You’ve got the wrong guy!
ESPN.com has a fluffy article about the Dept o’ Homeland Security busting up vendors hawking counterfeit merchandise (and “forged or illegally scalped tickets”).
So here’s what cracked me up:
“Our focus is not the individual vendor,” Moskowitz said. “It’s the criminal organizations behind the vendors. Those organizations are driven by greed, and anyone driven primarily by greed is dangerous to the public.”
Like Major League Baseball? Isn’t being driven primarily by greed the whole problem with capitalism in general (“I have a moral obligation to sell crack to schoolchildren if it’s legal in order to maximize shareholder value.”)
Not to mention, as Moskowitz put it, “The same methods used to bring counterfeit goods into this country can be used to bring in weapons, drugs or people.”
Wait, wait… so these methods they’re using to bring counterfeit goods into the country, along with weapons, drugs, and people… you’re going after the counterfeit goods? Could you please go after the other three? Because that’s what scares the crap out of me. Nobody’s going to blow up the Columbia Center with a fake Raul Ibanez jersey.
Now, I wouldn’t mind so much if they were busting all these vendors, tossing them in interrogation rooms and working their way up the system to close off those methods. But they’re not. If you read the rest of the story, they confiscate a lot of stuff but only make two arrests (though they “plan to question many vendors privately” which, uh, they could have done if they’d gone ahead and arrested them).
So what’s more… well:
That logic helps explain why customs agents earn full cooperation from men like David Vansingel and Owen McGuigan, two Michigan state troopers pulled from their regular duties investigating violent crime to help the All-Star Game joint security task force in a variety of ways — an assignment that included catching bootleggers. The only problem the troopers encountered in the days leading up to the game was that customs agents’ work had been so effective, it left them little to do.
So Homeland Security pulled state troopers from their regular duties investigating violent crimes, and they ended up having “little to do” (the story goes on to describe them circling around for hours doing nothing).
Wow. I’m sure all those muggers, rapists, killers, and scumbags were happy for that holiday.
Sort of distrubing was the description of the raids: representatives of MLB would step in, and determine whether the merchandise was legit. Now even if you agree that the vendors were probably all guilty guilty guilty, that’s still unsettling: a representative of a private company was, on the spot, deciding whether the vendor would then be arrested or, at least, pressured by a bunch of feds into signing a form and forfeiting their merchandise.
That’s a little scary.
So how much did this great collobaration between business and government cost?
In the days leading up to the All-Star Game, working alongside city and state police and the U.S. Treasury Department, agents utilized more than 120 surveillance cameras that ringed the ballpark, NOAA satellite reconnaissance from the heavens above, as well as seven Coast Guard helicopters and another from the Michigan state police to seize almost 700 bootleg shirts
and 500 caps, along with several hundred fake or illegally scalped tickets.
“Almost” 700 bootleg shirts. 500 caps.
Figure $50 a shirt, $25 a hat… that’s still not worth it. Why do MLB’s trademarks deserve such overwhelming protection, rather than, say, the fans?