Most Depressing Thing I Read Today

On the Dell web site, at the head of a no-export agreement I had to sign:

The U.S. government views exporting as a privilege, not a right.

Of course, my home state of Arizona considers every commercial transaction to be a privilege, not a right.


  1. me:

    It is astonishing how few rights Americans actually have

  2. jimc5499:

    I've said it before and I'll say it again. What gives the Government the power to grant us privileges.

  3. irandom419:

    I heard in the 1900's, the law recognized a right to earn a living.

  4. C078342:

    Export control laws are tricky, particularly if ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations) comes into play. In the aviation industry, commercial technology which had dual use applications (technologies that were commercial but could be used by the military) were regulated by ITAR and disclosures were limited, Can't imagine how a recreation provider would be affected, but Microsoft has to protect its backside.

  5. Agammamon:

    Computational tools have long been considered dual-use technologies. You can get in trouble exporting *Playstations* to the wrong countries.

  6. Dan Wendlick:

    If you remember the bad old days, PGP and GPG encryption software was considered a munition and required permits to export. Even Diffie-Helman compression was suspect. There were big court cases around whether posting them on the Internet constituted an export.

  7. Cuppa Covfefe:

    Ahhh. The wonderful old days of CoCom (I think I spelled it right).

    I often had to move computer equipment around Europe, some of it rather speedy (although lame compared to today) and the rest of it relatively mediocre, though not cheap, and sufficient to the task at hand. Nonetheless, all off it was subject to the mountain of paperwork that accompanied Cocom.

    Funny thing, the "bad guys" had kit that was much faster than ours...

    "Watch out, that copper trace is more than 2┬Ám thick, could be dangerous".
    Yep. Dangerous to the poor sod who ruined it with a misplaced blob of solder...

  8. Terry Doe:

    "The U.S. government views exporting as a privilege, not a right."
    Exporting to another country is a privilege.
    Those who export their good to U.S. have the privilege given to them by the government.
    It is not their (another countries) right to just simply export whatever and when ever they desire, to any given country.
    I do not understand how some people don't comprehend that simple statement.
    Just as it is U.S.'s PRIVILEGE to export to another country, it is not their RIGHT.............

  9. Andrew Garland:

    The nature of the state:
    === ===
    [edited] There is a notion that the state is a legitimate agency deserving respect; that despite its flaws, it generally promotes or tries to promote the welfare of its citizens. This is increasingly difficult to understand, much less to accept.

    The late Mancur Olson had a far more realistic view: The state is a Stationary Bandit. Ordinary people might have to tolerate this, but they should understand that dealing with the state is dealing with organized thuggery. Obey the state because it can unleash its guns and prisons on you. But, please don't pretend that the state's commands are issued with your best interests in mind.
    === ===

  10. Jerryskids:

    They started a long time back with the idea that exporting your money was a privilege, I said then that at some point they'd wind up claiming exporting yourself was a privilege. Walls work as well at keeping people in as keeping people out.

  11. McG:

    It is astonishing how few rights our political class thinks Americans actually have

    FTFY. If our rights are indeed God-given and inalienable, the inane opinion of the ruining class lacks the power to change that.

  12. Mr. Generic:

    Well, there is a reason for the Playstation export limitation:

  13. The_Big_W:

    They lack the power to change that, but I fear they do not lack the will to try.

  14. ErikTheRed:

    Just remember - the reason you're not allowed to commit suicide is that it's against the law to destroy government property.

    Consider Robert Nozick's little gedankenexperiment, "The Tale of a Slave"...

    "Consider the following sequence of cases... and imagine it is about you.

    1) There is a slave completely at the mercy of his brutal master's whims. He often is cruelly beaten, called out in the middle of the night, and so on.

    2) The master is kindlier and beats the slave only for stated infractions of his rules (not fulfilling the work quota, and so on). He gives the slave some free time.

    3) The master has a group of slaves, and he decides how things are to be allocated among them on nice grounds, taking into account their needs, merit, and so on.

    4) The master allows his slaves four days on their own and requires them to work only three days a week on his land. The rest of the time is their own.

    5) The master allows his slaves to go off and work in the city (or anywhere they wish) for wages. He requires only that they send back to him three-sevenths of their wages. He also retains the power to recall them to the plantation if some emergency threatens his land; and to raise or lower the three-sevenths amount required to be turned over to him. He further retains the right to restrict the slaves from participating in certain dangerous activities that threaten his financial return, for example, mountain climbing, cigarette smoking.

    6) The master allows all of his 10,000 slaves, except you, to vote, and the joint decision is made by all of them. There is open discussion, and so forth, among them, and they have the power to determine to what uses to put whatever percentage of your (and their) earnings they decide to take; what activities legitimately may be forbidden to you, and so on.

    7) Though still not having the vote, you are at liberty (and are given the right) to enter into the discussions of the 10,000, to try to persuade them to adopt various policies and to treat you and themselves in a certain way. They then go off to vote to decide upon policies covering the vast range of their powers.

    8) In appreciation of your useful contributions to discussion, the 10,000 allow you to vote if they are deadlocked; they commit themselves to this procedure. After the discussion you mark your vote on a slip of paper, and they go off and vote. In the eventuality that they divide evenly on some issue, 5,000 for and 5,000 against, they look at your ballot and count it in. This has never yet happened; they have never yet had occasion to open your ballot. (A single master also might commit himself to letting his slave decide any issue concerning him about which he, the master, was absolutely indifferent.)

    9) They throw your vote in with theirs. If they are exactly tied your vote carries the issue. Otherwise it makes no difference to the electoral outcome.

    The question is: which transition from case 1 to case 9 made it no longer the tale of a slave?"

  15. ErikTheRed:

    Yup. You can thank Dan Bernstein for putting the final nail in the coffin of that idiocy.

  16. Jaedo Drax:

    I work for a company that operates in both the US and Canada, is the process of my duties, I had to order an antenna, which is manufactured by a company that is about a 15 minute drive from my work location in Canada. In the process of doing so, our HQ requires us to use a specific vendor, which is located in the US.

    So, I get a phone call from someone at the vendor, turns out its the VP of sales for that company, and they inform me that under current regulations, this item, which is manufactured in Canada, cannot be shipped by vendor from the US to Canada. We can't buy from the manufacturer, and the sole source we use can't ship it back to Canada, because they don't want to become an exporter and be subject to ITAR.

    the really funny part, is the antenna goes on equipment that transits the border on a regular basis.