Doug Thompson

Voting and copyrights
By Doug Thompson

Federal voting “reform” is a disaster.
“Research into voting fraud by Lorraine Minnite at Barnard College in New York has turned up no contemporary cases of an election thrown out or overturned due to fraudulent registration,” the Christian Science Monitor reported Oct. 19. “She found only two prosecutions for people faking others’ registrations between 2002 and 2005, involving a total of 13 false applications.”
Meanwhile, the bitterly misnamed “Help American Vote Act” has kept or removed millions from voter rolls. It did this at a cost of billions of taxpayer dollars.
Our Justice Department was packed with hatchet men willing to charge people with voter registration fraud at the drop of a hat. Not one of those cases resulted in any big convictions or uncovered any major cases of fraud.
This is what you get when you let people who are elected fiddle with your elections.
As we all recall Florida had a very close election in the presidential race in 2000. This caused Congress to declare that the system in all 50 states needed major reform.
Congress — 535 people whose greatest desire, individually, is to secure his or her own re-election. Their second greatest desire, collectively, is to secure the majority for their party.
This is the body we put in charge of our elections when we let them pass HAVA.
The Republicans made it more difficult for members of ethnic groups to register. Now the Democrats are taking over. Expect a wild swing the other way.
I’m just a wiseguy from Arkansas but here’s my suggestion. Repeal HAVA. Let states run elections. Let’s save the money we’re spending on the state level, then take all the money we’re wasting on HAVA at the federal level and spend it in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department. Let the Senate oversee presidential appointments to that Justice Department.
If there’s registration fraud at one extreme or civil rights violations on the other, let our reformed, impartial and professional Justice Department put the guilty in prison.
That’s all I have to say about that. Let’s go to a new topic, but stick to the theme of our federal government taking over things they should leave alone.
Our government recently created an intellectual property czar. This job will require going after people who make copies of songs, movies and whatnot.
The reason for creating this job is because the Recording Industry Association of America, among others, has fought a long, costly and futile legal battle against copying music. Untold millions of dollars spent on the very best copyright attorneys money can buy has not only failed but has made the recording industry’s name stink. They look like desperate and dumb monopolists intent on charging $12 for a CD when their customers really want four songs off it for $4. In the process they’ve made the iPod more popular than then transistor radio was in the 1950s.
Drastically declining sales, expensive legal fights and an industry approval rating comparable to that of head lice: What’s the recording industry to do? Why, give much of the expense, the burden and the onus to the taxpayer, of course.
Just about everything the government’s done in the field of intellectual property makes things worse. For instance, copyrights used to expire. Then Congress increased the length of copyright by 20 years in 1998. How much do you want to bet they increase it by another 20 years in 2018?
You cannot perform Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land” without infringing on copyright. Some books published in 1923 are still under copyright protection.
Thomas Jefferson is turning over in his grave — and puking.
Call me simplistic. Wouldn’t the fight against copyright infringement be easier if we weren’t still trying to protect things that are a century old, or thereabouts?
My personal favorite is the granting of a patent to a gene-splicing company for a gene they found in a plant in Madagascar.
Now I’m fairly confident that this company didn’t invent the plant. So I’m a little at a loss to understand how they got a patent here. Apparently God needs a good intellectual property lawyer.

Categories: Features