Sifting Through the Political Rhetoric

I don’t know about you, but I am getting tired of sifting through this years seemingly endless political campaign rhetoric and listening to all the prep-rally type speeches. Although the issues are clear, the solutions are not. Each party spins the issues and solutions to suit their own means. There is no way of knowing what is the truth and what is not. Most of the campaign speeches I have listened to so far have contained little substance. What I finally decided to do was to consider what I think are facts about any candidate running for president. Then choose the 3 or 4 issues that are the most important to me and listen closely to what the candidates have to say about them during the upcoming debates.

Things to consider:
1. People that run for president are rich and require a exorbitant amount of money to run a campaign.
2. Nowadays, any large business is run on a Global scale if it wants to survive. A candidate with global investments and interests should not be an issue and just takes away from the real issues at hand.
2. Those that provide campaign money and lobbyists have more influence on the candidates than you or I do.
3. Neither candidate can relate to the middle class or the poor no matter what they say.
4. A person of middle class or poor will likely never be able to run for president.
5. Most campaign promises cannot be kept without debate and approval of the Congress.
6. Candidates will never go against what people are fans of or believe in the most. For instance, during the GOP convention Clint Eastwood did more than a pretty good job of slamming president Obama. Yet, the very next day Obama came out and said how much he liked Eastwood. He obviously was not going to take a chance on loosing votes from Eastwood fans.
7. Candidates with tell you what you want to hear about the top issues and then tell you why the other candidate can’t solve them.
8. Politics and religion do not mix and do not belong in a political campaign. I would be happy to give my reasons if anyone is interested.

Keeping the above in mind, and the fact that I am a senior, the most important issues to me are the deficit, Social Security and health care. Those are the issues I will be paying attention to during the debates. The issues that interest you may be different. Choose the ones that are most important to you, pay close attention to what the candidates have to say about them and forget all the rest of the rhetoric.


Why is the Department of Justice Concerned about the Pricing of Ebooks?

The Department of Justice is considering a lawsuit against Apple and 5 other large publishers for allegedly colluding to raise the price of Ebooks. The issue is whether or not pricing of Ebooks should be set using an agency model or a wholesale model. In the agency model the author sets the price of their books and in the wholesale model retailers set the price of books. Which of these two models are used is very important to the growing number of indie authors as royalties that are paid are substantially different. Although book prices are usually lower using the agency model, royalties paid to the author are much higher than under the wholesale model.

At this time most retailers use the agency model for Ebooks written by indie authors. Large publishers that convert best selling paperback books, by well known authors, to Ebooks use the wholesale model for pricing. Herein lies the problem with possible collusion about keeping book prices high. A lawsuit with an outcome requiring all ebooks to follow the wholesale model could undesirably impact royalties paid to indie authors. Mark Corker of Smashwords recently called the DOJ and talked to them about this situation. Read about it here.nt

Indie Authors and Censorship

Recently, PayPal told Bookstrand, Smashwords and other online publishers that if certain titles containing “objectionable” material were not pulled from their websites, their PayPal account would be shut down and the funds within confiscated (PayPal is the largest and most popular online payment processor). Just to be clear, not all online publishers allow this type of material to be published on their websites. PayPal told certain publishers that their crackdown on erotic fiction is necessary so that they can remain in compliance with the requirements of the banks and credit card associations (likely Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express, though they didn’t mention them by name). According to Mark Corker of Smashwords fame, “PayPal is asking us to censor legal fiction. Regardless of how one views topics of rape, bestiality and incest, these topics are pervasive in mainstream fiction.” I don’t read or write the aforementioned material, but I do wonder what is going on with this situation as well as pending censorship legislation such as SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act), PIPA(Protect IP Act) and already signed ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Agreement).

A person must be 18 to get a credit card in the U.S. with a co-signer or you can get one independently if you are 21. A person must be 18 to have a PayPal account. In the U.S a person must be 18 to buy pornography. So, if the banks, credit card companies, and Paypal are concerned about minors buying “objectionable” material, I would like to know their reasoning. This type of material is legal to publish and it looks like the safeguards are in place to prevent minors from buying it. Is this really about morals or is something more sinister going on here.

In these circumstances someone usually stands to gain while others lose, for we all know that money rules the world. So, let’s look at the players and see what they have to gain or lose. Online publishers – loss of revenues from book sales, nothing to gain. PayPal – loss of accounts and transaction fees, nothing to gain. Banks and credit card companies – loss of transaction fees and interest, seemingly nothing to gain. So, what is really going on?

It is my belief that the Federal Government is very uncomfortable with how fast information travels around the Internet. Websites like Facebook, Twitter and others have people connected like never before. Take a look at what is happening in other countries around the world where connected people are organizing and rising up to oust their repressive leaders. When SOPA and PIPA were coming to a vote it was people acting through the Internet and social networks that got the vote delayed. Banks and Credit Card companies lobby the government heavily and what better way to get concessions than to do the governments bidding. In this way the government can try to get what they want without anyone knowing who is behind what is happening. In my opinion this is not a case of a payment provider turning into content police. Rather, I believe the government is behind this latest round of censorship and it is of great concern to me and should be for all Americans. If there is another explanation, I would like to know about it.