3-17-12 Hodgepodge

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Potential donors spout Marxism instead.

An article in the New York Times describes an innovative way of solving a telecommunications problem at a technology conference: roaming hotspots. The idea was that people would roam the South by Soutwest technology conference carrying mobile Wi-Fi devices and dressed in easily-identifiable garb.

Unfortunately (in the eyes of some conference goers), the company that came up with the idea didn't offer high enough-pay and benefits for walking around and talking -- or use college students instead. Rather, it offered very poor people twenty dollars a day and any donations attendees chose to give in return for the free wireless.

[A]s word of the project spread on the ground and online, it hit a nerve among many who said that turning down-and-out people into wireless towers was exploitative and discomfiting.

Tim Carmody, a blogger at Wired, described the project as "completely problematic" and sounding like "something out of a darkly satirical science-fiction dystopia." [bold added, links dropped]
One man who works with the homeless and at least one "human hot spot" disagreed with the Marxist assessment of the project as "exploitative":
"It's an employment opportunity, regardless of who is offering it," [charity development director Mitchell] Gibbs said.

The human hot spots seemed unconcerned as well. One volunteer, Clarence Jones, 54, said he was originally from New Orleans and became homeless in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

"Everyone thinks I'm getting the rough end of the stick, but I don't feel that," Mr. Jones said. "I love talking to people and it's a job. An honest day of work and pay." [links dropped]
Nobody forced anyone to do anything here, so this idea was not exploitative.

I guess that it was easier (and cheaper) -- but discomfiting -- for an attendee to spout platitudes about "exploitation" and inequality in a show of concern, rather than thank the "hot spots" and perhaps dig a little deeper into his own pockets, if, knowing the circumstances, he wanted to help a stranger.

Weekend Reading

"It's been well over a generation since U.S. investors dealt with an inflationary period of higher interest rates -- so long in fact that most of today's investment class has little memory of investing in such an environment." -- Jonathan Hoenig, in "The End of the Bond Bull Market (Finally) " at SmartMoney

"[T]oday's bias is overwhelmingly in favor of the notion that 'biology is destiny.' Nobody seems interested in the possibility that concepts and beliefs could contribute to emotional states." -- Michael Hurd, in "Disorders are not a Free Pass" at DrHurd.com

From the Vault

Three years ago today, I learned from Stanley Crouch that a classic of American literature had been chopped in half and its second half discarded before I read it in high school:
[Richard] Wright's original title for his autobiography, American Hunger, was changed and the second half of it was removed. That vital second half was set in the North and pulled the covers off the urban Communist movement. Now, in its full form, the book is remarkable.
I'd forgotten about this: Time to add one to the reading hopper.

Tax it, and they will leave.

Jake Ludington notes that an Illinois pipe dream has failed in dramatic fashion.
January thruough June 2011, the months before the law went into effect saw the Illinois Department of Revenue collect approximately $139 million use tax. From July 2011 through the end of the year, Illinois collected $127 million in use tax. That's right, Illinois collected less use tax after their affiliate nexus tax went into effect.
The loss of tax revenue is just part of the fallout.

-- CAV

No comments: