Facebook and Rapport

23 Nov

Ryan Deschamps:

This came up in previous discussions recently, so I thought I’d share them. This blog is pretty much closed, but maybe I’ll bring it out again for reblogs.

Originally posted on The Other Librarian:

Facebook appears to be the latest and best thing in the World Wide Web right now. This poses a challenge to libraries.   For instance, while many libraries are exploring library search applications, others are concerned that students do not want their librarians in their social space.

While some critics will tell you that Library 2.0 is no different from previous service models, others will say that services like Facebook pose a problem largely because of library culture. I concur with the latter view, not because I think Library 2.0 strategies are always better, but because Library 2.0 strategies require librarians to unlearn certain things in order to be truly effective.

Ok. So let me start with the Facebook library search application. It is fine, but my opinion is that few people besides librarians are going to add the applications to their profiles. The technology is Web 2.0, but…

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New Site and Blog — The Prorogue

23 May

I’ve gone rogue a little in my blogging.  I plan to keep this here, but I’m starting something a little different about Policy, Government, and other lovely things over at my personal website.

There is also a blog, equipped with feed, and a few data experiments that will come down the road.  Enjoy!

 

Make No Mistake: Taxes Are An Evil, However Necessary

20 Apr

I am not about to weigh in on who I think should win the federal election or even whether I’d like to see a majority or a minority.   To be honest, I would love to pick and choose among the policies among all the parties – of course, real politics don’t work that way.

But I would like to weigh in on something that really does need to be said, because I think it can work as a bridge between right and left-leaning policies:  the role of taxation, and why, in fact, the market is preferable in most cases.

Take this all-too-familiar supply-demand curve:

In this case we have a before-tax supply curve (green), an after-tax supply curve (red) and a demand curve (blue).

Tax incidence, deadweight, tax burden

Description of deadweight as it pertains to a tax.

As you may (or may not) have learned in a basic economics class, the ‘invisible hand’ will guide the market towards the price and quantity that matches where the demand and supply curves meet (where green meets blue).  Let’s say that this location is $10 and 10 gajibazillions units sold for a total of $100 gajibazillion dollars.

Now we add the tax.    In this graph, it’s a straight-forward per unit tax, like gas, say at $1 per unit (if we did a percentage tax, like the GST, the space between the two supply curves would get bigger as you moved to the right, but per unit is easier to deal with, so let’s go with that).

When consumers find out that the costs is, in fact, $1 more than the stated cost, they will realize that they are not getting the same amount of product for the higher price (because $1 is going to the government).   “Oh no!” many will say, “the product is not worth all that much money. ”   They will drop out of the market.   Suppliers, responding to the change in demand, will drop their prices slightly so to maximize their profits.   Let’s say the new price is $10.75, and the new lower quantity is 9 gajibazillion units.   This change in behavior of consumers and suppliers in response to the tax is called a market distortion.

Okay – so now some math.   We’ve already discovered that the market volume with no tax is 100 gajibazillion dollars.   The market volume after the tax is $9.75 (remember, $1 goes to the government to pay the taxes) times 9 units or $87.75 gajibazillion dollars, for a difference of 12.25 gajibazillion dollars.

Ah – but of course, the government will be absolutely efficient and non-bureaucratic and responsible with our tax dollars, so we are going to get the value  of those taxes one way or another right?   Sure.   Except, they are collecting $1 for each of the 9 gajibazillion units for a grand total of 9 gajibazillion dollars, well short of the $12.25 gajibazillion dollars that was lost in the economy.  A grand total of 3.25 gajibazillion is lost – a completely unrecoverable loss in the economy simply by applying the tax – and that’s before we consider anything about the costs of administering the tax, whether that tax gets used effectively or efficiently by the government and so on.

This is why taxes are evil.   The flip side, of course, is that there are a number of other things that are more evil than tax burdens.   Things like large government deficits, lack of support for the poor, lack of equality, lack of established order and so on.

This should mean that we ought to consider a few things:

  • anyone who tells you that they are building the economy by using your tax dollars is lying.   Deficits are merely deferred taxes.   You can temporarily stall an economic downturn, or you can build certain sectors of the economy, but when push comes to shove, any tax *takes away* from the economy, and never recovers what was taken away.
  • given a proportional tax rate (eg. income tax, where the tax rate increases as income increases), the market distortions at the higher pay scales will result in even higher market distortions.   This is a pretty solid argument in favor of reducing taxes for those with higher wages, especially if you want to build your economy on a highly skilled labour force.   Another solution is to offer a flat tax rate, which has the added benefit of reducing the administrative costs of calculating your taxes every year.
  • Unfortunately, this implies an inequitable distribution of funds in the economy.   By doing the best possible things for the largest group of people, those at the bottom of the totem pole appear to benefit the least.  BUT, the bottom line is that bottom of the totem pole still benefits – just not as much as those at the top.
  • Anytime you see a promise about a new government program, it is always at least a little bit wise to wonder if those benefits couldn’t otherwise be provided by, well, um YOU.  You earning more money by bringing more value to the consumer contributes to reducing the deficit.   While some would argue with me, this applies to public servants as well (assuming that the service cannot otherwise be provided by the market).
  • Re: corporate taxes – if you pay taxes when you cash in your mutual funds, do you really think you should be paying taxes *again* when your investment turns a profit?   Remember, those corporate taxes are also a tax on your pension.
  • We should be getting away from deficits as soon as possible.  2-3 years is more than enough to stall the economic downturn.  Now it’s up to the private sector to start turning the wheels.
  • Don’t trust party reputations when considering this.  Conservative does not always mean conservative.  Nor does liberal necessarily mean liberal.
  • Yeah, this is all just theory.  If you do not believe that people act rationally (they don’t), nor have perfect information (they don’t), you have reason to question all of this.

Library Research That Matters

15 Apr

Academic Librarians — please help!

For my presentation at the APLA conference, I will be speaking to the idea of professionalism, what it means, how it matters and etc.   At the end of my talk, I would like to point out some things that give me hope for the future.   One of the things that would give me hope is research/writing that actually matters outside the librarian profession (aka Research that is ultimately not self-serving).

One example I got from Kathryn Greenhill was Peter Morville‘s Ambient Findability, but I would like more.   Any ideas?   What I am looking for is the opposite of “For Librarians” texts – influential books and articles by librarians that are intended to be read by people who are not librarians.

Goal Setting for the New Year

1 Jan

Well, Happy New Year everyone and to all a good night.   :)

This year seems to me a great one for looking at new things to try.   Last year I found myself catching up on old things.   With the recession, keeping positive would have been the main goal, and I had a lot to be positive about in 2010.   For one, I got the Fusion Halifax Metropolitan Award.   A blog post I wrote about professionalism in librarianship made it to the Library Journal website, and had an amazing reflection/editorial by Francine Fialkoff .   Podcamp Halifax was very successful last year and McLean Greaves even scooped the iPad announcement three days before it was announced by Apple!  (By the way, as of now there are only 26 out of a total 350 tickets left for 2011 (to be held on January 23rd).

This year, however, I feel like I need some new goals.   Here are a few:

  • It’s time to start blogging regularly again, at least once per week.
  • I’d like to go visiting someone who is not family a little more regularly.   Time to reach out!
  • Mr. 7 insists that I help him finish his rogue-like game called “Rasghiosse.”
  • I want to do a better job recording the things that I’ve done and will do.    Too many projects exist where i am the only one who really knows how they work.

That’s good for now, there’ll be more I’m sure as the year progresses.   What are your big goals for this year?

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