Kelsey Zahourek

Sweden Takes Down Pirates

Posted by Kelsey Zahourek on Friday, April 17th, 2009, 1:24 PM PERMALINK

Earlier today, a Swedish court found the 2 founders and 2 operators of the file-sharing site, Pirate Bay, guilty of copyright infringement.

 This is a win for all the artists and creators who have invested countless hours on their works and deserve to prosper from their creative endeavors, not have it stolen by those who seek to take down the copyright system because they believe the internet has made copyright irrelevant. Now more than ever, the internet has empowered artists to bring their works to consumers through innovative new technologies and business models. Copyright is an essential part of this process. When creators and innovators face the risk of having their property effectively expropriated, nobody wins. The creator faces a disincentive to invest in and distribute their content and society loses out on the opportunity to benefit from their works.
I believe it’s also important to note the importance of intellectual property to an economy, especially in this economic downturn. In the U.S. alone, intellectual property industries contribute nearly 40% of the growth achieved by U.S. private industry, and if protections are not upheld and respected, there is less incentive for technological exploration and no catalyst for economic growth.
And while I have your attention, I would encourage everyone to read two reports. First, the 2009 International Property Rights Index recently released by the Property Rights Alliance, highlighting the importance of property rights to economic development. Second, Patrick Ross at the Copyright Alliance debunks common myths about copyright in “Critiquing Copyright Canards.”



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Free Trade Petition

Posted by Kelsey Zahourek on Tuesday, March 31st, 2009, 5:41 PM PERMALINK

Atlas Economic Research Foundation and the International Policy Network have collaborated to put together a petition calling on world leaders to halt the worldwide move towards protectionism and to tear down current barriers to trade.  The intitial unveiling will be April 1 in London to coincide with G20 meetings. 

Here is a brief excerpt:

The specter of protectionism is rising. It is always a dangerous and foolish policy, but it is especially dangerous at a time of economic crisis, when it threatens to damage the world economy. Protectionism’s peculiar premise is that national prosperity is increased when government grants monopoly power to domestic producers. As centuries of economic reasoning, historical experience, and empirical studies have repeatedly shown, that premise is dead wrong. Protectionism creates poverty, not prosperity. Protectionism doesn’t even “protect” domestic jobs or industries; it destroys them, by harming export industries and industries that rely on imports to make their goods. Raising the local prices of steel by “protecting” local steel companies just raises the cost of producing cars and the many other goods made with steel. Protectionism is a fool’s game.


Click here to view and sign the petition.

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Property Rights as Human Rights

Posted by Kelsey Zahourek on Thursday, March 26th, 2009, 12:22 PM PERMALINK

There is an excellent piece today in the American Spectator by Doug Bandow highlighting the importance of property rights to a country's economic well-being. 

I would encourage everyone to mosy on over there not only because he presents some interesting insights on the importance of property rights protections, but he also mentions the 2009 International Property Rights Index recently released by the Property Rights Alliance.

The study compares the protections of physical and intellectual property to economic stability in 115 countries representing 96 per cent of the world’s GDP.

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Mississippi House Protects Property Owners, Overrides Veto

Posted by Kelsey Zahourek on Wednesday, March 25th, 2009, 6:24 PM PERMALINK

Earlier this week, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour vetoed a bill, overwhelmingly passed by the legislature, that would have enacted sweeping property rights reform that would limit the state and local government's abuse of eminent domain.  Gov. Barbour opposed the legislation because the bill would prohibit taking private property for private development as a means to increase tax revenue.  The Governor believes it would cripple Mississippi's ability to attract companies and manufacturers to the state

The justification of “economic development” for the public force of eminent domain is misguiding.  Economic development can and has occurred regularly without the forced taking of a private citizens home or business.  Legislation like HB 803 promotes further investment as investors are assured that their property will not be auctioned off to the highest bidder.

Yesterday, the state house overrode Barbour's veto by a wide margin, 101-19, and tomorrow the senate is expected to attempt an override. 

43 states have enacted eminent domain reform and it is time for Mississippi to step up and protect property owners from these egregious takings.

Click here to read Property Rights Alliance's letter to MS state senate. 

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Obama Taking a Cue From Smoot and Hawley

Posted by Kelsey Zahourek on Tuesday, March 17th, 2009, 3:16 PM PERMALINK

What happens when you pick a fight with your third largest trading partner?  Anyone know the answer?  Anyone?  They retaliate. 

And that is just what Mexico did when Mexican officials announced their government will raise tariffs on 90 U.S. products, hitting $2.4 billion in American goods exported to our Southern neighbor. The decision by the Mexican government is in retaliation to recent legislation coming out of Congress and signed by President Obama to close the border to Mexican trucks, a clear violation of our NAFTA obligations.
Was this the first anti-free trade policy to come out of the Obama Administration or the Democratic-controlled Congress?  Anyone?  Yes?  No?  Anyone?  No it was not. 
The stimulus bill included the protectionist “Buy American” provision, forcing manufacturers to give preferential treatment to domestic producers of iron, steel and other manufactured goods in building contracts and other spending, forcing taxpayers to pay more money for the same goods that could be purchased more cheaply from foreign manufacturers.  As a result, we will almost certainly see the same retaliation from our trading partners in Europe as we just saw from Mexico. Moreover, President Obama has signaled his administration would make it tougher to pass existing agreements such as the Korea, Colombia, and Panama FTAs.
The US has been down this protectionist road before. The Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930 was also introduced as a means to protect American workers and businesses and reduce imports during a global recession. What followed?   Anyone?  Anyone?  The Great Depression.


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Property Rights Linked to Economic Security?

Posted by Kelsey Zahourek on Wednesday, February 25th, 2009, 8:49 AM PERMALINK

 In a study released today, data shows that countries that protect the physical and intellectual property of their people enjoy nearly nine times higher GDP per capita than countries ranking lowest in property rights protections. The study, the 2009 International Property Rights Index (IPRI), compared the protections of physical and intellectual property to economic stability in 115 countries representing 96 per cent of the world’s GDP. 

“With regard to private property rights, PRA continues to champion the idea that physical and intellectual property are equally important in nature, and must be protected” states Kelsey Zahourek, PRA executive director. “Property rights contribute to increased levels of stability and provide people with the knowledge and comfort that their property will remain theirs.”
54 organizations from six continents joined the Property Rights Alliance in Washington, DC and its Hernando de Soto Fellowship program to disseminate the report.
Hernando De Soto, whose seminal work on property rights led to the conception of the IPRI, said this year’s results “continue to point out the relationship between a strong property rights system and a country’s economic well-being, revealing that much still needs to be done to extend property rights to more people, especially the poor.”
The 2009 IPRI is a composite ranking of three comprehensive areas of property rights: Legal and Political Environment, Physical Property Rights, and Intellectual Property Rights. Of the 115 countries included, the top quartile averaged $39,991 in GDP per capita while the average in the bottom twenty per cent was only $4,341 per capita. The second, third and fourth quartiles averaged $23,982, $11,748, and $4,891 respectively. The nearly linear data trend shows that countries placing a high priority on property rights see increased economic security.
“As property rights continue to face challenges around the world, we hope this study will be a useful tool for policymakers, think tanks, academics, and investors by highlighting the importance of property rights as a key building block for economic growth,” continued Zahourek. 
The 2009 IPRI partner organizations include: Adriatic Institute for Public Policy (Croatia), Albanian Socio Economic Think Tank (Albania), Alternate Solutions Institute (Pakistan), Association for Liberal Thinking (Turkey), Bishkek Business Club (Kyrgyz Republic), Cathay Institute for Public Affaire (China), CEDICE (Venezuela), Center for Institutional Analysis and Development (Romania), Centre for Civil Society (India), Centre for Free Enterprise (Korea), Centre for Policy Research (India), Centro de Investigaciones de Instituciones y Mercados de Argentina (Argentina), Centro de Investigaciones Económicas Nacionales (Guatemala), CEPOS (Denmark), CIVITA (Norway), Competere (Italy), Economic Policy Institute (Kyrgyz Republic), Entrepreneur Development Foundation (Azerbaijan), Eudoxa (Sweden), European Center for Economic Growth (Belgium/Austria), FREE (Poland), Friedrich A. v. Hayek Institut (Austria), Friedrich Naumann Foundation (Germany), Fundación Atlas 1853 (Argentina), Fundación IDEA (Mexico), Fundación Libertad (Panama), Fundación Libertad y Democracia (Bolivia), IFD (Thailand), IMANI Center for Policy and Education (Ghana), Initiative for Public Policy Analysis (Nigeria), Institute for Market Economics (Bulgaria), Institut Constant de Rebecque (Switzerland), Institute for Public Affairs (Australia), Instituto de Libre Empresa (Peru), Instituto Ecuatoriano de Economía Política (Ecuador), Instituto Liberdade (Brazil), Instituto Para La Libertad y el Analisis de Politicas (Costa Rica), Institute for Free Enterprise (Germany), Instytut Misesa (Poland) International Policy Network (United Kingdom), International Research Foundation (Oman), Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies (Israel), le Centre des Affaires Humaines (Burkina Faso), Liberales Institute (Switzerland), Liberty Institute (India), Limited Government Nepal (Nepal), Malaysia Think Tank (Malaysia), Minimal Government Thinkers (Philippines), Observatorio para el Aesarrollo Territorial (Peru), OHRID Institute for Economic Strategies and International Affairs (Macedonia), Property Rights Alliance (United States), RSE - Centre for Social and Economic Research (Iceland), The Free Market Foundation of South Africa (South Africa), The Lion Rock Institute (Hong Kong), The Nassau Institute (Bahamas), TIMBRO (Sweden)

The report is published at You can also download the press release (PDF).

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ATR and Coalition of 111 Organizations Oppose Omnibus Public Land Management Act

Posted by Kelsey Zahourek on Monday, February 16th, 2009, 3:30 AM PERMALINK

A letter signed by 111 national and state organizations from across the country was delivered to the US House of Representatives requesting that Members oppose the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009.

This legislation contains over 1,000 pages and is comprised of more than 100 different land grab bills. From wilderness areas to heritage areas to wild and scenic rivers, this omnibus bill advances a centralized command-and-control vision of American lands. The federal government already owns over 650 million acres of land, much of which is experiencing severe maintenance backlogs or has already gone into disarray. The omnibus bill would lock millions of additional acres of land into government regulation, preventing American citizens from exercising their right of property ownership.

By restricting access to land for energy exploration, this legislation is limiting the potential of the economy and directly interfering with America’s entrepreneurial drive. Through the creation of unnecessary new “conservation” programs, millions of additional acres of land will be managed by a vast government bureaucracy and its additional levels of “red tape.” This bill would ultimately force the American taxpayer to fund the purchase of land that could have otherwise been utilized in the private sector.


Click here for a pdf version of the entire letter

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