoot anyone.

Whether NY's "loosie" law has a good trade-off for public safety might be an interesting question, and whether selling "loosies" should be illegal, an arrestable offense or merely a citation.

anon I honestly don't know if you have a soul-wages of hackery and all that, but I think it would re-center your soul/void if you admit that Jim raised an elegantly cogent dismissal of your own concern trolling.

Really? Since Eric Garner all regulations come from the barrel of a gun, and not from a democratic process, for the common good?

That's the kind of argument in comments threads, I guess. Set your refrigerator to any temp, I guess.

The "loosie" law is probably about revenue, which does lead to the discussion of tax farming the poor, another good topic, but also not related to whether #allregulations are evil.

If you used your real name, come the revolution you would be first against the wall for your lack of concern for victims of government violence.

That's more standard form, for comments. I can explicitly say I am concerned with Eric's plight, but if I will not generalize that to all regulations kill ..

You guys are priceless.

I'm not sure what Tabarrok is complaining about, the form of disclosure (paper or paperless) or the disclosure itself. I suspect the latter. A little history. When the federal government adopted laws for securities regulation in 1933-34 following the financial collapse, Congress considered a "merit" system (in which the regulators would pass on the merits of an offering), but opted instead for the "disclosure" system we have. Of course, one can argue, and many do, that the disclosure system is mostly useless, as the disclosure documents are written in a way that, if anything, mislead, and besides, provide useful information only to the most sophisticated investors (who get their information from many sources besides the companies issuing the securities). I can't believe Tabarrok would prefer a merit system of regulation, but maybe he does. Or maybe Tabarrok would prefer that companies choose the manner of disclosure, such as at an office in North Dakota. Or maybe Tabarrok would prefer that companies issuing securities to the public not be required to provide disclosure. Since few investors understand the disclosure documents anyway, why not drop the requirement? Confidence, that's why. The disclosure system is intended to give investors confidence that the securities being offered to the public are not mere "speculative schemes which have no more basis than so many feet of 'blue sky". I seem to recall in the dark days of the Great Recession many economists expressed the view that the path to recovery was "confidence". Doesn't confidence mean anything anymore?

Speaking of blue sky, I will point out a valid criticism of the disclosure system so Tabarrok doesn't have to: issuers of securities put so much negative information about the issuers in the disclosure documents that only a damn fool would invest in the issuers after reading the disclosure documents. Of course, investors do (invest) because they have been conditioned (by volume) to ignore the negative information. Now that's behavior only an economist (a behavioral economist anyway) could love.

Good point rayward. It's difficult to distinguish what management regards as real business threats and remote business threats when reading 10Ks in any event. Lump few real threats in with a laundry list of remote threats makes it more difficult for investors to discern.

What's more discouraging to me is that many managements will softplay or diminish very real threats in conference calls when asked point blank by analysts. It becomes more important to over time find and understand management whose statements you can trust. They're often so good at spinning the story that it's difficult to tell if they believe what they're saying.

" Why must every aspect of commercial life be governed by a gun?"

You had me until this point. I agree that this rule is bad and should be changed, but this hyperbolic "reporting requirement = murder" thing makes it really hard to take you seriously, and in my opinion it is why people generally dismiss libertarians as silly.

Information is your friend as an investor. Forty years ago, how easy was it to compare the expense ratios of different funds? Answer: the funds made it as difficult as possible. Now there is standardized information in each prospectus so you can compare.

But, yes, the prospectus rule is silly. Even if they sent me the paper prospectus, and even if I hadn't already recycled it, I would still check for the current one online if I wanted information out of it.

The problem is that "government" and "cost/benefit analysis" do not frequently go together.

Kind of unimaginative black-n-white commentary. Yes, mutual funds, and companies, will rip us off if they are not held accountable by a stronger power. And yes, our system encourages rent-seeking but it's balanced by a free press that focuses attention on it. A doable alternative is...what?

Bringing up the #notallregulations again, not all regulations are created equal. Also bringing up unnecessary polemics, here's a perfect union of the two.

The tl;dr and politically neutral form is this: regulations should go through the following checklist, which I agree with (and yes, the polemics do not help his case, but you should be able to read it regardless, if you have an open mind). I would also add that I think regulators should have skin in the game, which is to say that supposing the FDA approves a drug, the FDA assumes limited liability in case of a lawsuit. Each one of these points can be argued separately.

Rule vs. Discretion?
Simple/precise or vague/complex?
Knowable rules vs. ex-post prosecutions?
Permission or rule book?
Plain text or fixers?
Enforced commonly or arbitrarily?
Right to discovery and challenge decisions.
Right to appeal.
Insulation from political process.
Speed vs. delay.
Consultation, consent of the governed.

You move the argument to a better place that it was originally, and still is for some people.

Because Eric Garner, there should be no law. I read it on this very page.

For someone complaining about hysterics, you are becoming tiresome in your hysterics.

Not sure I agree with Cochrane's notions of regulation.

Under robosigning he writes,

During the financial crisis, many banks didn’t fill out all the forms correctly when foreclosing on houses. The charge was entirely about process — there was no charge that anyone was evicted who was paying his or her mortgages.

When you wnat to foreclose on someone's house, and at aother times, process is kind of important. Do you have the note, the mortgage, the documents? Can you actually prove you are entitled to foreclose? Maybe Cochrane would give up his house on BofA's sayso, but I doubt it.

Hmm, that's not really what I was going for, sorry if that's what you latched onto.

Rule vs Discretion, for example, means that rules should be clearly defined. Don't be ordered to 'have safe working conditions', require trench boxes in trenches, with ladders accessible every 25 feet, for example. An OSHA inspector with only 'Safe working conditions' as a regulation is in a good position to unfairly regulate. Simple/Precise vs Complex/Vague is similar.

Knowable Rules vs Ex-Post Prosecutions: if, in the above circumstance, there were no rules about how deep a trench could be, and someone had a trench of 8 feet, they could not be fined for that 'violation' - the rules must be updated and explicitly require trenches be 6 feet deep, for example.

Permission v. Rule Book: Do you have to ask "Mother May I" before you do any activity, or are you free and clear and can do whatever you want so long as you follow the rule book?

Etc. I think these are good patterns to craft new regulations. Don't have to be religiously followed, but are good patterns.

This coincides with Rogoff's WSJ piece this morning on eliminating cash because somebody somewhere might use it in an illegal, that is to say, government non-approved, manner.

> prospectuses — those exhaustive, bulky, trash-can-bound explanations of the contents of your fund

to make a point of Michael Burry, he was the only one who actually read those prior to the 2008 financial crisis, and he could stand it only because he had Aspergers syndrome. They are that way on purpose. The cost to mail these at least limits the size of these, without which I wonder if they would grow to the length of the Dodd Frank Act or worse.

Rent seeking? You think the paper manufacturers view prospectuses as a major consumer of paper? Maybe from the point-of-view of mutual funds, but from the perspective of paper manufacturers it's down in the noise. The cardboard core inside a roll of toilet paper dwarfs prospectuses as a consumer of paper.

You won’t be surprised to lean that Consumers for Paper Options is funded by paper mills, timber firms and the Envelope Manufacturers Association.

For a while I had a link to a group funded by paper makers that demanded high-quality paper be used in books, an outcome that I think would be great despite the people funding it. Unfortunately I cannot find that link now.

English book quality has been crappy for a long time:

My anecdote, and perhaps practices have changed since. About 6-7 years ago, I discovered I needed a number of old credit card statements. I cannot recall if I had signed up for paperless copies only (and whether than means on the company's website only or I had to say that I needed emailed copies) or I lost the paper copies. Anyway, the company only stored statements for the previous 3 years online.

It cost me close to $50 to get those statements. Since then, I learned my lesson: all paper copies.

Perhaps these days, I can say I want emailed copies. But with all the emails we get and all the financial institutions we deal with, who has time to save and sort these into differ. Yes, we can search or email accounts ....

Easier to just get a hardcopy and stick it in a filing cabinet.

I bet that if Alex walks down the hallway and asks TC what he does, TC will say paper copy statements only (see TCs recent posts about books, computer paraphernalia, printed boarding passes, etc.). Sometimes it is just easier.

Note Alex doesn't say that people can't have paper copies if they prefer them, just that the decision on whether or not to have them should be left to the people involved and not enforced by some external rule maker who is being influenced by a trade lobby. And the paper prospectus rule is insane anyway - who reads these things, and who really needs to store them once the deal is done?

And really, if you find paper copies easier to find and store you are in a small minority. The problem with physical storage is 1) you need space for it, 2) it is a fire hazard 3) it is very difficult to search except manually 4) it's not backed up so if you lose your one physical copy (say due to flood or fires) you have lost all your records. If you set up a free gmail account they will store all your emails basically for ever securely so they can be very easily searched This is the major learning of data storage in recent times - the most important thing is not a storage system but one that is easily searchable and backed up. And please don't file your emails, just put them in one file, it makes searching them much much easier.

The companies pushing "paperless" might be more successful if they were not so obnoxiously and obviously grabby.

Is there any company, anywhere, that does not make it very easy to switch from paper to paperless yet also make it nearly impossible to switch back to paper if one is not happy with paperless?

Do they ever consider that they might be more successful in convincing customers to go paperless if they were to guarantee that it would be equally easy to reverse the decison?

The liberals here, denying the obvious.

Government is force. Always has been, always will be.

The fact that we have elections and those elected pass laws does not change this fact.

May a moderate answer?

We know the government has guns, but when you can't talk about fair mutual fund reporting standards, when you have to make it a straw man about all regulation being repressive, from the barrel of a gun, you are nuts.

You completely punt on the question of what regulation is appropriate.

So let's have none. Eric Garner!!!

"May a moderate answer?" Do you know any?

Your over reaction to that one line is pretty telling. If i had to guess, id say that you intellectually understand that what AT is saying is more true than not, but you would very much not like being on the side that says that the Eric Garners of the world deserved what they get for breaking the law. What to do? Attack the choice of words to avoid discussing the concepts behind them.

That was, of course, directed @anon.

Are you ready to say that access to the internet is a universal right to all citizens, not to be withdrawn without due process? At the moment some fraction of the population lives in areas where internet access is slow or unreliable, and last time I heard copyright enforcers were saying that ISPs should withdraw access to the internet from their customers on the receipt of unproven claims from copyright enforcers of copyright violation. Until reliable access to the internet is guaranteed to all, it seems only common prudence to arrange that loss of this access should not, for instance, separate somebody from effective control over their life's savings.

Speak it Brother T!

What ever happened to the "Leave us the Hell alone Coalition"? I'm thinking more and more that Atlas Shrugged was prophecy.

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