Elsewhere

For the early years of Amazon’s existence it was just fine with the idea – and the law – that it didn’t have to collect sales taxes. Not that it worked quite like that, but the general outcome was roughly that. As Amazon grew larger its view shifted, to where it does collect sales taxes for each state that imposes one. It’s also supported the idea that everyone else should do so as well – odd that, isn’t it?

26 comments on “Elsewhere

  1. @Tim Worstall

    Lowering of standards again:
    We also can’t throw the bastards out so it’s not democratic.

    No passing off as a “quotation” this time.

    Appears your aim is to be described:
    CT – the “far right” equivalent of the Socialist Worker

    Profanities are not funny or clever, they detract from message. They display weakness and proclaim to all “I am stupid and have a limited vocabulary”

    I will not link to or forward articles containing profanities as my readers complain if I do. Cease & desist – please.

  2. Pcar +1

    When my mate and business partner went off to become a teacher he ended up teaching economics and business studies at A Level. No surprise he had an MBA and had spent 10 years as a telecoms management consultant.

    I used to send him links to this blog but he stoped using them for that reason and also because the comments became a free for all. Fair enough, Tim’s gaff.

    Although he’s now back consulting I was hoping CT, as a commercial project, would be the links I could use to send to friends without them rejecting the ideas because of swearing and Ecks type comments.

  3. But Amazon will not collect GST for Australia. Since the government changed the law, we can only buy from Amazon Australia which is less competitive and has a fraction of the range sold by Amazon globally.

  4. Bind/Pcar

    I think anywhere with comments underneath has this problem to some extent but Timmy’s writing style obviously is rather robust when unfettered,mk out. In terms of socially acceptable/safe-for-work links, there are the pieces he writes for the ASI and occasionally elsewhere (there are some nice bits in the back catalogue at El Reg, for instance). I don’t think Contins or here are going to ever prove suitable for linking unless the person you’re sending it to doesn’t mind foul language, you don’t mind being seen as a right-wing nut, and you don’t have any professional/personal/political reputation that could potentially be harmed by you being associated, even in the loosest sense, with the more extreme comments. Not everyone is liberal enough, in the classical sense, to see that you could read, or even host, such views without actually agreeing with them, or accept that someone’s support for stringing politicians from lampposts might be metaphorical.

  5. I agree there are difficulties linking here, and agree with MBE, but I wonder what prim, skirt-clutching readers you have, Pcar, that they object to “throw the bastards out” as a “profanity” (itself an odd, po-faced word to choose).

  6. I’m not sure if it’s a quote or something that has become a common definition. But that democracy means we can throw the bastards out is certainly not an invention of mine.

  7. It’s better for the bastards as well, because it means they get thrown out with a fucking great pension and no recourse made to hempen rope or pitchforks.

    So trebles all round really.

    Plus I agree with napsjam.

  8. If you object to forwarding links containing the word ‘bastard’, you’d have to block a lot of links from articles in (e.g.) The Times, or other UK broadsheets. Rightly or wrongly, what is considered offensive language has moved on since Pygmalion was considered shocking.

  9. @Tim W

    You’re diverting with “invented”. You chose to write those words. JRM & Nigel manage to convey detestation without using expletives.

  10. @napsjam

    The “prim, skirt-clutching readers” include my wife – a Swedish dentist, my mother, a partner at Oliver Wyman, a director at Aviva…

    As Bloke in North Dorset says, the last two also cannot use the links in a professional capacity.

    They all say expletives diminish Tim’s credibility and the article viewed as an angry rant.

  11. Pcar:
    When someone offers me (gratis) something I value, I usually try not to complain about it. At least not too much.
    Mouths and gift horses, eh?

  12. @dcardno

    I won’t nag Tim for his choices, and am grateful that so much of his output appears without paywall, but Pcar and BIND have on several occasions made fair points they want Tim to be aware of. I think as a rough summary, conflated with my own take:

    (1) To whatever extent Tim wants to be an advocate, educator or influencer of opinions, this is compromised by various things that narrow the appeal of his writing (or the site they are hosted on) or reduce its suitability for sharing. Swearing in articles, a very liberal comments policy, sometimes the theme or content of posts – perhaps sexuality, abortion, trans and various other stuff where Tim’s non-PC views, or those of some of his commenters, have in the last decade or two been shifted from “a common but minority view, albeit one prevalent within surprisingly recent memory” to “controversial”/”fringe” and further along the road to “unacceptable hate-speech and thought-crime”.

    (2) Again from an advocacy point of view, there are also some technical factors that limit Tim’s reach. Corporate firewalls can block sites, search engines can penalise them. Swearing or “hate-speech” or “fake news” (or things that look like these to some dumb algorithm, which may scan both article text and comments) can have consequences.

    (3) To whatever extent Tim wants commercial success from Contins, a lot of the aforementioned human and technical factors are also a barrier to virality or search engine optimisation, and hence $$. Pcar’s mentioned swearing there before. I have noticed a few under-researched articles (e.g. the solution to the Cape Town drought being charging for water, but hadn’t checked whether or how water was billed there) which drag the average quality and credibility down, while obviously the site blends some more factual reportage or analysis with other pieces that are pure opinion. I’m not an expert on how much of that google’s algorithms can sniff out, but in the era of the Fake News scare, they’ll be looking for quality and will have some proxies for it.

    In relation to the advocacy side, I know Tim isn’t (unlike many of the people he fisks or lampoons) a semi-professional “activist” as such, probably hasn’t counted as one since he left his press role for UKIP. Like I said before, if you want to find “shareable Tim-views for respectable company” they’re probably hosted at the ASI or to be found in his cleaner, tidier work-for-hire at various joints. This blog seems mostly for private amusement, saying the (commercially) unsayable, help requests, snarkdom, and howling despairingly at the moon. And that’s all absolutely fair enough, I enjoy reading it (even if I skip 90% of the Murphy posts), and Tim has the absolute right to write what he likes, where he likes, as far as I’m concerned. Nevertheless, feeding Tim some concrete datapoints shouldn’t be seen as rude and may be a useful service as he balances what stuff to post where. Anything from…

    Do you want anyone who actually matters to pay attention to that thing you keep banging on about? I know someone who’s involved in the decisions, but I can’t share this piece with him because of X.

    I can’t read your blog at work, I get a message on my browser that it’s blocked because of Y.

    I work in SEO and I know for a fact that Z must be absolutely killing your ranking for Contins.

    If that prompts him to write an X-free version of his pet moan at the ASI or elsewhere, or reiterate that his blog may be NSFW so tough, or to do some tidying up at Contins, then so be it – and if he chooses to ignore it completely, then he’s utterly at liberty to do so too.

  13. Tim’s non-PC views, or those of some of his commenters, have in the last decade or two been shifted…

    The obvious response would be to write only stuff that will surely be acceptable a decade or two hence. Who the fuck would want to read it, though? Not to mention, the self-censorship moves the Overton Window. Visiting and sharing sites like this that don’t self-censor push it in a more acceptable direction.
    Second question – while I find Ecks (for one) intolerable, I would not bother to read a site where he was blocked – would you? How would you feel being the one blocked – say because you were too enthusiastic (or insufficiently enthusiastic) about squirrel-suit sexuality?

    …and Tim has the absolute right to write what he likes, where he likes, as far as I’m concerned.

    Yes, but you want to bitch about what he writes. I suppose it’s a revealed preference: people are here, complaining that they can’t tolerate being here.

  14. you don’t mind being seen as a right-wing nut

    Interesting perspective!

    Actually, MBE, I like to think that it’s me and people like me that are normal..:)

    I have no problem whatsoever sending links either from here or from Contins, and either to left-wing nuts (I’m an altruistic type) or to keep otherwise normal / decent people on the straight and narrow. If they “wander” off – be it to the far left or far right (it’s all the same) – hey, it’s a free world? At least it’s not terminal in any way.

    and you don’t have any professional/personal/political reputation that could potentially be harmed by you being associated, even in the loosest sense, with the more extreme comments.

    Jees, this is all sounding a bit Vichy? The stronger views here are generally a lot more sane / normal than most of the bat shit crazy nonsense that the SJW / PC crowd come out with – they seriously are bonkers.

    FWIW, I think the only people I might be reluctant to link this site to (specifically on the grounds you mention) might be client types specifically in the public sector? And, if your view on this happens to be the more mainstream (?), then maybe I’m just lucky in terms of the general “robustness” of my professional / social mix? (but see # below)

    And perhaps age might be an issue here, in that older people simply tend to be a little less snowflaky?

    Re all the PC stuff, as Delingpole says, you need “icebreakers”, preferably lots of them, or free speech will die.

    [ … # – Thinking further – I think a factor here also is the content of what you are linking. We generally tend to link stuff that is relevant? Ie, if professionally, it would need to be something relevant to my professional relationship with them? And, if it’s relevant, then there is little in Tim’s language that would upset most people I know, and anyone intelligent who read the comments would understand what “comments under threads” means? … ]

  15. @PF/dcardno

    Jees, this is all sounding a bit Vichy?

    Too bloody right it is, have you looked around you lately? In a society you can be fired and blacklisted for saying one banned word, for expressing a view or supporting a now “unacceptable” opinion… As for the light-speed shifting of the Overton window and the issue of who, these days, is “more sane / normal”, I did allude to that in what I wrote. We live in a world where Brendan Eich (Mozilla ex-CEO) supported a line on gay marriage so fringe and minority and extreme, it actually won a majority in a referendum – was that enough to save his ass and career? Nope, even that lay beyond the pale of what is now acceptable – and if that’s not terrifying, I don’t know what is.

    “While I find Ecks (for one) intolerable, I would not bother to read a site where he was blocked” / “Anyone intelligent who read the comments would understand what “comments under threads” means”

    This is an interesting one because one of the big draws of Timmy’s site is the below-the-line commentariat. They collectively add a lot of value, and there’s a community feel to it – it functions as something of a cross between a blog and a forum.

    So why the mixed feelings? Well for one thing, workplace content filters scan below the line, not just above. The fact someone may be blocked from reading it is a barrier to shareability. (I also know search engines index the comments, but don’t know enough about SEO to know how the comments at Contins might affect its rankings.) This isn’t just an issue with comments threads – the way Tim intersperses serious or economics-related posts with others that are snarks or social observations,may render a serious, high-quality post inaccessible because the domain’s been blocked over a more frivolous one. (And these filters can be harsh – I’ve seen TimW’s site blocked for “adult content”, I guess for swearing, while Tim Newman’s excellent blog, which is not SJW-compliant but hardly alt-right or far-right, is according to some commenters blocked as “hate-speech” at their workplaces.)

    For another, “anyone intelligent” but with a grievance, is quite prone to conveniently forgetting what “comments under threads” or “links not an endorsement” means. If they want to crucify you, they can pick out and compile the most “offensive” comments that appeared on the page you linked to, other posts on the same site – after all, you linked to that page, you comment on that site, these are the kind of people you hang out with and the opinions you don’t mind expressed around you. I’ve seen this done. It happens.

    One thing Tim’s excellent at is explaining basic economic ideas in layman’s terms. Several economics professors read this blog. They might steal the odd analogy but I don’t think many would be willing to link their students here directly – too big a risk. Snowflake generation getting “triggered” an’all that. But then, BiND and Pcar both report problems getting people at the opposite end of the age spectrum, in serious, responsible positions and probably used to reading pages of turgid analysis, to take seriously pieces that had the odd swear-word in. Because for them that’s a marker of non-seriousness.

    …. you want to bitch about what he writes. I suppose it’s a revealed preference: people are here, complaining that they can’t tolerate being here.

    Pcar and BIND can speak for themselves as to whether they are “complaining”, but don’t take what I’m writing as a complaint. What I’m saying is just that there are some politically curious people who might have liked to encounter Tim’s brand of economic perspective, but as much as I enjoy my time here, I didn’t want to suggest they pop over because I didn’t think it was suitable. But do I like it here? I think it’s great, and that’s why I keep coming back.

    I like the robust, thought-provoking, unfettered opinions. I like the fact Tim thinks his views through, sticks up for them, and they are not identikit (liberal, atheist, staunchly anti-abortion – how many times do you see that combination on public display?). I appreciate the liberal comments policy and enjoy the rough-and-tumble below the line. Unlike Pcar and BIND’s acquaintances, I can actually enjoy the earthy language. Some of the more Anglo-Saxon snarks and insults I’ve seen here caused great amusement, and in an age when so much of the internet has turned safe-spacely insipid, reminded me of the glory days of Devil’s Kitchen et al. Someone does need to keep pushing against the Overton window. I am genuinely thankful Timmy churns out all this content for us, often for free!

    It’s just that there are benefits and costs to Tim’s style – and some of those (from “your site’s getting blocked at work” to “you make a great point here and I wanted to share it with someone who might even be able to do something about it, but I can’t”) he’s not going to know unless someone tells him. And it’s up to him whether he acts on it, but if it helps him decide where to post something (e.g. perhaps his more educational or advocacy-oriented posts, once the message is refined, would reach a better audience outside the confines of this blog) or decide on a commercially-sustainable style for Contins or other projects, then hopefully he benefits from the feedback.

  16. @dcardno, June 22, 2018 at 11:35 pm

    Pcar: When someone offers me (gratis) something I value, I usually try not to complain about it. At least not too much.
    Mouths and gift horses, eh?

    Tim launched CT as a serious business to earn money as Forbes – and earlier, El Reg – dropped him.

    I am providing Tim with reader feedback from decision makers & influencers to help his business. I value Tim’s knowledge and how he explains economic issues in easy to understand language. Others do too, but lament they can’t share and/or are reluctant to read.

    @MyBurningEars, June 23, 2018 at 4:00 am – covered this aspect eloquently.

    Up to Tim what he does.

  17. @dcardno, June 23, 2018 at 5:09 am

    The obvious response would be to write only stuff that will surely be acceptable a decade or two hence. Who the f*** would want to read it, though?

    Intelligent people. Shakespeare, Dickens, King James Bible still widely read.

    English language has an extensive vocabulary – OED, 2nd Ed.(21,728 pages) has 301,100 main entries; my vocabulary is a mere ~35,000. There are innumerable expressive, emphasis and illuminating words available without resorting to profanities/expletives/swearing/coarse-language.

    In this instance Tim’s profanity was imprecation – Thesauri & Dictionaries exist, using appropriate words is trivial.

    I’m sure JRM & Mr Farage swear, but refrain when speaking/writing to a wide audience as they acknowledge doing so is self-defeating.

  18. @MyBurningEars, June 23, 2018 at 6:07 pm

    …I also know search engines index the comments, but don’t know enough about SEO to know how the comments at Contins might affect its rankings…

    Indeed
    . When I searched for alt. to Mr Ecks GDPR blocked Jeffrey Tucker wrote an article about washing machines; Mr Ecks comment was third result.

    I’m sure comments can be excluded (norobots variation), but as you say they add a lot of disparate knowledge and indexed is good overall.

    I liked Lewis/Tim pre-SJW El Reg as I learnt as much or more from comments as from article. Same here on Tim’s blog. Ffwd rants – newmainia – easy for me, not so for new visitors. I often add a read/ignore comments when linking.

    +1 for all you wrote

    “feedback” to help – yes.

    I view it through business eyes: “Why didn’t they complain when here rather than bitching later to others”…

    Tim should value the feedback.

  19. @Pcar

    Cheers. Sorry for “speaking on your behalf” somewhat but I think I got across much of what you wanted to say.

    “Tim should value the feedback.”

    Far as I’m concerned Tim is free to value it, disagree with it, or simply completely ignore it – it’s his own business, literally. But I can say for sure that if ASI or CityAM or someone else Tim has a relationship with were to fund a serious-but-readable series of “basic lessons in economic principles and reasoning, as applied to currently trending news stories” on a “clean”, safe-for-work site, then there are a couple of people I know who I would direct to it. Ones who I wouldn’t send here and might have some reservations about linking to Contins. Not a big deal on the $$$ side but at least a little blow for progress on the advocacy/education front.

    Would probably be more useful for Tim if someone on here was a mage at SEO or had experience getting a news’n’views site from scratch up to financial viability, but hopefully he has such expertise available to him via other means.

  20. I thank you for the feedback. No, really, thank you.

    That dividing line between what is vernacular emphasis and mere swearing is a difficult one. I might not be on the right side of it. We’ll see, it’s all a work in progress after all. What I’d really like to develop, and it will with time, is our own series of euphemisms.

    I was amused that you mention Nigel. You know I used to be a ghostwriter for him? My version of Nigel is actually more Nigel than Nigel. Reads obviously like Nigel, whereas his own writing style isn’t like the public Nigel persona at all.

  21. Getting the site up to viability = that’s getting into Google News. Achieve that and we’re at least on that path. Whether we will or not, well…..

    Re swearing. Hmm, yes. Although one project I’d really like to do is an economics book which is near entirely swearing, in that vernacular. Standard textbook, just one in a particularly earthy anglo-saxon.

  22. “Although one project I’d really like to do is an economics book which is near entirely swearing, in that vernacular.”

    In a different field I have coincidentally (? – was shortly after your very striking “what do we do about Bangladesh” article so there may well have been an influence) considered doing exactly the same thing. Though I was unsure whether that was as a potential fun vanity project, or because anyone would actually read it or use it…

  23. “Profanities are not funny or clever, they detract from message. They display weakness and proclaim to all ‘I am stupid and have a limited vocabulary’ “

    Profanities can be very funny, and cleverly used. They can detract from message in some circumstances, especially formal. They do not, in themselves, display weakness or strength; and they do not proclaim “to all” stupidity and limited vocabulary:

    https://www.sciencealert.com/swearing-is-a-sign-of-more-intelligence-not-less-say-scientists

    That being said, I think the chances of commercial success for Continental Telegraph will be improved by keeping things formal and “safe for work”. That’s the main reason I haven’t signed up to comment there; too likely to let rip.

    And oh yes. Arse.

  24. “Although one project I’d really like to do is an economics book which is near entirely swearing…”

    Venezuela: fucking fucker’s fucking fucked.

  25. From the on-topic article:
    “Finally, the EU has faced this problem with VAT and come to the same solution. The vendor must apply tax at the level of the destination jurisdiction.”

    I’m delighted to buy online assets from a non-EU country that declines to apply the VAT that they’re “supposed to”. Why the hell should they put their prices up (for some customers) and inconvenience themselves to apply a tax levied by a foreign entity over which they have no control and from which they receive no benefit?

    The same applies in the US. You’re now going to see companies in high tax states getting their state governments to go after (audits, etc) competing companies in low tax states.

    I haven’t looked into it fully, but I think the SC has made a mistake. It’s anti federalist and will reduce tax competition.

    I’d like to see a Constitutional amendment, to the effect that if the government wants to levy a tax on an activity by an individual or business, then the government must collect the tax directly from the individual or business. No more p.a.y.e. and other obscuring and unpaid tax collection.

    Might go some way to keeping taxes simple and low.

  26. @PJF

    From your link:

    Research that was not needed:

    …By comparing scores from both the verbal and swearing fluency tasks, it was found that the people who scored highest on the verbal fluency test also tended to do best on the swearing fluency task. The weakest in the verbal fluency test also did poorly on the swearing fluency task…

    Amazing! Those with a larger vocabulary know more swear words. Who’d have thought?

Leave a Reply

Name and email are required. Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.