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Leading by Example

Kate HoeyLast year when the Daily Telegraph described British MP Kate Hoey as wearing a Gucci watch, a string of pearls, and a jacket trimmed in faux fur, the independent-minded Labour politician and champion of fox hunting was quick to demand a correction.  The fur, apparently, was real; it was the Gucci that was a fake.

Retired British defense analyst W.F. Hogarth (no, not that William Hogarth) was not particularly amused.  Taking a break from his more common focus on counter-insurgency and threats in the Middle East, he recently trained his formidable analytical skills on the question of counterfeits.  After creating a taxonomy that divides "cheap and nasty" fakes from higher quality "replicas," and further subdividing replicas into acknowledged fakes and intentionally misleading forgeries, Hogarth blasted willing buyers for their financial support of criminal activities that include child labor, laundering of drug money, and terrorism.  (Come to think of it, the counterfeiting issue really isn't that far from his usual beat.) 

Perhaps the most interesting element of Hogarth's analysis is his challenge to luxury brands, whose own celebrity-driven advertising creates demand for counterfeits as well as for the real thing -- among politicians and ordinary folk alike. 

There may be no simple solution to this conundrum, but at least Hogarth is watching the watchmakers.  And the lawmakers.