Tuesday, May 08, 2001

Topic: Internet taxes

There's little new about internet taxes. We've all grown used to buying from catalogs to avoid sales tax. Of course, you've been writing a check to your state for use tax, haven't you?

Now that the internet has caught on, people have noticed that you don't have to charge tax on out-of-state purchases (except when the company has a presence in the origin state). This is the same treatment that catalogs have had forever.

Did you know "that about 85% of all catalogers are on the Internet and that on the average the Net now accounts for about 10% of their total sales"? [1]. Which to me means that the catalog industry is sitting on 9X the sales taxes that we're discussing with internet sales.

Where were all the complainers before?

It's my opinion that internet-based sales should face the same rules as other forms. Either let the tax break continue, or make all vendors charge taxes for all purchases.

Of course, maybe we need a national flat sales tax. But that's another subject...

- robert.

Monday, May 07, 2001

Topic: Service (maybe part 2)

I just got an email that requires attention in the blog, so please pardon two posts in one day.

I happened to need some service from my county clerk's office. I went to their website, but it was pretty barren. No way to search the database online for the information I needed. There were three options left:

  1. Drive down to their office. What decent telecommuting internet professional wants to deal with traffic, parking, standing in line, etc., even in my small town?
  2. Snail-mail a request. Need I say more?
  3. E-mail a request. Their email address looked pretty funny - sort of like those "interest rates have dropped" items I get hourly - so I was a bit unsure. I gave it a try anyway.

Can you believe that I got a reply in under three hours?

Can you believe that the reply didn't come from a faq? (See previous item on CRM)

Can you believe that the reply actually answered my question?

I'm flabbergasted.

Who would have thought that this ray of sunshine would have been provided by the government?

- robert.

Topic: The New Economy

What new economy?

The laws of economics were not postposed for companies that do business online. You still need great employees making interesting products that yield revenue and earnings.

It's sad that so many people (the media, institutional and individual investors, corporate executives, managers and even a few employees) got caught up in the new economy hype. Why would you underwrite the losses of a company that has no possible chance of turning the corner to profitability?

I forgot - they were going to make it up in volume, right?

The shakeout that we're now experiencing is to have been expected, and it's a good thing. Let's combine these companies and see if we can't get some economy of scale that will show the business models to be worthwhile.

If the online ventures don't provide value to consumers and investors, maybe we'll just have to takeup going to the corner bookstore or calling our travel agent.

- robert.

Sunday, May 06, 2001

Topic: Napster

I've been wanting to write about napster for a while, but didn't get my blog setup until a few
days ago. Please forgive me if you find these thoughts to be a little late.

Napster, the middleman service where people can send each other audio files, is evil.
Plain and simple. Evil. Why? Oh, a small thing called copyright. The people
distributing those files don't own them. Why is that so hard for people to understand?

There are, however, a few things about napster that I like:

  • pre-ripped, high-quality versions of songs that I already own. I'm very happy that someone
    has taken the time to digitize so many of these albums. It saves me a lot of time in creating
    my own "best of" CDs.
  • access for unsigned bands. If Napster had a rating service, or maybe a "local bands" section,
    then unsigned bands might be able to get even more out of it. I put some mp3s of
    my band up, but using titles like
    "Not Metallica" so they would get found.
  • catalyst for change. I don't like the draconian ideas of the recording industry. I don't like the
    anarchistic tendencies of the napster enthusiasts. If music was free, there would be no professional
    musicians. Unfortunately, there's no equivalent in our day to having a baron or count as your patron. The record labels need to understand modern technology and find a win-win solution.

    - robert.