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Britain must grant refugee status to Uyghur Muslims

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his ministers have offered aid to residents of Hong Kong, but the Uyghurs are being ignored.

It is now undeniable that the Chinese government is conducting a genocide in its northwestern Xinjiang province. At least 2 million are or have been incarcerated in a vast network of concentration camps. The harrowing testimonies of former detainees and guards detail starvation, systematic rape, torture, forced sterilization, and mass execution.

But even after both the Trump and Biden administrations stepped forward and declared that a genocide is taking place, the British government has refrained from showing the same moral leadership. This acquiescence of human rights has occurred despite a sustained campaign from prominent activists and opposition politicians. Johnson and his ministers also remain resolutely opposed to the legislative route to better holding Beijing to account. For some time now, the government has maintained a circular logic when it comes to legal declarations of genocide: It knows that China will never agree to be heard by an international court, but it insists that only an international court can judge it guilty of genocide.

Activists both within and outside of Parliament have responded by tabling the so-called “genocide amendment” to the government’s Trade Bill. This would solve the problem by empowering the English High Court to make the determination of genocide instead. But the government has repeatedly sought to quash the amendment. At one point, when members of Parliament looked ready to endorse the amendment, the government resorted to an arcane parliamentary procedure (and a touch of bullying) to block the vote. This triggered fury on both sides of the House of Commons.

For whatever reason, likely the fear of Chinese economic retaliation, the government is willing to abandon what should be sacred British principles of justice. But surely, Johnson cannot oppose the basic humanitarian step of recognizing the plight of Beijing’s victims and offering them a path to safety?

Allowing victims of appalling violence and persecution to seek refuge would be the least that a democratic nation like Britain could do. The government belatedly did something similar for residents of Hong Kong, who have also experienced the sharp end of the Chinese Communist Party’s instincts in recent months. A new visa route was opened, offering Hong Kong-based holders of a British National Overseas passport an expedited route to becoming citizens. The scheme has already seen considerable success, with the government at one point granting five passports a minute to Hongkongers.

The move to offer 3 million residents of Hong Kong an escape route was welcome. Still, we implore the government to extend its hand to the Uyghurs, who are also in need of urgent aid. As the Chinese government takes new steps with each passing week to tighten its comprehensive assault on the Uyghur people, such as receiving deported Uyghur dissidents from other countries, the situation is becoming exponentially more pressing.

A sense of urgency should also sustain in our deliberations. Given Xi Jinping’s staunch refusal to allow foreign experts and investigators into Xinjiang to corroborate its blanket denials of any wrongdoing, we will probably not know the true extent of its ethnic cleansing until it is much too late to do anything about it. In turn, it is infinitely better to risk offering refuge to a few more people than need it than to abandon an entire population to be tortured and killed at the hands of a brutal dictatorial regime.

Having traded with China for decades and contributed to its enormous wealth and political power (and turned a blind eye to its various human rights violations over the years), Britain owes a great debt to the victims of its atrocities. It’s time to start paying back.

Originally published here.

Jason Reed is the U.K. liaison at Young Voices and a policy fellow with the Consumer Choice Center. Jason also writes regularly for the Times (of London), the Telegraph, the Independent, and several other publications. (Follow him on Twitter: @JasonReed624.)

Without the use of nuclear energy, “environmental protection” is an empty word

What may seem strange in Germany is meeting with increased response in the USA from numerous start-ups, engineers, and doctoral students who are backing nuclear energy for environmental protection.

In the wake of the Fukushima reactor disaster in 2011, Germany phased out nuclear energy relatively quickly. While six nuclear power plants will still be connected to the grid in 2020, they will be shut down by 2022 at the latest.

Could nuclear energy also be seen as something positive for environmental protection? In Germany, that seems hard to imagine. A significant disadvantage of this electricity is the excessively long storage time for radioactive waste. If you care about the environment, it seems you have to simultaneously promote renewable energies, abolish nuclear power, and ignore the fact that this makes you even more dependent on coal energy. 

And this dependence comes at a cost – for the environment in Germany and Europe. About 80% of the still active coal-fired power plants in Germany violate EU directives on the limits of pollutant emissions from nitrogen oxides, mercury and soot particles.

The pollutants emitted do not only hurt Germany: Due to the high number of existing coal-fired power plants, Germany is one of the biggest air polluters in the European Union.

After the nuclear phase-out, the phase-out of coal-fired power is now to be finalised by 2038. However, there is a problem with this: bets are being made that renewable energies will fill the energy supply vacuum after the coal-fired power plants are shut down.

It is not always possible to plan particularly well over such a far-reaching period. And so far, Germany is still clearly reliant on running coal-fired power plants.

Instead of betting that renewables will completely fill the vacuum by 2038, or instead of continuing to rely on coal along with the associated air pollution, there is still an alternative: power plants that rely on nuclear energy and thus emit particularly few emissions of CO2 and other pollutants.

What may seem strange in Germany is meeting with increased response in the USA from numerous start-ups, engineers, and doctoral students who are backing nuclear energy for environmental protection.

Technological innovation for environmental protection: the example of TerraPower

One example is the TerraPower project, which has become particularly well-known in recent months thanks to Bill Gates’s support. TerraPower is trying to solve a problem often cited by critics of nuclear power with a new type of nuclear power plant design: Nuclear waste.

At first glance, this criticism seems plausible. Is it worth relying on a relatively clean form of energy like nuclear power if, in return, we have to live with radioactive waste – without knowing when and in what way we might get rid of it?

The so-called running waves and liquid salt reactors that TerraPower relies on exquisitely solve this problem. Unlike regular nuclear reactors, they accumulate depleted uranium, significantly reducing the resulting stockpiles of nuclear waste. This depleted uranium is already found in the inventories of existing nuclear waste – it is just not being used productively.

TerraPower estimates 700,000 tonnes of enriched uranium in the USA alone – just 8 tonnes of this apparent “waste” could supply 2.5 million homes with electricity each year. Globally, all the nuclear waste that already exists could be used to provide 80 per cent of the world’s population with energy for over a millennium. And this supply would take place at the level of an average US American.

In this respect, TerraPower solves one of the main problems associated with nuclear energy in an incredibly creative way: it is not just a matter of producing relatively little nuclear waste in the construction of new reactors. Instead, the existing nuclear waste serves as a kind of fuel – so it is used productively, and one gradually reduces the waste at the same time.

That the resource of nuclear waste will run out at some point also seems unlikely when one looks at the result of the above calculation.

TerraPower serves as an example here to emphasise one point: Like other technological approaches, nuclear energy can be continuously improved. Critics of nuclear power often refer to existing reactors, some of which are outdated. In doing so, they ignore the fact that problems such as nuclear waste can be solved in new types of construction. One should not make the rash mistake of altogether abandoning a clean and cheap form of energy. Relying on coal energy instead is not in the interest of the environment. Betting that the vacuum after the nuclear and coal phase-out can be filled exclusively by renewable energies is a risky bet.

Originally published here.

Preparing for the next virus

The Consumer Choice Center’s Fred Roeder and Maria Chaplia report on a recent event that looked at why the EU must safeguard intellectual property rights to prepare for future pandemics.

COVID-19 took its toll on millions of people and even more are suffering from the economic consequences of the pandemic. Instead of increasing our pandemic preparedness, we are seeing more and more populist calls, both at EU and Member State level, for the erosion of intellectual property (IP) rights, jeopardising the future of innovation. COVID-19 is likely only the first of many public health crises we will encounter in the next decades, and we need to keep innovators incentivised and provide them with legislative certainty. The EU has to commit to the protection of IP rights and champion it not just at home, but globally through EU trade policy.

Policies enacted during the pandemic have predominantly come as kneejerk reactions to issues on the ground, rather than well thought out plans. As we have witnessed in the case of lockdowns and trade restrictions, acting fast without considering long-term costs can be devastating. At a global level, that also involves continuous calls for the extension of the TRIPS waiver, a clause that would allow World Trade Organization members to lift protections on certain intellectual property rights.

Rushing such decisions could imperil entire generations. Safeguarding IP rights is our only chance to make it possible for patients who will one day be diagnosed with incurable diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Cystic Fibrosis, Diabetes, or HIV/AIDS, to ever be cured.

“There are simply not enough doses of vaccines, and the vision of the EU future should be not only green and digital, but also resilient,” Franc Bogovič MEP (SI, EPP)

European policymakers should put their pursuit of short-term approval from the voters aside and reconsider the role of intellectual property rights in preventing future pandemics and, overall, what could have been done better. This was one of the key questions of an online discussion between Franc Bogovic MEP and James Tumbridge, Common Councilman of the City of London, that we at the Consumer Choice Center hosted on 19 February.

Ridefair shows nothing is new under the rent-seeking sun

The sharing economy enables consumers and entrepreneurs to creatively and collaboratively use or lend resources they otherwise wouldn’t

In 1845, French economist Frederic Bastiat wrote “The Candlestick Makers’ Petition” and submitted it to the French Parliament. It called passionately on legislators to defend France’s lighting industry from “the unfair competition of a foreign rival” enjoying unfair cost advantages — the sun. Among the remedies the candlemakers proposed: the closing of “all openings, holes, chinks, and fissures through which the light of the sun is wont to enter houses.”

Bastiat’s clever letter, exposing the faults in protectionist arguments, is relevant again in modern Toronto. But instead of candlemakers versus the sun, it’s taxi companies and the Toronto Transit Commission’s labour union versus ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft.

Through their “Ridefair” campaign, the transit union and the taxi companies have teamed up to lobby the city of Toronto to further regulate ride-sharing to ensure the industry “operates in ways that protect our transit system.” Their claim is that ride-sharing has become so popular the TTC has suffered upwards of $74 million in lost fare revenue, which is more than what it loses to “fare evasion,” i.e. people treating their fare as optional.

This call for regulation would likely mean additional taxes on ride-sharing services that would be handed over to the TTC to help fund its revenue gap. In effect, this anti-choice coalition is complaining that ride-sharing is eating into its revenue and claiming that the only solution is to further regulate, i.e., restrict, ride-sharing. But this completely ignores why consumers choose ride-sharing over public transit in the first place. In a competitive market, increased competition usually causes other firms to re-evaluate their practices and focus their efforts on how to bring back customers.

Apart from more taxes, the other remedy they seek is to restrict ride-sharing by capping the number of drivers the apps can engage in the city. But this too is a terrible idea. When New York proposed a driver cap, consumer groups like the Consumer Choice Center and civil rights groups like the N.A.A.C.P and New York Urban League rightly pointed out that such restrictions disproportionately impact minority communities. Ride-sharing’s colourblind and route-blind call systems ensure that riders are not arbitrarily discriminated against, something that is all too common in the taxi industry, sometimes with deadly consequences.

By advocating for higher taxes and more restrictions on ride-sharing instead of making transit more consumer-friendly, Ridefair is practicing rent-seeking — the act of trying to increase one’s share of wealth without actually creating any new wealth. In layman’s terms, Ridefair is calling on the government to regulate in the TTC and the taxi industry’s favour because competition is eating into their share.

Originally published here.

Polish digital ad tax will paralyse consumer choice

Earlier this month, Polish government unveiled its plans to tax digital advertising.

It is argued that the so-called ‘solidarity levy’ is needed to help mitigate the coronavirus economic damage by raising funds for healthcare, culture, and heritage. However, along with bringing a severe economic disruption in the form of additional tax burden, the ‘solidarity levy’ will also be a final nail on the coffin of freedom of press and consumer choice in Poland.

After expected implementation in July 2021, media service providers and publishers (advertising through television, radio, cinema, and outdoor advertising media) whose advertising revenue on the territory of Poland exceeds PLN 1 million will be ​obliged to pay the new tax. Levy rates differ depending on the good advertised and the type of advertising, which has an explicit element of discrimination to it. Media (except the press) will pay from 2 per cent to 10 per cent. For online advertising the contribution will be 5 per cent, and that is to include digital giants. Sweetened beverages ads will be taxed at a higher rate which signals the Polish government’s drift towards more paternalism.

Through the introduction of a new contribution, the Polish government wants to kill two birds with one shot: punish independent media for its reliability and big tech for its digital ads success. At the core of this new policy, is the desire to level up the state’s role in shaping public opinion and increase its role in the digital market.

Unlike state-funded TVP channel that will be compensated through subsidies, private publishers and broadcasters such as TVN will be critically hit by the solidarity levy. According to a 2019 survey by ​Institute for Social Research and Market (IBRiS), the trustworthiness of TVP Info, is negatively ​assessed by 43 per cent of respondents, while 56 percent endorse TVN’s main news program “Fakty”. Hence it doesn’t come as a surprise that the Polish government wants to tax diversity of opinions out of the media space despite there being a great demand for it.

During protests against the tax on February 10th, Polish independent media suspended their coverage giving Polish consumers a horrendous glimpse into life without freedom of press. A well-functioning democracy cannot block opinions that divert from the government line using taxes as a means to achieve its ends. In the last year, Poland has dropped in the World Press Freedom Index, and now it ​ranks as the 62nd freest country in the world. The coronavirus pandemic has been detrimental to the freedom of press in Poland, and the proposed tax will depress it further by pushing independent newspapers, publishers, and broadcasters into extinction.

Consumer choice is pivotal, and depriving consumers of the possibility to choose between different media sources would be a step backwards for Poland, a country whose memory of Soviet totalitarianism is very much alive.

The economic reasoning behind the solidarity levy is weak: the redistribution of funds from private media to healthcare, culture and heritage sector will be more expensive than it might seem. Hundreds of thousands of Poles are employed in the content production field both on a national and local level, and as a result of the tax, they will lose their jobs. The Polish government will then need to take responsibility for this distortion.

More than ​40 statewide and local publishers sent an ​open letter to the Polish authorities arguing against the tax. ​The situation where the state media receive PLN 2 billion annually at the expense of Polish taxpayers, and the private companies are to be charged with an additional PLN 1 billion, they argue, is deeply unfair. Such actions on the side of the Polish government threaten competition in the media market by giving an unfair advantage to the state-funded ones. It should only be up to consumers to decide who takes lead in the market, and who loses.

The solidarity levy on digital advertising pursued by the Polish government is not economically sound and threatens the freedom of press not just in Poland, but in Europe overall. Thirty years ago the Iron Curtain fell sending a promise of freedom and prosperity in Europe, and we need to preserve it. Digital ad taxes is the idea that should have never come to life.

Originally published here.

Cryptocurrency regulations are the wrong way to go

An overly conservative regulatory approach is a danger to the innovative potential of blockchain technology…

Recently, the prices of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin made new headlines: After reaching a staggering all-time-high, major companies like Tesla have joined the hype, pushing the price ever higher into the sky.

The European Union is in the process of implementing another AMLD, anti-money laundering directive, which puts a larger regulatory burden on crypto-currency providers. The and regulatory for the blockchain that the EU is aspiring to could do the same.

In recent months, a plethora of news stories tinted cryptocurrencies in a negative light – from Facebook banning ads for cryptocurrencies and ICOs to China restricting access to foreign crypto exchanges for its citizens and lastly, banks banning cryptocurrency purchases on their credit cards.

It is not news that volatility in the crypto markets exceeds that of traditional stock exchanges by a couple of magnitudes. From late 2013 to early 2015, cryptos underwent a draining bear market that came to an end with exponential price explosions in the following bull market.

Shortly following any crash of cryptocurrencies, some people feel validated to voice their prediction of the end of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies and call for harsher crackdowns of the technology as a whole. In some, this volatility awakens a deeply-entrenched skepticism of a new technology that’s still in its infancy.

But this overly conservative regulatory approach is a danger to the innovative potential of blockchain technology. Instead of focusing on the volatile nature of the crypto market and equating it with manipulation or dismissing it as a sheer gamble, crypto skeptics should learn more about the transformative nature of the technology behind many cryptocurrencies.

Despite their popular label in the media, many of them are not, in fact, primarily currencies.

The use cases of distributed ledger technology span from delivering aid efficiently to refugees, using blockchain to build a digital identity, enabling scientists to use your safely stored genomic data and a myriad of other fields of application.

Many crypto skeptics refuse to inform themselves on the multitude of use cases of blockchain technology across several industries. Solely focusing on the volatile price does not leave enough room to ponder upon the many ways this newly emergent technology might change our lives in the near future.

During the recent Senate hearing on cryptocurrency regulations, the chairman of the United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) J. Christopher Giancarlo had some encouraging words for the primarily younger generation interested in blockchain technology.

Talking about his niece’s interest in Bitcoin, Giancarlo stressed that any future regulations should not be dismissive, but rather respectful of the younger generation’s fascination with blockchain technology:

“It strikes me that we owe it to this generation to respect their enthusiasm about virtual currencies with a thoughtful and balanced response, not a dismissive one,” said Giancarlo.

Elaborating further, Giancarlo stressed that regulators should have a positive outlook on the future of this technology. While doing so, he seemed quite knowledgeable, even going as far as explaining the meaning of crypto-related terms like ‘HODL’ and ‘kimchi premium’.

For Giancarlo, regulating cryptocurrencies should have the aim of cracking down on fraudsters and fight market manipulation, not to stifle the flourishment of a new technology whose many advantages he acknowledged.

In this way, consumers should be given the opportunity to educate themselves on the different use cases of blockchain technology and have the liberty to invest in projects they deem promising.

Instead of stifling innovation and consumer choice, such a regulatory framework that provides enough space for creative exploration would ensure that future advancements in the cryptosphere are acknowledged as such and gradually find themselves changing traditional banks, corporations, and government operations.

Originally published here.

Article calls for EU to rethink stance on e-cigarettes

recent article for The Parliament Magazine entitled ‘Vaping is the gateway out of smoking’ is calling for policymakers to reconsider their stance on e-cigarettes, as they should be endorsing them as a stop smoking aid in the interest of a smoke-free future.

Why vaping is not a gateway into smoking

E-cigarettes, which have been widely available and popular as a smoking cessation tool since 2013, are seen as a novel technology, and this means they have been met with some suspicion by the EU. The article explains that recent criticism has “sought to frame vaping as a gateway to conventional smoking”.

This has long been proven untrue, and a recent survey by ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) actually reported that only 0.3% of never-smokers are currently e-cigarettes users, which accounts for 2.9% of vapers. Not only is the gateway effect not reflected in data, but numerous studies have concluded the opposite is true, and vaping is a gateway out of smoking.

How can e-cigarettes help smokers quit?

E-cigarettes are targeted at harm reduction, by giving users an alternative nicotine source that does not include all of the other harmful toxins that are found in traditional cigarettes.

The article, co-authored by Consumer Choice Center’s Maria Chaplia and World Vapers’ Alliance’s Director Michael Landl, states;

“The correlation between the introduction and the popularity of vaping and declining smoking rates suggests that vaping is an important innovation to help people quit smoking.”

One of the most important reports on vaping’s potential to save lives is from 2015, commissioned by Public Health England. This report found that e-cigarettes are 95% less harmful that smoking, and the findings in this report have been a big supporting factor in the way in which the UK has embraced e-cigarettes as an invaluable smoking cessation tool.

The article suggests that if the EU continues to demonise vaping, it will negatively affect the chance of smokers making the switch to a ‘safer and healthier alternative’ and suggest that at this point we now know enough about vaping that there is no reason for the EU not to endorse it.

It is clear to see that countries that adopt harm reduction policies, such as endorsing the use of e-cigarettes, see a greater reduction in smoking rates than those who do not. A great example of this is the UK, where health authorities encourage the use of e-cigarettes as a stop smoking aid, and smoking rates are now at an all-time-low. On the other hand in Australia, where vaping has not been well received, rates of smoking have declined at a much slower rate;

“In the UK, approximately 25 percent fewer people smoke today compared to 2013, while the US has seen a 24 percent reduction. For the same period, Australia saw a decline of only 8 percent.”

There is a visible correlation between when e-cigarettes became widely available and popular as a stop smoking aid, and the reduction in smoking rates among the UK adult population.

‘Recent trends framing e-cigarettes as a gateway to smoking do not stand up to scrutiny. E-cigarettes are a gateway out of smoking. Anti-vaping measures are disastrous and detrimental to the health of smokers for whom vaping has become a life-saving tool.’

The article concludes by strongly encouraging policymakers to reconsider their stance on vaping, in line with the overwhelming amount of data that proves it to be an undeniably effective tool to help smokers pursue a healthier lifestyle and reduce their risks of future illness and disease. Ending with the strong and decisive statement;

‘Despite many voices seeking to undermine vaping as a gateway out of smoking, the evidence is sound: vaping saves lives.’

So with mounting calls to re-evaluate their approach to vaping, we can only hope that the EU will help prioritise the health of the public, and encourage adult smokers to pursue a safer alternative to smoking.

Originally published here.

La vape face au tabagisme, une solution que l’UE ne peut plus ignorer?

Ce n’est malheureusement pas nous qu’il faudra convaincre mais bien les institutions de l’Union Européenne. Si la question reste épineuse pour les politiques, un récent article de  » The Parliament Magazine  » a lancé un appel aux décideurs politiques afin qu’ils reconsidèrent leurs positions sur la vape. Et en effet, il serait grand temps d’approuver l’e-cigarette comme une aide dans l’arrêt du tabagisme!

Un monde sans fumée ? C’est un slogan d’avenir que l’on entend de plus en plus dans les pays de l’Union Européenne mais qui n’est malheureusement pas suivi par une politique ambitieuse. Se permettre d’ignorer la vape en 2021 dans la lutte contre le tabagisme revient tout simplement à condamner des milliers de fumeurs dans le monde !

L’e-cigarette largement disponible et popularisée en tant qu’outil de sevrage tabagique depuis 2013, est considérée comme une nouvelle technologie, ce qui signifie qu’elle a suscité quelques soupçons de la part de l’Union Européenne. L’article publié par « The Parliament Magazine » explique que les récentes critiques ont « cherché à présenter le vapotage comme une passerelle vers le tabagisme conventionnel ».

L’article, co-écrit par Maria Chaplia du Consumer Choice Center et Michael Landl, directeur de la World Vapers ’Alliance, déclare :  » La corrélation entre l’introduction, la popularité du vapotage et la baisse des taux de tabagisme suggère que le vapotage est une innovation importante pour aider les gens à arrêter de fumer.  »

Il suggère également que si l’Union Européenne continue de diaboliser le vapotage, cela affectera négativement les chances des fumeurs de passer à une  » alternative plus sûre et plus saine  » et suggère qu’à ce stade, nous en savons maintenant suffisamment sur le vapotage et qu’il n’y a aucune raison pour Union Européenne de ne pas l’approuver.

L’article conclut en encourageant fortement les décideurs à reconsidérer leur position sur le vapotage, conformément à la quantité écrasante de données qui prouve qu’il s’agit d’un outil indéniablement efficace pour aider les fumeurs à adopter un mode de vie plus sain et à réduire leurs risques de maladies et de maladies futures.

Originally published here.

Dampak Perlindungan Hak Kekayaan Intelektual Terhadap Kesejahteraan

Peningkatan kesejahteraan bisa dikatakan merupakan salah satu hal yang sangat penting untuk dicapai oleh berbagai pemerintahan di seluruh dunia. Meningkatnya kesejahteraan di sebuah negara, merupakan salah satu tolak ukur yang paling umum dan mutlak untuk menentukan apakah sebuah pemerintahan berhasil dalam mengelola negara yang dipimpinnya.

Selain itu, peningkatan kesejahteraan juga merupakan salah satu fondasi yang sangat penting bagi stabilitas politik. Tanpa adanya peningkatan kesejahteraan, terlebih lagi bila standar hidup masyarakat di sebuah negara terus menurun dari tahun ke tahun, tidak mustahil hal tersebut justru akan membawa pada pergolakan sosial, yang berujung pada instabilitas politik yang sangat berbahaya bagi keamanan dan kegiatan ekonomi.

Untuk itu, adanya kebijakan publik yang dapat mendukung upaya peningkatan kesejahteraan merupakan hal yang wajib menjadi fokus dan diberlakukan oleh berbagai pemerintahan dan para pengambil kebijakan di seluruh dunia. Bila suatu pemerintahan atau pengambil kebijakan membuat produk hukum yang tidak dapat menunjang peningkatan kesejahteraan, tentu upaya meningkatkan kesejahteraan tersebut akan mustahil dapat tercapai, dan bukan tidak mungkin justru akan membawa kemunduran serta peningkatan kemiskinan di negara tersebut.

Terkait dengan hal tersebut, sejarah sudah membuktikan bahwa, kebebasan ekonomi merupakan fondasi yang sangat penting untuk meningkatkan kesejahteraan di sebuah negara. Pasar bebas merupakan pilar yang sangat penting untuk mengeluarkan seluruh potensi dan kreativitas yang dimiliki oleh masyarakat di sebuah negara, yang akan mendorong inovasi dan meningkatkan kegiatan ekonomi yang akan membawa manfaat bagi penduduk di negara tersebut.

Salah satu lembaga think tank yang memiliki fokus pada aspek kebebasan ekonomi adalah lembaha think tank asal Amerika Serikat, The Heritage Foundation. Setiap tahunnya, lembaga think tank tersebut merilis laporan mereka mengenai indeks kebebasan ekonomi negara-negara di dunia, yang dikenal dengan nama Index of Economic Freedom. Indeks tersebut mengukur kebebasan ekonomi berbagai negara di dunia, dan membuat peringkat berdasarkan indikator-indikator yang mereka gunakan.
Setelah itu, negara-negara tersebut dibagi menjadi lima kategori, yakni free, mostly free, moderately free, mostly unfree, dan repressed. Negara-negara yang menduduki peringkat free diduduki negara-negara yang di mana memiliki kerangka hukum yang mendukung kegiatan ekonomi secara bebas, serta institusi yang transparan dan bebas dari korupsi. Sebaliknya, negara-negara yang membatasi kegiatan ekonomi masyarakatnya secara ketat, serta memiliki institusi yang tertutup dan korup, maka mereka menduduki peringkat yang rendah.

Setelah peringkat tersebut disusun, terbukti bahwa, secara rata-rata, negara-negara yang menduduki peringkat free memiliki pendapatan per kapita yang sangat tinggi. Sebaliknya, negara-negara yang menduduki peringkat bawah dalam indeks tersebut, atau masuk dalam kategori repressed, cenderung memiliki Produk Domestik Bruto (PDB) per kapita yang rendah. Pada tahun 2019 misalnya, rata-rata negara-negara yang masuk dalam kategori free memiliki PDB per kapita sebesar USD63.588, sementara negara-negara yang menduduki peringkat terbawah rata-rata PBD per kapitanya hanya USD7.716 (The Heritage Foundation, 2020).

Hasil dari penelitian ini tentu merupakan sesuatu yang sangat penting untuk diperhatikan oleh berbagai pembuat kebijakan di seluruh dunia. Kebebasan ekonomi merupakan pilar yang sangat penting sebagai dasar peningkatan kesejahteraan di sebuah negara.

The Heritage Foundation sendiri menggunakan beberapa indikator untuk mengukur tingkat kebebasan ekonomi di sebuah negara dalam indeks mereka. Salah satu dari indikator tersebut yang sangat penting adalah perlindungan terhadap kepemilikan pribadi (private property rights).

Adanya kerangka hukum dan sistem kelembagaan yang melindungi kepemilikan seseorang merupakan hal yang sangat krusial untuk menunjang kebebasan ekonomi. Tanpa adanya perlindungan terhadap hak kepemilikan, tentu aktivitas ekonomi tidak dapat berjalan dengan lancar, karena setiap orang dapat merampas hak milik orang lain dengan mudah.

Perlindungan hak kepemilikan pribadi ini bukan hanya mencakup dengan aset-aset yang nyata, atau yang dikenal juga dengan tangible asset, namun juga harus mencakup hak kekayaan intelektual. Perlindungan hak kekayaan intelektual merupakan hal yang sangat penting untuk melindungi para inovator dan orang-orang yang kreatif agar mereka bisa mendapatkan manfaat ekonomi dari karya yang mereka buat dengan bersusah payah dan kerja keras.

Sebagaimana dengan perlindungan hak kepemilikan pribadi terhadap aset-aset yang tangible, tanpa adanya perlindungan terhadap hak kekayaan intelektual, maka kebebasan ekonomi akan sulit untuk dicapai. Tanpa adanya perlindungan terhadap hak kekayaan intelektual, maka setiap orang dapat dengan mudah membajak dan mencuri hasil karya orang lain untuk keuntungan diri mereka sendiri, tanpa harus menaruh usaha dan bekerja keras untuk membuat dan menciptakan karya tersebut.

Hubungan antara perlindungan hak kekayaan intelektual yang kuat dengan kesejahteraan merupakan hal yang diteliti oleh beberapa pihak. Pada tahun 2017 misalnya, sektor-sektor yang bertumpu pada hak kekayaan intelektual telah berkontribusi pada lebih dari 30% dari tenaga kerja di negara-negara maju seperti Amerika Serikat dari Eropa, dan telah berkontribusi terhadap 40% PDB dari Amerika Serikat dan negara-negara di Uni Eropa (, 26/4/2017).

Perlindungan yang lemah terhadap hak kekayaan inteletual juga telah membawa kerugian dan malapetaka di negara-negara yang berpenghasilan rendah dan menengah. Direkrut eksekutif dari organisasi pegiat hak kekayaan intelektual, Property Rights Alliance, Lorenzo Montanari, mencatat bahwa perlindungan hak kekayaan intelektual yang buruk di negara-negara berpenghasilan rendah dan menengah telah merugikan banyak pelaku ekonomi lokal (, 26/4/2017).

Montanari mencatat hal yang terjadi di Nigeria misalnya, merupakan salah satu contoh dari hal tersebut. Nigeria merupakan salah satu negara yang memilki industri perfilman yang sangat maju, yang dikenal dengan julukan Nollywood. Industri perfilman di Nigeria juga telah melahirkan banyak aktor-aktor ternama yang memiliki basis penggemar dari seluruh dunia.

Namun, karena negara tersebut tidak memiliki perlindungan terhadap hak kekayaan intelektual yang kuat, maka para produser dan pembuat film di Nigeria tidak bisa mendapatkan investasi yang besar untuk menunjang industri perfilman mereka, karena banyaknya pembajakan. Hal ini tentu merupakan hal yang sangat merugikan bagi industri perfilman di Nigeria, dan besar kemungkinan hal tersebut akan menghambat perkembangan industri perfilman di negara tersebut.

Sebagai penutup, perlindungan hak kepemilikan pribadi, termasuk juga hak kekayaan intelektual, merupakan salah satu pilar penting kebebasan ekonomi, yang merupakan fondasi untuk meningkatkan kesejahteraan. Untuk itu, bila sebuah negara ingin meningkatkan kesejahteraan masyarakatnya, memperkuat perlindungan hak kekayaan intelektual, sebagai bagian dari perlindungan hak kepemilikan pribadi, merupakan hal yang sangat penting untuk menjadi perhatian bagi para pembuat kebijakan di sebuah negara.

Originally published here.

La valeur des publicités

Par Bill Wirtz

Avez-vous déjà acheté quelque chose à cause de l’image d’une marque ? Certainement, surtout lorsque l’emballage est très voyant et séduisant. Si nous devions nier que nous répondons à de bonnes publicités, nous pourrions tout aussi bien condamner des millions de départements marketing à l’obscurité, car quelle valeur a le marketing dans un monde d’engourdis.

Nous répondons aux marques comme un facteur qui guide nos décisions d’achat, mais pour fidéliser la clientèle, il faut plus qu’un bon emballage. Les consommateurs modernes regardent au-delà même de la qualité d’un produit : ils s’intéressent aux méthodes de production, au traitement éthique des travailleurs et aux chaînes d’approvisionnement durables. Ce que nous avons parfois tendance à appeler cyniquement le “greenwashing” est un véritable phénomène de consommateurs exerçant une pression sur les entreprises pour qu’elles changent leurs politiques.

À quoi servirait cette pression si nous devions nous débarrasser complètement du marketing ou de la notoriété de la marque ? La raison pour laquelle je fais pression sur mon producteur d’ordinateurs portables préféré pour qu’il évite à tout prix l’esclavage est que je peux consciemment rester fidèle… non pas aux ordinateurs portables eux-mêmes, mais à cette marque en particulier. Si ce producteur de logiciels s’engage également à respecter des normes strictes en matière de protection de la vie privée, alors je suis même heureux d’être un ambassadeur non rémunéré de la marque pour cette entreprise, grâce au bouche-à-oreille. 

Certains défenseurs de la santé publique ont affirmé que la stratégie de marque et le marketing consistent essentiellement à tromper les consommateurs en leur faisant acheter des choses qui sont malsaines pour eux ou en les guidant vers des achats qu’ils ne veulent pas vraiment faire. Les termes “marketing” et “lavage de cerveau” apparaissent parfois comme des synonymes, surtout lorsqu’il s’agit d’enfants. Certains produits font l’objet d’une interdiction flagrante de la publicité dans certains États membres de l’UE parce qu’ils font de la publicité pour les enfants, ou plutôt pour les parents qui font l’achat plus tard. Ces interdictions suggèrent de supprimer la responsabilité des parents.

Si le choix est entre l’éducation des enfants sur les conséquences de leur comportement et une interdiction flagrante de la publicité pour les produits, la plupart des gens préféreraient éduquer les enfants. Les enfants ne peuvent apprendre à devenir des consommateurs responsables plus tard que s’ils sont éduqués, au lieu de se faire réprimander. L’approche restrictive et punitive est celle que nous appliquions aux enfants et aux jeunes adultes jusqu’à la révolution culturelle de 1968, et elle n’a donné aucun résultat positif. Oui, les diffuseurs doivent être conscients que l’affichage de publicités pour l’alcool pendant les émissions pour enfants est (au-delà du fait qu’il n’est pas économique pour la société de publicité) irresponsable. Cela ne signifie pas pour autant qu’il faille dissimuler l’existence de l’alcool aux enfants. Oui, l’alcool existe, et sa consommation à l’âge approprié et en quantités appropriées peut être sûre.  

Nous devons traiter les enfants comme des enfants, mais nous ne devons pas oublier qu’ils sont en train de grandir et qu’ils sont capables de comprendre les nuances en grandissant. Une protection excessive est non seulement improductive, mais elle est aussi condescendante pour les consommateurs adultes. Sous le couvert de la croyance mal informée que tout marketing est malveillant et sous l’affirmation précise mais hors contexte que toutes les publicités PEUVENT être vues par les enfants, certains plaident pour une interdiction complète. Ce n’est pas la bonne façon de procéder. De nombreuses plateformes vidéo et services de streaming offrent déjà des options de contrôle parental, qui aident à réguler les choses que les enfants voient. Les principaux navigateurs internet font de même.

Les restrictions de commercialisation ne sont pas seulement un coup porté à l’information des consommateurs du point de vue de la disponibilité des produits, c’est aussi un message clair aux parents qui leur dit “nous ne vous faisons pas confiance pour faire les bons choix pour vos propres enfants”. Les publicités sont essentielles à la liberté des marques. Les marques sont importantes pour les consommateurs, non seulement parce qu’elles établissent la fidélité des consommateurs, mais aussi parce qu’elles aident à distinguer les produits sur le marché. Dans les situations où les entreprises donnent des informations inexactes sur leurs produits, les concurrents devraient pouvoir commercialiser des produits plus sûrs et plus sains. C’est l’essence même du choix du consommateur.

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