Tax the rich.

Apparently I’m rich… for Canadian tax purposes anyway.

I saw this the other day and forget to mention it, but Andrew Coyne reminded me by pointing to this article:

The top 5% of income earners pay almost 40% of the money Ottawa collects in personal income taxes, according to new information from Statistics Canada. The federal statistics agency recently released a study showing the upper 10% of income earners in 2002 — those who were paid more $64,500 — provided 52.6% of the federal government’s revenue from personal incomes taxes, up from 46% in 1990.

Further data provided to the National Post shows the proportion of income tax paid is skewed even more for the top half of that 10%. People who earned more than $82,700 in 2002 — the top 5% — put 39.1% of the personal income-tax revenues in federal coffers. In 1990, that 5% paid 32.2% of total income taxes.

I wasn’t the only person who though that earning $64,500 didn’t make you rich:

Mr. Alexander said it was “striking” that the study identifies the top 10% of earners as those who were paid more than $64,500 in 2002.

“That is an eye-opening observation,” he said, noting it raises the question of “whether or not the tax system is sufficien

And there’s no relief in sight:

The Statistics Canada study noted people in the top 10% bracket saw the smallest drop in their effective tax rate between 1990 and 2002, while the share of federal taxes paid by people in the bottom 50% of income earners dropped substantially.

For my American friends that works out to about US $51,600.

Truth or consequences.

Just a month ago Kofi Annan proclaimed that he had been cleared of any wrongdoing in the Iraq Oil-for-Food program:

Cotecna won a large UN contract to inspect the oil-for-food programme in January 1999, while Kojo Annan worked for the firm in Africa.

Kofi Annan has insisted he did not know about the firm’s bid for the contract and today’s report said there was no evidence the bid “was subject to any affirmative or improper influence of the secretary general in the bidding or selection process”.

Then on the weekend two of the investigators with the committee studying corruption in the oil-for-food program resigned:

The investigators, identified as Robert Parton and Miranda Duncan, felt the Independent Inquiry Committee played down findings critical of Mr. Annan in an interim report in late March related to his son, Kojo Annan, according to Mark Pieth, one of three leaders of the committee.

The committee “told the story” that the investigators presented, “but we made different conclusions than they would have,” Mr. Pieth said. “You follow a trail and you want to see people pick it up,” he said of the investigators who left.

Now it appears that he may have misunderstood the report that he says cleared him:

In an interview aired yesterday with Fox News, Mr. Volcker took direct issue with Mr. Annan’s insistence that he had been exonerated by investigators probing both his role in overseeing the Iraq aid program and conflicts of interest involving a key contract awarded to a Swiss firm that employed Mr. Annan’s son.

“I thought we criticized [Mr. Annan] rather severely,” Mr. Volcker said of his panel’s interim report, released March 29. “I would not call that an exoneration.”

Asked point-blank whether Mr. Annan had been cleared of wrongdoing in the $10 billion scandal, Mr. Volcker replied, “No.”

So if Mr. Annan isn’t cleared, then just what might he be guilty of?

Celebrity blogging.

Arianna Huffington is introducing a new celebrity blog site, The Huffington Post, scheduled to launch May 9:

“She has lined up more than 250 of what she calls ‘the most creative minds’ in the country to write a group blog that will range over topics from politics and entertainment to sports and religion,” The New York Times reports. “It is essentially a nonstop virtual talk show that will be part of a Web site that will also serve up breaking news around the clock.”

Contributors will include some big names: Walter Cronkite, David Mamet, Nora Ephron, Warren Beatty, James Fallows, Vernon E. Jordan Jr., Maggie Gyllenhaal, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., Diane Keaton, Norman Mailer and Mortimer B. Zuckerman. Because there are so many lined up, even if most of them only post occassionally, the site will always have fresh content.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the venture is that Tribune Media Services will syndicate parts of the blog to newspapers and their Web sites — which might be the first time a blog is being syndicated to newspapers.

This could be really interesting as long as it doesn’t descend into National Enquirer-style celebrities. This might actually be the start of wholesale inclusion of blogs into newspaper content, though it is using celebrity value to drive it.

(Link from CyberJournalist)

Microsoft is ambivalent.

At least six months ago I had applied to a position at Microsoft Canada. Today I received this form email:

After careful consideration and assessment, your profile was not selected for participation in the interview process as we have identified other applicants whose skills and experience are more aligned to the specific requirements of this position. We will retain your Candidate Profile for future employment consideration with Microsoft Canada, unless you provide us with a written request to remove your candidate profile from our Recruitment Management System.

Now I suppose that I should be happy that they got back to me at all but really, six months?

The only other time I have ever dealt with Microsoft was when they called me up for an interview, then cancelled on the day of the interview, saying the position had been put on hold.

Just like Jeremy Wright says, I too am ambivalent about Microsoft, mostly because they are ambivalent. Their products are ok and do their job, but I’m using fewer and fewer of them.

Now they seem to have become ambivalent themselves, if their hiring is an example. The person I spoke to at Microsoft wasn’t even a Microsoft employee.

Frankly if it weren’t for people like Robert Scoble bringing a personality to Microsoft, it would be like thinking about plumbing. My Moen taps work fine and do their job, but I really don’t think about them at all. New plumbing inventions don’t really catch my attention.

That’s currently just about how I think of Microsoft. I’m just concerned that may be how Microsoft feels about its customers.

Some days I wonder.

Joel Fleming heard the word “blog” in real life twice yesterday, and suggests that blogging has gone mainstream.

I live in the same town Joel does. I used to go to meetings of local high technology marketing folks. They don’t use the word “blog”, and look at me funny when I do. These are people who profess to market products to early adopters and mass markets, yet they don’t see the value in being early adopters themselves.

At least there is some hope.

I want this.

Microsoft wants what I have wanted for over ten years:

Microsoft’s newest mission is pushing for a Mobile PC for every person. These are not run-of-the-mill laptops or desktop replacements. Microsoft is aiming for broad, general acceptance of a whole new category of carry-everywhere, always-connected computing devices with batteries that last all day long.

[...]

Bill Gates, Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect, described one such ultra-portable device during his WinHEC keynote Monday. Dubbed the Ultra Mobile 2007, that device was about the size of a paperback book. Gates described it as costing less than $1,000, weighing less than 2 pounds, and having a camera, phone, music player, and video player.

PDAs, Blackberrys, and phones will never be enough for me.

The problem with hockey.

Almost 14 months ago Todd Bertuzzi viciously attacked Steve Moore during an NHL game:

The 6-foot-3, 235-pound Bertuzzi was suspended indefinitely for his sucker punch from behind on the 6-foot-2, 205-pound Moore in a game on March 8, 2004, between the Canucks and the Colorado Avalanche. Moore suffered a concussion, broken neck and facial injuries.

Yet this is the view of NHL players and officials:

Some of the game’s biggest stars and the Canadian hockey establishment have rallied around Bertuzzi. Markus Naslund, whose injury inflicted by Moore set the wave of retribution in motion, said Moore was a talent-challenged plumber looking for a fast buck. Martin Brodeur wanted Bertuzzi to be eligible for the worlds. Hockey Canada, undeterred by the mugging of Moore, a Canadian on Canadian soil, evidently agrees. Team Canada officials would welcome Bertuzzi. NHLPA executive director Bob Goodenow blamed everything on officiating.

In their view it’s just part of the game.

How much should newspapers give away?

The Globe and Mail has an article that asks that question “How much should newspapers give away?“, comparing The Wall Street Journal, The Globe and Mail, the Winnipeg Free Press, and the Medicine Hat News.

At the Winnipeg Free Press, most on-line content is available only to subscribers to the printed version of the newspaper:

“It didn’t make sense to just give away our content,” Free Press publisher Murdoch Davis said. “There is lots of stuff for free on the Web, but that doesn’t mean that an industry that has existed for well over 100 years on a paid model should simply abandon that model.”

The Free Press wants to ensure subscriptions to the printed paper do not erode, Mr. Davis said. While there is little advertising revenue generated from the site, ancillary Internet operations generate considerable cash. These include an enhanced obituary site called “Passages,” and a link for career advertisers to the Workopolis job site.

Mr. Davis is enthusiastic about a new move to sell a fully electronic version of the paper — a PDF version of each full page, with pictures, captions and so forth, as they appear in the print edition.

Mr. Davis doesn’t tell us how much subscriptions have increased as a result of his policy, or for that matter if they’ve eroded anyway. He also doesn’t really understand the web if he thinks that what everyone wants is the PDF version of the paper.

The Medicine Hat News is a bit more intelligent:

Michael Hertz, publisher of the daily Medicine Hat News in southern Alberta, said his paper’s Internet site gets about 100,000 visits a month.

It brings in about $250,000 a year in advertising, enough to generate profit after paying costs such as the salary of a “Web master.” But the paper isn’t going to start charging for access, Mr. Hertz said, because “it is a really good way for us to promote the newspaper and keep it in peoples’ sight and presence.”

Sadly, the front page of my local paper was pretty much taken up by auditions for Canadian Idol, a clone of American Idol, admittedly of local interest. Except for the op-ed page, the rest of the paper was pretty much a wash – generic CP/AP wire stories that I can get anywhere else – but nothing to really differentiate it. And their website provides nothing without a paid subscription.

The Globe and Mail seemed to have the best logic:

While The Globe offers far more free news content than the Journal does, readers must register and pay for premium material. That assures advertisers they are getting a “tight niche audience,” said Sandra Mason, vice-president of The Globe’s on-line businesses.

Like the Journal, The Globe can then charge higher rates for its on-line ads than other sites, she said.

Ms. Mason said one reason the paper has opted for a hybrid model with lots of free material is to ensure potential future Globe readers — in a younger demographic than current readers — are exposed to the paper’s content. (emphasis added)