[Plura-list] US copyright is a disaster for Mexico; Do Androids Dream of Electric Cars; Central London property prices tank; 401(k)s are a scam

Cory Doctorow doctorow at craphound.com
Sat Jul 25 12:19:26 EDT 2020

Today's links

* US copyright is a disaster for Mexico: USMCA contra derechos humanos.

* Do Androids Dream of Electric Cars: My event with James Wilt on Aug 4.

* Central London property prices tank: Failed Airbnb rentiers flood the

* 401(k)s are a scam: Buy Alpo futures instead.

* This day in history: 2010, 2019

* Colophon: Recent publications, upcoming appearances, current writing
projects, current reading


🦉 US copyright is a disaster for Mexico

When Donald Trump tore up NAFTA and replaced it with the USMCA, Canada
took it as an occasion to correct errors in its copyright law - defects
that undermined free expression, privacy, cybersecurity and competition.

Mexico could have done the same. Instead, it rushed through a brutal
copy-and-paste of the US copyright system (with Hecho en Mexico - but
lobbied by US business- additions that make it even worse).


Mexico's new copyright law is a disaster, with DRM rules that are even
more onerous than US versions, providing for criminal penalties for
bypassing copyright locks even if no copyright violation takes place.

That compromises cybersecurity, repair, adaptation for people with
disabilities and competition, putting Mexican people and Mexican
businesses at a permanent disadvantage relative to their US and Canadian

Just as bad are the copyright takedown rules, which do not allow a
service provider to disregard obviously fraudulent claims designed to
censor speech. Even LINKS are considered infringement under these rules!

As if that wasn't bad enough, the Mexican law mandates automated filters
for Mexico's internet, a move that will subject every online utterance
of every Mexican to algorithmic black-box censorship.

These filters cost hundreds of millions of dollars - kiss goodbye any
hope of a Mexican competitor to US Big Tech ever emerging - and are
catastrophic to free expression.

We have until the end of the month to convince Mexico's National Human
Rights Commission to overturn this terrible law. Here's a petition that
Mexicans can sign, courtesy of R3D.



🦉 Do Androids Dream of Electric Cars

On Aug 4, I'll be joining James Wilt to talk about his new book "Do
Androids Dream of Electric Cars? Public Transit in the Age of Google,
Uber, and Elon Musk" - it's part of Toronto's annual Word on the Street


Here's the description: "For North American cities built around cars,
public transportation was already in crisis. So what happens when a tech
giant enters the transit ecosystem? Join us for this wide-ranging
discussion about how transportation affects climate change, inequality,
accessibility, safety, labour issues, and information privacy. What
should public transit look like in a green and equitable city?And what's
needed for citizens to exert power over how cities are built and for whom?"

This stuff is basically my jam and Wilt's book (which I got in today's
mail) looks amazing.

It's part of a side-stage for Word On the Street calls "The City
Imagines," which is chock full of cities, equity and sustainability goodness



🦉 Central London property prices tank

London's brutal, overheated property market has been in trouble for a
long time, dependent on an every-more-desperate series of heroic
government interventions to keep it alive.

It was Brexit what done it, really. The first casualty was luxury
builds, which were never really intended to be lived in - they were
offshore safe deposit boxes in the sky bought merely as easily flipped
assets by global looters. Fuck them.


Incredibly, "luxury" builders continued to erect ghost towers whose
units had little or no chance of selling - proving that the biggest
units were the developers all along.


Then came the great Estate Agent crisis, which destroyed the livelihood
of some of London's worst people (which is really saying something, as I
am including the guillotinable denizens of the City of London!):


The contagion spread from luxury flats to the whole London market,
working its way inwards from the greenbelt, steamrollering towards Zone 1:


And now, Central London is in seriously deep shit.

It was Airbnb what done it.


There's been a mass sell-off of homes that had been converted to illegal
unlicensed hotel rooms - even as vast numbers of Londoners left the city
altogether, suppressing demand for rentals.

Year-on-year rental availability is up *26%* in Central London. Rents
are down 7.4% - and still falling - another 4.5% in June alone! Also in
June: listings up by 14%, people seeking rentals down by 9%.

If I had a groat for every Londoner who boasted that they were Warren
Fucking Buffet because they had the incredible foresight to buy a house
because they needed somewhere to live in the 70s and were millionaires
by Y2K, I'd have a shiny guinea.

"They're not making any more London," these self-made millionaires would
declare. "Safe as houses."

Meanwhile, help-to-buy, massive floods of cheap credit, plutocrat
speculators, and rock-bottom interest rates were actually driving gains,
and all of these were destined to end someday.

That day has arrived.


🦉 401(k)s are a scam

In Olden Days, people who worked for an employer got a pension. The
pension would pay $X/month (a percentage of your salary), maybe indexed
to inflation. That was a pension you could depend on, surety you could
use to plan your old age.

Today we call it a "defined benefits" pension but back then, we just
called it a "pension."

In the 1970s, these gave way to "market-based" pensions, AKA 401(k)s.

The theory was that instead of knowing how much you'd have to live on
when you were retired, you'd take some of your wages and put them into a
stock market that you didn't understand and were unqualified to
participate in and cross your fingers.

This was always going to end badly, but it was sold with sweeteners that
gave it a veneer of plausibility in the 1970s (they were big on veneers
in the 70s!).

401(k)s came with massive tax breaks, so every dollar you put into your
pension automatically earned 9.2% in annual savings, an incredible ROI.

But over the years, these tax advantages have vanished. Today, the
401(k) tax break is 0.6% - and your fund manager takes 1-2% out of your
savings for managing this money, leaving you in the hole before you make
your first transaction.


All of this is kind of moot anyway. In reality, almost no one has any
excess income to put into a 401(k), because of decades of wage
stagnation. Those people who DO have retirement savings are likely to
raid them and incur massive tax penalties once the stimulus runs out.

I've low-key suspected that part of the GOP program of coronavirus
denial was a tacit desire to head off the political challenges of a
massive cohort of retirees with no savings and anemic Social Security.

Those people weren't going to dig holes, climb in and pull the dirt in
over them. Nor would they consent to starve quietly on the corner after
they got evicted.

They would become a new, grey Bonus Army, successor to Occupy, demanding
mass-scale redistribution from the sharks who stole their futures. Old
people vote like crazy, after all, and there's a limit to how long you
can blame their all-Alpo diet on Jina and racialized people.

Remember in March when Texas Lt Governor Dan Patrick said that old
people had a patriotic duty to commit suicide so they wouldn't burden
the economy?


Talk about saying the quiet part out loud!


🦉 This day in history

#10yrsago Existential D&D; comedy: when characters realize they are
trapped in adolescents' imagination

#1yrago Adblocking: How About Nah?

#1yrago #Rickyrenuncia: Bowing to popular pressure, Puerto Rican
governor Ricardo Rossello has resigned

#1yrago #29leaks: someone leaked 15 years' worth of data from London's
most notorious shell-company factory


🦉 Colophon

Today's top sources: Naked Capitalism (https://nakedcapitalism.com/).

Currently writing:

* My next novel, "The Lost Cause," a post-GND novel about truth and
reconciliation. Friday's progress: 517 words (41820 total).

Currently reading: Anger Is a Gift by Mark Oshiro

Latest podcast: Full Employment:

Upcoming appearances:

* Keynote HOPE 2020, Jul 25,

* Keynote, A Midsummer Night's Con, Jul 27,

* Do Androids Dream of Electric Cars? Public Transit in the Age of
Google, Uber, and Elon Musk, Aug 4,

* Virtual event with Christopher Brown for his novel "Failed State," Aug

Latest book:

* "Little Brother/Homeland": A reissue omnibus edition with a new
introduction by Edward Snowden:
https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250774583; personalized/signed copies

* "Poesy the Monster Slayer" a picture book about monsters, bedtime,
gender, and kicking ass. Order here:
https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781626723627. Get a personalized, signed
copy here:

Upcoming books:

* "Attack Surface": The third Little Brother book, Oct 20, 2020.

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*When life gives you SARS, you make sarsaparilla* -Joey "Accordion Guy"

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