From Oakleys to OBL in One Easy Step

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An investigative reporter from the Columbus Dispatch finds Americans buying knock-off Oakley sunglasses in China. Obviously, he blames terrorists.

Experts say crime syndicates in Asia and elsewhere are behind much of the worldwide trade in illicit goods. So buying fakes not only denies tax revenue to governments, but it also supports drug trafficking, abusive labor practices and possibly worse.

"Buying counterfeit goods is just like giving a hundred-dollar bill to a terrorist or to the Mafia," said Tim Richissin, a Cleveland police sergeant and private investigator who monitors counterfeiters.

Ohio State University law professor Daniel C.K. Chow spent two years in China leading anti-counterfeiting efforts for the consumer products giant Procter & Gamble. Because tens of millions of Chinese depend on fake goods for their livelihood, he said, local officials ignore or even profit from the trade.

"Most consumers think it's harmless fun to buy knockoffs," Chow said. "But if you buy counterfeit products, you are supporting organized crime and all the abuses that come with it, including narcotics, smuggling and prostitution." 

I prefer to support prostitution by hiring prostitutes, but it's good to know that all illegal activities are connected by one colossal global crime ring being monitored by a guy in Cleveland. 

Cathy Young suggests you fight terrorism by growing your own pot

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  1. Terrorists probably own stock in American and European companies, as well, so by the same logic buying legitimate goods is akin to giving $100 to terrorists.

  2. “Most consumers think it’s harmless fun a way to put food on the table and stay alive to buy knockoffs,” Chow said. Chow enjoys saying that earning a livelihood is “harmless fun.”

  3. “Buying counterfeit goods is just like giving a hundred-dollar bill to a terrorist or to the Mafia,” said Tim Richissin, a Cleveland police sergeant and private investigator who monitors counterfeiters.

    I remember people joking that eventually they’ll find that ingesting anything causes cancer. …sooner or later the observation will change to note that buying almost anything is just like giving money to a terrorist.

    I’ve heard buying an SUV. Buying marijuanna. Now buying cheap knockoffs is just like giving money to a terrorist. …the list just keeps getting longer.

  4. I prefer to support prostitution by hiring prostitutes

    Several very devoted male H&Rers google the qualifications of what it takes to become a prositute…

    “Most consumers think it’s harmless fun to buy knockoffs,” Chow said. “But if you buy counterfeit products, you are supporting organized crime and all the abuses that come with it, including narcotics, smuggling and prostitution.”

    What? Doesn’t everyone enjoy watching movies where you can hear a guy coughing in the audience or with heads siloutted against the screen a’la MST3K? The one drawback is that the comments aren’t anywhere near as witty.

  5. I remember people joking that eventually they’ll find that ingesting anything causes cancer. …sooner or later the observation will change to note that buying almost anything is just like giving money to a terrorist.

    No no, that’s global warming.

  6. We’ve all thought about counterfeiting jeans at one time or another, but what about the victims? Hard-working designers like Calvin Klein, Gloria Vanderbilt, or Antoine Bugle Boy. These are the people who saw an overcrowded marketplace and said, “Me too!”

  7. “Buying counterfeit goods is just like giving a hundred-dollar bill to a terrorist or to the Mafia,” said Tim Richissin,

    I forgive him. He’s a Cleveland police sergeant.

    “Most consumers think it’s harmless fun to buy knockoffs,” Chow said. “But if you buy counterfeit products, you are supporting organized crime and all the abuses that come with it, including narcotics, smuggling and prostitution.”

    OTOH, he’s a law professor who should know what hyperbole is.

  8. Fuck Oakleys. All the cool kids are wearing Blu Blockers.

  9. I guess paying U.S. taxes is the only thing left that doesn’t fund terrorism.

  10. Can you buy B.U.M Equipment and OP gear in China too?

    I wanna party likes it’s 1993.

  11. “But if you buy counterfeit products, you are supporting organized crime and all the abuses that come with it, including narcotics, smuggling and prostitution.”

    Is he suggesting that narcotics smuggling benefits from cross-subsidy from counterfeit goods smuggling?

  12. These people have a Hogan’s Alley view of organized crime; apparently it’s ubiquitous and comprised mostly of snaggle-toothed mugs who salivate at the thought of doing evil.

    Mind you, I don’t know a whole lot about the operations of the black market, but I bet it isn’t like that. What reason is there to believe, for example, that crime organizes in markets where no organization is necessary?

    I mean, with heroin and cocaine you have a supply that can only be found in a few places and has to be transported past security and then distributed in secret. The risk and payoff are both high. Those factors combine to encourage organization, and ruthless organization at that.

    Pirated DVDs, on the other hand, cost next to nothing to make, are easy to move around and sell, and pay peanuts – particularly in a country like China, where the price of the genuine article is already fixed pretty low. I can’t imagine why mobsters would bother with that business, apart from petty stuff like harassing street vendors for pay-off.

    No, I suspect that the Chinese purveyors of the counterfeit and pirated are much like other entrepeneurs in the new China: people’ve found an angle and are going to work it while it lasts. Now, I don’t mean to suggest that this has anything to do with the ethical questions of intellectual property, only that this sort of scare-bullshit that we’re hearing about it is probably bunkum.

  13. “But if you buy counterfeit products, you are supporting organized crime and all the abuses that come with it, including narcotics, smuggling and prostitution.”

    Prostitution?

    I’m sure he meant to say “white slavery.”

  14. Indeed. Smart people like us know that international organized crime is more akin to the Corleone model. A little olive oil. Some gambling. Nice family business. You might even call it libertarianism for the uneducated. Nobody gets hurt. Ever.

  15. it’s good to know that all illegal activities are connected by one colossal global crime ring being monitored by a guy in Cleveland.

    Wasn’t this in Illuminatus?

  16. “But if you buy counterfeit products, you are supporting organized crime and all the abuses that come with it, including narcotics, smuggling and prostitution.”

    Prostitution?

    I’m sure he meant to say “white slavery.”

  17. Still a few glitches in the system…grr

  18. Every time you pay taxes you are financing
    terrorism, civil rights violations, organized crime, and corruption.

  19. When are SWAT teams going to start busting down doors, ransaking houses, terrorizing innocents grandmas, and shooting family pets looking for all of the pirated and knock off products.

    /Snark/

    Even if they don’t find anything, it would be worth it, just like in the war on some drugs.
    /Snark Off/

  20. “So buying fakes not only denies tax revenue to governments, but it also supports drug trafficking, abusive labor practices and possibly worse.”

    And we all know that governments never support immoral pratices with tax money.

  21. zig zag man,

    Sometimes I wonder if my view of government enforcement agencies is unfair to them. Surely, I tell myself, these are just people. Surely, they don’t kick down doors and shoot people just for the hell of it. Surely, someone in that command chain must think they’re doing important work.

    And then I remember that unlike virtually every other organization, legal or otherwise, government agencies perpetuate themselves by continually justifying themselves. And as Solzhenitsyn once wrote of the NKVD: a security apparatus, once established, needs arrests.

  22. Paying taxes supports terrorism.

    The executive branch uses tax dollars to fund the Iraq war & their foreign policy in general. In all likelihood, their policy leads to a net increase in the number of terrorists out there.

    Because the President (who says we should not do things that support terrorism) is higher on the totem pole than the IRS, so I choose to listen to him.

    Therefore, I refuse to pay taxes.

    There, that was easy.

  23. Wait, a portion of the proceeds go to narcotics and prostitution? Can I take a tax deduction for supporting these causes?

  24. I once had a Chinese knock-off prostitute. She fell apart after one washing.

  25. Lost in the shuffle of all these relevant comments is the fact that the Columbubs Dispatch really is a piss-poor newspaper.

    The guy who owns Limited Brands (A&F, Hollister, etc) lives in columbus, he’s Ohio’s richest man, and his way of looking at things certainly colors the coverage in Columbus’ only major newspaper.

  26. Dear Zig Zag Man:

    Don’t put it past ’em. If you are the next door neighbor of someone who is buying counterfeit goods, and they get the wrong house……maybe they’ll handcuff your 92 year old grandmother.

  27. I guess paying U.S. taxes is the only thing left that doesn’t fund terrorism.

    SWAT teams?

    So buying fakes not only denies tax revenue to governments, but it also supports drug trafficking, abusive labor practices and possibly worse.

    Whereas legitimate copyrighted products are produced in Asian sweatshops. Do bribes count as “taxes?”

  28. So buying fakes not only denies tax revenue to governments, but it also supports drug trafficking, abusive labor practices and possibly worse.

    Whoever wrote this isn’t a very good propagandist. You’re not supposed to mention the REAL reason the govt is concerned about this, just the ostensible ones.

  29. I prefer to support prostitution by hiring prostitutes …

    I’ll send you a rate card.

    (Yeah, like I was going to let that slide without comment.)

  30. I guess paying U.S. taxes is the only thing left that doesn’t fund terrorism.

    No, that funds terrorism, too, but thanks for playing.

  31. “”So buying fakes not only denies tax revenue to governments, but it also supports drug trafficking, abusive labor practices and possibly worse.””

    So, am I the only one in favor of buying knockoffs?

  32. You didn’t count on my loyal army of Blu-Blocker-wearing prostitutes, now did you?($1)

  33. “…but it’s good to know that all illegal activities are connected by one colossal global crime ring being monitored by a guy in Cleveland.”

    Didn’t Buckaroo Bansi deal with the World Crime League in the second movie?

  34. I suspect that many of the counterfeit goods in question are made on the same assembly line right next to the legitimate ones.

    I had a couple of “Gucci” watches some years ago that were among the best I’ve owned. And I think I paid a dollar apiece for them.

  35. I prefer to support prostitution by hiring prostitutes

    Bad call. No matter how bad the shwag you buy turns out to be, you’re not going to end up with a burning sensation when you pee.

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