October 31, 2007

The 60-billion in tax cuts that the Harper government introduced in yesterday’s fiscal update are nothing short of astounding. We’ve got another percent shaved off the GST, a larger bracket for non-taxable earnings which roughly translates to an additional $400 in my pocket, not to mention significant corporate tax cuts, which I don’t really give a shit about, regardless of the fact that they’ve been implemented to soften what will be a slowing economy. Additionally, roughly 10 of the remaining 11 billion or so surplus dollars will go to paying our national debt, leaving the government with something like 1.5 billion dollars to sit on.

Now this is all great and dandy. From the average citizen’s point of view. It somewhat compensates for the swelling dollar and the complete lack of consumer goods price adjustment, as well as making up for being taxed to the point of biweekly visits to the hospital as a result of a sore and swollen asshole. (Healthcare: You need it because they make you need it.) At the end of the day, having more money is good, right?

Maybe. But how’s all of this being paid for? Am I to believe that the Conservative government, in power for just over a year, is so fiscally responsible that they can implement these cuts without pulling money from somewhere else? In a time of war and military expansion? No. And neither should you. These cuts have to be funded somehow, and I suspect that these surplus numbers are somewhat based on inflated economic forecasts.

Hell, even if the numbers aren’t fudged, we still have an enormous set of problems to deal with at all levels of government that dropping huge wads of cash doesn’t seem to be the smart thing to do. Time will tell, I suppose.

Is anyone else out there left scratching their heads at the fact that billionaire Rupert Murdoch, owner of Newscorp (Mother corporation to the far-right reaching Fox News), is contributing funds solely to Democratic primary candidates? Is his interest in catering to Republicans fueled by profit? From a business perspective, pandering to the fundies is a brilliant move. It’s also %100 intellectually dishonest. I have to wonder if the guy’s conducting a large-scale social experiment or just plain old batshit crazy, or both. It seems to me that donating money with his left hand while telling news from an Unfair and Unbalanced perspective with his right is fundamentally counter-productive. Especially when Fox News (unfortunately) shapes the political opinions of such a capacious portion of the American population.

Next thing you know, Ann Coulter’s going to start donning a hijab and Rush Limbaugh will be caught masturbating to Jesus porn. Either way, they’ll both still be assholes.

condomi.jpg

Everyone in advertising knows that condom ads are easy to do. Well, everyone in advertising likes to say condom ads are easy to do. As are PSAs, and any product or category that has interesting consumer benefits that can be communicated through hyperbole or shock. But this one, well, I think we got a Golden Pencil in our presence. I’m green with envy.

I was sent the new Radiohead album, In Rainbows, for free. I listened and liked it. I can’t say I’m in love with it. Yet. It deserves at least a dozen more listens. That’s not necessarily relevant to the rest of this entry.

Radiohead have, in my opinion, pioneered a new way to sell and distribute music. They fulfilled their contract to their monolithic record label and chose not to renew it. Just do it themselves, and let their fans and rest of the world dictate how things evolve or devolve from there. As I understand, you pay them what you think it’s worth, and take Digital Rights Management-free, available in digital download format only with you, no questions asked. I don’t think you’ll ever see a Shelf Keeping Unit manifestation of this work. Amazing experiment. I’m thrilled that they had the balls to try. It will be a true test of our character as human beings, I think.

Chris Anderson, Editor in Chief at Wired Magazine, wrote a book called The Long Tale. It’s largely about how the internet has fucked with the traditional role of supply and demand and how the little guy has now got himself a new way to weather our seemingly ominous, ever-expanding economy. It was written about two years ago and holds truer every day. The book’s about 200 pages long, and I’m not about to go into the ins and outs of it here. However, Radiohead’s efforts with In Rainbows are testament to it. Or is it the other way around. Apparently Madonna’s hopping on that train too. Hopefully more major artists use them as examples of a business model that doesn’t require a mortgaging middleman. It would set not only a precedent, but a path to a new form of commerce–and not only with music, but in the way we interact with products and services everywhere.

It’s neat to watch ourselves evolve sometimes. Maybe we’re not so bad after all.