Our Shameless Society

In New York City this summer, my wife and I were walking through China Town with our two younger boys and marveled at the low prices being offered for expensive brand names. I’d heard about extensive counterfeiting, but was shocked to walk into a shop and see the counterfeiting being done in broad daylight. Yes, I know I’m naive! A woman in the back of the shop had been sewing oval D&G labels (Dolce and Gabbana, a hot Italian brand) onto purses. It was like they felt no need to hide their crime. Somehow, my camera accidentally went off while it was down at my side, capturing this shot.

My wife was approached by a woman to see if she’d like to buy one of their purses, with prices around $35 each. My wife said no. “Why not?” Very quietly, trying not to be offensive, my wife simply said, “Well, they’re fake.” The woman became indignant. In fact, she started yelling at my wife. “Of course they’re fake!! You want a real one? You go uptown and pay $300.” There was no shame. In fact, there was moral outrage and anger that someone would complain about these products being fakes.

This lack of shame for sin reflects a studied ignorance of right and wrong, coupled with the ubiquitous human sin of pride. Increasingly, we find that sins people should be ashamed of and keep hidden (if they refuse to repent) become “rights” to be trumpeted in public, with angry denunciations of those who question the propriety of the behavior. Those who practice and advocate sin become celebrities and are given platforms to share their message, while those who object are dismissed as intolerant nutcases. It takes more guidance than ever to maintain one’s moral bearings in a world where right and wrong are no longer clearly distinct, but blurs on an ever spinning Wheel of Moral Fortune. Designed to look like every option wins, those who play that game will all be bankrupt in the end.

In the warped view of our Shameless Society, wy wife was the sinner for stating the obvious and not choosing to play the game. The following Christmas, of course, was a disappointment: no fake Rolex this year. What, I’m not worth $50?

Bonus photo (click to enlarge):

In the same strip of Chinatown shops was another one, shown above, with the sign, “We Make Name Belts.” Not “sell,” but “make.” (Update: I wondered if they were advertising that they could “make” whatever brand name you wanted – but one commenter explained that they might just be advertising the ability to customize a belt buckle with your name.)

Bonus tip:

Speaking of fakes and counterfeits, how about that US dollar, now backed by little more than hope? The increasing pace of inflation, fueled by reckless printing of vast amounts of new money, is making the dollar worth less and less at a sickening pace. So what do you do? First, get your food storage built up. Wheat prices and nearly all staples have increased sharply and will continue to increase in the long term. Prepare for difficult times now and invest in food that will last. Commodities in general have increased by over 20% over the past year. And it’s not going to stop.

Second, get a portion of your savings in silver. Call me crazy, but this is actually a gift to you if you act on this advice, slowly and sanely. Silver was around $7 an ounce 30 months ago when I began recommending it to people. Gold was around $450 an ounce, as I recall. Largely thanks to the steady devaluation of our dollar (and other currencies), coupled with a little increased awareness in the investor community, gold has since climbed to $970 an ounce and silver is at $19.80 an ounce. This may seem like such a sharp increase that it’s time to sell rather than buy – and it may be that a 10 to 30% correction could occur in the next 6 months. I sure hope so! And if that happens, buy! But don’t count on a large correction. For the long term, it’s still cheap at current prices. Silver is the better deal, in my opinion, and is actually rarer than gold in terms of available bullion (it gets used up for industrial purposes, whereas the amount of available gold keeps increasing). So my advice to readers – the dedicated ones who have read all the way to the bottom of this post – take advantage of the currently cheap status of silver and make it a part of your portfolio. Get some of your 401k into a precious metals offering such as the SLV exchange-traded fund and get some of the actual metal stored away in a safe place. Don’t count on your stocks and bonds to see you through the inflationary future we are facing.

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Author: Jeff Lindsay

67 thoughts on “Our Shameless Society

  1. Isaiah 5:20 “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil, that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”

    I remember studying that scripture as a teenager in seminary, but I never realized how blatant it is until I got older. And that’s the way it is with ALOT of things.
    It’s really very sad and disturbing.

  2. Tracy beat me to the scripture but that was exactly what came to mind when reading this post. When it comes to right and wrong, we are in Bizarro world right now. Examples are abundant of evil is good and good is evil in our indeed, “shameless” society. P0rn, lying, cheating, stealing, are a few among the many vices now being touted as virtues. Thank Heavens for the Gospel to keep us all anchored in that which will bring lasting happiness.

    Scott E.

  3. The We Make Name Belt sign is hanging over a bunch of belt buckles. I always thought that those signs meant that they made name belt buckles (you know, belt buckles with the letters in your name cut out) – which they would actually have to make. I never thought it had to do with them saying they had name brand belts. I guess I could be wrong but I think my explanation makes more sense, although I really have no idea. I guess I’ll have to check next time I’m in Chinatown.

    A funnier picture would have been one of the signs advertising that they make IDs.

  4. Heh, just this last week, shops like that one were raided by police. I guess someone got a little too greedy and the cops moved in. Canal Street has been cleaned out (at least partially) of the fake Gucci bags.

    As for investing, I would invest in the Euro right now if I could. There’s no need to make a rush on commodities. (I’ve read plenty of the mad dashes to gold in the 70s, and the price of gold is not anywhere near the same level today as it was back then).

  5. Hi Jeff,

    “But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” ?

    “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”

    This is not just a local problem confined to an area in Chinatown NY, it also extends deep into the commerce and business sectors globally. The vein of evil and corruption being perpetrated is on the streets, in commercialism, government and every walk of society. Even those societies that seemingly have it all sorted in their peaceful habitats are having their ‘idyll’ transformed before their eyes under the branding of ‘tourism’ as the more wealthy seek for the undisturbed places of natural beauty on the earth.

    What is the common focus – money and status and the automatic ability to purchase anything that is desired. It is a very negative infection that has spread through most westernised societies.

    Two questions that immediately came to my mind without wanting to offend you or your family in any way (I do not sit in an ivory tower, as I have purchased fake / street traders goods myself previously – but wouldn’t do it now) :

    Would your wife have purchased the purse if it was an original at $35.00 ?

    Why are you suggesting investing for the long term when as Christians, we are expecting Jesus coming soon, as we can see from the verse quoted above in Matthews gospel (ch 24) ?

    Otherwise a very strong article, addressing some serious issues.

    Teranno4x4

  6. Thanks for the comments. Dan, I agree there’s no need to make a rush into commodities, and also agree that we are a long way from the rush we saw once before when gold and silver skyrocketed. But that’s precisely why now is a good time to move into commodities. When the rush begins – when brokers and financial advisers and local newspapers and your newspaper delivery person are all talking about precious metals and precious metal stocks, that’s when it’s time to get out fast. We’re nowhere close to that.

    There’s one other difference compared to the last big climb in precious metals prices. In the 80s, the US Government had a billion plus ounces of silver that they could dump on the market to drive the price way down. They now have ZERO. Sold it all. And most Central Banks have surprisingly little real gold. Much of what they have on paper is no longer there, as GATA.org has ably demonstrated. And when the investment community realizes that, gold will skyrocket – and silver will be much stronger. It’s more rare than gold in terms of available silver, though the investment community doesn’t recognize that yet.

    Get a position before the real rush begins. Just my two cents worth.

    But food storage is even more important. Wheat – what a great investment!

  7. The Euro has done well relative to the US dollar, but it’s also a fiat currency that is being inflated at a crazy rate – over 10% a year. The commodities index in Euros has climbed 15% in the past year versus 30% in US dollars – but it’s a sign of a weak currency in both cases. Central Banks cannot resist the temptation to create money out of nothing, giving politicians more via a hidden tax that makes all their subjects increasingly impoverished.

  8. Awww shucks… phony bags in NYC? Say it ain’t so.

    The fact that you were shopping for fake bags lends hypocrisy to your blog.

    Why didn’t you call the police and let them know of this illegal operation? Instead, you blogged about it?

  9. Another passage, on top of Tray Keeny’s is in Romans 1:

    And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

    Paul’s assessment of his society is still very much present in ours. There is nothing new under the sun; man (being fundamentally evil) always has and will always continue to exercise evil, it seems. Even Jesus said, “What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean.’ For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.’“…

    …ouch.

  10. It would be interesting to see what different cultures use as their criteria for determining what is right and what is wrong. After four months in China at the end of last year, it seemed the criteria for commercially copied goods was “If they’re not going to crack down on it, how bad can it be? I’m just trying to make a living.” I wonder if others have seen similar experiences with the Chinese, or if other cultures vary drastically from our American criteria of right versus wrong.

  11. It’s just the same with the Gospel. Don’t except the imitations. Those who profess His name and then ask for your money to “forgive” you of your sins. Or those who state they are preachers or pastors of the Living Christ, when there is no unity of faith. Christianity is a shattered mirror with each piece professing to worship Him the correct way, when in fact they are just imitations.

    Would it have mattered if she HAD bought the purse, if it was an original? If I sell you my kitchen table for less than the appraised price or the manufactured retail price, does it matter? Terrano it seems that you are trying to make a point, but what is the point? Paying the retail value of the purse? Or paying a discount price? Or are you professing your all too well known wisdom that is would be a sin to do so?

  12. I don’t get why people even want the purses, personally. They’re not very attractive and I’ll bet the finish on the counterfeits doesn’t hold up well over time. A Filipina friend gave me a non-namebrand handicraft purse from the island of Mindanao which has been serving me well for over two years now.
    Fashion is misanthropic. So many people spend way too much time and money on useless, unattractive, and even harmful accessories. Throw out the neckties (linked to glaucoma), the handbags (“hello, come rob me”), the high-heeled shoes (oh, but then the poor foot doctors would go out of business), and claim your freedom to dress for optimal movement, safety, and health.

  13. T4x4,

    I know of a family that fully expected the Second Coming of Christ to come as the year rolled over to 2000. They maxed out their credit cards enjoying life beforehand, expecting not to have to pay it back. Now they are swimming in debt. Since “no man knoweth the hour” of His coming, it pays to be prepared to live life during the ups and downs until He does arrive.

  14. kuri asks: “Counterfeiting a bag is a “crime” (by definition, since it’s illegal), but why is it a “sin”?”

    Thou shalt not steal.

  15. Surely the extortionate pricing of brand labels and the very purchasing of them is sinful. Buying a genuine D&G bag for $300 is nothing but pride and materialism at it’s worst.

  16. It is a sin because it violates the law of the land. You’re lying to customers by presenting a name brand when you know it isn’t.

  17. “It is a sin because it violates the law of the land.”

    Is it always a sin to break the law? Is the law of the land itself never sinful?

    “You’re lying to customers by presenting a name brand when you know it isn’t.”

    They weren’t lying in this case. They openly admitted that the bags were fake. And most customers already know that they’re fake anyway.

  18. I’m from the Philippines and this thing is so commonplace here. No one is surprised, no one complains. Although the law prohibits piracy, it is almost never implemented. It is never illegal to buy pirated stuff though. I think the issue is, if you know it is pirated, would you buy it? Bags, shirts, DVDs, jeans, etc. I even saw “Work and the Glory” DVD (pirated) along the streets of Manila. I got it for less than a dollar. -sherwin

  19. kuri, I’ve argued the case I think you’re trying to make in the comments of past (very similar) posts, if you want to look back. But the short story is: Jeff, like many, makes his living in the “Intellectual Property” world, so don’t be too surprised by the weird logic used to defend it.

  20. RWW,
    So I guess I shouldn’t bother asking if the people who sell luxury products and refuse to allow anyone else to profit from them aren’t the real sinners. 😉

  21. Dear Anon,

    It wouldn’t have mattered to me if Jeff’s wife had bought a branded D&G purse and paid $35.00 or $300.00 .

    The point that I am trying to make is that in Jeff’s account the trader was obviously out to market her wares with a passion. It is logical to assume that she was not doiing it from love in her heart for her customers. Also it is logical to assume that she wanted to make some profit in the deal.

    How many people do you know that would have a product valued at $300.00 and sell it in a market environment for $35.00 at little more than 10% of it’s true value? Even it the goods were stolen, one would expect to pay more from such unscupulous characters.

    The point I am making is that the excuse that Jeff’s wife made, was very polite under the circumstances that obviously bordered on harrassment and it was probably an honest reply made on the ‘spur of the moment’. My question simply was what if the purses were not fake ? Would there have been a different excuse or would money have changed hands to have a nice little ‘accessory’ …. ?

    At both extremes of the commercial fashions, named brands and cheap fakes – I like Catherine’s comment and also Kuri’s challenge to think about the connection of crime and the sin. China is very much to blame for supporting our commercial world. People literally queueing (60 long sometimes) outside the factories, just waiting for one inside to underperform and be ejected, so that they have the opportunity to fill the vacancy. The pay there is lousy, but still the lure to the cities is too great and pulling the farmers and labourers from their remote villages in search of the filthy lucre. The fact is that the pay is not much greater than they would have earned in their original capacities and yet they still queue!

    I feel sorry for the producer’s of the copied fakes, as they are trying to step into western culture with their talents. They are just harnessing it in the wrong way, with the focus on the quick easy buck.

    I also feel sorry for the manufacturers of all the fashion brands that market exclusively for one end of society’s wealthy spectrum, making huge profit margins on minimum sales. Those that ‘have’ readily buy into this madness for status and recognition. This too is temporary and artificial, with a new ‘accessory’ warranting a replacement in probably a few weeks.

    All in all it is aptly summarised in Ecclesiastes : “All is vanity”.

    We should all be ashamed for supporting and upholding individuals and a society that is condusive to such a record as this topic has created. Fair goods at fair prices, from factories where there is no exploitation. Where can this be found in the world today?

    Teranno4x4

  22. Dear Dave D,

    Is our focus as Christians looking for the Second Coming, or are we buying into securing our kingdome here on earth ?

    Of course it is necessary to harvest for times of famine and not live hand to mouth. But also there is the call to be good stewards of money, family and churchlife, that is not illustrated by the actions of your friends? True Christians or selfish materialists ? If they really believed that Jesus was coming at the time that they stated, then how many of the goods maxed up in their credit cards could they have taken to heaven ? None of them.

    Storing up treasures on earth is not a good move, whether in property, investments or businesses. They are likely to take over and dictate one’s time so that God is not glorified in one’s actions. Remember that God also wants to demonstrate action in one’s life. If one has all the bases covered over the long term, where can He perform ?

    Spiritual discernment for a healthy balance is absolutely necessary, just as one wouldn’t choose to gorge out on 5 Big Macx, just because one had a long road trip ahead of oneself. Just as one wouldn’t stick them all in the glove box either to be eaten only when desperate for food. One would plan accurately over the medium term how the ‘healthy’ meals (not big macx) would be spaced and purchased fresh.

    Teranno4x4

  23. I always love these blogs. Having my name removed from the church as a 30 year convert because of the criminal acts against my family, friends and I, it always gives me a thrill to see the Mormons worry so about how the rest of the world is doing. If they wanted to stop this or many other criminal activities the could. I think the Mormons like most groups should worry more about their own house rather than always keeping their eye out for evil around the world.

  24. Anon 5:42 AM, March 04, 2008,

    Maybe you are right about the mormons – I don’t know because I am not one.

    I keep my house in order, but I also agree with Jeff that the decline of society can also be correllated to personal greed.

    Does the word ‘covet’ come into question here too ?

    I would like to know why criminal activity was brought against you, friends and family by your church though ? Sure this is evil, if true.

  25. Jeff and others,

    yes, this is terrible that people do this, but there are two ways to view this. On the consumer side, it’s a great deal, because the fact that the brand name companies charge such outrageous prices for products made in sweat shops, where the actual employees making these purses and such receive pennies back for their work, we are making a statement that we will not assist them in slavery.

    on the flip side, the seller of the fakes understands this and is trying to make a buck. Who knows where that money goes? Does it go to their own families to pay for food and shelter? Drugs? Alcohol? Clothing for their children? Who are we to say where the money goes. Before we are so quick to judge we should try to see it from different points of view.

    “He was Anakin…and he was Darth Vader…from a certain point of view.”

  26. Ternno, three comments in a row? Is this going to become another “It’s the Teranno Show!” page?

  27. Sewing a brand name tag onto a cheap bag you bought somewhere else and trying to pass it off as the real deal isn’t lying? You think these people openly admit these are fake bags to every potential customer?

    The excuses people will make up…

  28. Kuri and RWW, you don’t see the problem in falsely using someone’s brand identity?

    So I don’t waste time explaining and arguing for things you may already understand, let me check where are. Common ground, you know? So let me know if you think any of the following is wrong:

    A) Making $20 counterfeit bills and using them at Taco Bell.

    B) Using counterfeit $20 bills that I know are fake but others are willing to accept as legitimate.

    C) Selling brand name prescription drugs that were actually made by someone other than the listed pharmaceutical company, yet are probably just as good.

    D) Selling fake prescription drugs that are actually just placebos.

    E) Selling an oil painting that actually belongs to my neighbor (I borrowed from his home while he was sleeping).

    F) Selling a print of my neighbor’s amazing oil painting that he made for his private enjoyment – one that I photographed while he was sleeping.

    G) Selling a Van Gogh “original” that I know was made by a skilled counterfeiter, one that fools many experts.

    H) Selling a Van Gogh “original” that I know was made by a clumsy counterfeiter, one who fools only very naive customers.

    I) Making and selling unauthorized DVD reproductions of a major Hollywood new release that cost $40 million to produce.

    J) Making and selling unauthorized CDs burned from a friend’s CD of that hot new LDS rapper, Iced Mo.

    K) Making and giving away unauthorized CDs burned from a friend’s CD of that hot new LDS rapper, Iced Mo, contrary to the will of the musician and his producers.

    L) Publishing your neighbor’s Social Security Number, birthdate, mother’s maiden name, and name of the bank where she has her checking account.

    I suspect that at least a couple of these will get a solid thumbs down vote from you, which is good – but I’m not sure. So which ones do you disapprove of?

  29. I fear that a couple of you don’t see the problem in falsely using someone’s brand identity.

    So I don’t waste time explaining and arguing for things you may already understand, let me check where are. Common ground, you know? So let me know if you think any of the following is wrong:

    A) Making $20 counterfeit bills and using them at Taco Bell.

    B) Using counterfeit $20 bills that I know are fake but others are willing to accept as legitimate.

    C) Selling brand name prescription drugs that were actually made by someone other than the listed pharmaceutical company, yet are probably just as good.

    D) Selling fake prescription drugs that are actually just placebos.

    E) Selling an oil painting that actually belongs to my neighbor (I borrowed from his home while he was sleeping).

    F) Selling a print of my neighbor’s amazing oil painting that he made for his private enjoyment – one that I photographed while he was sleeping.

    G) Selling a Van Gogh “original” that I know was made by a skilled counterfeiter, one that fools many experts.

    H) Selling a Van Gogh “original” that I know was made by a clumsy counterfeiter, one who fools only very naive customers.

    I) Making and selling unauthorized DVD reproductions of a major Hollywood new release that cost $40 million to produce.

    J) Making and selling unauthorized CDs burned from a friend’s CD of that hot new LDS rapper, Iced Mo.

    K) Making and giving away unauthorized CDs burned from a friend’s CD of that hot new LDS rapper, Iced Mo, contrary to the will of the musician and his producers.

    L) Publishing your neighbor’s Social Security Number, birthdate, mother’s maiden name, and name of the bank where she has her checking account.

    I suspect that at least a couple of these will get a solid thumbs down vote from you, which is good – but I’m not sure. So which ones do you disapprove of?

    If you disapprove of all or nearly all, then we have some good common ground. If not, we may need to address some fundamental issues. To facilitate that, I’ll need just a bit of information pertaining to your personal identity (SSN, bank account info, driver’s license number, date of birth, mother’s maiden name, basic account info and passwords, etc. – just for security purposes, you know).

  30. Oh, a couple more:

    M) Copying answers during a college exam from a person sitting next to me who is much smarter than me.

    N) Copying answers during a college exam from a person sitting next to me who is not much smarter than me.

    O) Copying answers during a college exam from a person sitting next to me who is a total moron.

    P) Giving a speech that I claim I wrote myself when most of it has been secretly borrowed from an obscure speech someone else gave.

  31. Jeff, I couldn’t help but chuckle because of the name you gave the LDS rapper. Iced Mo..lol…too funny!

    But in all seriousness, I do understand what you’ve been trying to explain. My family used to buy unauthorized DVDs becuase obviously they are cheaper and they still do.

    I’ve tryed to explain to them why I think it’s wrong, but they just don’t seem to understand. Maybe I’ll show them this blog:)

    I live next to Newark in New Jersey and downtown on a busy street they sell alot of things you would need and want; from clothes, shoes, jewelry, cds, dvds, and I can go on and on. The problem is almost everything that they are selling on the sidewalks are fake.

    I can buy all those things at a cheaper price and know that it’s not counterfeit. I always keep my eye out for the items that are on sale. Its really so much simple that way. I don’t mind waiting until it is on sale either. I rather enjoy my shopping days without having that guilty feeling. But thats just me.

    Most of the time you get a better deal too. Buy one get the other free or half off and so on and so forth. But that is just my opnion.

  32. “Sewing a brand name tag onto a cheap bag you bought somewhere else and trying to pass it off as the real deal isn’t lying?”

    It’s a real bag with real letters on it, sold at a reasonable price to people who can’t afford the “real” bags anyway. Who exactly is hurt by it?

    “You think these people openly admit these are fake bags to every potential customer?”

    The fact that they don’t try to hide it was kind of the point of the post, wasn’t it?

  33. “Kuri and RWW, you don’t see the problem in falsely using someone’s brand identity?”

    In the case of luxury goods, it’s a noble act of subversion.

    A) Making $20 counterfeit bills and using them at Taco Bell.
    Since Taco Bell is poisoning the world with its “food,” this is another noble act of subversion.

    B) Using counterfeit $20 bills that I know are fake but others are willing to accept as legitimate.
    Depends where you use them.

    C) Selling brand name prescription drugs that were actually made by someone other than the listed pharmaceutical company, yet are probably just as good.
    “Just as good” or “probably just as good”?

    D) Selling fake prescription drugs that are actually just placebos.
    You mean like SSRIs?

    E) Selling an oil painting that actually belongs to my neighbor (I borrowed from his home while he was sleeping).
    That’s theft — you take his painting and he doesn’t have it anymore.

    F) Selling a print of my neighbor’s amazing oil painting that he made for his private enjoyment – one that I photographed while he was sleeping.
    Using a person’s stuff without permission is uncool.

    G) Selling a Van Gogh “original” that I know was made by a skilled counterfeiter, one that fools many experts.
    If you never say it’s a Van Gogh, no problem.

    H) Selling a Van Gogh “original” that I know was made by a clumsy counterfeiter, one who fools only very naive customers.
    Ditto.

    I) Making and selling unauthorized DVD reproductions of a major Hollywood new release that cost $40 million to produce.
    Profiting off artists without permission is uncool.

    J) Making and selling unauthorized CDs burned from a friend’s CD of that hot new LDS rapper, Iced Mo.
    Ditto.

    K) Making and giving away unauthorized CDs burned from a friend’s CD of that hot new LDS rapper, Iced Mo, contrary to the will of the musician and his producers.
    Not a problem.

    L) Publishing your neighbor’s Social Security Number, birthdate, mother’s maiden name, and name of the bank where she has her checking account.
    There’s no legitimate reason to do that.

  34. M) Copying answers during a college exam from a person sitting next to me who is much smarter than me.
    Bad — it prevents you from learning.

    N) Copying answers during a college exam from a person sitting next to me who is not much smarter than me.
    Ditto.

    O) Copying answers during a college exam from a person sitting next to me who is a total moron.
    Ditto.

    P) Giving a speech that I claim I wrote myself when most of it has been secretly borrowed from an obscure speech someone else gave.
    That would be quite bad. OTOH, giving a speech while making no particular claims about having written it when much of it was borrowed from a friend’s speech with his express permission and forgetting to credit him until reminded of it is slightly bad. One should always give credit where due.

  35. So Kuri, you agree that “Using a person’s stuff without permission is uncool.” So what about brands? Suppose I sell my entire Howard Stern Celebrity Skeet collection and start a business selling “Mormanity” hot dogs and they become very popular, thanks to all the work I put into building the brand, including tons of advertising, expensive art work for my packaging, buying celebrity endorsements ($20k to LDS rapper Iced Mo to say, “Yo, Mormanity, That’s My Main Dawg!”). People get in line to buy Mormanity Dogs. And then you come along and cash in on my work and name, repackaging trashy hot dogs as Mormanity Dogs in my packaging and with my logos. You sell them for half the price cause you’ve got no overhead, no advertising budget, no trademarks to pay for, no artists to pay, no celebrities to pay for – just pure profit. Harm done? Yes – people start talking about the pieces of bone and hair they found in their grisly (fake) Mormanity hot dog. People who would have bought my hot dogs buy yours at half the price, and I may end up going out of business because I couldn’t compete against the fakes and can’t repair the harm to my brand’s reputation as well from the fakes. You are stealing my intellectual assets: the brand name I have developed at great expense, the trademark I have paid for and registered to show that I don’t want people using my stuff without my permission, the unique style of packaging that took a lot of work and expense to develop. You come along and steal all that – art and a brand name and trademarks that I created, my stuff – and claim it is a noble subversion because my hot dogs are too expensive.

    How can you say it is wrong to use a person’s stuff without permission, and not recognize that using a brand name, using unique art work someone else developed, using music they created, using software they created, without their permission, is theft?

    My good friend Iced Mo says: You steal my man’s dawgs, and you gotta mess wid me.

    The moral: I never should have sold that Howard Stern Celebrity Skeet collection.

  36. I’m glad you like the name Iced Mo, and am sure you’ll love the music. I hope you will buy a ton of his CDs – one for each counterfeiter in your life. Can’t wait for the Website IcedMo.com to come out. For now, it’s just being parked at his favorite LDS site. But stay tuned.