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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Dignan's Daily Review: Forbes Edition

I have had a subscription to Forbes magazine for almost 10 years. While it may tend to lean right politically, it is among the best magazines out there for business coverage. While flipping through this week's issue, I came upon some good articles to share with you:

Steve Forbes - Beltway Banditry: Don't Expect Real Reform
[Congress] will be eager to pass reform measures to demonstrate to angry voters that, yes, they are truly against corruption. One temptation: enacting more laws to further the hopeless task of banning money from politics. Expect a boatload of proposals for public financing of congressional campaigns and even more public financing of presidential ones. But these will only further complicate our increasingly IRS-like election laws.

As long as Washington spends so much of our money--$2.6 trillion a year at last count--and exercises so much life-and-death power over so many segments of our economy, affected people and interests will find ways to get their points of view across. Our Constitution makes it clear we have the right to petition our representatives. But some reformers will try to ban campaign contributions from affected interests. They and eager prosecutors will try to make the mere contributing of money to politicians the equivalent of a bribe. Thus, if your senator opposes more regulation on gun ownership and receives a contribution from gun owners or the National Rifle Association, prosecutors will try to twist that into a crime. But why shouldn't gun owners or those who simply believe in the Second Amendment have the right to support candidates and incumbents who share their views?
Steve Forbes is so right to point out the danger of overreacting here and makes some good suggestions to solve this problem.

Patently Obvious - Reed Hunt, former chairman of the FCC makes a great case for reinventing our patent system.
We especially want to discourage patent trolls:firms that buy up weak but legally viable patents and then sue alleged infringers in search of big cash settlements. The firm that produces the gizmo that puts a technology to the best use and most effectively brands it should earn the most money, not the firm that claims to be first with an idea but couldn't execute it. Competition is better for consumers and better for business. And it cuts lawyers out of the equation.

This Apple Is Too Shiny - Interesting article that shows that Apple is overvalued because of the lower profit margins of the iPod.
Founder-evangelist Chairman Steve Jobs has a cult following among certain computer users and the mostly worshipful attention of the business press. But it is unlikely that even his magic touch can alter the grim economics of consumer electronics gadgets: After a while they become commodities subject to vicious price competition.

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