Posts from February 19, 2004

Fat tax

Fat tax
: British bureaucrats propose a fat tax, an extra levy on foods that are bad for you to try to deal with Britain’s obesity problem.

Hmmmm.

So when Atkins comes into favor, they start taxing carbs; when we find out he died obese, we they stop taxing them. They’ll tax butter and the French — and dairy farmers — will protest. Oh, yeah, this will be easy to administer.

But it does open up new potential to legislate behavior and cure deficits: Got a problem with gay marriage? Just charge them more for the license! Don’t want kids to watch too much TV? Tax ’em! Personally, I’d like to levy fines for bad grammar and open-mouthed gum chewing and passing on the right and spitting on the street. And while we’re at it, let’s tax the hell out of bigots and sexists. Yeah, they’re really onto something….

Ex-cons

Ex-cons
: I”m watching TV tonight and see an early-teenage girl in front of a Mac, drinking a Pepsi, saying, “Hi, I was one of the kids who was arrested for downloading music free off the Internet.” Cue slug of Pepsi. She says she’s still downloading music free thanks to the Pepsi iTunes promotion (while, in the background, we hear, “I fought the law and the law won”). There’s the first and only attempt I’ve seen by the music industry to make its customers look like friends. Only it didn’t come from the music industry. It came from the soft drink and technology industries. Oh, well.

And, of course, thanks to the Web, everybody’s a winner.

Blogging Bush

Blogging Bush
: Blogger and magazine publisher Rex Hammock just met with George Bush and other small-business folks on the economy. He’s on his way to the airport but will post his report to his blog later tonight. A press release on the event is at his company site here.

: UPDATE: The president mentioned Rex specifically in his speech today and it was quoted on NPR. Here’s what the Pres said:

Rex Hammock is with us…. from Nashville, Tennessee. He started his own company. I love the entrepreneurial spirit. Don’t you love to be in a country where people feel comfortable about — (applause) — where people feel comfortable and free to start their own business. And by the way, government’s role is to create an environment where the entrepreneurial spirit is strong, where people feel free and comfortable doing that.

And he did, and he’s got what is called a subchapter S corporation. Many of you know what that means, but for those who don’t, it means that you get taxed at the individual income tax level. So when we cut the rates on everybody, not just a few, it helped Rex, made him a little more comfortable in his ability to plan. But more importantly, by raising the level of deductibility for small businesses to $100,000, it provided incentive for him to invest. And so this year, he told me he’s going to spend $100,000 on computers, scanners and software to help his employees in his publishing business become more productive. It means they’re more competitive. When you’re more competitive, you’ve got a more productive work force, and when you’re competitive, it means you’re more likely to stay in business. And it means you’re more likely — your work force is more likely to have steady work. And if you really get productive and can compete, it means you add employees. And he added two last year, and he plans on adding five this year.

Now, there’s a lot of Rexes in the country, and you put two on here and five on there, and all of a sudden, there’s a lot of people beginning to find jobs. And that’s important. That’s how jobs grow, through the individual decision-making of thousands of entrepreneurs and employers around the country.

Damn, I wish Rex had a later flight and good wi-fi so he could blog. Later….

The People’s Republic of….

The People’s Republic of….
: In a fascinating paper by Alireza Mohammadi Doostdar on the Persian blog society, he calls it “Weblogistan.” I like that.

Tomorrow is a big day for the Iranian blog revolution

Tomorrow is a big day for the Iranian blog revolution
: Hoder is encouraging Iranian bloggers to act as reporters during tomorrow’s “election.”

I’m trying to encourage Iranian blogger to go out tomorrow, the election day, and report what they see and hear in their city and blog it. I also plan to gather all posts related to it in one place either in my own Persian blog or in Sobhaneh, the collective news blog.

I also consider a place in iranFilter for those Iranian who know English to provide translations the reports that are gathered in Persian.

This can be the 9/11 for Persian blogosphere. It’s the first event that potentially engages every body in every city in Iran and blogs can play a huge role in reporting the news, rumors, and all those things that traditional journalists usually miss.

Hoder’s advice to them: Don’t vote. Blog instead.

He’s right: This could be a watershed moment in citizens’ media and democratization. No matter what the mullahs do — shutting down newspapers — the people can still report.

You can’t shut down news when every citizen is a reporter.

I also urge Hoder and company to translate as much as possible: The more this story gets out, the better.

The people of Iran are reporting and the whole world is reading.

(Here’s the Persian version.)

Libel insurance

Libel insurance
: A very helpful OJR piece no libel laws and libel insurance for bloggers.

Reality?

Reality?
: Glenn Reynolds delivers his eulogy for Howard Dean:

I’ll actually miss him. I’m pretty sure that he would have been a disaster as a President, or even as a general-election candidate. I disagreed with him on most stuff, I think, and certainly about his signature issue, the war. But he did have a genuineness that the other candidates lacked, and I liked him for that.

I don’t agree that he was genuine.

People said that when he was a governor, he was a centrist and a reasonable man.

He created a new persona and new worldview in his (tatically mistaken) effort to win the nomination: He moved himself left; he moved himself back toward the center when he thought he’d exploited the war sufficiently to become frontrunner; he made himself in to America’s new angry (not) young man.

That’s just why I didn’t trust him, because I couldn’t be sure which was the real Dean.

G-g-g-good-bye

G-g-g-good-bye
: TV Guide reports that Stuttering John Melendez, a fixture on the Howard Stern show, is going to be the new announcer for Jay Leno.

On the one hand, Stern caused the defection because he has been threatening to quit radio when his contract is up in two years. Who’s going to pass up a rich gig?

On the other hand, it seems like a typically tone-deaf Leno move, making a famous stutterer an announcer. John has been more than a stuttering joke for years; he’s a character for so many other reasons (his cheapness, his marriage, his gossiping, his chutzpah). If all he does is announce and stutter, that makes him into a stuttering joke again and it makes fun of stutterers for its own sake.

Leno has been stealing bits from Stern; now he’s stealing people.

Stern et al are on vacation this week; expect fun next week. MarksFriggin, Stern’s unofficial Boswell, has more thoughts. [Thanks to Ed Moltzen for the tip]