Heartland podcast seeks government action

Heartland Institute publications and web pages usually position it as anti-government, or at least pro-less-government-than-we-have-now.  But their podcasts are a bit less controlled, sometimes just providing an interesting take on something we might not have thought about (There was a great one about “how much does the Burning Man Festival have to pay for insurance?” that seems to have disappeared from Heartland’s site).

Now we have one insisting that the government needs to break the Google monopoly and vigorously enforce “privacy” laws against Google. The mp3 of this interview with Scott Cleland, author of Search and Destroy: Why You Can’t Trust Google Inc is here.

Cleland seems to want government to protect us from the threat that Google is.  I agree that Google can be a threat, as they really do want to organize all the information about all of us, and seem to be pretty good at it. But I think the real threat will happen when Google and Government merge.  Until then, we are probably best advised to use the good cheap or free alternatives to Google’s services, and to work without signing in to Google to the extent possible.

My own experience with Google Adsense, btw, occurred when trying to buy some traffic to the Henry George School web site.  People concerned about “poverty” might be interested in us, so I tried that keyword.  The problem was that most of the news articles Google coded as “poverty” were about crime and criminals.  So I excluded some words, I think it was “gun”, “police,” and a couple others.  Adsense failed to recognize these exclusions.  On one of the google discussion groups I found other people who have experienced similar problems.  Eventually, Google said something to the effect of “if you want to keep advertising with us you’ll have to pay more money per hit.”  I guess we would have had to pay enough to justify having a Google Human get involved, and that was too expensive, so the project was put aside.  The dollar cost was modest but the benefit was more modest.

Corporate income tax is evil

We know that because “Don’t be evil” Google pays almost no corporate income tax.   This Bloomberg/Business Week article outlines how they do it.  It involves Dutch, Irish, and Bermudan subsidiaries, and is apparently quite legal.  In addition to playing international transfer-pricing games, of course, corporations can take advantage of various incentives and loopholes built into or discovered in the tax code.

Naturally, I am mentioning this to point out that a land value tax cannot be avoided, as long as land transaction, description, and payment records are public. (And, I might add, as long as there are some reasonably free news media, and some members of the public who pay at least a little bit of attention.) There is never any question as to which jursidiction land is in, and there is no need for incentives to attact land.