When a nation or society has lived through terrible pollution, intellectual property protections and labor strife and other negative side effects of the industrial revolution, it develops some safeguards to promote healthier environments and labor peace. Not everyone agrees on ever prescription, but in the end society progresses.

Much like one of my US Senators (Sherrod Brown) who wants to protect and promote US workers but whose prescriptions are often counter-productive to his goal. We can’t always know the end when we’re struggling in the middle.

The societies of Western Europe and North America have lived through the bad side and have evolved some measures of protection. Some people think that these add cost to manufactured products from these areas (although I think that sentiment is subject to some debate). The emerging countries in the industrial revolution, particularly China, but many others also, have not arrived at this latter stage. Therefore, companies there are free to pollute and not clean up; steal Intellectual Property (no rule of law); and exploit laborers.

The US is struggling to achieve free trade, yet not find itself in a non-competitive position. So, we have seen a number of organizations and politician step forward to lobby for some sort of global recognition of these problems.

A new organization

A press release–poorly worded and confusing as it was–came my way from a new group known as NAHI. From the release, “A group of concerned U.S. businesses, academics and industry stakeholders have joined together to help stop the unfair competition that results from widespread theft of Intellectual Property (IP) and Information Technology (IT). The National Alliance for Jobs and Innovation (NAJI) is a non-partisan organization whose mission is to increase awareness of the problem of stolen IP and the negative impact on jobs, innovation and economic growth. NAJI represents the apparel, manufacturing and technology industries and is comprised of more than 100 U.S. companies and associations, including AIMS 360, Marlin Steel, Microsoft and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM).”

I think that the “IT” part refers to stolen software–especially given the presence of Microsoft in the coalition.

The press release continues, “Every year, firms around the world steal billions of dollars worth of IP. In particular, the theft of IT, which is critical to manufacturing, is estimated to cost more than $63 billion a year in commercial software value alone. While NAJI recognizes this is a global problem and all companies need to play by the same rules and pay for their IP, the organization’s focus is on educating the U.S. public about the problem and how it affects American business and economic growth.”

I am not sanguine about the efficacy of “educating the US public.” Notice how easily Wal-Mart went from “made in America” to “lowest price” (meaning expressly Not made in America) and the public willingly went along.

But it is important that we all work toward level playing fields. Even though our society does not reflect it right now, America’s civil religion does extol meritocracy. None of us like cheats and scoundrels. So speak up where you can.

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