The glories of the intellectual property imperium! (from Occupy Monsanto)
GMO giants DuPont have contracted dozens of retired law enforcement officers to begin patrolling farms in the US next year to spot any potential intellectual property theft.
DuPont Co, the second-largest seed country in the world, is hoping to find farmers that have purchased contracts to use their genetically modified soybean seeds but have breached the terms of agreement by illegally using the product for repeat harvests. Should farmers replant GMO seeds licensed by DuPont, they could be sued for invalidating their contracts.
This reminded me of my teacher Sam Bowles talking about guard labor (I Google and am glad to find that he still talks about it). Excessive supervision that pays for itself by keeping down wages, prison guards, etc: a great deal of labor is devoted to just watching people who, in a better structure of motivation, would not need to be watched at all.
(To say nothing of the fact the the part of guard labor that consists of prison guards is devoted to keeping prisoners out of the labor market, so that’s everybody’s effort wasted: on this see Bruce Western and Katherine Beckett, and John Quiggin. But I digress.)
Further Googling tells me that Bill Totten, who has a company that distributes open source software in Japan, has made just the same association between IP protection and guard labor.
My paper with Andrea Filippetti is now available from Birkbeck’s Centre for Innovation Management Research. Bottom line: European countries with a combination of good short-term unemployment insurance and vocational training participation were less likely to see reductions in private sector investment in innovation in the first year of the financial crisis: having just one of these was no help, and job security, the bête noire of neo-liberalism, made no difference. Another way of putting it is that, in this particular case (investment in innovation, during the financial crisis), it is the security part of the flexicurity model that provides the benefit. This is consistent with the logic of Estevez-Abe, Iversen & Soskice’s chapter in Hall & Soskice’s Varieties of Capitalism.
Employers value what they pay for (or is it pay for what they value?): unpaid interns are no more likely to get a job offer than students who don’t do internships; paid interns improve their odds by over 50%. From a US survey: Continue reading →
Is the UK government’s new requirement of (slightly delayed) free access to publications based on government-funded research a blow to the extortionate power of commercial academic publishers, or will it just entrench them further? Continue reading →
Richard Evans, writing about the University of California system:
In the decade beginning in 1997, while faculty increased by 24 percent and student enrollment increased 39 percent, senior management grew by 118 percent.
He suggests that this might have contributed more than a little to with the financial crisis in those universities, which has been seen in temporary salary cuts (which earn the nice euphamism “employee furloughs”) and higher student fees. He provides the gruesome graphic seen below. (Note: all from a website run by that Council of UC Faculty Associations – so no dog in the fight, right?)
University of California: the cutting edge of red tape
Where I work we do worry a bit about future finances. To preview that future I naturally look to California, where I grew up, since we always liked to think of ourselves as leading the way in everything from psychedelics to electronics. And certainly it has been leading the way of late in the field of problematic public finances, so perhaps this is the shape of things to come.
(A prediction I can make with more confidence is that somebody will write to say that this is not the shape of things to come, but what we have now. About that, I really can’t say.)