31 August 2011

Complicated Secret Link Sausage Recipes

... with lots of not-so-secret spices.

  • If you're busy bitching about your tax bill, perhaps you should learn how other "taxpayers" deal with the "problem" (PDF). If corporations are so intent on being treated as "persons" with the right to influence Congress (even though they're not voters, or eligible for jury duty), and to sue and be sued, and everything else of that nature, perhaps they should be taxed the same way that other people are... with the same penalties for noncompliance.

    The cognitive dissonance with today's lead editorial in the NYT is astounding, disturbing, and not at all surprising. Anyone who complains that the NYT is "liberal" has never either read its business section or noted its typical editorial page as a whole, and thinks "liberal" means "to the left of Ayn Rand." "Liberal" is a specific description of a political philosophy that, through the magic of Roger Ailes et al., has become a sort of inverse shibboleth for the current political right: If you can pronounce words like disestablishmentarianism, genocidal act, and monopsony, you must be Other and therefore evil.

  • Over in the UK — where the news media pays attention to European and worldwide corporate reports, not just those originating Over Here — someone has finally noticed the profitability of academic-publishing oligopolies. Too bad the facts recited will be lost behind the identity of the person making the comment... because George Monbiot is perhaps the epitome of the ideologically blindered commenter on the left. On the one hand, one must pay a premium (a "rent", in economic terms) for otherwise-unprofitable conduct to encourage nongovernmental actors to engage in it on a consistent basis. On the other hand, I seriously doubt that a defensible rent would raise publisher operating profit margins, under equivalent accounting rules, from the nearly four percent claimed by trade-publishing conglomerates to nearly forty percent... especially given that the actual risk of loss for academic publishing is nearly zero.

    This is just another data point supporting my longtime assertion that there is no "publishing industry" — there is, instead, the bastard offspring of a three-century-long orgy among thirteen distinct business models all calling themselves the "publishing industry." (I used to think it might be as few as eleven participants, but delving deeper into nineteenth-century records has convinced me that it's more probably thirteen.)

  • The Department of Justice has grown a pair of big brass ones (choose your favorite external genitalia) and sued to block the proposed acquisition of T-Mobile by AT&T. The math sort of made this inevitable under the I-can't-possibly-criticize-it-enough-as-mathematically-inept-and-factually-inapplicable HHI that forms the core of the pro-merger (and pro-finance-industry) Merger Guidelines. Even without the math, the merger is a Bad Idea unless AT&T believes it will reduce competition and enable charging of a rent, as described in the previous link sausage. The irony that this suit is possible only because the Department of Justice sued the old Ma Bell and forced its breakup — and necessary only because the Department of Justice then failed to challenge the rebirth of monopoly power through the merger of various parts of broken-up Ma Bell — seems to have escaped just about everyone.

    Now, if the DoJ will just apply the same sort of scrutiny to publishing and other elements of the entertainment industry...