Entries Tagged as 'Politics'

How North Carolina Will Go Broke By Stupid Tax Laws

Raleigh NC Tax Day Tea Party Protest
Image by Ivy Dawned via Flickr

I really don’t understand North Carolina state. At all.

The entire legislation is made up of some people that have no idea about technology or how it works. The fact that the final tax bill going to the floor has the “Amazon tax” tells me that not a single one of the incumbents that have pushed this or voted this in is either in the twenty first century, nor know a thing about business law. Mainly, the idea that affiliates are the physical presence for a major online retailer is so ludicrous that it’s laughable by anyone that has done consulting work. I’ll give you an example in the consultation analogy:

According to North Carolina state legislation, if I am an out-of-state corporation, but I have sub-contractors that I have agreements to do work with me, then I am to be taxed as if I operated my business in North Carolina.

Sound good to you? Well, that’s the same agreement that affiliates have with any sort of online retailer that pays them to sell advertisement. I also will be curious as far as when others such as the newspapers (News & Record, Business Journal), magazines, online radio stations, and so on feel this bite since I have heard nary a word from them even though they will technically be hurt by this. I’m surprised that actually no one has even thrown a red flag out there. Oh well, time to bite the bullet with stupid taxing that won’t bring in any money.

Here’s why it’s a stupid idea and totally the wrong way to go about taxing Internet purchases. If you want to chase Internet purchasing taxation, you’ll have to do some sort of an agreement through a payment service. Going after affiliates just allows the retailer to continue with their business and cut their ties to the affiliates (aka small business that do pay local taxes). What you miss out on is all of the taxation that the small businesses were putting into your coffers, and on top of it, you’re not making anything from the online retailer(s). This is expected to $150 million in the next two years?

Who the hell are they joking? With the way it’s written and the ties cut from affiliates, the State will be in the hole more than $150 million. Mainly with all the retailers refusing to pay and cutting their ties, and indirectly jeopardizing any real tax money that would have come into play. I can tell you that one of my businesses will be hurt by this and unfortunately for the state, unless something changes this company will probably be in the red instead of black this year and thus won’t be giving up anything to state coffers. Sucks to be you, eh?

If you want to tax internet retail, you have to move from smaller battles to the bigger picture. But if you can’t understand how to walk, I’m not exactly sure when you’ll achieve dreams of running a marathon.

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Why We Shouldn’t Have to Pay for Someone Else’s Beach House

Beach House
Image by kcolwell via Flickr

So apparently insurance providers have been bailing on North Carolina because insuring coastal homes gets expensive and so businesses and homes participate in a state plan called the Beach Plan. Apparently though, if the plan’s money runs out then insurance companies are forced to pay a percentage of the losses due to how much business they do in the state. Which in turn raises your insurance premiums regardless of if you have a beach house or not.

And guess what? We didn’t even know about this insanely stupid plan. The fact that it even was created sounded like it was by those with actual beach homes rather than the living with the rest of the state inland. In any case, this was only brought to our attention because our homeowner’s insurer basically sent us a polite letter to support HB-1305, and to go look at Fix the Beach Plan.

What’s scary is the fact that while there is a push to get the fixes on this Beach Plan, there are insurers that are leaving this state regardless of the outcome. In fact, when I asked my trusty pal from the News & Record about it, he sent me to an article he wrote earlier on the very subject. And there it was, where a couple of insurers had already pulled out of the running.

There has been a lot of back and forth about who’s paying for whom as far as Beach Plan insured versus private insurers. But from my perspective, I don’t think we should be paying any more if we live in the middle of the state if the coast does get hit by a natural disaster. Amusingly many people claim that those inland are buying into the insurance rhetoric and such. But here’s some food for thought. If insurance companies were apparently taking a share of the pie when there wasn’t any disasters, then why would some of them back out completely and not do business in the state at all? Wouldn’t that mean that they wouldn’t get a cut then?

Of course, in the end, it really comes down to the fact that I don’t want to be paying for someone else’s beach house. Ever.

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North Carolina Still Working On Unconstitutional Digital Tax

associates-logo-small._V265885005_ North Carolina is still pushing that digital tax.

But fortunately, there is another win for Amazon, and another state that doesn’t have legislators that have never fought for small businesses or know how Internet businesses work. Apparently the governor of the State of Hawaii has vetoed HB 1405 and the time has passed for the overturning to occur. So Amazon is re-inviting those affiliates back from that state.

Will North Carolina also break free from those luddites that know no bounds to how much they hurt small business? Perhaps. My guess is that we’re actually not reaching through the thick skulls of the state legislation but I could be entirely wrong. So far, I must say that as an independent voter and business owner, I haven’t been impressed with either the state legislation or our governor in several decisions that are NOT in the best interest in the constituents. Perhaps they will surprise me yet and overturn this one. Call me crazy but I actually like to pay income taxes if they didn’t take a portion of the income from my business.

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Where Did the State Deficits Come From?

Deficit Spending
Image by xampl9 via Flickr

Call me crazy, but I just don’t get it.

Why is it that every single state has these huge deficits that didn’t show up last year? Or the year before? I mean, I’m absolutely dumbfounded by why suddenly everyone has a budget shortage and they claim that it has to do with the recession and such. The obvious only reasoning for it is that they come up with silly ideas of budgeting such as taxing digital transactions, alcohol and such and think that what the potential “bring in” is what they can spend.

Like I said, I don’t know anything about politics and state governments but that’s the only reason I can think of where you can suddenly have a huge dropping out of funds. When you spend more than you have because you think you’re collecting revenue on something instead of actually waiting to spend it after you’ve collected it. One of the biggest mistakes of fiscal responsibility that I’ve ever seen if this is the case. And before people start pointing fingers saying that it’s because we have Democrats, or Republicans or whatever XYZ political party, I find that this is the case across the board. Maybe everyone wants a piece of the stimulus bill. Who knows. But anyone that tries to achieve power eventually abuses it in the same fashion.

In the end, I just want someone explain to me where these huge holes are coming from. I mean, as a citizen that doesn’t have time to do the research because I’m too busy trying to put food on the table, the things from the media usually just talk about the doom and gloom instead of seeing where the issues lie and propose fixes. I’m okay with taxes as long as they serve a legitimate purpose and are not paying for someone’s pet project like building another bridge in a place that already has one. Anyone want to take a stab?

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Anti-NC Affiliate Tax Gaining Support #ncaffiliatetax

Internet marketers everywhere are rallying behind the flag of social media. Just take a look at #ncaffiliatetax and see for yourself. I personally have written to Pricey Harrison (Guilford-D) about this and how it hurts small businesses and how it can not only put people’s jobs at risk but also put more strain on the state since if these jobs fail, there would be likelihood of more unemployment that the state would have to take into account.

Actions speak louder than words, and those that are pushing this through tell me that they don’t understand the Internet at all as a business source and how affiliate marketing and internet retail work. With this move by Amazon of notification of their NC affiliates, entire businesses will fail if NCGA pushes forward with this move. And here you thought that they were looking out for the citizens’ best interest…

Search for the rallies online. There are plenty to choose from. Write and call your representatives and tell them that your business is in eminent danger due to these bills. Either way? We have to protect our livelihoods and get those that we have elected into office to hear our cries for help.

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NCGA Unconstitutionally Taxing Scheme Will Hurt Small Businesses

The North Carolina Legislative Building in Ral...
Image via Wikipedia

I don’t know what the North Carolina Legislation is doing, but I can tell you that they’ll be hurting small businesses.

Crazy? Not at all. In fact, this morning I had to re-read my email twice and make sure that the email didn’t come from some hoax source trying to just get to respond with my email so they could sell me Cialis or Viagra or something.

This morning, I received an email from Amazon that said:

We regret to inform you that the North Carolina state legislature (the General Assembly) appears ready to enact an unconstitutional tax collection scheme that would leave Amazon.com little choice but to end its relationships with North Carolina-based Associates.

Hmm. They’re trying to collect taxes from Internet companies… again?!? Come on. It wasn’t but yesterday, I watched how Hong Kong’s civil servants take a voluntarily pay cut to help ease economics and taxes for this year. Yet, here we are in North Carolina, where we’re looking to throw up more laws on things such as taxes on cigarettes, driving mileage, even a text messaging ban while driving to try to make the economics jive. Meanwhile? We are not even enforcing the laws we do have in place such as the tint laws, covers on license plates, and all sorts of other things that could be bringing in revenue for the state.

This isn’t just Amazon mind you. Amazon is only the beginning of the companies that will refuse to do business in this state. There have been others and unfortunately the people that need it the most, the small businesses, are the ones that suffer from this move. Contact your media and state legislation right away. And if your business has anything to do with the Internet, we cannot let things such as this go through.

In the words of Gandalf the Grey, “You Shall Not Pass!”

UPDATE (10:18AM): News & Record’s Mark Binker covers some more details.

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Pirate Party takes Seat in EU Parliament

The Pirate Party
Image via Wikipedia

It seems that the Pirate Party has finally made it happen. They’ve joined the EU Parliament with at least one seat in Sweden but more likely two seats. This basically should leave most of the more aged political parties quaking in their boots. What this really means?

The Internet is a powerful tool. This was proven in the last American election when the Democrats used the Internet and technology as a driver for youth voting. Similarly, the Pirate Party is the largest party in the young voting demographic in Sweden and is growing in Europe at an astonishing rate. Gathering behind the Pirate Flag and the only agenda being to legalize file-sharing for personal use and throw gestapo copyright enforcement back media industries, they have gathered a younger generation into a political rebellion.

And interestingly enough, this should open the eyes of not only corporate leadership, but also political ones where special interest groups hold some weight. Because this legal process basically shows that the people will stand up and rise against things they believe in regardless of regime. And this is one method of doing so, not to mention it’s the legal way of doing it.

Should be interesting to see if there are any more Pirate Party representation in future elections around the world.

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As ISPs Hammer NC Legislation, Competition Moves Ahead

Cablevision arrives to install hanging wires
Image by quintanomedia via Flickr

It seems like while Time Warner and Embarq are fighting what they believe is the “good fight”, their competition elsewhere is using this opportunity to break ground. Cablevision is now offering a 101Mbps download service with no overage fees or caps that are known.

Obviously they’re playing the DOCSIS 3.0 game here and sneaking in while their competition gets all mucked up in political plays and negative publicity. From a personal perspective, I find that whomever is running the business strategy side of things is making a brilliant move. The more you can use your competitors demise to your advantage, the more fortified your business market share becomes. And why not? If your competition wants to dig themselves in, don’t help them out. Just stand on the sidelines and watch.

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Time Warner and Embarq Try to Ban NC Community Broadband

greenlight Kind of irks you, me, and that guy down the street, when you start reading about the latest Time Warner fiasco. Apparently, they caught wind that there’s this thing called Greenlight and could actually hurt their business of monopolistic practices and so they’re trying to get them banned in NC legislation. Pretty low, if you ask me and definitely not exactly in the best sense considering at least Time Warner is in their “consumer education process” mode.

Guess they got scared eh? I mean, the fact that anyone was actually making the comparison for what the Triad had to do to actually attempt something like Greenlight as a community based competitor would scare the pants off of me too if I was trying to make a greedy play for more cash that cannot be justified by any common sense.

So the Public Affairs Manager for the City of Wilson started a “Save NC Broadband” site and is trying to get people to pick up arms again. Let me tell ya, this is not a good thing if they stifle any sort of competition, especially community driven ones.

I can tell you a couple of the arguments that Time Warner and Embarq are saying to the legislation actually just isn’t true.

Myth: Community Broadband offer the services at cost
I suppose that Greenlight could, but they actually are not. If I’m not mistaken, it’s just another choice of a provider. Let’s not forget that they do have staff and everything else that you need to run a business as such. Now, if they do not mark it up as much as TWC or Embarq does, then that’s their business. Let us also not forget that Greenlight was only founded after the city approached these businesses and asked them to provide the services to which they refused (for faster services). If they make the play that they have no cost, I’d laugh since I’ve actually never known any city service to be sold “at cost”. And Greenlight if I remember correctly is a service provided for by the City of Wilson.

Myth: ISPs take two or three years later to deploy broadband to very rural areas
I can say this with much certainty that having lived here since 2001, and having been up to rural western North Carolina where there was the infrastructure for broadband, but “not turned on” due to it not being profitable was a serious problem for many years. I actually knew of Comcast turning on cable internet, and then turning it off and claiming it didn’t exist in that particular area, and then the same happened with Verizon DSL. It’s very much a profit play and not so much of a deployment issue. In fact, as far as your costs are concerned, the majority of any of the cost really lies within the lines themselves and not the servers and connection equipment since the backhauls are already in place for your current phone and cable television services. The addition of Internet services adds to cost, but nothing like they would like you to believe.

Currently, I really have no clue if the Triad itself is looking to even do community broadband (I know of some early talks, but I’ll let the people involved break the news when they’re ready for it). I do know that this move by Time Warner and Embarq really does prove that people can’t just idly stand aside and let them be though. This type of behavior is outrageous to try to oust those that they have even refused services to at the small likelihood that at some point they might have potential of business in the future. Interestingly enough, that type of behavior reminds one of payment plans and racketeering of the 1920s and 1930s. So write/call/email to your State representatives and let them know that we can’t have this going on. Enough really is enough.

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Crazy Science

introduction to terraforming
Image by zyphichore via Flickr

I’m not so sure I’d want to go down this path that Obama’s science advisor wants to take. Not that I’m a Nobel prize winner, nor is my fascination in the topic as in depth as any of these experts, but it’s based on a few common sense methodology.

Here’s the issue I see with geoengineering which is the application of planetary engineering specifically to Earth. Ever watch a lot of science fiction? Know the term terraforming? It’s basically the process of turning another planet into one suitable for living for human beings. The scale and technology that you would need to do such a maneuver is so enormous that it’s mainly theoretical and inconceivable at where are scientific research is currently. On top of that, we’re lacking in the tools and technology, but the ones we have for planetary terraforming are crude at best. Mimicking volcanoes by shooting sulfur into the atmosphere? What guarantees would you have that you wouldn’t bring the apocalypse as we know it upon ourselves because we don’t understand how the weather systems work?

I think we know too little to be delving into trying to cool the Earth outside of enforcing what it sent out into the atmosphere or perhaps create some artificial means of doing what we’re currently lacking (like reproducing the types of effects the rain forest has on the Earth by artificial means). The issue is that the delicate nature of how weather systems are make it impossible with current mathematics to understand if we’re overdoing something that might upset the balance the other way.

So terraform Mars? Sure, why not. There’s nothing to lose there. But we’d have to get there, understand how gravity functions on a human body, how to change a planet from the inside to out, understand gravity itself, how to do massive experimentation on planetary scales, and so on so forth. To try to do it on Earth, where we have issues predicting the weather a week in advance is almost absolute insanity.

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