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FTC Staff Discuss a Tax on Electronics To Support the News Business

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the now-that's-what-I-call-top-down-management dept.

The Media 381

dptalia links to this piece describing a staff discussion draft from the Federal Trade Commission, writing "The FTC is concerned about the death of the 'news.' Specifically newspapers. Rather than look to how old media models can be adapted to the Internet, they instead suggest taxing consumer electronics to support a huge newspaper bailout. Additionally, they suggest making facts 'proprietary' and allowing news organizations to copyright them." Note, though, "The good news in all this is that the FTC's bureaucrats try hard to recommend little. They just discuss. And much of what the agency staff ponders are political impossibilities."

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Start laughing now... (5, Interesting)

CTalkobt (81900) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448060)

If this does pass I think it would be quickly repealed over the loud howling noises as people realize it passes.

This would essentially put the government in charge of choosing which press agencies to sponser... Dangerous precedent...

Re:Start laughing now... (2, Insightful)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448220)

Yeah, and who's going to report it as the bad thing it is?

The major news media? No, they'll just take their bailout and spin the news to all goodness and light and fluffy bunnies and fuzzy puppies.

Other outlets? No, they'll get sued to oblivion because the news media will have copyrighted the facts, so anyone else who tries to report on it will get a DMCA Smackdown.

Re:Start laughing now... (2, Insightful)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448270)

All of the news outlets that don't get the bailout, perhaps?

Re:Start laughing now... (2, Interesting)

jgagnon (1663075) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448344)

Precisely... all the sources that don't have paper products, such as the online news sources that have been steadily replacing newspapers over time.

This would be where Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo (among many others) get to step up and be "heroes". Part of the plan? Perhaps...

Re:Start laughing now... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32448528)

Not if the Lieberman bill passes to give feds "Emergency" powers to secure civilian nets (as reported on /. earlier today).
I smell a conspiracy brewing. (The worst part of waking up is a conspiracy in your cup!)

Re:Start laughing now... (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448364)

File that under "other outlets" in my post.

If this passes (which I doubt it will, but let's just theorize), the media who receive the bailout will simply apply the other half of the law - they'll copyright the facts of the law.

If anyone else attempts to report on the facts of the law, the major media will have plenty of cash coming in to hire lots of sharks with legal beams (lawyers) to monitor other news media sites and swamp them with DMCA takedown notices.

First they'll go for all competing media and drain them dry, then they'll go after blogs, then they'll come after anyone who comments on...

oh, wait, hold on, someone's at the door. BRB

[LOST CARRIER]

Re:Start laughing now... (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448312)

You can't copyright facts, but thanks for playing!

Re:Start laughing now... (4, Informative)

SleazyRidr (1563649) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448426)

RTFS

That's the other part of this proposal: that news agencies will be able to copyright the facts they report on so the blogs et al can't just take them and 'comment' on them to get their content.

Re:Start laughing now... (3, Funny)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448600)

That's dangerous and ridiculous to be able to copyright facts.

People have 4 fingers and 1 thumb on each hand.

Now nobody can report that anywhere! MWAHAHAHAHA.

Re:Start laughing now... (2, Insightful)

rattaroaz (1491445) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448772)

Also on the upside, I can start printing facts like "I am a liar and a cheat." So if someone calls me that, I can sue for copyright infringement, which is worth millions, and I can also call the FBI to assist in prosecution!

Re:Start laughing now... (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448478)

You can't today, and I doubt you ever will be able to.

But... From the summary: " Additionally, they suggest making facts 'proprietary' and allowing news organizations to copyright them."

Let me summarize the summary: "they suggest allowing news organizations to copyright facts"

This conversation is based the GP's premise of "If this does pass", therefore my assumption for the purposes of the conversation was "If a law is passed to allow news organizations to copyright facts."

Context. It's important.

Re:Start laughing now... (1)

dptalia (804960) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448508)

One of the suggestions in the FTC writeup is to ALLOW COPYRIGHTING OF FACTS.

Re:Start laughing now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32448414)

A more dangerous precedent would be to treat the NY Post as if it were a valid source or took part in any of that journalism stuff. Not only that, but... oooh! lookee! [nypost.com]

Let them Die (5, Insightful)

airwedge1 (1768544) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448090)

Why are we always so concerned with keeping companies in business. We didn't try to artificially keep wagon wheel business alive when cars were invented. This is absurd, if a company can no longer sell something, sell something else, or die off.

Re:Let them Die (5, Funny)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448112)

What are you, some kind of capitalist?

Re:Let them Die (4, Insightful)

Karganeth (1017580) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448200)

It really has nothing to do with capitalism. Even in communism they would remove companies and technologies that are obsolete. It's just stupid to think that newspapers have a right to exist and make a profit.

Re:Let them Die (0, Redundant)

Wovel (964431) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448326)

In Soviet Union, obsolete industry mounts you!

Re:Let them Die (1)

asukasoryu (1804858) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448236)

Forget letting them die; they should be killed. News should be shared, not sold.

Re:Let them Die (2, Insightful)

i_ate_god (899684) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448318)

Forget letting them die; they should be killed. News should be shared, not sold.

Right, because journalism doesn't cost a dime to the journalists.

Re:Let them Die (2, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448556)

Right, because journalism doesn't cost a dime to the journalists.

Modern 'journalism' mostly seems to involve reprinting press releases and rewriting information from Wikipedia, so surely it can't cost that much?

Re:Let them Die (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32448786)

Right, because journalism doesn't cost a dime to the journalists.

Modern 'Blogging' mostly seems to involve reprinting press releases and rewriting information from Wikipedia, so surely it can't cost that much?

FTFY

Re:Let them Die (3, Interesting)

jgagnon (1663075) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448376)

Unfortunately, this sort of thing is all out of proportion because of the state of the economy and the number of unemployed people already out there. In better times, much of this would be ignored.

Re:Let them Die (4, Interesting)

schon (31600) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448422)

We didn't try to artificially keep wagon wheel business alive when cars were invented.

Yes you did. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Let them Die (4, Informative)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448774)

LOL! If this is true, Wow!

"In the United States, the state of Vermont passed a similar flurry of Red Flag Laws in 1894. The most infamous of the Red Flag Laws was enacted in Pennsylvania circa 1896, when Quaker legislators unanimously passed a bill through both houses of the state legislature, which would require all motorists piloting their "horseless carriages", upon chance encounters with cattle or livestock to (1) immediately stop the vehicle, (2) "immediately and as rapidly as possible... disassemble the automobile," and (3) "conceal the various components out of sight, behind nearby bushes" until equestrian or livestock is sufficiently pacified.[1] The bill did not pass, as Pennsylvania's governor used an executive veto.

Dear Lord, let's pacify the livestock by disassembling the car. It's a shame that retarded politics was around even back then...the more things change...the well, you know the rest.

Re:Let them Die (3, Interesting)

Midnight's Shadow (1517137) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448490)

Why are we always so concerned with keeping companies in business. We didn't try to artificially keep wagon wheel business alive when cars were invented. This is absurd, if a company can no longer sell something, sell something else, or die off.

While normally I agree with the idea of making businesses survive and fail on their own I'm a bit more hesitant to agree to letting the news industry fail. I wouldn't want to get all my information from blogs, word of mouth or press releases from the government. Remember most of the stories posted here are from a news source of some sort or another. If the news agencies failed It would leave a huge information vacuum that the government could fill as it wished. And lets not even think about the quality of the news when it is all done by people without editors or others to put the breaks on unsupported stories. At least right now we can get a view of the truth by reading the extremes and taking the average. The US (and other civilized countries) are better of with the news agencies then without them. As for newspapers, if you can read you have access to them which gives them an advantage over electronic media.

Re:Let them Die (2, Insightful)

baxissimo (135512) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448618)

There is a market for news, so the "news industry" is not going to fail. What will die will be ways of monetizing the news that don't make sense any more. The more you prop up news organizations using bad revenue models, the harder you make it for new viable plans to compete.

Re:Let them Die (4, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448754)

If the news agencies failed It would leave a huge information vacuum that the government could fill as it wished.

And you don't think those same news agencies will be beholden to the government when the government is the one keeping them in business?

Re:Let them Die (1)

Cathoderoytube (1088737) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448588)

The wagon wheel people were at least smart enough to adapt to the changing industry. They tried to leapfrog automobiles all together and developed rocket engines. Sadly it marked a messy end to the leisurely carriage ride. However, it did kick start the space race.

In other news... (1)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448100)

The government has agreed to pass a bill taxing the sale of cars so that horse carriages can "stay afloat".

Re:In other news... (1)

jgagnon (1663075) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448394)

And a tax on horse dung to subsidize shoe manufacturers.

government meet the court system (2, Interesting)

alen (225700) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448102)

unless congress passes a law i don't see this surviving a lawsuit. and with the clout of the electronics industry i doubt a law will pass allowing this

No bailout for newspapers (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448104)

I absolutely do not want any form of "bailout" for the newspaper industry, they didn't change their business models to adjust to the changes over the last 15 years so they should fail.

Let them die.

Re:No bailout for newspapers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32448288)

shouldn't have bailed out auto manufacturers or banks either.

Re:No bailout for newspapers (3, Informative)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448524)

The automakers, yea they should have bailed them out, the got screwed because the banks screwed with their borrowing money.

The banks, well too big to fail is just full of fail.

No, the automakers are kind of strategic assets and the domino effect from their failure would have pushed the US and the industrialized world into a depression.

Re:No bailout for newspapers (3, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448658)

No, the automakers are kind of strategic assets

No, their plant and equipment are strategic assets. That equipment wouldn't have vanished if GM went out of business. It would have been bought up by more nimble competitors during the Chapter 7 proceedings.

Re:No bailout for newspapers (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448780)

Yes, they are strategic assets as the Chapter proceedings would have taken years to go through and all those suppliers without someone to sell to would have failed.

Plus had they been allowed to fail millions of union members would have revolted against the Democrats.

Re:No bailout for newspapers (1)

Tobenisstinky (853306) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448300)

My thoughts exactly.

Re:No bailout for newspapers (2, Funny)

schon (31600) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448324)

Goddammit - why should newspapers have to change to suit the internet? Newspapers were here first! It's not fair - the internet should be the one that has to change!

(Isn't that the rationale of a four-year-old?)

I don't see anything wrong with this (3, Funny)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448116)

Go ahead, "copyright" your investigated information. Good luck suing the hundreds of thousands of blogs and websites that will still link to your info. And besides, if they provide a link to the news company's website as a way to cite a source (just like I do with my own webpage when I post about content I have read elsewhere), what's the problem? You still get credit, you still get the traffic.

Re:I don't see anything wrong with this (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448148)

Sorry, forgot to add the ::sarcasm:: qualifier. Yes, I have a problem with this. No, I don't believe it would ever actually pass.

Re:I don't see anything wrong with this (4, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448480)

Go ahead, "copyright" your investigated information.

Oh fuck them and their investigated information. Asshole journalists steal the research done by bloggers, like myself, all the fucking time. While bloggers happily link to the information they are using for their work, journalists never do and cite how it's just not done in their industry.

While I am happy to research, request, and even sometimes pay to make data public which may not have been before, I do expect that the journos will cite that work I did when they use my materials when they write their stories--just like I do for them. Using other people's work without citation is called plagiarism anywhere else in the world and I really and honestly believe that the entire journalism field needs to go back to college and learn how to do their jobs again. Perhaps at that point the industry will turn around for them.

Re:I don't see anything wrong with this (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448748)

I don't live anywhere near the area your site covers, but it looks like a great source! If I lived around there, I would definitely utilize your information (and make sure to give credit, of course:-))

Independence Day (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32448118)

The technology industry should declare independence and stop paying all levies which are funneled into other industries. The first one was too much already, because now everybody seems to think it's acceptable to rescue their failing business model by taxing the tech industry.

Bail Me Out Please (5, Insightful)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448136)

I am utterly blown away at hoe often the government is willing to step in and save failing business models. Car companies refusing to evolve, media companies failing to evolve, and more. Last time I checked, we live in a capitalist society where companies that succeed, in one way or another, are rewarded and companies that fail, for whatever reason, are supposed to go out of business. I can understand and be empathetic towards companies that have their business destroyed because of the actions of another, such as fishermen having their livelihoods wiped out because of BP's oil leak. Those businesses deserve some intervention to help them get through the rough time that is no fault of their own. Companies that fail to innovate, however, and end up watching their balance sheets shift more and more downwards? Nah. Sorry. You tried and failed. You don't have a right to be in business, just because. You have to work hard and succeed, just like the rest of us.

Failing businesses should be allowed to fail. Someone will figure out a successful business model and will fill the void or a market that no longer needs to exist (hello buggy whips) will fade into the history books.

Re:Bail Me Out Please (2, Funny)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448406)

hoe often

Words of wisdom, my brotha, words of wisdom.

Re:Bail Me Out Please (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32448712)

I am utterly blown away at hoe often the government is willing to step in and save failing business models.

Oh, really you'll get used to it. Usually, it's not the government who comes forward with free money to save the dying business model. No, it's normally the business that approaches the government with threats of layoffs, cut-backs, etc. Threats. And unfornately almost no government is willing to risk losing an election over a slowing economy or recession, high unemployment, etc.

And no, capitalism doesn't really exist. It's an idea and story told to those who will listen. For the rest, it's fundamentally business as it's usually been for the past couple thousand years.

Re:Bail Me Out Please (1)

Shagg (99693) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448740)

Last time I checked, we live in a capitalist society

This has nothing to do with capitalism. The media companies give extremely large campaign contributions to the politicians. The politician is not going to receive another check during the next election cycle if the company no longer exists. That's why the government is willing to save their failing business models.

Ayn Rand was right. (3, Insightful)

d3ac0n (715594) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448146)

It's frightening just how much modern American government has become like the nightmare Statist government in Ayn Rand's novels, constantly meddling with and attempting to control market forces that it and it's members are incapable of understanding or wanting to understand.

Regardless of what you may think of her personally, she was prescient.

Re:Ayn Rand was right. (3, Interesting)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448452)

It's frightening just how much modern American government has become like the nightmare Statist government in Ayn Rand's novels, constantly meddling with and attempting to control market forces that it and it's members are incapable of understanding or wanting to understand.

Regardless of what you may think of her personally, she was prescient.

Far too many people are willing to ignore good advice when they don't like the messenger, or the people associated with the advice. There is also another reason people ignore good advice that scares me even more. It's when the advice is ignored because they cannot accept the implications of what that would mean.

I guess the latter reason also scares me because I often find myself making the same mistake. It's easy and comforting.

As with Ayn Rand, it's like any other book, it takes an effort to distill the insightful portions from the author's other opinions.

Re:Ayn Rand was right. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32448494)

Yeah, Ayn Rand was right. So was Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, Ray Bradbury, Phillip K. Dick, and quite a few other dystopian-future authors. These authors wrote their novels as a bit of activism. They wanted folks around the world to be aware that, if we are not careful as a society, things can get bad, really bad. In a way, Rand and so many others were penning a call to arms of the citizens of free societies to stand up against tyranny, oppression and apathy. That said, it is far more important for us, as citizens, to do more than simply recognize our favorite authors prescience and, instead, to take some action where we see abuse.

Quite frankly, these discussions seem to be nothing more than the mere musings of some unimaginative folk at the FTC. Perhaps we should write letters to FTC, expressing in no uncertain terms, that such ideas are the ruminations of doofuses. Put simply, we should probably just try to tel the FTC how silly such ideas are, and ask them to come up with something better (like, say, letting print media die). Inserting a picture of yourself facepalming may help to implant the humility in the FTC folk that is so deserved.

Libertarian alert! (3, Insightful)

openfrog (897716) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448592)

It's frightening just how much modern American government has become like the nightmare Statist government in Ayn Rand's novels, constantly meddling with and attempting to control market forces that it and it's members are incapable of understanding or wanting to understand.

Regardless of what you may think of her personally, she was prescient.

Regardless of the merit of this case, don't you think it's just a bit early to come with this magic market libertarian stuff as we are still in the midst of a major financial crisis caused by massive deregulation?

I am not bothered by the fact that you exist; I am seriously concerned, however, that there was one person to mod you insightful...

Re:Libertarian alert! (1)

macintard (1270416) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448734)

Mod this up!

No, she wasn't. (2, Interesting)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448664)

...constantly meddling with and attempting to control market forces that it and it's members are incapable of understanding or wanting to understand.

Back in the 1800s, our economy would oscillate between booms and busts. Depressions were the norm during the dips in the business cycle. Sure there were corresponding booms, but the crashes would wipe out most of the wealth created. Businesses wanted government intervention to flatten out the business cycle and make things more predictable.

Completely free markets do not work. They eventually break down and we end up with a crash and an aristocracy. Start reading 19th century American business history (Rockefeller, Morgan, Vanderbilt, etc... ) and see what it was like when the Government was completely hands off.

On the other hand, it is possible to go too far, as in this case with the news or with the airlines, GM and Chrysler, the big banks - those should have been allowed to fail or in the case of the big banks, broken up so that they aren't such a threat to the financial system.

I say let the news organizations fail and the Government step in and create protections for the citizen journalist.

Rand over simplified things - she was speaking from a system and human ideal that is not attainable. Humans are just too frail, self centered, small minded, shallow and cruel for a World like Ayn Rand's to exist.

Re:Ayn Rand was right. (1)

gloryhallelujah (1111157) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448762)

It's frightening just how much modern American government has become like the nightmare Statist government in Ayn Rand's novels, constantly meddling with and attempting to control market forces that it and it's members are incapable of understanding or wanting to understand.

Regardless of what you may think of her personally, she was prescient.

There's a fatal flaw in your analysis: It is the oligarchy who are meddling with government, creating a corporatist state, lobbying for legislation to increase their advantage and funnelling public tax dollars into corporate coffers. Not at all like Rand's statist government.

Oh, and by the way, fuck Ayn Rand

Stop. Just... stop. (5, Insightful)

aztektum (170569) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448154)

Dear Washington,

You're doing it wrong.

Thanks,
Everyone

Seriously what the hell? Stop giving our money to greedy corporations. Want us to buy a house? Spend more on crap? Buy new cars? HOW CAN WE DO THAT WHEN YOU KEEP TAKING OUR $?

OH wait. You'll just take it and give it to corps for free.

Now, I am not a tax hater. I am fine with taxes for things like emergency services, libraries, roads, schools. The difference is those services provide for the public good. Forcing me to hand money over to your buddies at the "too big to fails" is bullshit. You crooked fucks.

Re:Stop. Just... stop. (2, Informative)

Wovel (964431) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448360)

P.S. The oil seems to be getting a thick down south.

Re:Stop. Just... stop. (1)

aztektum (170569) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448638)

Huh, what?

Re:Stop. Just... stop. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32448374)

giving news companies tax credits for employing journalists

So if tax credits are a good thing and helpful for a company/corporation, then that means that taxes are a bad thing and detrimental for them.

Re:Stop. Just... stop. (1)

aztektum (170569) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448612)

Yes I'm sure corporations would be better off if they had to pay for all the roads and infrastructure needed to distribute their goods on their own.

Re:Stop. Just... stop. (1)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448822)

Dear Everyone

You voted us in.

Thanks,
Washington

But will they also bail out the typewriter makers? (5, Funny)

Michael_gr (1066324) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448164)

I mean, it's like totally unfair that PC manufacturers pulled the rug from under the typewriter business. I propose a tax on... let's see... yes! deodorants! and, uhhm, pipe wrenches! to save the typewriter business. And the monk scribes that used to copy books before that horrid man Gutenberg took their jobs away, they deserve some recompense. Let's tax... exotic pets.

Re:But will they also bail out the typewriter make (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448576)

I mean, it's like totally unfair that PC manufacturers pulled the rug from under the typewriter business. I propose a tax on... let's see... yes! deodorants! and, uhhm, pipe wrenches! to save the typewriter business. And the monk scribes that used to copy books before that horrid man Gutenberg took their jobs away, they deserve some recompense. Let's tax... exotic pets.

You laugh, but we may have seen such lawsuits if the new industries that were forming were not born of the industries that were replaced.

Consider your typewriter example. Many manufacturers of these pieces of equipment were pioneers in the computing machinery industry. The nascent computing industry formed of these companies. Companies which saw profit to be had in developing new technologies.

In this sense, the internet information industry is parallel to the newspaper industry and not born OF the newspaper industry. So the newspaper industry is fighting it tooth and nail.

We saw a similar movement with the textile industry's response to hemp. Unfortunately, they won in that gambit.

Let us subsidize the world! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32448228)

My Nintendo DS should be taxed to support a totally unrelated company using a totally unrelated business model.
Lets not let the business and business model stand (or fall) on it's own merit, no, it is to important to let it fail, lets subsidize it or pay for it out right so that there is no need for accountability...
Oh, right, I forgot, we all ready do that, Government (insert your agency of choices' name here.)

Everyday, I am more and more amazed, stupefied, and confused at how F@*&$#ing screwed up this society has become.

wtf (1)

pak9rabid (1011935) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448234)

What. The. Fuck. Seriously, if you can't keep up with today's technology to stay in business, you have no business being in business. Let the media giants die if they refuse to change. Somebody more capable will come along and take their market share.

Perfectly understandable (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32448244)

Obama doesn't want the New York Times to go under. By 2012, they'll be the only ones left who are stupid enough to vote for him again.

In other news... (1)

Wovel (964431) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448284)

New automobile tax proposed to revive buggy whip industry..

Innovate or die.

Alot of Electronics are sold with out sales tax so (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448290)

Alot of Electronics are sold with out sales tax so is this just a back door tax to make up for that?

the sound of clashing ideologies (2, Interesting)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448330)

Oh, this is where I laugh. I'm a socially conscious, progressive kind of guy. I believe in humanitarian capitalism, not social darwinism. But in a case like this, they're proposing a tax to support a business model that cannot support itself in light of other players able to make a living providing the same kinds of services.

I do support operating businesses with a social benefit at a deficit. Public transit does not usually support itself entirely from the fares collected but receives subsidies from the taxpayers because it's of social benefit to all. After all, how much money does the local fire department collect from you to provide emergency services? There's no fees, it's all direct 100% taxpayer support. But we all agree that this is something we need. Same with public schools.

What I find especially amusing is the same free market evangelists who would huff and puff about how awful the fire department is would probably also line up behind the newspaper bailout, especially if they happen to be columnists. Socialism for the goose but show the door to the gander.

I do agree that competition is a good thing and a major problem with government-sponsored monopolies is that there's no competition, no choice for the customer if they don't like what they're getting. But there's not a whole lot of competition amongst "private" industry, either! Smaller competitors get gobbled up until we get too-big-to-fail companies every bit as broken and inefficient as the communist state-owned industries we were warned about in our economics textbooks. Oh, it's bad when they do it but ok when our guys are doing it? Riiiight.

I like what the brits have tone with the BBC. I could get behind that kind of government support. I don't want to see Ruport Murdoch sucking at the public teat while putting out his bullshit.

Re:the sound of clashing ideologies (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448610)

What I find especially amusing is the same free market evangelists who would huff and puff about how awful the fire department is would probably also line up behind the newspaper bailout, especially if they happen to be columnists. Socialism for the goose but show the door to the gander.

When you get to define the terms and groups, you can imagine all sorts of asinine reactions to fit your worldview.

Re:the sound of clashing ideologies (1)

Heather D (1279828) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448736)

Seconded. I'd mod you up if I could. If this does pass we'll essentially be nationalizing the newspapers. Didn't we decide that that was a bad idea with the phone company? Of course, given how that turned out I'm not certain if that's a condemnation or an endorsement.

We could certainly do worse than the BBC though and we likely would.

Re:the sound of clashing ideologies (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448816)

Actually, is it the business model, or the fact that the content has become so piss poor no one cares anymore? Televised news is the same. Does *anyone* ask a followup question anymore?

Typical exchange:

Reporter: What do you think of state bill 31415?

Politician: The people who supported that bill are mutant, baby eating Nazis financially backed by pedophile terrorists from the fascistic hegemony of Earth 7B.

Reporter: (nods head)

Politician: Of course, I have yet to actually read the bill, but I have it on good authority via a blogger whose cousin once drove through the very state that the bill's author was born in.

Reporter: (nods head)

Politician: There are superintelligent bees living in my skull, and when I bend over, cliff racers with the power of Grayskull fly out of my ass.

Reporter: (nods head) Thank you, Senator Munchhausen.

Wouldn't be the first time... (4, Informative)

nebaz (453974) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448336)

Newspapers were subsidized by the Federal government until about 1840 or so, due to the founder's desire to make sure there were plenty of options for people to be well informed.
Link here [suite101.com] .

Most outlets are status quo parrots (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32448352)

Most outlets are status quo parrots and are part of the problem, but there is nothing the government needs more than status quo parrots, so they will get recapitalized. Right after your local insolvent government gets bailed out. Merely fighting gravity as these bricks need to fall before we can move forward.

I'd say... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32448388)

"Over my dead body!" but I know they'd only kill me to do this sheet...

Did we learn nothing from the previous bailouts? (2, Interesting)

gimmebeer (1648629) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448416)

Postponing the death of an industry with a huge influx of cash is not just illogical, it's such a stupid idea that only Washington could come up with it. For one, it does not fix the problem. People will still choose electronic media over paper. There is also something to be said for making the country's print media dependant upon the federal government. Print an article blasting the current administration? There goes your funding...

The last and only hope for newspapers is (1)

Phizzle (1109923) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448428)

to be printed with ass friendly ink on amazing quality toilet paper. I release this gem patent free :)

Nail in the Coffin (2, Interesting)

number17 (952777) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448434)

Does that mean I can blog about a sports game and claim copyright over the score?? Goodbye sports section.

Corruption (1)

guspasho (941623) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448448)

Who the hell do they work for over there at the FTC? The American people or the newspaper industry?

Free market is speaking (1)

Vermyndax (126974) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448454)

The free market is talking to us right now about the death of newspapers and old media... much in the way it spoke about the lack of innovation in the U.S. auto industry. We love free markets and malign other countries that do not subscribe to it.

Yet here we are, looking to tax people to bail old media out. We can't have our cake and eat it too.

If the gummint wants to talk about new taxes, why not put it toward something like education or hunger?

Why can't the workers in the old media jobs learn new skills and bring their old skills to the new media jobs?

No problem discussing... (2, Interesting)

dotfile (536191) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448456)

I don't see a problem with brainstorming and discussing all possible options, no matter how bad they may eventually turn out to be. It's an important step in the decision-making process. You list all the ideas, good and bad, then start weeding out the obvious bad ones, then debating the apparently not-too-bad ones until you have it narrowed down to a few good options - then pick the best option. IMHO that best, last remaining option would be "let the newspapers try to figure out how to survive, and if they can, great. If they can't, the electronic media can report on their eventual demise".

Of course over the past few decades, there seems to be an increasing trend for the most idiotic, most obviously flawed ideas to float to the top and become law. I attribute that to voter apathy and a press (both print and electronic) that have for a very long time been reduced to pandering for market share to survive.

have they completely LOST IT??? (1, Insightful)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448462)

have they considered this bit of law??

"Congress shall make no law ... or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

this fails on these grounds.

Re:have they completely LOST IT??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32448570)

no, it doesn't.

QFA

(I'll warrant that when you explain how the hell a tax would fail a first amendment test.)

Re:have they completely LOST IT??? (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448628)

"Congress shall make no law ... or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

They already say that an onerous tax is not an abridgement of freedom. Just as long as the law doesn't specifically say you can't do something, our failure of a Supreme Court will be just fine with it.

not bad in spirit - but the implementation sucks. (1)

smoothnorman (1670542) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448474)

There is good reason to worry about the loss of an independent source of information to an otherwise uninformed electorate. So all the comparisons to capitalism "we didn't bail out the wagon-wheel, buggy-whip, ...has-been technology" are a bit shoot from the hip. That being blathered, I agree with most here that this bill is haphazard at best. For starters, it would be more sensible if an introduced tax was directly related to the critical situation that the tax is supposed to aid. For example, don't tax our lattes to fund early education, (which was a suggestion near to where i take up space).

It would be far more sensible to tax advertising to fund some agency that promoted news technology upgrades to communities which have their final source of local news about to go out of business - for example.

Re:not bad in spirit - but the implementation suck (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448510)

There is good reason to worry about the loss of an independent source of information to an otherwise uninformed electorate.

True, but I thought we were talking about newspapers?

Re:not bad in spirit - but the implementation suck (1)

iggymanz (596061) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448558)

why have an agency and taxes, those local papers smart enough to get online (which has very low barrier to entry and very low cost) can survive while the dodos should go extinct. Adapt or die.

Re:not bad in spirit - but the implementation suck (2, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448692)

There is good reason to worry about the loss of an independent source of information to an otherwise uninformed electorate. So all the comparisons to capitalism "we didn't bail out the wagon-wheel, buggy-whip, ...has-been technology" are a bit shoot from the hip.

How is it an independent source of information if it needs to rely on money from the government to stay in operation?

And declare that pi is 3 while you're at it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32448484)

Additionally, they suggest making facts 'proprietary' and allowing news organizations to copyright them.

OK, that's just stupid. That's as blatant of an attempt to ignore the natural laws of the universe as declaring that pi is 3. Copyright produced works? Sure. People can still talk about the work without violating that copyright. Copyright facts? That's effectively saying that you can't talk about it. And I'm pretty sure we have a part of the Constitution that protects our natural right to do that.

No way (2, Insightful)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448498)

The thought of that cunt Murdoch getting money from me when I used none of his services and despise his existence would be far too much.

Want to save the news business? (5, Insightful)

blair1q (305137) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448506)

Put a tax on lying.

Re:Want to save the news business? (1)

decipher_saint (72686) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448842)

I think they should put a tax on "editorials". It seems to me that 99% of news media is analyst blathering and 1% actual, factual, reporting.

State Sponsored (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32448530)

I'm against this, not because I think newspapers need to adapt to modern times (I think alot of them are trying now and I truly hope it works out for them) But I have a more serious problem with it.

Wouldn't this make the newspaper industry state sponsored? Which I think is one of the biggest mistakes possible and I know in the past Americans have always cried out against state sponsored news in other countries. I would hope they would cry out against this one.

This isn't about supporting a failed business (2, Insightful)

rhaacke (1563489) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448554)

This combined with the "emergency powers" over the internet that are being given to the Department of Homeland Security mean that most of the media in this country can conceivably be taken over by the government. If they don't like what you have to say they aren't going to allow you to say it.

Rickshaw tax? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32448616)

Great, maybe now we can get a tax on automotive goods! That should support my rickshaw business nicely.

Another one for the BDSM world? (0, Offtopic)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448620)

100 years ago, you show someone a riding crop, and they'd think "transportation". Now a person might think "dominatrix". Well, if they're any fun, that is. Show someone a newspaper now and they think "information". Well, some think "liberal rag" or "conservative puppet", but they are definitely not any fun. Anyway, what will the people OF THE FUTURE (Wooooo!) think when shown a newspaper? Yeah, they may roll it up tight and think "dominatrix" again, but really, what if, er, um... I had a point here, but it seems to have lost track of itself.

Is this from the Onion? (1)

axl917 (1542205) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448688)

"...they suggest making facts 'proprietary' and allowing news organizations to copyright them" is no thing a sane person could actually say.

newsPAPER? (1)

jc42 (318812) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448726)

We should be pointing out again that people have rarely bought a newspaper because they wanted the paper. If the point of this is to subsidize printing newspapers, then it's not a news-related bill at all. It's a bill to subsidize the killing of trees.

This might be more acceptable if it specifically subsidized non-print news distribution, e.g. via the Internet. That might solve the actual problem, which is that the newspapers are being killed by electronic news distribution.

There is plenty of precedent for this, of course. They go by initials like BBC and NPR, which started life as government subsidies to broadcast news sources. Of course, "news" should be interpreted rather liberally in these cases, since they also subsidized things like music, intellectual discussions, etc. But the general idea did work to a great degree. Stuff such as news and various intellectual pursuits that weren't very successful commercially did get better support and developed into an important part of our societies.

But subsidizing print publication of such things isn't what we need these days. We need to be encouraging the forward-looking organizations that are trying to supply such things via non-print distribution systems.

So spread the news: We didn't buy newspapers for the paper. We don't want the paper now (unless we have a lot of bird cages to line ;-). We want the news easily available, not the paper.

Well... (1)

ErikZ (55491) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448768)

Can we call it Socialism now?

Stop trying to reverse the evolution of the market (2, Insightful)

MalikyeMoon (1600085) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448808)

How about we create a tax on video games to support the failing board game industry? Or 20% tax on fuel injectors to subsidize the failing buggy whip market? Give me a friggin break people. It was NEVER the government's responsibility to support failing market initiatives, or outdated technology. The need creates the market. If the market isn't buying it, then the need has moved elsewhere. Imagine this: We let the newspapers die. There are no longer major news websites associated with those papers to provide material for pseudo news groups to link to for free. Other new sources will spring up, and the more legitimate and satisfying of those will flourish, and grow to become larger news sites. Those new sources of news will decide how best to be profitable, either by charging a fee for access to their service, or by using the free popularity model to drive the desirability for advertising space within their site. How do you think all these "Free" sites became popular, and then desirable, and finally powerful? (Google, Myspace, Facebook, Yahoo, etc.) Let the genre evolve how it will. Stop squeezing more money out of our @$$E$ by trying to reverse time and evolution already!
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