Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Protective tariffs and taxes

A journalist Jameel who owns a local print newspaper and farmer Fareed who grows watermelon for a living were talking in a local cafe' about their life and work. They were joined by mutual friend Mohamed who sells music CDs at a local corner shop.

Jameel: Fareed, how is your farming business? I hope it will be good since Ramazan is near.

Fareed: Not too bad, but I am finding fewer and fewer buyers each day. Last ramazan was worse than the previous one. Not sure if this ramazan will be any better.

Mohamed: How so? People still do eat watermelons, especially during ramazan!

F: The imported watermelons are eating into my revenue. They are cheaper than the ones I grow.

J: I am having some problems too. Few people are buying my newspaper, despite more marketing and improved content. All they want to do is surf the net and maybe read some news here and there in blogs. It is putting mine and other newspapers out of business. I have an online version of my paper too, but people link to me without permission!

M: Same here. Not many people buy the CDs now. They would rather download from iTunes or over torrent. But I am not standing still! I am doing something about it!

F & J: Doing what?

M: I am proposing a bill via my MP to put a tax on internet traffic. That way people who use more bandwidth will be taxed more, part of which will be used to subsidize the CDs. It will prevent businesses from bankrupting and causing unemployment.

J: Thats interesting. I could use a similar tax. A tax on blogs and news aggregators. In addition, I am going to propose linking without permission as copyright infringement.

F: You guys are brilliant! I can use your ideas to propose high import taxes on watermelons. And chilli, lemon and mangoes too, because I am actually growing those too.

Jameel and Mohamed didn't appear too happy.

J: Fareed, but that will increase my living costs. And I eat a lot of chilli too!.

M: Yeah thats not fair Fareed.

F: But in my farming island, there is no shop where I can buy music CDs or newspaper. I love music, but my only choice is downloading from iTunes. I have to read news and watch videos on the internet especially on youtube. So my internet traffic is quite high.

M: But I am doing this to protect jobs.

F: Me too.

J: Come to think of it, I also use a lot of internet traffic in my newspaper business. I don't download any music. So I don't think its fair to tax us.

F: Maybe these taxes are not a good thing then.

J: I think so too.

M: I agree.

Thus ended the arguments about protective taxes. One would think that such stupid laws don't float around in the political sphere. But no, there are people who are seriously suggesting to bar linking and paraphrasing to copyrighted material and taxing internet.

Such laws only serves the interest of the lobby groups at the expense of everyone else. These laws invade the privacy and freedoms of individuals. It is sad to see that everywhere, the laws are more about controlling every aspect of our lives from what you wear, what you eat, where you go, what you read and what you believe.


Hilath said...

Simply put, life is a paradox indeed! :)

aindhy said...

Businesses (as far as media related businesses are concerned) have to evolve - I know it's easier said than done BUT the sad reality of it is that BIG businesses who have MONEY to re-invest in changing their delivery mechanisms are hell bent on staying on their OLD platforms that are costing the consumer more money. Rather than spend money on lawyers and PR why not spend on innovation and moving to more efficient accessible platform?

Flip side of this is - new and upcoming businesses are NOT restricted in entering the business thereby reducing startup costs, increasing the number of start ups thereby increasing choice for consumers AND always keeping their businesses efficient and cost effective.

err... just a thought... off the top of my head.