Saturday, April 12, 2008

Support the Idea Tax

The music industry is pushing for a "music tax" -- that is, they propose that essentially everyone in the US should pay to support the companies that support musicians. This is stupid on many levels, from the exclusion of non-signed musicians to the assumption that the government should shore up a very rich industry's lack of business-model agility to the notion that commercially viable musicians are somehow more "artists" than we painters. However, I have an even better idea, an extension of the same theme only with Logic on its side: the Idea Tax. It's simple. Lots of people have good Ideas. Some of those people share them freely with the world, others patent them in an attempt to intimidate their fellow-thinkers and make a buck without doing any real work. But as more and more people choose to simply share -- for example, on blogs -- less money accrues to the Idea Artists. And since the overwhelming majority of verifiable, registered Idea Artists have placed their Ideas in the care of corporations, those corporations suffer disproportionately: in short, the amount of money they make through intimidation as opposed to effort might be decreasing, and if you ask them they will happily provide statistics proving that case. No corporation, no matter how lacking in initiative or creativity or viable business models, should be forced to give up the money it takes away from the public good. So the public should make up for the difference. And the public, as they say, is us. The Idea Tax works just like the proposed Music Tax: everyone who uses Ideas, no matter what the source, puts $10 per month into a common fund. This fund is then distributed quarterly to the holders of patents, on a simple per-patent basis, so the more patents a corporation (or, in rare cases, an individual) has, the greater their share of the fund. This tax is completely voluntary. Nobody will force you to pay. The cost will simply be added to your phone bill, and your phone company will pay on your behalf. If your phone company doesn't pay it will be barred from using Ideas of any kind, so of course it will pay. (Since it's impossible to know exactly uses Ideas and who just muddles along without them, we'll just assume that people who communicate by phone use Ideas, that's close enough.) If you really don't want to pay, you can opt out for a simple, annual processing fee of $120. Support the Idea Tax: because without Ideas, you'd be dumb! For more on the music tax, see:

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