We Need More People in Government Like This
Here is the response she got from Congressman Walz:
…SOPA approaches the problem as a criminal matter when in fact, study upon study shows that online piracy is best dealt with as an economic matter. Instead of using the Justice department as a sledgehammer amongst the delicate weeds of the internet, corporations must embrace the free market and adapt their business models to compete in a new reality. The ability to adapt and compete is the cornerstone of capitalism, we should promote this rather than rushing to insert ourselves in the market in ways that could severe disrupt internet commerce and progress.
Now, I don’t 100 percent agree with this answer, but I love the spirit of it – especially coming from a Democrat! That last sentence sounds like the argument you would get over faculty lunch in the University of Chicago department of economics.
I almost always believe in free markets as the solution to problems, but this one is tricky. There are not a whole lot of things that I think governments are particularly good at doing, but protecting property rights is at or near the top of that list. As Greg Mankiw so aptly writes on his blog:
The anti-SOPA crowd argues that this is a matter of basic liberty. But it’s not. In a free society, you don’t have the freedom to steal your neighbor’s property. And that should include intellectual property. Moreover, it is the function of the state to enforce those rights. We don’t leave it up to civil litigation to protect property rights (although that is part of the solution). We give the state substantial powers to stop theft. Just as owners of tangible personal property have good cause to call for a police force and a system of criminal courts, owners of intellectual property have good cause to ask the state to stop those who would infringe on their rights.
Still, my hat goes off to Congressman Walz. I hope that he will keep the answer he gave on SOPA in his top drawer; with just a minor reworking he could use the last sentence of his response for many other constituent inquiries.