Saturday, May 14, 2011

An example of pure economic rent: Disney Grabs ‘SEAL Team 6’ Trademark

One of the key concepts we need to understand is "economic rent." When the big oil companies exercise their political power to keep in place U.S. subsidies for oil exploration, or to prevent an investigation into how they are manipulating and profiting from both futures and physical markets for oil, these companies are acting to protect their "rent seeking" economic behavior: trying to maintain not just the profitability, but the revenue streams, they derive from the trillions of dollars of investment in the oil-based economy that has been created in the past century. They have a vested interest in keeping that century-old investment from having to face competition or replacement.

The problem, of course, is that the oil-based economy is confronted with two shattering problems: first, oil is a finite resource, and production of it has peaked; and second, burning all that oil - and other fossil fuels like coal - the past century has initiated an unnatural cycle of global climate change. From the standpoint of the survival of society, we really cannot afford to allow any oil company to engage in rent seeking.

In a different industry, one of the most brazen acts of economic rent seeking occurred just a few days ago, when the Walt Disney Co. subsidiary Disney Enterprises filed for trademark protection of "SEAL Team 6." This is the name of the U.S. Navy military unit that was deployed to attack and kill Osama bin Laden. Apparently, Disney executives think they can secure a monopoly on profits from any and all movies, books, toys, gimcracks, cheap plastic shit, and whatever else has the label "SEAL Team 6" slapped on it.

Actually giving Disney this trademark would besmirch the honor and bravery of all military personnel, not just the men and women of this particular unit. And any decent human being should have problems with any private interest trying to turn a profit on the bravery and sacrifice of an military unit that is, moreover, fully supported and paid for by the American taxpayers.

Hopefully, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will tell Disney executives and their lawyers to go bugger themselves.
Disney Grabs ‘SEAL Team 6’ Trademark

The entertainment giant, apparently preparing to launch a new franchise, filed trademark applications for the name SEAL Team 6 two days after the elite military unit stormed Osama bin Laden’s home in Abbottabad, Pakistan. It’s always a pleasure to watch a corporation profit from a deadly act and further glorify nationalistic killing. Oh wait, no, it’s not. —KDG

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