Vol. 3, Issue 17, June 28, 2005
Anti-Intellectual Property Policy Proposed
The development and handling of intellectual property has often been called a driver of America's economy. However, for one member of Congress, the nation has long neglected another, potentially more powerful driver: that of anti-intellectual property.
"We've been wasting time debating the niceties of intellectual property for over twenty years," said Congressman Kevin McAllister (R - Iowa). "Well I think it's abundantly clear that intellectuals aren't America's prime resource. The elitist approach that has led our nation to focus on ideas conceived of by eggheads and paper-pushers completely overlooks ninety percent of the population, and that ain't right."
In law, particularly in common law jurisdictions, intellectual property or IP refers to a legal entitlement which sometimes attaches to the expressed form of an idea, or to some other intangible subject matter. In general terms this legal entitlement sometimes enables its holder to exercise exclusive control over the use of the IP.
"What this means is, these scientists and artists and whatnot get special protection for their ideas, just because they're intellectual!" said McAllister. "And last I heard, American citizens weren't supposed to get special treatment."
Anti-intellectual property, according to the bill, would include "regular-guy" ideas, including, among other things, any device designed to contain or dispense beer in any way; off-color jokes; and all official NASCAR merchandise.
"This bill could have potentially serious consequences on the U.S. economy if it were passed," said Thomas Berman, an analyst for the Brookings Institution. "For one thing the term "intellectual property" does not actually imply intellectualism; it's a general term that can be applied to any protectable idea, even including NASCAR merchandise. Hence the entire bill is founded on a misunderstanding."
"Anyone who'd use the word "hence" in a sentence is obviously not a friend to the anti-intellectual," responded McAllister. "And that's damn unpatriotic, if you'll pardon my French."
Observers are particularly alarmed by the bill's flat-rate compensation plan, which essentially entitles the owners of anti-intellectual property to a dollar every time their ideas are used.
"That is the beauty and the simplicity of the plan," said McAllister. "It cuts through all the negotiating and fighting over percentages and stuff. You use someone's joke, he gets a buck. A thousand people use his joke, he gets a thousand bucks. What could be simpler? It opens up the floodgates to prosperity for everyone. At last, the average American will get what he deserves."
"If this bill passes," said Berman, "I'm afraid that last part will be true."