Taxes and Advertising

I believe that taxes are the price to pay for civilization. If you asked any individual “Would you like to NOT pay taxes?” Nearly everyone would say yes. However, if I asked, “Would you like everyone else to not pay taxes, and also we would have no government, no roads, no bridges, no police, no fire department, no money, no internet, no electricity, no post office, no GPS, no airlines, and nothing remotely like law and order?”…well, I imagine people would say no.

People want the membership to the club, but they don’t want to pay the dues.

Civilization and all of those benefits are paid for by taxes. That’s how regulated capitalism works. The market is important, but without a judiciary system and rule of law, the market becomes a nightmare. People who don’t pay taxes are criminals stealing from the rest of us. Rich people and corporations who use shell accounts in foreign countries to avoid paying taxes are hurting all of us every single year. They lobby congress to allow them free reign. It’s unfair, yet it is reality.

On the web, there is a similar situation. If I asked you, “Would you like to NOT have ads and no one tracks you?” the answer would be yes please. However, if I said, “Would you like everyone else to not be tracked and not have ads, and also we would not have YouTube, no websites supported by ads, no Google search, no apps supported by ads, no journalism on the web, no tiktok, no instagram, no facebook, way fewer startups?” Well, now it’s more complicated right?

There is a middle ground of course, which is the pay wall. Look at TV. You can have TV with commercials or you can pay money to have content without them. Online, the NYTimes requires you to pay to see content. Other venues are free with advertising.

The big problem is that paywalls only work for the biggest players. There isn’t a way currently to take micropayments from people for browsing. No one would accept it even if we had it.

The big problem is selfishness. Especially in America. We often think of the self before the group. We want special treatment. American Exceptionalism, we are all unique and special and deserve to get into the club for free. No one wants to pay their fair share.

If you use an Ad Blocker, you are stealing every bit as much as if you didn’t pay your taxes. You don’t have to click on the ads, you don’t have to buy things. However, having nice things on the web require that ads are part of it.

Apple is now in a tiff with Facebook over this issue. They are killing cookies and making tracking impossible on the iPhone. It sounds good on the surface. Who doesn’t want privacy? Yet, we rarely look at the cost of not advertising. It is a humongous industry that supports creators, journalists, artists, entrepreneurs, and more. Think about the bigger picture before you block those ads.

Whatya think?