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Climate Change Bill Includes IP Protections

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the quick-let's-patent-carbon-sequestration dept.

Earth 236

moogsynth writes "Buried in section 329 of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act (H.R. 2410), voted in recently, are measures to oppose any global climate change treaty that weakens the IP rights in the green tech of American companies. Peter Zura's patent blog notes that 'the vote comes in anticipation of the upcoming negotiations in December as part of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. ... Previously, there was sufficient chatter in international circles on compulsory licenses, IP seizures, and the outright abolition of patents on low-carbon technology, that Congress felt it necessary to clarify the US's IP position up front.'"

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I'm so sick of the American Congress (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28343421)

Why can't a bill about something be only about something?

"We will bone you hard but we will give you a reach-around..."

Re:I'm so sick of the American Congress (2, Insightful)

Snaller (147050) | more than 5 years ago | (#28343641)

As banana republic there are certain things which must be done. This is one of them.

Re:I'm so sick of the American Congress (4, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#28343647)

Unfortunately, that is a messy one. It is easy to suggest(and very likely desireable) that bills not include bundling to sneak things through. However, since it is strategically desirable to do so in many cases, you would actually have to prohibit the practice to keep it from happening. Trying to draft a workable definition of "about something, and only about something" that excludes abuses without excluding legitimate conduct, and doesn't rely on "good faith"(a commodity known to be in short supply near most legislative chambers) is virtually impossible.

In a case like this, it would be trivial to argue that, since technology is almost certainly a component of any viable response to climate change, and since IP is arguably connected with technological development, IP protection is arguably related. If you are subtle enough, you could easily slip in broad enough wording that your climate change bill has ramifications for all kinds of IP, while ostensibly remaining "on topic".

It might be possible, and would certainly be desirable, to curb the worst abuses; but there is essentially no way to attack the (large) grey area.

Re:I'm so sick of the American Congress (3, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28343801)

What really needs to happen is a line-item veto type thing for congress. Where they can choose to support only part of legislation, if that part passes, the bill passes, if that part fails, that part of the bill fails.

Re:I'm so sick of the American Congress (4, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | more than 5 years ago | (#28344613)

Except that line item vetoes, as we know them, apply only to appropriations bills, allowing the executive to strike specific expenditures.

No one has proposed a line item veto allowing the editing out of specific words or phrases other than appropriations. ,

The kind of line item you imagine might allow the executive branch to change the meaning of a law which disallowed a specific act/event into one that specifically required that same act/event.

So, be careful what you wish for.

Re:I'm so sick of the American Congress (4, Insightful)

realmolo (574068) | more than 5 years ago | (#28343927)

The problem with line-item veto, or any kind of system that tries to minimize the practice of "sneaking things into" a bill, is that the party in power (majority party) can simply choose to remove any part of the bill they don't like, or ADD whatever they want to any bill, confident that they will be able to pass it.

Basically, you have to be careful about any kind of legislative system that does to much to increase the power of the majority. The current system makes sure that EVERY bill is a compromise on multiple issues. Yeah, that means that most bills have all kinds of ridiculous things attached that we could probably live without, but it some of those attachments are GOOD, but would never manage to get passed if they weren't part of some larger bill with wide support.

Re:I'm so sick of the American Congress (2, Informative)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 5 years ago | (#28344309)

You also have the problem of congress critters actually reading the bills they vote on.

Re:I'm so sick of the American Congress (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 5 years ago | (#28344549)

I dislike the term congress critter, if only because "critter" in my mind conjures up images from Bambi. I think congressional cretins is more appropriate.

Re:I'm so sick of the American Congress (1)

kdemetter (965669) | more than 5 years ago | (#28344447)

Basically, you have to be careful about any kind of legislative system that does to much to increase the power of the majority

Wait , isn't the point of a democracy to give power to the majority ?

The only reason they add these things in attachment is because they hope no one will notice until it's too late . And that's because they know the majority of people won't approve ( otherwise they would do it openly ) .

Re:I'm so sick of the American Congress (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 5 years ago | (#28344561)

Wait , isn't the point of a democracy to give power to the majority ?

No. Not in a liberal democracy. The purpose of a liberal democracy (every democracy based on either the US or British model) is to protect the rights of citizens from transgression by the government. Constrained power to the majority is the means, not the end. And most importantly, that power is constrained.

Interesting (1)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 5 years ago | (#28344641)

> The purpose of a liberal democracy (every democracy based on either the US or
> British model) is to protect the rights of citizens from transgression by the government.

When I read that, I just couldn't help thinking of a famous Arthur C. Clarke quote: "It has yet to be proven that intelligence has any survival value".

Given the current trends in Britain and the US, it similarly remains to be shown that liberal democracy has any chance of attaining what you state are its goals.

Re:I'm so sick of the American Congress (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 5 years ago | (#28344689)

"Liberal Democracy" is code for something, but I know now what.

We have in the US, a republican (lower case R) form of government, best described as a representitive democracy.

Re:I'm so sick of the American Congress (1)

Mean Variance (913229) | more than 5 years ago | (#28344579)

Wait , isn't the point of a democracy to give power to the majority ?

IANAPS (I'm not a political scientist). However, I think the pure answer to your question is yes. However, as I understand, the U.S. is not a democracy; it's a republic which uses multiple forms of representation, i.e. House and Senate, who themselves are democratically elected, but that composite doesn't imply pure democracy, nor does their decision-making process imply democracy.

Re:I'm so sick of the American Congress (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 5 years ago | (#28344663)

The problem with line-item veto, or any kind of system that tries to minimize the practice of "sneaking things into" a bill, is that the party in power (majority party) can simply choose to remove any part of the bill they don't like, or ADD whatever they want to any bill, confident that they will be able to pass it.

Line item Veto does not ADD items to bills, nor does it make it easier for the majority to ADD items to bills.

All it does is to make it possible for the Executive branch to kill entire projects. Not add them, not change them.

Line item veto is used in several US states, quite successfully. It does not lead to abuse.

Minority projects still make it in. Often these are negotiated in advance with the Governor's office to assure no line item veto, often in exchange for allowing majority projects thru.

Governors virtually never turn around and line-item veto projects thusly agreed upon, to do so would poison the well.

Any state that elects a super-majority from one party deserves exactly the kind of government they elected, and soon learns the wisdom of their way.

Re:I'm so sick of the American Congress (1)

johnsonav (1098915) | more than 5 years ago | (#28343705)

Why can't a bill about something be only about something?

Because, without the behind-the-scenes horse trading that results in these kinds of provisions, nothing would ever get passed.

Wait...

Re:I'm so sick of the American Congress (5, Insightful)

FiloEleven (602040) | more than 5 years ago | (#28343915)

A topical anonymous first post is a rare occurrence.

The American Congress looks out for the political class (i.e. themselves) and for whoever lines their pockets. This is very hard to change.

Congress's preferred method for doing so is to attach unrelated unpopular measures to popular multi-hundred page bills. I don't believe that this clause is such a case, but it happens often enough and there are probably other unsavory tidbits hidden within this bill.

The only way Congress will stop such a practice is if we force them to. To that end, DownsizeDC has drawn up the One Subject at a Time Act [downsizedc.org] . This bill would force Congress to bring every measure to a vote instead of burying them inside some behemoth legislation named "Rekindle The American Dream Act of 2009."

Public pressure works: see for example the 224 co-sponsors (over half the House) of The Federal Reserve Transparency Act of 2009, which you may not have even heard of yet. But the Campaign for Liberty organized a call-in campaign that has been running for a month, maybe a little longer. C4L has around 100,000 members, easily less than a thousandth of the population, and they've already got half the house behind their bill. The phone call is the most effective means of public pressure. OSTA will law by this time next year or sooner if you call your congressmen and get four friends to do the same.

OSTA is a bitter pill for Congress to swallow, yet you'll be hard pressed to find 10 average Americans against its principles. If just a hundredth of those who say "it sounds like a good idea" were to actually call and ask their congressmen to support it, the congressmen would have no choice.

Seriously. Call. Slashdot 'em.

Re:I'm so sick of the American Congress (4, Interesting)

demachina (71715) | more than 5 years ago | (#28344701)

"see for example the 224 co-sponsors (over half the House) of The Federal Reserve Transparency Act of 2009"

That is a pretty easy bill to garner widespread support. After the last year of shenanigans out of the Fed and Treasury I think just about everyone is realizing fiat currencies are bad, as is letting a hand full of people who don't really answer to anyone control it.

A week or so ago a couple Japanese nationals were caught in Italy trying to smuggle what appear to be $135 billion in U.S. Treasury bearer bonds in to Switzerland, in $500 million and $1 billion denominations. Either Japan was trying to quietly dump their vast T-bill holdings in Switzerland because they don't trust the U.S any more and didn't want to be too conspicuous about it, or there are some other shenanigans going on. If they are genuine Italy may have erased a big bunch of their deficit thanks to a customs checkpoint who found the false bottom in a suitcase.

There are strong suspicions Bernanke and Paulson intentionally froze up the credit markets to coerce $700 billion out of Congress and transfer to Wall Street. The hundred plus billion that went to AIG went in one door and out the other to a number of large firms who desperately needed payoffs on their credit default swaps that AIG couldn't pay. Paulson's old firm Goldman Sachs got billions of dollars with no strings attached from U.S. tax payers through AIG, and chances of AIG paying it back are slim. The firms who had credit default swaps through AIG on their toxic mortgages came out smelling like a rose thanks to the U.S. tax payers and Paulson pulling strings to protect his old firm.

There are also rumors the Fed has been using their printing press to intervene in the stock market at the end of the day to manufacture the unusual rally of recent months. One sure way to break the psychology of a depression is to make the stock market always go up. Unfortunately doing it by printing funny money makes the entire U.S. economy a sham.

Its not even a rumor, its a fact Bernanke has been using the Fed to print money to buy U.S. treasury bills to prop up the massive U.S. government debt and to try to keep treasury and mortgage rates down. That stinks no matter how you look at it, the U.S. fed printing money to bankroll U.S. government debt, and since T-bill rates are spiking lately it doesn't seem to have even worked.

Everyone thinks its a wacko's rant but fiat currencies really are inherently dangerous. They are fine when responsibly managed and there is no stress, but as soon as a crisis develops and irresponsible managers start printing money to get out of it, they can wipe out people's life savings in no time through hyperinflation.

America is full of itself (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28343467)

America is the only large nation opposing (positive) climate change. They're the only ones which are having problems with the Kyoto Protocol. Search "Kyoto Protocol" in wikipedia and see what you get, a Map with all countries green except for the US.

America seriously has attitude problems...

Re:America is full of itself (4, Funny)

thedonger (1317951) | more than 5 years ago | (#28343493)

Not any more. The climate may have been changing for the last 5 billion years, but the buck stops here! As a nation we officially oppose any changes in the climate. We are one people for one season, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all! Mostly.

Re:America is full of itself (4, Funny)

hedwards (940851) | more than 5 years ago | (#28343515)

But, I don't want summer, can't we go back to worrying about nuclear winter?

Re:America is full of itself (3, Funny)

thedonger (1317951) | more than 5 years ago | (#28343579)

I miss those days. Commies were red, beer was cold, and homosexuals were flaming! These days I work with two guys from former eastern block countries, some beer is supposed to be served less-than-ice-cold, and everyone is gay. Where is W.O.P.R. and a game of thermonuclear war when you need it? Hell, the government probably hosts it on EC3...

Re:America is full of itself (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 5 years ago | (#28344749)

Nuclear winter comes after nuclear fall.

Re:America is full of itself (3, Insightful)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 5 years ago | (#28343565)

America seriously has attitude problems...

Because we would be the nation most punished by the Kyoto. Duh!

America is many things. Being sadomasicistic isn't one of them.

Re:America is full of itself (1)

ppanon (16583) | more than 5 years ago | (#28343689)

So if one of the biggest US polluters were to lobby Congress that a proposed pollution control bill would harm them the most, you think that would be an appropriate justification for killing the bill?

Re:America is full of itself (3, Insightful)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 5 years ago | (#28344563)

No, but I can think of more than a few congressional cretins who would.

Re:America is full of itself (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28343691)

>America is many things. Being sadomasicistic isn't one of them.

Saying that signing the Kyoto is sadomasochistic is ridiculous. That would be like calling a 500 pound man who puts himself on a diet sadomasochistic.

Re:America is full of itself (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 5 years ago | (#28344573)

Why is BadAnalogyGuy posting as an AC?

Re:America is full of itself (4, Insightful)

siddesu (698447) | more than 5 years ago | (#28343823)

"Punished"? And I thought it was about "leadership" and "taking responsibility".

Re:America is full of itself (4, Funny)

tpgp (48001) | more than 5 years ago | (#28343861)

Because we would be the nation most punished by the Kyoto. Duh!

You're also one of the nations most likely to be punished by climate change (although losing Florida is probably more reward than punishment).

Re:America is full of itself (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28344143)

Try not to confuse Florida with Floridians. Ideally, the water would come up, destroy Disneyland, then recede.

Re:America is full of itself (5, Informative)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 5 years ago | (#28343639)

Search "Kyoto Protocol" in wikipedia and see what you get, a Map with all countries green except for the US.

That's the "signed and ratified" map, not the map of countries which are going to make their goals. The same article includes a chart showing that a significant portion of the industrialized nations not only failed to reduce their CO2 output from 1992 to 2004, but increased it dramatically. Most of the nations increased their emissions to at least a small degree. Of the nations listed, only Denmark, Germany, and the UK unambiguously reduced their emissions, and Australia and Norway are only included as decreasing when land use and forestry are taken into account.

I would suggest that it's not only the United States that is having problems with the protocol.

Re:America is full of itself (3, Insightful)

icegreentea (974342) | more than 5 years ago | (#28344047)

Yeah. I'm from Canada, and while I'm proud of my country, I wince everytime I read some halfassed newspaper editorial talking about how America has to act and ratify the Kyoto, like ever country ESPECIALLY CANADA *chest thump* has done, while ignoring that we've failed epicly. Suppose to have a 6% reduction, instead we have a 20% increase. Whoops. So now we're moving the goal posts.

Yeah, you guys have to get your act together (and we do too). But frankly, Kyoto at this point is a joke, even ignoring China and the US not signing. Shit sucks.

Re:America is full of itself (2, Interesting)

Rocketship Underpant (804162) | more than 5 years ago | (#28344163)

Even environmentalists who attended the conference hated the Kyoto treaty. It was based entirely on political concerns and wrangling rather than actual environmental data or facts.

Re:America is full of itself (5, Insightful)

malchus842 (741252) | more than 5 years ago | (#28343663)

When the rules apply equally to all countries, no problem. When China and India get a pass and the US would get economy destroying limits, well, then it's a major problem.

I have news for you - the US is a drop in the bucket compared to China and India.

Kyoto is broken.

Re:America is full of itself (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28343795)

Citation needed.

Re:America is full of itself (1)

kdemetter (965669) | more than 5 years ago | (#28344489)

Citation needed.

Here you go :

Kyoto is broken.

Re:America is full of itself (4, Insightful)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 5 years ago | (#28343817)

The US is the single largest carbon emissions producer in the world by a decent margin. China is second and India is far away in fifth place.

On a per capita basis it's even worse as the US produces five times as much co2 as China and sixteen times as much as India.

So no, it's only a drop in the bucket if your intelligence makes our previous president look like nobel prize winner.

Re:America is full of itself (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28344067)

So no, it's only a drop in the bucket if your intelligence makes our previous president look like nobel prize winner.

Lucky you, it's not too late!

Re:America is full of itself (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28344263)

Are people really this dumb? China's emissions have been rapidly increasing because of all of the manufacturing jobs being sent there, primarily from the US. If the US had to reduce emissions, that trend would increase rapidly. It's already usually cheaper to produce in China, but that would make it a LOT cheaper. And, since China generally has less pollution controls than the US, over all pollution would probably increase.

Kyoto is a stupid idea; even more so if it's not applied globally.

Re:America is full of itself (1)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 5 years ago | (#28344305)

In other words you expect China to produce a fifth the emissions per person the US does and you think that's FAIR? Or are you arguing that the US should drop it's own emissions 80% to be on par with China?

Re:America is full of itself (2, Interesting)

Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) | more than 5 years ago | (#28344357)

Why is "per person" the standard? If using birth control reduces greenhouse gas emissions, why should a country be penalized for doing so?

Re:America is full of itself (4, Insightful)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 5 years ago | (#28344601)

No he's arguing that the only thing that matters is total global emissions, and that under the current Kyoto rules, any decrease in the US would be more than offset by the increases from larger outsourcing to China.

Maybe you're confused, but reducing carbon emissions isn't about being FAIR so that everyone gets to do just as much environmental damage as everyone else, it's about reducing carbon emissions.

Re:America is full of itself (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28344609)

In other words you expect China to produce a fifth the emissions per person the US does and you think that's FAIR? Or are you arguing that the US should drop it's own emissions 80% to be on par with China?

No, I'm saying that the overall amount of pollution will remain the same or increase. I'm no environmentalist, but it would seem to me that the number of people polluting doesn't really matter.

Or are you trying to tell me that releasing a million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere in China is somehow better for the environment than releasing the same million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere in the US? How does that work?

Re:America is full of itself (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28344519)

here is the stats from 5 YEARS AGO [wikipedia.org]
Over two years ago, China over took America. India is number 3 and will pass America in about 2 years. In terms of PER CAPITA, we are also down the list. In 2004, was our highest per capitia, and we were at #10. [guardian.co.uk] Since that time, we have gone down slightly, while many other nations have moved up and have surpasses us.
  And comparing China and india to America in terms of PER CAPITA is a joke. It is TOTAL pollution that matters.

The other issue that you forgot is that CURRENTLY China emits more TOTAL POLLUTION (ignoring CO2), then America has COMMULATIVELY. We NEVER allowed it to get anywhere near as bad as China has. Likewise, even india and Russia are major polluters in the world.

To balance this on the west's back is just plain wrong. The west MUST deal with this by encouraging all nations to think long term. To do this, we must impliment a tax on ALL CONSUMED GOODS BASED on CO2 emission and pollution that went into it. IOW, if something is consumed in Ill, and it was made in texas, than the amount of CO2 from its power plant, the trucks to transport it, and even the ingrediants that went into it should figure into it. OR, we can just say that Texas had ex amount of CO2 from there, and then apply a tax on it. Something from france which uses heavy nukes would have less tax due to power. OTH, China has LARGEST TOTAL AMOUNT OF CO2 and by far, the largest amount of pollution and should be hit the highest tax. This will encourage ALL major polluting countries to re-think how they are handling things. Hopefully EU will re-think kyoto which is proving to be WORTHLESS.

Re:America is full of itself (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28343887)

The US is a drop in the bucket compared to China and India?

>Countries by C02 emissions (% of worldwide emissions)
1. United States (22.2%)
2. China (18.4%)
4. India (4.9%)

The US creates almost as much C02 emissions as both the countries you mentioned combined. Keep in mind that the we're talking about the emissions of 300 million people versus 2.5 billion people.

Re:America is full of itself (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28343975)

Add to that the US' decades of unmitigated pollution vs India/China's recent trend to development.

Re:America is full of itself (2, Insightful)

Scamwise (174654) | more than 5 years ago | (#28343995)

Someone obviously knows absolutely nothing about the CO2 emmissions of various countries.

Re:America is full of itself (5, Insightful)

znerk (1162519) | more than 5 years ago | (#28343723)

... a Map with all countries green except for the US.

... unless you're not color-blind, and notice the handful that are gray (indicating not only that they have not ratified it, but haven't even signed it). The U.S.A. seems to be the only country that has signed but not ratified it. I won't even go into how well most of the other "large nations" are doing at actually meeting the protocol.

In other words, thanks for the inflammatory comments, now get back under your bridge.

Karma whoring for science (0)

Kligat (1244968) | more than 5 years ago | (#28343533)

tell me (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28343537)

global warming...the only people that could help are geeks, but they are too preoccupied crying in their parents basements for some manga stanky they can never get on. Well here's a tip, geeks...anime is a fucking TOON, it don't stank, cuz it ain't real. Licking that musty moldy paneling in your parents' basement where the water damage is the closest you'll get!

geo engineering (1)

meow27 (1526173) | more than 5 years ago | (#28343577)

As long as they dont screw around with the environment trying to "fix" what we dont know is broken, then im happy

That is of course if im not forced to wear white everything, breath at a certain rate, exercise at certain times, eat certain foods, and other things that generate greenhouse gases (co2 and methane) im fine.

But seriously, in new york i cant stall in a car. id get a $200 fine if i did.

Speaking of climate change though, is it legal to build solar panel power plants in the US again, or is it still undergoing "environmental testing"?

Re:geo engineering (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28343697)

If your actions don't negatively affect my health and well being in any significant way, you can do anything you want.

As soon as your behavior leaves your realm and affects mine, I'll try to be tolerant, but it gets bad I might need to defend myself.

Live and let live.

Re:geo engineering (1)

JackieBrown (987087) | more than 5 years ago | (#28343981)

Bring it

It's a token law. (4, Informative)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#28343655)

Pretty much the Congress is covering its rear over what will likely be a huge fight over the economic cost of global warming compliance. Let's be real, it's going to be expensive and its going to mean a dramatic reduction in our standard of living, and so everyone is looking to say they were against it, right up until they vote for it.

Bottom line is, a Treaty is the Law of the Land and it trumps other law. In the pantheon of things, a Treaty ranks just below the Constitution and below that is other law. Shrewd critics, on both sides of the aisle, have long noted that the Treaty is a pretty good way to subvert the Constitution, because it only needs the Senate to approve, not the house, and a treaty carries so much force.

Re:It's a token law. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28343769)

Anyone else getting tired of these posts which spew strange accusations, and which don't cite any reputable sources? Maybe you're correct, but it sounds wrong and it sounds like yet more FUD coming from the right wing. Your sig said something about the "center right" so I'll trust your word more then some of those dorks on the far right.

"Citation needed"

And global warming compliance may be expensive, but it's probably cheaper then the alternative. And at least we'll be pomoting some useful science and creating some jobs during the process. A bit like building military items or building roads.

Re:It's a token law. (1)

JackieBrown (987087) | more than 5 years ago | (#28343997)

An losing jobs that produce what you would say is undesirable output.

Re:It's a token law. (2, Insightful)

Zordak (123132) | more than 5 years ago | (#28344119)

Actually, the GP is nearly on target. A treaty has the force of a statute, and can permit the President, with the Senate's approval, to do things that could not be done by the House and Senate together with the President's approval (via statute). I forget the case (sorry, out of law school, so no more free Westlaw access), but Justice Holmes held pretty clearly that treaties are not bound by the same "Congress shall nots" that limit statutes. When the Rhenquist Court started showing signs of actually giving the Commerce Clause some meaning other than "Congress can do whatever it feels like," the Greens got nervous that they wouldn't be able to get their environmental legislation approved (since Article 1 Section 8 does not give Congress the power to regulate the environment), and started advocating that treaties were the way to go, since they are not limited by Art. 1 Sect. 8 and the 10th Amendment.

As an interesting exercise, does this mean that the President, via treaties, could do things like limit freedom of speech, press, assembly, and religion, since the First Amendment says "Congress shall make no law ..." without mentioning treaties? It may sound far fetched, but I'm not aware of any case that has held the contrary, which would leave us with just Justice Holmes' analysis.

Re:It's a token law. (3, Insightful)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 5 years ago | (#28344575)

This is something that is somewhat contested still. I have read his argument/opinion [findlaw.com] and don't agree with it. I will go on to explain why later but,

The funny thing here is that congress's power to do anything because of the commerce clause was granted by the supreme court after it already ruled the programs unconstitutional. That's somewhat important because when the Rhenquist Court started showing signs of actually giving the Commerce Clause some meaning, they were actually reverting that movement away from the unconstitutional ways. Now what funny or interesting about this is that a future court could view the subversion of the constitution as a negative and reverse this previous ruling with treaties. So at best, it's possible that given the right treaty, it could be negated within a matter of time.

Of course that would depend on whether the supreme court interpreted the constitution or thought of it as a living document and decided that "freedom of speech" as you mentioned, was only reletive to what society thought at that time.

Now, here is my objections to his ruling and it happens to be most of the controversy surrounding it that others have expressed. Article VI of the constitution says "This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land;". (it actually says more but this is what we need to work with.

Here is says that all treaties made, and which shall be made, under the authority of the united states. Two problems with the anything goes in treaties argument. First is that both congress and the president are sworn to uphold and protect the constitution. The president is sworn with "will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." but congress has no leniency (also, congress's oath is not mentioned in the constitution.) So it would seem that either by constitution or congressional rules, that the treaty would have to be in line with the constitution in the first place or they aren't allowed to adopt it. However, when we look at the supremacy clause, it makes a distinction between treaties already made and treaties that will(shall) be made. It says made under the authority of the united states.

To me, and quite a few others, this should mean that the president nor congress have the power to only create treaties within the limits of the constitution because the participants authority is only derived from the constitution which prohibits prohibits certain actions and only allows others. To this extent, It is where I disagree with the Holmes opinion. In it, he says "The language of the Constitution as to the supremacy of treaties being general, the question before us is narrowed to an inquiry into the ground upon which the present supposed exception is placed." he then goes on to talk about the living document in how we can't rely on what the framers meant 100 years ago and need to breath our own experiences into it. I don't buy the living document idea as not only could it be used to expand the powers of congress, it could also be used to allow indefinite detention of terror suspects, warrant-less wire taps or searches, and so on. As soon as we break away from the intentions of the founders, we are more or less making crap up as we go. The constitution allows for changes and it should be the only way it can be changed (as long as the amendment is constitutional).

Anyways, a constitutional court with a strict constitutional interpretation would most likely reverse the idea of a treaty trumping the constitution.

Re:It's a token law. (3, Informative)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 5 years ago | (#28343797)

You should read this month's Scientific American cover story "The Top 10 myths about Sustainability", which discusses why the sustainable approaches do not lower the standard of living.

This is a point that always seemed obvious to me: investing in technology never lowers anyone's standard of living. The only reason it seems otherwise is because the proponents of such arguments ignore things like choking on car exhaust in their standard of living calculations, but make sure to point out that they will have to downgrade to a 43" TV from a 52" to save power. Nevermind the fact that it pays off the long term.

Re:It's a token law. (4, Interesting)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#28343925)

You should read this month's Scientific American cover story "The Top 10 myths about Sustainability", which discusses why the sustainable approaches do not lower the standard of living.

Scientific American is wrong and by the end of this summer I'll have an open source computer model that explains why. The problem is increased efficiency demands increased complexity. This complexity implies that that the cost increase of a more efficient system is actually exponential, not linear, such that, going from 10% efficient to 50% efficient is pretty cheap, but it gets way more expensive after that.

This raises the price of the good, which in turn, causes some people to stop buying that product. Because there are less purchasers, while the complexity driven capital cost remains the same, the unit cost goes up. So, more people drop off, and the cost goes further up. Eventually, the good cannot be produced at all.

Right now, you see this in Health Care in the USA. Everyone can blame it on the lawyers or the capitalists but really a lot of it is just sheer complexity of care. Complexity drives the cost up, and a ton of people drop out of the system, driving costs up more for everyone else. For health care, the only way out is rationing of some sort, coupled with mandates to keep everyone in the system, but that doesn't really control costs as much as it does stave off the doom of complexity for a bit longer.

We'll see the same, though, as we exhaust our resources of any kind. You might have more complex systems that can use them more efficiently, but they will get so expensive that what will happen is that the resource will not get used at all. A drop in the standard of living is inevitable.

Re:It's a token law. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28344025)

The problem with health care in the US is the doctors make sure more people cannot become doctors, allowing them to charge as they please.

Specialists especially.

the US has too few doctors per capita, yet good candidates are turned down by schools, as the school has reached its AMA quota

Re:It's a token law. (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 5 years ago | (#28344125)

You make propose an interesting theory, although I think our standard of living will be maintainable via increased efficiency. So much energy is wasted by us in inefficient processes (internal combustion engines), energy transmission (being fixed with HVDC transmission lines), etc. There's still a lot to squeeze out of the power we already have access to. And worse comes to worse, the Sun spits out enough sunlight in fifteen minutes for us to power the world for a year. We just have to make sure we can make solar power without fossil fuels.

Re:It's a token law. (4, Interesting)

drago177 (150148) | more than 5 years ago | (#28344147)

So I may be missing something, but it sounds like you're saying that if all the systems only got 50% more efficient, and everyone was forced to join, sustainability is actually possible without destroying demand?

I am a numbers guy, and I haven't seen them, so you may be right - we might have a lower standard of living here in the US. But if we don't curb global warming, I see huge refugee camps forming, where people starve to death and start wars (and the defense dept agrees). So be sure to include those factors in your program: the # of dead parents and starving children. And come to think of it, if New Orleans refugees in Texas were any indication, the US will not be a happy place either, although they'll probably be alive and fed well.

I'm not trying to troll, but its how I feel and can't figure out a less inflammatory way of sayin it. Please try to extract the logic part w/out the emotion :)

Re:It's a token law. (4, Informative)

Max Littlemore (1001285) | more than 5 years ago | (#28344167)

From my personal experience, a low emissions lifestyle can make for a much higher standard of living than a high emissions one. Good housing design is a good start, using passive solar desing techniques to make comfortable living spaces which don't require as much fuel.

When I was in my teens I lived on the verge of a rainforest with a small generator powered by the creek which fed us and about 10 other houses. We had stereo, TV, lighting and a computer (Amstrad CPC 464 it was), all of those cons, and a beautiful setting to boot. My standard of living was much higher than any I have experienced since.

Often higher efficiency can be achieved with lower complexity and a subtle shift of focus.

Scientific American is wrong and by the end of this summer I'll have an open source computer model that explains why.

Making statements like that silly. Your computer program modelling something within your narrow paradigm will be able prove absolutely that an article in a magazine is wrong? Give me a break.

You can make a model to explain just about any point you are trying to make but unless it takes into account the flies buzzing around the bullshit ~150 kms from where I am sitting, it will never be an accurate representation of reality and to assert that it is is pure arrogance.

Re:It's a token law. (4, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | more than 5 years ago | (#28344247)

The problem is increased efficiency demands increased complexity. This complexity implies that that the cost increase of a more efficient system is actually exponential, not linear, such that, going from 10% efficient to 50% efficient is pretty cheap, but it gets way more expensive after that.

Let me save you a summer. Your model utterly fails when you apply it to integrated circuits.

Re:It's a token law. (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 5 years ago | (#28344657)

SO IC are all we are talking about? or is it other things like home heating and transportation in which IC may be part of, but aren't considered the big power ticket.

Two years ago I was replacing my water heater. About the best I could find at a reasonable price was around a .60-.70 efficiency rating. that's supposed to be good. However, I could have went with a .85-.90 efficient water heater but it costs more than twice as much. The savings from the increased efficiency would have been a little less then $100 over the 13 year expected life span.

Re:It's a token law. (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 5 years ago | (#28344425)

"The problem is increased efficiency demands increased complexity."

I have a jet engine that says you are wrong.

Re:It's a token law. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28344499)

what a crock of shit... you're blaming US health care costs on complexity? Take a look at :

http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/hea_spe_per_per-health-spending-per-person

The US spends more on health care than anyone, yet universal access to health care is pathetic. Complexity has nothing to do with it, but having middle-men (insurers etc) whose primary goal is to make billion dollar profits is the cause. In other countries, certain things (eg healthcare) are regarded as a right everyone has (akin to freedom of speech in the US - which conveniently costs nothing), yet in the US free healthcare is considered some kind of radical socialist ideal not fit for a free market economy.

This extends not only to health car but other sectors. As long as there are people making money (big money) out of the status quo, there's always going to be huge resistance to any change.

Increasing efficiency with a specific technology may be exponential (eg increasing efficiency of combustion engines, or even bicycles) but totally ignores new breakthroughs.
Random example - telescopes: a limit was reached using single mirrors. They displayed a Similar exponential increase in weight, construction costs, time and resources for a linear gain in performance. But new tech and methods and research led to developments such as the Kek telescopes (segmented mirrors) with orders of magnitude more performance, using a fraction of the previous materials/effort).

Having said that, if ever they manage this :

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fusion_power - if they finally manage that.... all bets are off :)

 

Re:It's a token law. (1)

snowwrestler (896305) | more than 5 years ago | (#28344535)

I think your statements are contradicted by the history of technology in markets, which shows a consistent march toward lower costs and greater efficiencies. This makes sense since from a business standpoint anything less than 100% efficiency shows up as waste, which contributes directly to expense. Even a slight gain in efficiency can confer a competitive advantage which can drive increased business. Natural resources may be zero-sum but economic growth is not!

Graph out the watts per megaflop since 1950. A Core 2 Duo is far more complex than ENIAC was, but uses far less energy in operation. Sure, we use a lot more total electricity for computing now than we did in 1950, but that is because there are more people doing more computing. And they are doing so because it is so much less expensive now than it used to be.

Re:It's a token law. (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 5 years ago | (#28344741)

The number one problem with health care in the USA is the lack of competition.
Too many people are stuck with a company health plan or otherwise locked into their health insurance for whatever reason.

If there was more competition (including removing any barriers to entry for new health insurers who want to enter the market, stopping/banning any anti-competitive activity or collusion currently taking place and changing the tax rules so people can get exactly the same tax benefit by choosing their own health fund as they do now by being on the company plan), the forces of the free market take over. Someone (either a new player or an established player) recognizes that they can get an increased market share by offering better service (i.e. actually giving people health care when they need it) and make more total profit (even if they may make less profit per person)

Economics 101 shows that markets which have competition generally have better value for consumers than markets which do not have competition.

Re:It's a token law. (1)

Logic and Reason (952833) | more than 5 years ago | (#28344037)

This is a point that always seemed obvious to me: investing in technology never lowers anyone's standard of living.

What? Where do you think the money invested in technology comes from? Ultimately, it comes from people's savings, which is money not spent on current consumption. Investing more means saving more, which means a reduction in our current standard of living.

Moreover, there's no guarantee that investing in any specific technology will raise people's standard of living, even in the future. No matter how much we invest in, say, perpetual motion machines, our standard of living will never increase by much as a result-- certainly not by enough to compensate for all the money we invested in a bogus technology.

Re:It's a token law. (1)

NewbieProgrammerMan (558327) | more than 5 years ago | (#28343805)

But the US doesn't even bother with treaties for such things nowadays, does it? We just call it an "agreement," and then we all act like it's a treaty without all that pesky two-thirds consent by the Senate. Hell, one of my former senators from Virginia didn't even *know* that you need a Senate supermajority to ratify a treaty.

Re:It's a token law. (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 5 years ago | (#28344645)

You'd be surprised at how few elected officials could pass high school civics.

Re:It's a token law. (1)

Jartan (219704) | more than 5 years ago | (#28343939)

Let's be real, it's going to be expensive and its going to mean a dramatic reduction in our standard of living, and so everyone is looking to say they were against it, right up until they vote for it.

Let's be real. Any benefit a "dramatic reduction in our standard of living" would have on the bottom line would be completely swamped by 3rd world countries upgrading their own standard of living. Thankfully nothing of the sort will be required. Despite what you might want to believe science really can give us our cake and let us eat it too. Trying to argue otherwise only drags out the process and increases the toll our environment has to take in the meantime.

Re:It's a token law. (1)

toppavak (943659) | more than 5 years ago | (#28344085)

And where in the constitution is the topic of intellectual property covered? In what way does legally obliging the federal government to not sign any treaty that may "weaken the stance of American intellectual property" then subvert the constitution?

Re:It's a token law. (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 5 years ago | (#28344697)

IP is in article one section eight but I don't think that is what he was getting at.

The IP isn't the issue with him, it's the global warming treaties and what this government has claimed they were wanting to do.

Re:It's a token law. (1)

Rycross (836649) | more than 5 years ago | (#28344855)

United States Constitution, Article 1, Section 8 [usconstitution.net]

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

Whats wrong with that? (2, Interesting)

spyder-implee (864295) | more than 5 years ago | (#28343671)

I'm generally against IP, but if this helps make green power technology more profitable it's really not that bad is it?

Re:Whats wrong with that? (4, Interesting)

SanguineV (1197225) | more than 5 years ago | (#28343727)

Imagine your (parents') house has a small electrical fire threatening to burn it down. The fire brigade will licence you a fire extinguisher for twice the cost of the house. Your options are:
- a house with a small scorched area and be bankrupted
- live in a burnt out foundation with your savings

Sounds like a great solution to making "green power technology more profitable it's really not that bad is it?"

(Yes I am ignoring insurance etc.)

Fair warning: this post will make you think. (5, Insightful)

znerk (1162519) | more than 5 years ago | (#28344015)

I'm generally against IP, but if this helps make green power technology more profitable it's really not that bad is it?

I'm generally against giving up my personal freedoms, but if getting implanted with a chip that allows me to be tracked accurately to within 3 meters will help stop the terrorists it's really not that bad, is it?

Uhm. Yeah. It is. Pork in your bill is always bad, and the IP laws are screwy enough, kthxbai.

Oh, and another thing... start substituting the word "expensive" when you read "profitable". It makes no sense to me to vote ourselves an automatic 400% increase in price for "green power" technologies, especially if we're excluding any ideas on making "green power" more affordable (read "more available") simply because they come from another country, and/or might step on copyright/patent toes in this country. (Do you really think China gives a rat's ass about violating American laws? Ask NEC about the counterfeit factories (yes, plural; 18, to be precise) they found because someone RMA'd a DVD player that NEC didn't even make. The workers thought it was a legitimate operation, they had NEC's name and logo all over the building and the uniforms, not just the products. Here, have a link [newscientist.com] .)

(Off-topic rant) My take on IP: 7 years (with a one-time extension of the same duration) was reasonable; 150 years is not. Let the mouse go already, I want my public domain works.

--
Please read and think before you respond or moderate. Thank you.

Re:Fair warning: this post will make you think. (1)

spyder-implee (864295) | more than 5 years ago | (#28344501)

Agreed, but you need to have some incentive for investors to put money into the research of these technologies. It wont happen if they know they can't earn a decent return on their investment.

Re:Fair warning: this post will make you think. (2, Informative)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 5 years ago | (#28344655)

It doesn't happen anyway. You're a fool if you think long-term IP monopolies foster innovation. What they foster is a legal industry that sucks millions out of actual productive uses of capital, thus lowering the overall standard of living.

America never would have become an industrial nation if we hadn't simply ignored British patent laws, exactly the way China is ignoring ours.

Re:Whats wrong with that? (1)

broken_chaos (1188549) | more than 5 years ago | (#28344035)

One problem is this means either corporations and individuals will be forced to pay licensing fees of some sort if any of the technology covered by various other corporations IP is needed to meet any form of emissions or "green" requirements. It's either that, or there will be a limit on how much "green" can be required, and it would be stopped at the point where there is any licensing fee for the technology.

It means more profit for companies at the cost of the environment or the individual. So it's pretty much par for the course, but that's not a good thing.

Sad? (1)

anonieuweling (536832) | more than 5 years ago | (#28343857)

This shows how the USA are 'into' it, even if the CO2 myth would be real: They'd rather suffer from a bad climate *AND* *WORSE* than give up their IP. How sad is that?

Re:Sad? (1)

demachina (71715) | more than 5 years ago | (#28344557)

"... than give up their IP."

The question is if the U.S. will even have any green IP to protect. After the last eight years of denying there was a problem, and a proreligion, anti science and technology administration I'm wondering if the U.S. is so far behind Japan, Germany, China etc. that the U.S. is going to have to license technology from them instead of the other way around. The Japanese seem substantially ahead in hybrid vehicles. Not sure who is leading in battery technology but I'm skeptical its the U.S. There are some interesting things happening in the U.S. in low cost solar panels but Germany and China seem to have much higher existing production capacity.

Anyone have anecdotes for green technology IP that originates in the U.S.?

A win for big Oil? (4, Interesting)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 5 years ago | (#28343867)

Considering that the oil companies own a lot of energy technology patents it's quite possible that this is a bad thing because they still control when that technology will be released and use those patents offensively for any one re-inventing a technology that is actually effective.

Unintentionally, this bill could be consolidating the oil companies control of the energy market because viable technologies are not being allowed to make it to market.

Re:A win for big Oil? (1)

JackieBrown (987087) | more than 5 years ago | (#28344019)

Why do you think it is unintentional? You don't want to imagine the democrats in bed with big evil corporations?

Re:A win for big Oil? (1)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 5 years ago | (#28344277)

Why do you think it is unintentional? You don't want to imagine the democrats in bed with big evil corporations?

Not at all, it's a very good point you have made. It's hard to believe anything that pertains to maintaining the power structures of the world is not deliberate anymore.

Re:A win for big Oil? (1)

drago177 (150148) | more than 5 years ago | (#28344269)

I'm probably lost here, but I'm confused why it is bad. I mean, I see Germany is one of the few countries that has met its Kyoto obligations. And I believe they did that at least partially by
1. force power companies to buy solar power from anyone for a great price
2. German companies started seeing huge demand for solar, and could be sure it would continue to increase, so they increased investments and manufacturing
3. profit!
4. German semiconductor stock market gets a boost from foreign investments, and does well.
5. more profit
6. other countries buying german solar products and technology
7. even more profit!

Joking aside, it was business innovation that started investing only when they knew they could profit from it, which resulted in a net profit for the companies, and Germany met their goals.

So what's wrong with protecting the patent rights of companies that innovate, even if a lot of it will go to big oil companies?

Re:A win for big Oil? (3, Informative)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 5 years ago | (#28344765)

I'm probably lost here, but I'm confused why it is bad.

Because the patents that are owned by the oil companies can be used the same way software patents are being used, offensively, to block new innovations (or even old innovations) getting to market.

Green, not green (1)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 5 years ago | (#28343875)

Congress is all in favor of green tech, just not the same green as the environmentalists mean.

Then fuck u.s. position (0, Flamebait)

unity100 (970058) | more than 5 years ago | (#28343895)

a new world consensus gets established, u.s. finds itself isolated. then your congressmen can fuck themselves in their little isolated corner. world is not going to listen to shit from rotten as u.s. congressmen while the world is turning upside down.

Talk about "fiddling while Rome burns"... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28344097)

They're supposed to be dealing with one of the *the* great challenges of our time and instead they're wasting time worrying about a pissy little mote of a side-issue like IP??? Are they completely in-freaking-sane???

Re:Talk about "fiddling while Rome burns"... (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 5 years ago | (#28344669)

Yes.

Democrats are just looking out for the envionment (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28344185)

...as long as their big corporate donors are protected.

And then somebody will tell you the Democrats really are different than the Republicans. It would be funny if it wasn't so pathetic.

Re:Democrats are just looking out for the envionme (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 5 years ago | (#28344679)

But...But...KEY ISSUES!!!....like....uh....Terry Schiavo!

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