Friday, February 10, 2012

Good, New, Tech Often Challenges Bad, Old, Policies!

A colleague of mine recently sent me an encouragement to consider my support for the "Marketplace Fairness Act, S. 1832". We both attend and support many of the efforts which go on within an organization known as ICSC, and this organizations has many incentives to support such bills; and has therefor begun to recently lobby it's organization members:

This Act is described as follows: "A bill to restore States' sovereign rights to enforce State and local sales and use tax laws." Sounds wonderful doesn't it!

There have been many groups lobbying both for and against this type of Bill for years now. Admittedly, I am much more interested in the general public of voters and consumers opinions and justification or testimonies on such matters; rather than just hearing from the rhetoric of a large interest group.

I think voters need to speak from a position of testimony rather than titillation. I am constantly encouraging this level of review and scrutiny within this blog site. commentary
You should ask yourself, when encouraging the "sovereign rights to enforce more taxes", do you want this to be a federal tax or a state tax? Do you know which ICSC and its' members are wishing to have imposed? When encouraging any changes in policy which can effect vast amounts of commerce we must carefully consider our positions within a world wide, free market enterprise, and how each state or the U.S. as a whole will be impacted on an unavoidable world-wide scale.

ICSC would also ask that you take in to consideration all the ways in which new shopping centers and strip malls are currently marketed to, and developed within, cities and communities.  Huge tax abatement's are often expected, to promote huge arrangements for state and city based loans; which are then awarded to private developers through arrangements such as codes like, "Chapter 380": an example of a local government code established within Texas.

In other words, the state or city lends money to a private developer, on the basis that this money will then be paid back to the state, not from the private developers pockets, but rather form the pockets of all those shoppers who visit the proposed center over the next 5 years.  As taxes are collected on the sales generated within the center the debt for the loan to build the center is subsequently considered paid.

Such sponsored loan amounts are directly formulated based on the projected sales a developers claims will take place, given the perspective tenants the developer is attempting to attract to their center. A quite speculative, but quite effective incentive and arrangement between the private and public sector on behalf of the local tax payer's money.

As contrived as this may seem it has become standard practice in many large markets for incentivizing the constructing of any new, large center.  Groups like the ICSC fear that continuing to allow online distributors of merchandise, who have no local "brick and mortar" retail outlets, to sale good to the public without being taxed an equal amount to that of local retail stores, will diminish the potential for not only growth in this market, but also commerce within current established retail centers.  (Much like the impact e-mail has had on the U.S. Post Office, or the digital distribution of movie has had on Block Buster.)

As for the "Marketplace Fairness Act", any such endeavors to further tax U.S. commerce simply MUST be examined on a Federal level for it's known impact to hold any real relevance or merit. And in doing so, legislation (and the supporting voters) must carefully weigh how such changes in creating additional ways to tax Americans and products distributed within the U.S., will incentivize or discourage the margins of our already devastating trade deficits. (As the bill currently stands it is strictly encouraging additional taxes be handled on a State by State level.)

In other words, why pay several hundred dollars in additional taxes on that new TV sold in Texas, when you could order it directly from the country in which it was made? (Since we are after all, talking about a population of shoppers, whom have already learned to embrace Internet based shopping and shipping.) How hard will it then be for an Amazon, based overseas, to start taking orders and shipping directly from a country of manufacturing origin on big ticket items? I personally have bought numerous smaller items, such as phones and electronic accessories in this way over the years, directly from Europe and Asia. The transactions were no more difficult than anything other purchase I've ever made from Amazon or from an individual on eBay.

Bills like these typically fail due to their limited, short-sided understanding of either technology or the industries they are attempting to manipulate.  In this case I'm afraid the Bill is not only remiss in grasping the technologies and industries involved; it fails to even approach considerations of Macro effects it will have on the U.S.'s already struggling efforts to participate in world wide, fair trade.

Perhaps a more comprehensive Bill, addressing larger, broader, impacts to the numerous industries effected by such significant changes in current, long-standing, tax laws might be a worth consideration. However, to simply assume a new, additional, tax is the best way to regulate competition or "level the playing field" between old and new forms of commerce, fails to address aging problems already present in current tax laws.  Not to say something couldn't be written to cover each and all of these issues or loopholes, this bill is just not that offering.

Committee assignments for such bills, must be assigned to address countless factors; from those impacting the support and nature of all aspects of commerce and competition involving emerging markets; to how and why online consumerism is stimulated or captured beyond that of occasional tax savings; how manufactures stand to be impacted; as well as what impacts the shipping, comercial real-estate and warehouse industries will be expected to absorb and adjust; and how other emerging consumer conveniences and technology will be prevented from continually innovating faster than our tax codes in the foreseeable future.

Keeping in mind, even Amazon sell goods from individuals such as you and I.  You are free to post any old DVD, CD or Book you may wish to sell from you personal collection.  You can even ship it to Amazon ahead of any purchase and have them warehouse it until an order is placed for your item. At which time Amazon will simply drop ship it directly from their warehouse.  Do you think Amazon should start collecting taxes for such personal transactions?  If so, what next, Garage sales, flee markets, bake sales?

Of course any of these retailers are certainly required to collect taxes when they are serving as a virtual store front for a brand or retailer which also already has a "brick and mortar" presence within your state.  So attempts to balance "fairness" in this regard are already in place and are enforced!

We all know once an issue gets politicized their is very little you can trust or learn from either side, were related to their actual motivations. And while I understand the goal in this case is touted at assuring each outlet for trade and shipping (whether from a warehouse outside the state or intrastate) is penalized in the same or an equal manner to the old brick and mortar retailers; it also seems important to see how such "equalization" is actually encouraging progress, versus further stifling Free Enterprise opportunities?

We try to complain about the government when it is guilty of restraint and interference, regulation or subsidy versus allowing our markets to thrive or exist purely due to the laws of supply and demand; yet in this instance, we are asking new tech to follow suit with old methods in an effort to pay more taxes? All in the name of being fair towards old methods of trade. Doesn't sound like progress to me.

Bottom line is, what does the consumer want? Since they are the voters. Or is this yet another time that lobbyist can effectively mold, convince or dupe both congress and the consumer? Doubtful. The Internet and the social populations it serves, which are vast and very easily mobilized and unified when necessary, are proving to be a startling opportunity for review, organization and retaliation when it comes to further government involvement and control.
 i.e. The recent FAILED efforts in congress to pass SOPA and PIPA. (Here is a video link: ...further explaining why this rejection was important to progress and freedom.)

The "Marketplace Fairness Act", will certainly effect 1000's of online retailers. And perhaps even more importantly, it might be one more way to pay more taxes. (Always best when consumers ignore the "double taxation" of paying taxes both when your earn your money and when you spend it.) 

So is this a bill likely to receive bi-partisan support?  Being that Republicans like to claim to be on the side of movements such as; "smaller government", "less taxes" and "fiscal conservative" approaches; which side of the coin is your party on? Are you conservative? If so, then I would hope it is defending an approach contrary to the one being defended by the commercial real-estate industry; even if you might feel you're even required to defend or align with this industry if you happen to be one of the many professionals in this country which depend on commercial restate.  (What a conundrum! Loyalty to a set of faux political persuasions and agendas or one's own chosen career path.  Finding an identity in the scheme of moral dilemmas can certainly get confusing!)

Perhaps it is an easy argument that our current tax code is out if date.  Just like our any thing else involving the government and technology, Internet, our educational systems across all 50 states, manufacturing & labor union laws, approaches to politicizing Research and Development on any thing from stem cell research to cancer prevention, drug pricing and approval, tobacco and firearms control, food subsidies, trade and labor deficits. name it!

Quite frankly, you don't normally see any valid suggestions towards updating these types of dated government practices being lobbied by corporations or industries who stands to benefit by increasing taxes? ...or warding off a new technology or methods of trade and commerce.  Therefor, I would be extremely hesitant in suggesting something being lobbied by any one industry, organization or corporation, which is pitting itself against new types of trade or technology, is actually acting in the best interest of progress or an improvement of any other long term value which the U.S. voters should embrace as such?

It's not as intelligent of a prospect as is often claimed to simply follow a path of popular opinion, lobbied agendas or even least resistance. Each time an industry introduces a new set of options, it offer us, as a democratic society, an opportunity to review some of the very dated and possibly burdensome "rules" or regulation we have come to accept as standard business practice, or standard governing.  Thank goodness technology often challenges us to do this, since it seems our U.S. society has become to fat and lazy (metaphorically and literally) to care. 

Most popular opinions these days are garnered not though an educated review of what is fair, progressive, evolutionary, most beneficial or even a positive solution, so much as who paid who to side a particular way, or what sound bite makes for better return and loyal viewership on the network we choose to tune in to and have think for us after our long day at work.

Most average voters will not consider to many factors when weighing in on bills such as the "Marketplace Fairness Act". There will be those driven by industry loyalty and those driven eventually by party loyalty. But few really trying to understand progress or broader economic impacts and/or the inevitabilities we face from the challenges being presented to us by this very flat, small, earth we are all expected to compete within.

America simply can't continue to think as it has over the last 50-100 years. Or it will suffer the same fate all democracies do after 200-300 years of existence. We have to (and quite frankly, should easily be able to,) demonstrate to the world how a true World Wide, Free Market, society looks and thinks, or we won't even be asked to compete within and join it.

Giving up on thinking and true progress in order to further depend on and utilize the motivations of other's agendas is just simply not a solution.

Related regulation:


Thursday, February 9, 2012

The NEX is the Next Best Thing In Photography

The new craze of mirrorless cameras, blow my mind!! 
(The iPhones of profesional cameras if you will !!  Assuming you're an iPhone fanboy?!)
All brand systems will eventually abandon the bulky, aging, DSLR style; since a large portion of the mass it is a dated, "hold over" form the days of 35mm film. Just a silly premiss, given the digital age.
The mirrorless solutions are already, lighter, cheeper, faster, more compact, easier to use and produce extremely advanced (in most cases, superior) results; with much MUCH less learning curve and expertise; plus, exceptional low light and HD video!

The only reason to go another, more "traditional" / mirrored route at this point, in the DSLR arena, is if you have an existing, extensive, past investment in old lenses and accessories. (Or you are shooting in a controlled environment, such as a studio or some other rare profesional demands.)

If not, the mirrorless, current tech (which avoids the old, film based, internal designs methods,) is the most exciting, exceptional option.  Less is more in the case of camera technology and eliminating the middle man, a mirror which use to be needed in order to reflect an intermediary version of what the lens is seeing while the light is on the way to the sensor or the film is simply no longer a required step.

Less parts, or NO MIRROR as it were, makes your camera faster, leaner, meaner! Makes the preview image you review, during each shoot more advanced, more accurate, more true to the settings and goals of the intended shot.  There is less chance for light leakage, additional cleaning and dust issues, and more chances for superior picture taking.

GREAT for an active folks! Folks that travel! Folks that love photography and videography. Much easier to pack and have handy. Much more shot reliable. And the BEST camera is the one you have with you! The one ready to take the shot.
(plus they really are the best, latest technology!)

Reviews, specs and Videos:
NEX7 - (Shot w/ the camera)
NEX7 - Artsy Foreign Comercial:
Sony Site -

Sample Movie, shot with NEX5 (all lighting types):

Very cool leather "half case":

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Part 4 - GOP "Conservative" -vs- Fiscal Conservative

Here's a quick visual for understanding of how "Fiscal Conservative" the GOP is!

The GOP is no longer able to effectively market to those believing in ironically postured "moral conservative" positions of evangelical friendly alignment, so continue to resort to equally ironic "Fiscal Conservative" marketing; hoping these continued fallacies will not only allow the wavering Christian votes to find a new, obscure reasons to follow them, but also Tea Party members. (Talk about diversity!)

For a scary notion of the INSANE, additional, future spending to be lead by the likely GOP candidate, Mitt Romney; view his speech from two weeks ago, aired on C-SPAN (Yes, like a complete nerd I was watching C-SPAN live last weekend when it aired.)  

At the 13 minute point he covers his INSANE desire to expand our Navy, etc! (Our navy is currently larger than the next 17 Navy's in the world COMBINED!)

Any truly, "Fiscal Conservative" thinking, simply MUST seriously adjust our militarized DUMPING of tax payer money towards the ENDLESS government funding of private, military contracts and programs!  No other spending programs hold a stick to the insanity of the one's the GOP is directly responsible for campaigning on, growing and supporting!

When viewing the speech you will also see where Romney directly criticizes the current administrations attempt to address 1/2 a TRILLION in cuts along these lines.

Additionally stating that any "Waste" in military spending he can find, will simply be redirected back into expanded military programs.

Standard fear tactics (pertaining to an idea that we will soon only be able to dominate by fighting just ONE war at a time! Wow!) maintained through extensive lobbied government spending from our favorite contractors, Raytheon, Halliburton, Lockheed, etc., of the world.