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An American served a year in prison for copyright conduct that is legal in EU (blogs.harvard.edu)
225 points by severine on Feb 17, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 186 comments



Forbidding hardware/software owners from exploring and/or modifying the device or the copy of a program they have legitimately bought whatever a way they want and selling their legitimate property (even after they have modified it) just ought to be banned completely IMHO.


While I sympathize with your viewpoint--I hate artificial restrictions on my own property--I think your statement is overly broad. There are a lot of things that should not be modifiable by the end user. Car odometers, aircraft transponders and the software in self-driving cars leap immediately to mind. I'm sure there are more.


You can have laws that criminalize activities after modification without criminalizing victimless modifications. Such as:

Illegal to sell a car with a modified odometer - but you can screw with yours all you want. Wait, I think that is already illegal.

Illegal to fly an aircraft in the NAS with unauthorized modifications to the transponder. Wait, that is already illegal. :)


Correct, selling a vehicle with a tampered odometer with the intent to defraud is illegal. I repair gauge clusters in the Jeep community and it is very easy to change the odometer. There is a documentation process that has to be followed to remain legal when doing so.


Exactly, it's already illegal to use any such modifications, so it's just a lame excuse to own the customers.


And the obvious problem in the DMCA case is that the modifications are also necessary to do things that aren't copyright infringement, like side loading apps on iOS, or creating a screen reader for the blind, or making useful third party improvements to the media device in general.

It's as if the problem was people rolling back odometers and instead of passing a law against rolling back odometers they passed a law against making any modifications whatsoever to a vehicle that has an odometer.

There is already a law against copyright infringement. What is the DMCA anti-circumvention law adding to that other than to prohibit things that aren't copyright infringement?


The "legal in the EU" part distracts from the true injustice of this kind of activity being criminalized.

Countries have different laws. You can be convicted in most EU states of saying things which are protected speech in the US. Or for getting an abortion.

But this law is an example of the primacy of corporate activity over human rights.


> The "legal in the EU" part distracts from the true injustice of this kind of activity being criminalized.

It also creates unnecessary confusion since it implies an American was jailed in Europe for something that's legal in Europe. For the reason you give - countries have different laws - there's no reason to mention Europe otherwise.

> You can be convicted in most EU states [...] for getting an abortion.

I'd love to know where you got this from.


Sorry, that sentence was structured poorly and it's too late to edit my comment. Let me split it in two:

1> In most EU states, some speech which is protected in the USA is illegal (e.g. pro-nazi statements which are understandably forbidden in certain countries).

2> Another example of something legal in the USA is abortion, while some countries in Europe are more restrictive (Malta 100%, Andorra, Italy, Ireland and Poland almost so, usw).


Ah okay. I thought at first you may have meant something illegal in the USA, but not Europe, but that didn't really make sense. Although, the first Google result for "convicted for having an abortion" is this sad case:

http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/appeal-indiana-woman-convicted-ha...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purvi_Patel


Copyright depends more on common legal framework across many nations due to trade. Hence it makes sense to speak of the EU in this case. Abortion and free speech is far more country specific. It has little to do with EU which is about trade primarily.



Great point. Americans will also be arrested for beating their wives, a conduct that might be 100% legal in another country (or at least ignored.)

Or try driving with a legally owned gun through a few USA states and see...


>Or try driving with a legally owned gun through a few USA states and see...

Stay away from the coasts and it would go pretty well.


This was a 22-year-old guy who made $50 profit selling a modified Wii to an undercover cop, by the way.


That's not quite true. Selling the Wii to the cop was the predicate to his indictment. But he was prosecuted for running a business selling mod chips. They found something like a dozen waiting to to be installed and sold in his workshop, and presented evidence of his ongoing commercial venture at trial.

What really happened here is that he got royally screwed at sentencing. Criminal History Category I, at effectively the base sentencing level for criminal DMCA infringement, and they decided to make an example out of him.


a dozen of them at $50 a pop? Lock him and throw away the key!


I would really be ashamed of myself if I sent a 22yo in prison for that. Laws and everything aside, you really have to be shamelessly cruel and without conscience.


That's illegal? Are you serious?


Yes, in the land of the free.


Weird to send people to jail for something like this. How is that proportional to the ‘crime’ even if found guilty? More people in jail is a lovely plan anyway...


Go on Reddit, advocate for minor fines as a punishment for nonviolent crime. Read the responses.

Those people vote. That's why practically everything is an insane fine with jail time at the judges discretion


Hey, those corporate prisons need to make their profits somehow.


Yeah I did not want to mention that; most people in the EU do not know that privatized prisons exist; when I tell them they simply do not believe it until they look it up. There are not many ideas worse and more perverted than that on this earth.


Here's a fun fact: when the US abolished slavery, they lost out on a lot of cheap/free labour. Guess what bridged the gap? Forced prison labour. Guess who filled the prisons? Former slaves. The old bait 'n switch.

Guess who's filling the prisons all these years laters?


...criminals? See https://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=5869, quoting from the summary:

"More than half (53%) of state prisoners were serving sentences for violent offenses in 2014 (the most recent year for which offense data are available), compared to 19% for property offenses and less than 16% for drug crimes."

Also to parent's point:

"Almost 7% of state prisoners (91,300 inmates) and 18% of federal prisoners (34,900) were held in private prison facilities in 2015"

The evil corporate private prisons trapping the poor pot smokers to extract money from them is a nice fairy tale. The reality is more complicated and forces us to grapple with the fact that there are some pretty bad people out there, and we're apparently OK with treating them inhumanely when we seek retribution.


I don't think it's that simple. Once you get put in jail for some stupid offense you will have a lot of trouble finding work making it more likely to do criminals things. It's a negative cycle.


You're assuming the only point against private prisons is that private prisons have resulted in ridiculous sentencing for petty crimes.

The US incarceration rate is ridiculous and you know it. Even if the share of violent offenses seems plausible, that still means either there's something very wrong with the US that's turning too many people into violent criminals, or there's something very wrong with the US that's getting too many people convicted for violent crimes.

It's a lot more complex than just "poor pot smokers" getting sent to prison, though. The War on Drugs alone causes a lot of collateral damage that's feeding into the prison system. Bails, plea bargains, entrapment, ... there's a lot of problems with the US criminal justice system from an outside perspective.

There are enough private prisons in the US for there to be a private prison industry and a lobby. That lobby has obvious incentives to help shape legislation in a way that lands more people in prison. It's impossible to say what role that lobby has had so far exactly but it seems a safe bet that politicians are paying attention.


Made bad in no small amount by the American prison system. That is were most American gangs come from. Even ISIS was formed in American prisons.


> Even ISIS was formed in American prisons.

This is probably what's getting you downvoted. This seems like an extreme claim that runs contrary to common knowledge but is presented without any evidence.

Do you have a source for that? According to Wikipedia ISIS started out in Jordan as Jama'at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad and merged with several other groups before rebranding itself as ISI in Iraq and later ISIL/ISIS/Daesh. Its founder Abu Musab al-Zarqawi did end up in prison early in his "career" (1992) but that was in Jordan, not in the US, and he already had founded a terrorist group at that time.

Considering al-Zarqawi is generally considered the leader/founder of ISIS and never saw a US prison, your claim seems odd.


Although al-Zarqawi was the original founder of what became ISIS, the person that made it what it is today is al-Baghdadi, who did spend time in a US prison and I presume OP is talking about him.


Bridged the gap to what? The industrialized North wanted cheap labor.

If I were in prison, I’d rather work in a chain gang than be stuck indoors 24x7. I havn’t seen a chain gang in 30 years. They don’t use chains anymore, rather a dude with a shotgun.


We actually have them in the UK too! [0] There are apparently 14 now, since the 90s, run by Sodexo Justice Services, Serco and G4S Justice Services.

0. https://www.justice.gov.uk/about/hmps/contracted-out


See also "secure units" - lots of these are privately provided to NHS patients in England.

A secure unit takes:

> Individuals with mental disorder or neuro-development disorder who are liable to be detained under the Mental Health Act (1983) and whose risk of harm to others and risk of escape from hospital cannot be managed safely within other mental health settings, require care and treatment within a secure mental health service.

> Individuals will typically have complex mental disorders, with co-morbid difficulties of substance misuse and/or personality disorder, which are linked to offending or seriously irresponsible behaviour. Consequently most individuals are involved with the criminal justice system, the courts and prison system and many have Ministry of Justice restrictions imposed


TL/DR:

Jailbreaking the Wii lead an American guy to prison, while it would have been legal in Europe, according to the EUCJ.


To be 'fair', this merely reflects a known major difference between the US and Europe.

Just about any felony is associated with a maximum sentence that is roughly 10 times higher in the US than in Europe. The US justice system is all about retribution, this is so ingrained in the US psyche that ssemingly normal people who think they are humane and have good moral compass will make "don't drop the soap jokes" and basically accept prison rape as normal way of dealing with felons, provided they dislike the crime enough. Even US judges occasionally state in public that they hope that the defendant will die in prison.

People in Europe tend to be more civil in such matters.


> People in Europe tend to be more civil in such matters.

I would be careful to generalize here. It's often not the people that are reluctant to demand retribution, but criminal justice systems that are insulated against populism. For example, there's currently a pretty sickening case of serial gang rape being reported on in Germany and there's plenty of popular outrage [1], including some people wishing for the death penalty and for body parts getting hacked off (and the suspects appear to be ethnic Germans, so it's not anti-migrant hysteria). But in the end, the criminal justice system is unlikely to be affected by that outrage, largely because of Germany's career judiciary (both prosecutors and judges).

[1] The outrage is understandable; the crimes make me feel ill, too. But the desire for retribution is still way outside what the penal code or the constitution would permit.


Plus, I find the idea of "sentence stacking" absolutely absurd. It just encourages prosecutors to throw the book at you and scare you into taking a "shorter" sentence with a plea deal.


I find the idea of plea deals absurd. They seem to encourage results before justice


The costs of the US justice system are already exorbitant, with plea deals being the norm. Public defense offices are overworked and understaffed, judge calendars are overbooked, quality representation costs millions... I forgot which justice said it, but basically the justice system relies on plea deals as it stands. I don't know what kind of sweeping reform would be required to change that.

Edit: "That is what plea bargaining is. It is not some adjunct to the criminal justice system; it is the criminal justice system." Scott & Stuntz, Plea Bargaining as Contract, 101 Yale L. J. 1909, 1912 (1992). " Quoted in Missouri v Frye before the Supreme Court(https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=169296831339244...)


Whereas lots of other countries don't have them. Could it be that the US are prosecuting too many people? Too many things are illegal perhaps? The war on drugs maybe?

Perhaps, when so many people are doing something illegal that your criminal justice system can't take the strain it is time to consider what is illegal? Plea bargains on the other hand seem to be working around justice.


Maybe we're prosecuting too many people because too much otherwise unremarkable behavior is illegal.


Is it just that we don’t have enough public defenders? It sounds like there’s a good opportunity here to convince the government that 10x-ing the number of lawyers they hire would make for a good jobs program.


The US also use pleabargains extensively. Insane prison sentences in the US is essentially used to blackmail the accused into giving up their right to a trial. Hence over 70% of US inmates never went to trial.


The real difference is that the jail system is privatized in the US, so that it has become a profiting system not that different from hotels and resorts. Hotels and resorts need to get a constant influx of customers to be kept in business, so do private prisons, and harsh punitive laws help to get that goal. Make prisons public and the sudden need to save taxpayers money will force them to keep only real criminals behind bars.


Hysteria whipped up by media/politicians, private prison industry etc all contribute to the problem, but the attitude of the general public towards crime/punishment is very different here. This is true even after someone gets released from prison - it is so hard to find jobs, apartments etc once you've been to prison.

I don't know of any other country that has elections for judges!


I'm curious as to why you think elections for judges is a bad thing? I'm not advocating for that system (I'm the first to say the US system is completely fucked), but the only other way I know of is by getting appointed, which also seems like a terribly corrupt system to me.


Do you think we should elect doctors?

Surely doctors should be experts in medicene, and judges should be experts on law. If you're elected you are an expert in being elected.


Yes but if a doctor sucks, nobody will consult him anymore after a while but with judges you don't get to pick one ...


Next time I get taken to hospital having been in a car crash I'll be sure to review the doctor's ratings on yelp before he stems the catastrophic internal bleeding


IMO the primary problem is with retention elections - if a serving judge must face the electorate to remain in his position, then he is encouraged to make populist decisions in court, rather than decisions in the interest of justice/public policy.

Judicial elections in general also bring in unwelcome outside influences to the process (monetary campaign backing, campaigning along party lines despite the fact judges are supposed to be politically independent) and the best judges may not be the best politicians/campaigners.


That’s a safeguard to prevent the executive branch (president, governor, mayor) from installing judges. I vote them out every election. They should have term limits.


Is blinding voting to remove not counter-productive? I feel like it would incentivise judges to act even more in line with popular opinion to swing the needle back the other way.


Private prisons are a small percentage of all jails. That's not the reason for long sentences.


I used to say that for a long time too, and its still technically correct, but so much in the prison system is part of a business (like phone calls and "work" and other necessities).

A small introduction: https://www.globalresearch.ca/the-prison-industry-in-the-uni...


It's not just the prison system either, it's the whole justice system.

Make the penalties for everything unreasonably harsh you escalate what criminals are willing to do to avoid their people going to jail. They're more likely to carry weapons and murder witnesses and the whole works. Which allows the police to justify more SWAT teams and military hardware and surveillance gear that all come from private for-profit corporations.

Arms dealers love an arms race.


Prison guard unions have exactly the same incentives, whether in the EU, Canada or the US.


Prison guards are completely different kinds of people in these countries. In the US a prison guard is a guy that gets a week training on how to hit people with a stick. In Norway it is a 2-3 year college education with exams. It is a completely different kind of people who join this profession. You don’t spend 2-3 years getting this education unles you really believe in chaning people. It is not just some job to make a buck.


I think the US had this 'retribution' aspect of imprisonment already. Even before the prison-industrial complex, which admittedly is doing its best to perpetrate long sentences to maintain profits...


Given that jails don't charge the inmates to stay there, your analogy is quite broken.

Taxpayers foot the bill either way.


Ummm, in many places in the US, absolutely does the jail charge inmates to stay there.

Find yourself locked up in Macomb Co, MI? You will receive a bill for $60/day for your incarceration as you are released.

Florida State Prison? Be prepared for a "cost of incarceration lien" to be levied by the state at the rate of $50/day for often multi-year sentences.

Such fees are authorized (though not always enforced) in 43 states.

So the analogy is not at all broken.

1. http://money.cnn.com/2015/09/18/news/economy/prison-fees-inm...

2. http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-34705968

3. https://www.brennancenter.org/analysis/paying-your-time-how-...


Wait

-

Really?

Cruel and unusual?


But where does the money come from then? Or better, where the incentive to put minor offenders in jail comes from? Especially taking into account how this makes much harder for them to have a normal life (job, friends, familiy etc.) afterwards. It seems things are arranged to get more people behind bars and make easier for them to return there; that way people who enter a jail for something trivial are more likely to become real criminals. Some other users corrected me about the number of private jails so I'm genuinely interested to know. There are businesses involved with procuring guards, firearms, clothing, meals etc, but that would not change much in state owned prisons; in many countries it's perfectly normal to have public entities subcontracting services to the private sector.


...not to mention death penalty, including states where the family of a victim were allowed to watch the execution and even cheer.


It should be added, and this is important, this sentence is not punished equally because of the country‘s laws, it is because of an international trade agreement which both Europe and America have agreed to. Specifically Article 11 of the WIPO Copyright Treaty.

A EU court ruled that it is not illegal to provide a mod chip for the Wii because of “how often [the] devices are in fact used in order to allow unauthorised copies … and how often that equipment is used for purposes which do not infringe copyright[.]“ (from the article).

The US court meanwhile ignored the question whether they could have legitimate purpose at all and just saw it as “a device to circumvent copyright“.

What is interesting here is not that two countries have different laws, it is that an “international“ law is interpreted completely different for an almost identical case by two countries and thus punished completely differently.


Isn't there an international court (the one in Den Haag?) that could be used to clarify this difference in interpretation of international law?


The US withdrew from the ICJ's "compulsory jurisdiction" following Nicaragua v. United States and accept the court's jurisdiction "on a case by case basis" (not to mention enforcement of ICJ rulings are performed by the UN Security Council on which the US have veto rights).

The court mostly deals with disputes between states — which is not the case here as a USian was imprisoned by the US following US interpretation of treaty rules — and the US would have to allow its jurisdiction for this case which I wouldn't see happen normally, and even less so under the current jingoistic administration.


The International Court of Justice does not have compulsory jurisdiction, cases can only be referred to it by agreement between state parties, whether such agreement is expressed before or after the dispute. I'm unfamiliar with the Berne convention but I think it sets a minimum standard for copyright. States are free to go above the minimum. States are definitely free to decide whether a crime is civil or criminal and how it is to be prosecuted and punished.

There're a series of excellent EdX courses on International Law by the Université Catholique de Louvain if you're interested.

https://www.edx.org/micromasters/louvainx-international-law

Don't use endonyms like Den Haag or Torino for The Hague or Turin for developed countries. Use the traditional exonyms.


It might be worth making it precise that you mean "legal in the EU". Assuming that every legal system in Europe that is not in the EU would reach the same conclusion as the EU Court of Justice may be dangerous. As this article demonstrates, opinions about copyright can differ wildly.


Even in the EU, local courts might not always reach the same decision due to differences in local law. But at least the ECJ has set some standard as to what is acceptable.


> Even in the EU, local courts might not always reach the same decision due to differences in local law.

Same as in the US, but ultimately the EJC is Europe's Supreme Court, if it decides to take a case and rule, its rulings supersede local decisions.


That's nerve wracking and I feel for the guy. As a kid in 7th grade, helping others install mod chips was definitely a big spark in my then still young tech journey. So what if he makes a couple hundred dollars here and there, how does that equate to spending a year in prison. If nothing else, he's now spent a not insignificant time with felons in his more formative years...


Opinions about the law itself aside, I’m confused why this fact is consider r material.

If someone in the UK was arrested for having a gun would we write about a “British man serving time for something that’s legal in the US”?


Even if it had been illegal nobody would be sent to prison over it. Just a fine and probation.


Pity those vultures found him. Another hero we don't deserve goes down...


I love the art Nintendo produces and the company has been an integral part of my childhood, but I find their stance on piracy to be some of the most detestable in the industry.

Fuck them for sending some poor guy to prison for modifying hardware he owned. Almost makes you want to pirate their games in protest.


It irks somewhat that even an article bearing the Harvard name can't make the distinction between 'Europe' and the EU. Using them interchangeably in casual conversation is one thing, but doing it whilst making a reasoned case is just sloppy handling of the detail.


How many countries are in one but not the other? Switzerland, Liechtenstein and ? Or is there another reason for remembering the distinction?


Wow my googling failed me miserably above. The now-dead sibling reply lists a dozen or more countries in that category.


Albania, Andorra, Armenia. Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Gibraltar, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, The Isle of Man, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Norway, Russian Federation, San Marino, Serbia, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, and Vatican City State (Holy See). From 2019, the UK will be part of this list.

Furthermore, "Europe" as an organisation could mean the European Union, The Council of Europe or even minor entities like the European Broadcasting Union depending on the context.


Turkey is an Asian country. Just because they own a slice of land in Southeastern Europe does not make them European. Otherwise, Spain would be African, France would be Latin American, and Egypt would be Asian.


Istanbul is (by far) the largest city of Turkey and is mostly on the European continent. If you include the coasts of the Aegean (that were historically Greek-speaking), then you get several more major population centers. And historically, the Ottoman Empire was very much a major European power, controlling as it did most of the Balkans.

If Cyprus can claim to be a European country, then so can Turkey.


Why do we need this NAFTA thing again? And why does involve copyright? It would be much easier to enact NAFTA if it skipped copyright entirely.


These trade agreements are used to project rules and circumvent laws decided by democracies.


We don't need NAFTA. Corporations need NAFTA. Free Trade Agreements exist to expand/remove borders for corporations. While it disadvantages citizens who are "trapped" in their own borders.


And another person in Eu is serving 10 years for weed where it' would be completely legal in part of US. So what's the point of such stupid title...


The one thing about this topic more infuriating than America's draconian and absurd intellectual "property" law is the vigour with which they force it upon the rest of the world.

This is an area where China is clearly the freer country.


I'm not sure legalizing IP theft makes a country freer, because the person who owns stolen IP is deprived of the opportunity to profit from his own ideas.

This applies to other types of theft too. Would you say that a country where people can legally steal food away from each other is freer than a country where this is not the case?


How is stealing a physical object at all similar to "stealing" an idea? These are two very different things, and I think the fact that we even call it "theft" and "stealing" is bullshit, because it clearly isn't.


So should Penguin Books be allowed to copy every book published by Doubleday if they give all the copies away for free?


I guess I don't understand the question. If one publisher gives away books for free, should another publisher be allowed to copy it?


Sorry, let me clarify. Say Doubleday is buying books from authors and selling them in bookstores - the usual model. Should Penguin be allowed to print copies of Doubleday’s books as long as Penguin gives those copies away for free?


I guess I can't think of a reason why they shouldn't be able to. Is there some implication for that which you think would be detrimental?


In this scenario, where Doubleday has set up free-book stands across the street from brick-and-mortar stores, it becomes nearly impossible for Penguin to sell any books to anyone, and thus impossible for Penguin to pay authors for manuscripts.

If you could've gotten a free copy of a Harry Potter book the day after it went on sale, would you have paid for it? Do you think there would've been any sequels if this was happening?


> If you could've gotten a free copy of a Harry Potter book the day after it went on sale, would you have paid for it?

Yeah, actually. In fact, that's basically what I did (for some of the sequels, not the first book). I don't get why everyone thinks that nobody is willing to pay creators. Kickstarter, Patreon, etc are living proof that people want to pay.

We really need to wake up to the fact that distribution for media is basically a solved problem. We don't need gateways who continue to creat artificial barriers just so that their dying industry can try and stay alive.


If I open a store next to you and sell things cheaper (or give them away), I'm depriving you of the opportunity to profit?


Breaking DRM on a device you own does not imply IP theft.


Most information goods are non-rival, whereas food is not.


China has started a pretty widespread and visible crackdown on IP theft, resulting in many arrests. Given the history of human right violations, political prisoners, prison-slave labor etc in China, I think I’d take my chances in the US.


Fun to be a corporate under Trump. Big surprise


Having lived in the US for 6 years when I was younger I became very acquainted first hand with Americans' touted importance of freedom, and their pride in the freedom they get as Americans. At the time I was too young to question this, and just thought of Americans as very proud and free people - I even got the bug myself and felt a great sense of pride and appreciation about having the privilege to live free in America.

That was a long time ago and I am now on my fourth country of residence. Now the espousing of "freedom" some Americans often express when discussing living in Europe vs the US is sort of baffling when there are so many examples of Americans being the opposite of free. This is one example of greater restrictions on their lives which Americans are forced to accept. It seems like freedom in the US is crippled at so many turns, either by corporations or lack of government support when you really need it in a bad financial situation. You're not free to expect your health to be taken care of no matter what your financial situation; you're not free from living in often astonishing debt just to to get a higher education; you're not free to feel any sort of real sense of job security when an employer can fire you at will with little protection; you're not free to make a mistake, maybe like this one, without facing overblown charges and/or prison sentences; etc...Living in the US now just seems like it would be so stressful.

Europe has its problems, but having lived in both places I know where I personally feel more "free".


"You're not free to expect your health to be taken care of no matter what your financial situation; you're not free from living in often astonishing debt just to to get a higher education; you're not free to feel any sort of real sense of job security when an employer can fire you at will with little protection;"

I think universal healthcare, affordable higher education and social security are basic necessities and it's insane that the US doesn't have them.

But that's not freedom, that's socialism. It's like saying that US citizens are not free to travel because airplane tickets are expensive.

Freedom means that you get a choice, even if that choice is going to screw yourself later in life - for instance not buying health insurance. All those things you mention are paid by your taxes - someone is literally taking money away from you to pay for something you might not need - thats hardly freedom.

In this sense the US is the freest country to live in, though not necessarily the best one.


I think there is a tendency in the US to define "freedom" only in terms of what somebody is not prevented from doing, rather than what somebody is enabled to do. This is partly historical, as the Bill of Rights describes only restrictions of what the government may not do, and does not have any statements about things that the government must ensure.

Your use of freedom and socialism as opposing ideas, rather than as two separate axes, suggests that you might be making this assumption.


Many Americans consider their freedoms to be individual and inalienable - that they exist in spite of government, not thanks to it. Their coercive nature puts governments in opposition to freedom regardless of the intent behind the laws they enforce, or their benefit to society as a whole.

Socialism seems opposed to freedom because it requires a greater scope of government power, and therefore, a greater suppression of individual and collective liberty, than capitalism. Of course, not everyone agrees with even those broad definitions of socialism or capitalism (in the American libertarian sense of capitalism, anyway.)

In other words, in the US the view tends to be that "the government which governs best, governs least."


I wonder how this view is reconciled with data points like the EIU's Democracy Index, which rates "civil liberties" in the US below those of many of the EU countries. Is the Democracy Index not considered a reputable report, or does the US tend to define "civil liberties" as something outside of the data points[1] used to build the index? These points seem to focus largely on personal freedoms, free media, and government interference.

[1] http://pages.eiu.com/rs/753-RIQ-438/images/Democracy_Index_2... - Factors used for "civil liberties" rating start on page 73.

Edit: Accidentally linked 2007 instead of 2017 PDF, fixed.


If we're honest with ourselves, most political beliefs aren't reconciled with data. We pick and choose what supports them.

Second, there's that temporary millionaire thing going on. If you're wealthy, the US is one of the best places in the world to be. You get to have your cake and eat it (healthcare, for example, is less of a concern). The legal system favors you, you can buy your way into media and politics. People see the freedom on the upper end and don't associate that with major limitations on the lower.


Literally no one would agree that is a definition of socialism.

https://www.google.com/search?q=define%3Asocialiasm


You're talking about the definition of socialism as accepted by people familiar with socialism versus the definition of socialism by people who consider it "Stalinism lite" because they have only ever encountered it as a pejorative to that effect.

Whether or not they're technically accurate is irrelevant - it's still what many Americans believe. Reasonable people can disagree with it but it's simply untrue that "literally no one" agrees with it.


I do believe he meant socialism as it's been advertised in the western world (see: Bernie Sanders, parts of Europe and Latin America) rather than socialism as "workers owning the means of production" (see: Marxist theory); since the latter has never lasted in a prosperous country/occurred at all (depending on who you ask and in which context).


I ran into a claim some years back that the original republican notion of freedom that the US system was based on was "freedom from coercion". With coercion defined as the threat of physical, economic, or other harm.

Thus the point of the government was to protect the citizens from coercion by being an entity that could step in on the side of the lesser party.


> I think universal healthcare, affordable higher education

> and social security are basic necessities and it's

> insane that the US doesn't have them.

> But that's not freedom, that's socialism.

You are confusing "freedom" with "anarchy", because freedoms tend to interfere with each other. I think we can agree that I do not lead a free life if I am in constant fear for my safety. So we create laws to restrict the freedom of the strong and police departments to enforce those laws. And you do not get a choice in the matter, not just not to adhere to those laws, but also to be protected by those laws.

And you might even be called on to participate, against your will (jury duty, the draft).

All this is not just compatible with "freedom", not in opposition to it, but arguably required for actual freedom. Actual freedom is not the same as "nobody can tell me what I can or cannot do [stomps feet]", and a bit more complicated.

Now liberal democracies differ on exactly where they draw the line, but I think the evidence is pretty strong that things like (a) worker's rights (b) universal healthcare (however delivered) and (c) at least sort-of free education enhance overall freedom. Whereas for example the right to bear arms, while sounding nice from the [stomp your feet] POV, is actually detrimental.


There are countries with lower taxes and fewer government services than the US (Somalia, say?). Even taxpayer funded healthcare places the US in the top 10 on a per-capita level. Trying to defend the US healthcare system on the basis of “you don’t want the government to take away your money” is basically a slogan invented by dishonest politicians in the pockets of the health insurance industry.


>But that's not freedom, that's socialism.

Who said that freedom is in conflict with socialism? Socialism takes care of some foundational requirements, so you have more freedom in your movement.

(Social democracy to be more correct, we're not talking about socialism in the Eastern European circa 1960s sense, but about something most of the civilized world enjoys, from Western and Nordic Europe to Japan and Australia).

It's like saying that US citizens are not free to travel because airplane tickets are expensive.

Well, there is a thing as things being "prohibitively expensive". And if some private interests take the public for suckers and keep tickets expensive, then, yeah, those people are not "free to fly" as much as other people are.

Even more so, if it's not tickets but something everybody should enjoy, like healthcare, but some huge interests, like big Pharma and insurance companies, artificially inflate costs using all the tricks of the "free market" and laugh all the way to the bank.

>Freedom means that you get a choice, even if that choice is going to screw yourself later in life - for instance not buying health insurance.

No, freedom means you have basic stuff like "healthcare covered, so you are free to pursue your interests -- not some rigged BS choice, between huge health conglomerates and people who can't afford bread every day.

Strangely, no one extends the "freedom" you described to other basics, like safety, rule of law, and so on. Because in that case, the free-er places would be Western Sahara, or some such country without an official government, where you're "free" to do whatever, as long as you can do it.


...someone is literally taking money away from you to pay for something you might not need – thats hardly freedom.

Every society beyond a certain size in the history of world has done this so making this statement is not relevant unless your point is that no society can be deemed free or that "freeness" is sliding scale dependent upon taxation rate. No one I've ever talked to has ever really thought this so I'm guessing you don't either.

Overall taxation levels in the U.S. are 40% – 50 % lower than in the Scandinavian countries. Generally people in those countries don't need to worry about food, shelter, healthcare. No matter what poor choices they make in life these things will be provided.

In the U.S. a single illness can bankrupt a family and leave them in penury. A person does have to worry about the what if scenarios. This burden of worry is precisely the way in which we are not free. It's the lack of real security.

There's a balance that the Scandinavian countries seemed to have found. They tax higher than we do. They invest in their people and in their society's well being. They tend to be happier. They tend to be healthier. They don't have to worry about being bankrupt because they got cancer. They are freer than we are as a result. Those countries, simply put, are much better places to live than the U.S.


America is one of the biggest (land-mass wise) and most diverse places in the world. There are tons of experiences to have. Treating America or the American experience as some cohesive whole or some shared experience is the most repeated fallacy in these types of conversations.

There are cities in America with public healthcare, and then there are cities that don't. There are cities that value greenways, public transportation, and diverse cultures, there are cities that value your freedom of transportation (i.e. a car) over everything. There are cities that have great public shelters and food kitchens and then there are cities where everyone opens their door and every place of worship tends to be a food kitchen, and then there are, of course, cities that don't do much of either. And while there isn't an explicit "free" education, there are hundreds of universities that will fully subsidize your cost of education (Harvard being one prominent example).

> Generally people in those countries don't need to worry about food, shelter, healthcare. No matter what poor choices they make in life these things will be provided.

This purported truthism is categorically false however, when your nation suffers an influx of new immigration, refugees, etc, such as what America has experienced most of it's existence. . Then all of a sudden, the money in the public coffers starts to run dry -- Greece is a great example -- the government almost went broke (well, I should say, went more broke) footing the bills for all the refugees streaming into the country. I am not saying that this is a bad thing -- good on them and bless them for that -- but at the end of the day, people's attitudes and perceptions on their perfect little "my government takes care of us" story gets changed when all of a sudden your government no longer has the means to take care of everyone. And since Europe is much closer to many of the conflicts happening in the world ATM, many countries in the Eurozone are seeing first hand the effect of this.


> There are cities in America with public healthcare, and then there are cities that don't.

Could you expand on this? I was unaware of any cities in the US with public healthcare.


I live in a small town north of Kansas City, MO that pays for ambulance rides if you can't. Not exactly NHS, but it's been a huge help to people I know.

There are also several free clinics in KC and STL.

In my area, there's two "tiers" of healthcare. Urgent Care for 99% of everything worth getting help for, and emergency rooms for a crisis. Most people I know in this town can't afford primary care physicians. I've never heard anyone talk about going to a free clinic, so I can't speak to their quality.


> I live in a small town north of Kansas City, MO that pays for ambulance rides if you can't.

Eh, as a EMS provider, there's a very different logic in play there. In my County's Medic One system, the transport is free, the rationale being that it's already been paid for by property taxes levied specifically to have these services available, and that people believed then being charged for use of the service would be "double-dipping".

While I wouldn't discount the importance of said service, I would dispute that it forms any meaningful form of "public healthcare" (even the private ambulances in the county charge $600+$16/mile, not cheap, but dwarfed the minute you cross the threshold into that ER).


Wrong on so many levels. Give an example of one city where healthcare is completely free or public transportation is 5 stars (train, bus, subway function and are free to ride) or a city with universal basic income or a city where higher education is 100% free.


> public transportation is 5 stars (train, bus, subway function and are free to ride)

Portland had an area inside the city where this was the case, but it looks like it was canceled. :(

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fareless_Square

> a city where higher education is 100% free.

GA has been offering almost free to completely free college with lottery money for a long time to residents.

http://www.gpb.org/blogs/georgia-at-work/2017/05/22/want-fre...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HOPE_Scholarship


Before I answer, can we at least level set that your your criteria / standards are pretty extreme? Unless you mean each individually and not the sum of them together -- but if you did mean the sum -- I want to live in this utopia you have in mind that has 100% this and 5 star that! I don't think that place exists, even in Scandinavia.

Washington D.C. meets your criteria on most but education. My brother and his wife all had their children at no expense. The Metro is one of the cleanest public transportation systems in America. It's one of the most walkable and beautiful cities I have ever been to.


New York state has free college. My South Park funny bone gets tickled every time I hear the name - the "Excelsior" scholarship.


America is one of the biggest (land-mass wise) and most diverse places in the world. There are tons of experiences to have.

There are no places in the U.S. that provide universal healthcare. There are no places in the U.S. in which public universities don't charge a lot in comparison to the OECD countries. There are no places in the U.S. that guarantee adequate food, or shelter. There are private organizations that do provide food and shelter but relying on the kindness of others is not a guarantee.

The per capita GDP level in the U.S. is sufficiently high to provide universal healthcare, free higher education, basic shelter, and food needs. This is indisputable. Mentioning immigration is a red herring since the influx of immigrants to the U.S. has not brought down the per capita GDP enough to claim that these things are unaffordable.


The issue of immigration is not just about whether there is enough money, it is also about how willing people are to pay. The states with the best public welfare systems, usually considered to be those in Scandinavia, have historically had very homogenous societies. Often a strong connection is drawn between the homogeneity of a society and the willingness to pay tax ( * ). Note that by homogeneity we do not only speak about peoples origin and looks, but perhaps more importantly about what values they hold. If you have a constant large influx of immigrants from diverse cultures, such as the US has had throughout its history, you also have a greater difference of values.

( * )Although I grant that those that argue for this usually lean to the conservative side of the political spectrum, for example David Goodhart: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2004/feb/24/race.eu)


I was responding to jimmy1's post. In there jimmy1 specifically mentions cost of providing for immigrants.

... story gets changed when all of a sudden your government no longer has the means to take care of everyone.

Since the per capita GDP of the U.S. is not declining so much to immigration then mentioning immigration is not relevant. It's a red herring. I can only guess as to the reason why jimmy1 made such an irrelevant point but I can't prove that my guess is correct. Thus I'll settle for just pointing out that it's a red herring and an argumentative fallacy.


Right, jimmy1 comment about immigration breaking the Greece economy seems factually incorrect. While handling the immigration flow was pretty expensive (sources say a few percentage points of GDP) that bill has largely been footed by U.N and various donor organizations and countries.

But also your argument here is flawed (U.S immigration doesn't affect U.S GDP negatively, so that should apply everywhere), because it doesn't take into account that the immigrants arriving to southern Europe and the ones coming to the U.S. are vastly different groups of people. I would assume that immigration to the U.S to a large extent consists of people wishing to work towards the "American Dream". Many of them have had to secure a job in advance to get a entry permit and so on. While the people arriving in Southern Europe are a random bunch of people, typically from economically unadvanced regions - refugees fleeing wars, economical immigrants etc.


The discussion was about the U.S. and it's lack care for it's citizens. Since immigration in the U.S. is not the cause of this then bringing up immigration is a red herring. If the discussion were about the effects of immigration in Europe then it would be relevant. I've never said, implied, insinuated, or hinted that immigration doesn't adversely effect per capita GDP in any nation since it isn't currently having such an effect in the U.S.


> jimmy1 comment about immigration breaking the Greece economy seems factually incorrect.

My 50+ relatives that are there right now experiencing it would say otherwise, but who knows they could all be wrong.

Populism and anti-globalist sentiment is on the rise in Europe on a whole due to immigration concerns.


The downfall of the Greek economy occurred in 2008/2009. The immigration problem came later after the economy tanked. The immigration problem made things worse but the economy had already been wrecked by the time the refugees arrived.


Freedom means having the choice not to buy and have health insurance? Cause who needs it? But you have mandatory car insurance in most states. However much time I spend in the USA, I just can't wrap around my head around these ”freedoms”. What I conclude, after having also lived in Germany, is that one really needs to live and experience this socialism to have a feeling how "free" that actually feels. Most US folks are boxed into their own idea of freedom from having basic necessities from a theoretical perspective knowing no other better way to live so much so that they would actively dismantle whatever protections they enjoy now.


By that method of thinking only the rich are free.

Everyone in poverty who do not have enough money to pay for healthcare or have any type of social services or pay for education .. ..theyre free to do what then?

Eu has more "freedom" in that everyone has access to these things.


> By that method of thinking only the rich are free.

"Money is coined freedom" -- Fyodor Dostoyevsky

> Eu has more "freedom" in that everyone has access to these things.

Agreed. Which is why I think that Europeans area also "richer" (the above works both ways, IMHO).

The "freedom" in the US is very much a freedom of the rich and powerful to do whatever they want unhindered. Which looks a lot like tyranny to everyone affected. Certainly employees are much more free in Europe, because they can't be fired on a whim. For example, had James Damore been a Google Employee in Munich, he'd almost certainly still have his job, or a very fat compensation payment.


I feel like high income Americans might be addicted to living above their means (tons of cars, everyone owns a big house, etc.). Im pretty cheap (and dont have kids/mortgage yet) and I got laid off my job. Basically unemployment covered all my expenses with a decent chunk left over to save and I just kept my work insurance with COBRA. Since I just saved a lot of money working I could theoretically be job hunting for almost 2 years before my emergency fund was empty assuming no unemployment income. But im also an entry level tech employee so its not hard to find a new job at a high salary relative to most people.


The issue here is a point of view: Freedom technically means free of constraints, which is the US view. However, many people (me included, BTW) interprete freedom as in "freedom of choice", that is, a society that enables more, not less choices of going about your life. Sadly, total freedom (in its most literal definition) is ultimately equal to anarchy...


I think the requisite reference here is to the notions of positive and negative liberties, a distinction famously formulated by Isaiah Berlin. See: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/liberty-positive-negative...


Interesting.


> But that's not freedom, that's socialism.

It's different, but I'd still say it's a form of freedom - the government frees you from having to take care of certain things, even if you are unable to do so yourself. There are more axes to freedom that just freedom FROM the government IMO.


> universal healthcare, affordable higher education and social security

It seems insane to me that people would want government to do healthcare. Every interaction I have with US government is terrible. IRS, SEC, DMV, ... Might as well get comcast to do it.

Health is a global issue. There should be global solutions.


> It seems insane to me that people would want government to do healthcare.

Like many systems, the Canadian system is a single-payer system. Each province (read state) decides what procedures will/will not be covered (essentially "the policy"). A doctor submits claims and gets paid (roughly... some provinces have caps). Doctors do not call the gov't to get pre-approval/approval for any course of treatment. Your doctor decides you need an MRI... it's covered. Need that appendix out... it's covered. Need a blood test... it's covered. Need to pop a baby out... its covered.

Think of it as an insurance system that just works the vast majority of the time.

Note that there are treatments/procedures that aren't covered and you'd have to pay out of pocket for them (the only one I've ever been made aware of was a special drug/thingy that improved the odds of a spinal fusion working... $5K a pop and you'd likely need 2). There are even some less common blood tests that aren't covered (no clue what... just something I heard). So... it's not all sunshine and rainbows.

BUT... it's way way better than the US system.

Also... it keeps people out of court. No one gets sued to cover someone's medical expenses (you broke my kids arm). And it keeps malpractice costs down (no need for the malpractice insurance to cover future medical expenses).

In general it just makes Canadians nicer people :)


> It seems insane to me that people would want government to do healthcare

It's not government DOING healthcare, it's still private doctors doing it, just it being free at the point of delivery via a government administered single-payer system.

The reason many government services in the U.S. don't work is because they get defunded to curtail their effectiveness and then scapegoated.

To someone from the EU, it seems barbaric to want to profit off of someone getting sick. You wouldn't want private armies, would you?


You seem to forget the power of the purse. Providers would not be free to provide Healthcare in their terms. They would be forced to provide it in methods approved by the government.


> Providers would not be free to provide Healthcare in their terms. They would be forced to provide it in methods approved by the government.

I know the "free market" argument is that the providers would innovate etc. but in reality they would just jack up prices where possible. Healthcare shouldn't be for profit, just like prisons, it only encourages bad incentives.


> Freedom means that you get a choice, even if that choice is going to screw yourself later in life - for instance not buying health insurance.

America is less free than "socialist" in your example. As an American you're free not to buy health insurance. However, if you don't purchase health insurance you have to pay a tax penalty to the government for the same amount as a health insurance premium. On top of that, the $400 a month "health insurance" you are required to purchase only covers health care costs after the first $8,000 you spend out of pocket.


I haven't lived in quite that many different countries, but also find having been born in the US and emigrated to Europe that I find Europe to feel more "free".

In fact, I actually moved because I wanted to do unpaid programming work for my company to prove I was ready for a software engineering role. The US office said it would be illegal, but the European office said it would be legal there, so I got a transfer (and shortly after, the promotion I was after).


That sounds like indentured servitude. It’s been illegal in the USA for a long time. Sounds like you are being screwed.


Meh, you do what you can. It's an opportunity that might have paid off and given them something they want in life.

Not everything is as easy as HNers in SV make it seem.


there isn't the information required for it to sound like indentured servitude.


Another point is freedom of speech. In theory, Americans enjoy more freedom of speech (they don't have "hatred laws" that several European countries have), but it seems that due to political correctness, freedom of speech is practically more restricted than in Europe.

Edit: Now that I'm thinking about this, another example struck me. When I was living in the US, several friends of mine there spent some time (a couple of nights) in jail for very minor offenses. In Europe, I haven't met anyone personally that has spent even a second in jail. It's only personal statistics, but I'm under the impression it's much easier to get imprisoned or bullied by a cop in the US than it is in western Europe.


The freedom of speech situation is really interesting. In theory you have the first amendment but in practice the US does a lot self censoring. There are a ton of taboo topics you can't touch without fear of getting fired at your job or somebody getting angry. In Germany you have a few explicit laws against certain speech but in general I worried much less about something I said having negative consequences.


It doesn't help that "freedom of speech" is broadly taken to mean that the government can't restrict your speech. However, most forums where people congregate to speak are not managed by the government, but by corporations.

And most people seem to find it totally OK for a corporation to silence any speech they want to.


Most people find it OK until it is their own speech being silenced, and then they have a problem. It's one thing when NAMBLA is banned from a social networking site, and another when your anti-war group is banned.

That aside, there is an important difference between corporations and the government: corporations do not typically have the power to imprison or kill people, and when corporations want to impose a penalty they must ask the government to do it on their behalf. GoDaddy can refuse to provide service to nazis, but cannot do anything about nazis choosing some other registrar. A government can imprison people for running a nazi forum, even if the nazis set up their own registrar and maintain their own hosting.


> US does a lot self censoring

And corporations do a lot of censoring of their employees. Most of what passed as "corporate policy" at my last US-based employer here in Berlin was so blatantly illegal in Germany it was laughable.


To me it feels like American freedom is more and more about the freedom of doing business for big companies without any limitations and not much else. The regular citizen is just there to consume what these "job creators" provide.


Free in the US mostly means "without other people's help". It's an old relic from the original religious minorities that founded the place carried over to today (the "rugged individualism" etc). Maybe if the Quakers have won those cultural wars things would have been different...

So you can be enslaved to 2000 things, debt, bosses, ugly laws, big corps, banks, health costs, etc., and just lie there and take it, but you are doing it on your own, as a "free" man.


>So you can be enslaved to 2000 things, debt, bosses, ugly laws, big corps, banks, health costs, etc., and just lie there and take it, but you are doing it on your own, as a "free" man.

To those of us who value freedom in the sense you belittle, the extreme alternative to what you proposed is being enslaved to one single thing, the size of those 2000 things you relied on plus another 5000 things that you don't but some other people do.


>To those of us who value freedom in the sense you belittle, the extreme alternative to what you proposed is being enslaved to one single thing, the size of those 2000 things you relied on plus another 5000 things that you don't but some other people do.

And how is that working out for you?


You mean the second, since I live in a nation (Uruguay) where the state controls far too many services and pushes for more and more "socialism"?

Well, I'm forced to pay healthcare for 3-4 people from my salary. I pay an absurdly high price for electricity due to the corruption that blossoms under a government monopoly. I also pay for the most expensive gasoline in the entire continent thanks to that. A car is a luxury that costs double what it does in the US due to taxes (used to cost even more, until the Chinese came in with their cars and forced manufacturers to compete by lowering their cut). And don't come at me with public transportation; you absolutely cannot rely on our buses to be on time and taxis are absolute crap for the most part in price and quality. Thankfully Uber arrived and managed to get the government as far away as possible, which helped a lot. Then there's a whole industry dedicated to eliminating as much import tax as possible since big gov wants big tariffs which is also pushed by merchants that call it out as unfair competition because big gov taxes the shit out of local merchants and so on and so on.

So yeah, not working out great.


I have pretty wealthy relatives that live in the US, some of them having citizenship.

My perception is (and reality coukd very well be completely different), that they have a lot of personal freedom enabled by the money they have. A type of freedom that would not be possible in Europe even with that kind of money.


The darker meaning of the phrase "Freedom isn't free." Of course, everywhere you go, having more money provides the opportunity for more freedom than having less money, but perhaps nowhere on earth is the difference bigger. In America, if you have lots of money, you can build a space program and launch your own car into heliocentric orbit. If you have very little money, you have virtually no opportunity to do anything. Ask someone who needs to work three jobs to eat how free they feel.


When I first read it, "perhaps nowhere on earth is the difference bigger" seemed like an incredible and obvious exaggeration. But maybe your point is that in countries with much wider _lifestyle_ disparity (widespread poverty vs. corrupt billionaires), those billionaires wouldn't have the opportunity to build a space program? And so the difference in 'opportunity' between the ruling class and starving citizens is less than the difference between the person with three jobs and Elon Musk?

Okay, I still don't think I'm getting it. Going out on a limb, I'd say that poor people in the United States have incredibly more opportunity by almost any measure than the bulk of people on earth.

Happy to consider where I may be wrong -- what am I missing?


And yet the chances of having a stable home (owned or rented) and being healthy are much much lower for those born to poor parents vs those born to rich parents; it is prima facie evident that 'opportunity' is not equally available even taking into account skill and tenacity, the parent lottery is a much larger factor.


My comment is on the difference between the top and bottom. Definitely not implying the poor in the US have less freedom/opportunity than the poor in all places. They used to say the sky's the limit. Obviously the sky is not even the limit anymore, as long as you have money.


Yep! But do you really think that the difference in opportunity between the rich and poor in America is larger than anywhere else?

For instance, can a poor person get rich in America? If so, is this easier/harder than other places? Once rich, can they start a space program if they wish? Is this easier/harder than other countries?

If the point is that when poor, you don't have the "opportunity" to start a space program, I agree :). I also think it's an odd way to define opportunity, and I'm not sure it indicates anything negative about America.

Anyway, I expect that this is tangential to your actual point, so I don't mean to to drag us too far down a pedantic side street :).


I think it's true that the US is great if you can afford lawyers. Same for health care. From a certain level of income up it's a great system. But the regular guy has to deal with a lot of bullshit and can't fight back.


Great point. The mod chip guy almost certainly wouldn't have spent a day in jail if he could have afforded better lawyers.


"A type of freedom that would not be possible in Europe even with that kind of money."

What sort of freedom do you mean?


Having lived on a number of different continents and having gone to school with people from all over the world, my feeling is that the US is far more concerned with individual freedoms rather than societal freedoms. So sometimes you get some really strange and/or unintended emergent behaviour because of less concern for the effects as a whole.


Still, the US is not too bad. It's ranked #17 out of 159 for the Human Freedom Index:

https://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/human-freedom-i...


I have never lived anywhere but the UK and am aware of the problems we have, however my thinking is exactly yours.

Seems to an uneducated outsider such as I, that it seems freedom is taken to such an extent, freedom to suffer is an except-able norm as part of the deal. It's a Wild West mentality that still seems to strongly prevail.


Not surprising at all, but different people have different understandings of what freedom means.

The only thing I'll say is it might be nice when the gov't steps in and does a bunch of stuff, but when it starts to go wrong or isn't what you need, it sucks when that's your only option.


Agree, I find Europe much freer. The US has some serious police state vibes. The amount of shit companies can impose on you is staggering in the US. Freedom pf speech and privacy basically has no protection inside a company in the US. The American freedom concept is quite bizzare. No matter of exploited or abused you are it doesn’t seem like an issue in the US as long as the government isn’t doing it. As of a citizen should care which entity abuses them.


We do have the 1st amendment going for us. For practical purposes, we get roughly as much freedom as we can pay for.


I personally enjoy the freedom of having to fear being shot, or that I should face financial ruin or hardship if I need medical attention even if my health insurance was to run out.

I quite like Australia.


As an amaerican from a fairly dangerous city, I have no fear of being shot (I'm way more likely to be hit by a bus, get cancer, etc.).

Regarding healthcare, you'll always get treatment and worst case you declare bankruptcy. Typically though, a hospital will work with you. That use to be my old job, writting off payments that people with concern couldn't pay.


> I personally enjoy the freedom of having to fear being shot

Small victories I when you have to worry about literally all of nature trying to kill you ;)


But do you like your broadband?

/s


That was a low blow ;) With cable, my downloads are good enough, but the issue of 100x slower uploads does sting. We've got FTTC in final phases now with the pit work being done just outside, however I'm not excited about it as there's still that last bit of crap copper.

The whole handling / political point scoring of the NBN is sad and I'm trying not to think about it.


FTTC can work quite well. I've got that here in Dublin, getting 400/40 speeds.

If Australian internet turns out to still suck, them I don't think it'll be because of the technology. :)


Wow, that's pretty awesome. Fingers crossed it will be good here too, although none of the nbn ISPs offer anything faster than "up to" 100/20.


May I enquire who your provider is? I believe here in England FTTC is maxed at 80mbps. I've very much like that to be wrong.


It's UPC. I've got a business connection, technically, but it's not excessively expensive and the SLA is worth it.


I apologise, it was below the belt. Given you are in Australia I knew you could take it ;)

I only know the situation through Dave Jones of EEVBlog fame discussing how _ridiculous_ your setup is over there. Genuinely made me appreciate BT! I have FTTC here in England, I get 70/15 more often than not. It's only a wee bit of copper but I'm with you. Something very pleasing with a glass rod shining internet in to your home isn't there.


Hehe, yeah. At least I'm not getting FTTN..

I'm very, very strongly of the belief that providing fibre internet everywhere and to everyone would be a great benefit to our country, especially long term.

Labor came up with a solution, and of course the opposition can't let us have good things so they sought to destroy it when taking power.

Sure most might be just Netflix, but then with all that capacity you also get all those who can work remotely with no restrictions, kids/adult education, remote health, the list just goes on and on. Fibre is the infrastructure needed for a digital future.

Instead for political piss fighting reasons we're getting a much watered down solution at not that much reduced price. I know heaps of people in NBN, and follow the news: There's been so much waste in generating new specs, acquiring HFC that's now not being used, buying copper network and what not. F* politics.

The guys have been doing the curb pits in our area (mainly houses/town houses) for weeks now, coming back quite a few times to the same ones and instead of making the pits I can't help but wonder what the time difference would be to go into each premise.

I'm convinced that in a decade or two, all the FTTN plans will be upgraded to FTTC or FTTP anyway. Which will blow costs out way past the original.


The Berne convention came from Europe, not the other way round. Thank goodness Trump killed TPP or even longer terms would be enshrined in international treaty. I hope that Trump will see through this and not let Hollywood/Tech push him around in NAFTA renegotiation.


Sounds like safety rather than freedom.


Is this Hollywood, related to Reddit founder Aeron? Or New Zeland Kim?




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