Tag: netflix

The City of Chicago Will Now Tax ‘Amusement’

othman Mekhloufi | United States


The Amusement Tax

The City of Chicago is now levying taxes on amusement, entertainment, or anything remotely fun-oriented.

The City of Chicago’s Department of Finance, rather than the City Council, issued a new tax ruling called an “amusement tax”. This tax would subjugate any residence within the official city limits of Chicago to pay a 9% tax, in addition to sales tax, on anything which is remotely related to amusement; whether it be streaming movies on Netflix, playing video games, or going to a football game, such a tax would apply.

Here is the following list of all the assortments to be taxed according to the ruling itself.

“Any exhibition, performance, presentation or show for entertainment purposes, including, but not limited to, theatrical, dramatic, musical or spectacular performance, promotional show, motion picture show, flower, poultry or animal show, animal act, circus, rodeo, athletic contest, sport, game or similar exhibition such as boxing, wrestling, skating, dancing, swimming, racing, or riding on animals or vehicles, baseball, basketball, softball, football, tennis, golf, hockey, track and field games, bowling or billiard or pool games; any entertainment or recreational activity offered for public participation are on a membership or other basis including, but not limited to, carnivals, amusement park rides and games, bowling, billiards and pool games, dancing, tennis, racquetball, swimming, weightlifting, bodybuilding or similar activities; or (3) any paid television programming, whether transmitted by wire, cable, fiber optics, laser, microwave, radio, satellite or similar means.”

With this ruling, there are also some exceptions. All venues held in auditoriums or theaters with a maximum capacity of not more than 1500 people are exempt from the 9% amusement tax. However, these venues must be in person live performances to be exempt from the tax. This exemption does not apply to movies or sporting events.

Currently, Chicago’s sales tax, with all jurisdictions considered, is the highest in the entire nation at 10.25%. With this amusement tax being set at 9%, it is also compiled onto Chicago’s default sales tax of 10.25%; meaning that the population of Chicago is not only stuck paying an astronomically high 10.25% sales tax, but they are also required to pay an additional 9% tax on any assortments in relation to the amusements previously listed.

The Impact on the Wallet

The economic repercussions of such a new tax would be quite negative for the City of Chicago. Said economic repercussions would revolve around the primary negative effect of margin loss. The government is now levying more taxes from the people via two separate sales taxes, one at 10.25%, and one at 9%. Because of this, less money will be the pocket of the populace. When the populace has less money in their pockets, they will have less money to spend. Because the populace will have less money to spend, businesses will lose out on customers, as well as profit. When it occurs that businesses lose out on customers, and income, one primary negative effect on the economy would take place; that being, margin loss.

This margin loss will always have two sets of negative economic sub-repercussions. The first set of sub-repercussions are unemployment, cutting of wages, as well as the cutting of work hours which fits into the internal-labor subsection. The second set of sub-repercussions are and the hiking of prices which fits into the consumer subsection. Meaning, that with such a tax, prices would in fact increase, and jobs, work hours, as well as wages,  would all be cut.

The Impact on Employment

Let’s take a look at the first set of sub-repercussions; unemployment, the cutting of wages, and the cutting of work hours. Due to the fact that businesses will be losing margin due to fewer customers, they will always want to mediate that margin loss. To mediate this margin loss, businesses have two choices; either begin to raise their prices, or cut spending somewhere within the company. Usually, when spending is being cut, it is centered around wages and not other essentials of the company. This is due to the fact that if companies were to cut spending for such essentials, the product, and or service being provided would degrade in terms of quality. In turn, this would only result in furthermore margin loss due to the general premise that no consumer populace wants to purchase an inferior product with poor quality.

With this, we can determine that a margin loss, for whatever reason it may be, will indeed result in a spending cut. Said spending cut will be focused on wages. More specifically, when implementing this, hours will be cut, some individuals within the company may be laid off, and many wages will be reduced all to minimize for the loss in margin caused by economic government intervention.

Don’t Forget About Prices

Considering the second set of sub-repercussions, the hiking of prices, this also comes with its own extended economic repercussions. Other than the fact that cheaper goods mean best for everyone on both sides of the transaction, the hiking of prices comes with its own furthermore economic disparities. When prices are hiked to mediate a loss in margin, an even higher amount of margin loss will occur. This is due to the following reasons; when a company raises its prices for whatever reason it may be, and in our case, margin loss, the populace will be less incentivized to purchase said product, and or service.

Because of this, sales will go down even more, and the company suffers even more margin losses. For instance, a 2014 study conducted by YouGov found that nearly 1 in 5 of Netflix subscribers polled would cancel their subscription if the price went up by $1 a month. Nearly half of those polled would cancel their subscription if the price went up by $2 a month. If these increases in subscription prices would happen due to a loss in margin, Netflix would experience even more margin loss as it loses even more customers due to price hikes.

As we can now see that not only do price hikes burden the consumer populace as everyone enjoys cheap goods, but they also cause margin loss in companies which, if it were to be on such a large scale, would cause unemployment, cuts in wages, as well as cuts in work hours as previously explained.

Many may claim that the amusement tax rate may only be 9%, and at such a small rate, it would not cause any actual negative economic repercussions as previously mentioned. However, this amusement tax is estimated to levy $189 million in the year 2018. Not only this, but the amusement tax’s levy margin has been trending upwards since 2017 when it took in a measly $168.7 million compared to the $189 million of 2018. With the amusement tax raking in hundreds of millions of dollars a year, and with it only trending upwards, we can truly determine that such a large amount of money being taken out of the economy will indeed cause the economic hardships previously mentioned.

Although these economic repercussions have not been extremely severe in Chicago due to the fact that the amusement tax is only centered within one jurisdiction; if the western world continues this trend of large government economics, and a similar policy begins to be implemented on the federal level, the economic repercussions previously listed would scale to a very large extent affected millions across the board.

In reality, with such a tax, we would only cause economic hardships; unemployment, cuts in wages and work hours, as well as hikes in prices across the jurisdiction in which it was applied.

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In Cambodia, Tourists Buy and Shoot Cows with Rocket Launchers

By Ryan Lau | @agorisms

In third world countries such as Cambodia, animal rights are often cast aside. Naturally, the lives of oppressed people and their struggle for food, water, and other essentials come first. As a result, individuals in these countries are often able to commit gross atrocities against animals.

In modern Western culture, there is much debate over animal rights. Vegans and vegetarians disagree with those who believe it is morally okay to kill an animal for food. However, most would agree that it is wrong to kill an animal without purpose. Such an action is wasteful, at least in the eyes of the West.

In Cambodia, though, the attitude is a little bit different. Over the past few years, rumors have surfaced on various blogs and informal reports that it was possible to shoot a cow in Cambodia with a rocket launcher. Some even stated that they were offered an animal target by default when shooting. Though it was, until recently, difficult to verify this, a recent Netflix documentary has opened the door to this atrocity.

In the show, Dark Touristhost David Farrier tours the world, searching for everything ‘mad, macabre and morbid” he can find. In an episode about South Asia, he visits a war-torn Myanmar and a resurrection in Indonesia. But before this, Farrier wants to see if the old Cambodian myth is true.

Arriving at a shooting range, the workers present him with a number of different weapons to choose from. After shooting at non-living targets, Farrier asks for the prize cow, and sure enough, he gets it. Though he chooses, out of common morality, not to shoot the animal, it is clear that this chilling practice is a reality in the small South Asian country.

Cambodia and its Lack of Cultural Justification

In Western culture, shooting a chained animal is inhumane. Yet, the interesting thing is, based on many aspects of Cambodian culture, one may expect it to be even more so on that side of the world.

In Cambodia, the vast majority of people are Buddhist. In fact, 95% practice Theravada Buddhism, the much stricter and more conservative of the two main branches. When Buddhists die, they believe that based on their actions in life, they will be reincarnated as another life form, often times an animal. Thus, they believe that the soul within a human may be exactly the same soul within an animal, but at a different point in its existence.

As a result, one may think that Cambodia would place a higher importance on the life of animals. Though they often use animals for important sacrifices to their spirits, this is understandably an honor killing.

The recreation of blasting chained cows, however, appears antithetical in a culture where the dominant religion is often vegetarian. Theravada monks, in fact, were only permitted to eat pork, chicken, and fish, and only if the monk knew the animal was not killed specifically for them. Still others are vegetarian entirely.

Thus, it appears that rather than a religiously sanctioned activity, this tourist activity is not representative of mainline Cambodian culture. Nonetheless, it still occurs with relative frequency in the formerly war-torn nation.

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Netflix Accused of Glamourising Child Sex Trafficking

By Emily Merrell | USA

Survivors of sex trafficking urged Netflix to can a new show called “Baby” – influenced by an Italian teen sex scandal, which is causing Netflix to be accused of normalizing child abuse. In a letter to the executives, they pointed out the double standards of Netflix normalizing sexual exploitation after Kevin Spacey starred show “House of Cards” was dropped after his sexual misconduct charges.

“Netflix recently fired Kevin Spacey … To turn around and produce a show that glorifies the sex trafficking of minors and dub it ‘edgy entertainment’ is the height of hypocrisy …” said Lisa Thompson, vice president of the U.S.-based National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE).

“Baby” goes into production this year. It is inspired by a scandal in Rome where teenage students from the city’s wealthy Parioli district were said to have sold sex to buy designer clothes and mobile phones. It involves the exploitation of 14-15 year-olds for underage prostitution. “The Baby Squillo Scandal” – The letter said eight traffickers were arrested and the leader was in jail for ten years.

Netflix did not respond to the comments, but admitted that the show was inspired off of the Baby Squillo Scandal describing it as a “Coming of age story for teenagers”. This letter was sent to Netflix executives on Thursday – National Human Trafficking Awareness Day – and was signed by 56 campaigners, social-service providers and survivors of sex trafficking, including some who were exploited as teenagers. They stated that there are no teenage prostitutes, only sexually abused and exploited children.

The NCOSE also launched an online petition for the show to be eliminated, stating any minor engaging in commercial sex is a victim of sex trafficking. “If Netflix executives care more about ending sexual exploitation in this #MeToo moment than about profiting from sexually exploitive themes, they will cancel production of this show immediately,”

Teens have always had heavy sexuality and only in recent times has it been extremely publicized. Sex trafficking, pedophilia, and prostitution are hugely debated topics, especially within this post-Lolita and Hollywood sexual harassment times. Will Netflix ax this show? If they don’t want even more extreme backlash, yes.

Net Neutrality Can Leave

By Emily Merrell | USA

Net Neutrality is currently one of the most talked about topics on the internet, it affects both internet users and ISPs. Many people are pro-Net Neutrality due to the internet’s largest websites’ and people’s influential opinions, but these opinions are lacking.

Net Neutrality is not a policy or legislation, it is a set of regulations granted by the FCC by Obama’s administration allowing communication legislation to regulate the internet for the public interest. These regulations prohibit Internet Service Providers from being able to change network speeds. These regulations empower the bigger ISP companies for profit while giving smaller ISPs no ability to compete.

The first major issue with Net Neutrality is the fact that it gives the FCC power. The FCC is a communication department, originally created to help the government for unhindered signals and radio piracy. This was used in the 30’s when rogue broadcasters created signals to disrupt bigger stations. It was also used in the era of analog TV’s to keep the peace for TV channels. The internet is way bigger than these things as it has no limit and constant growth. FCC control of the internet is out of date.

The most common fears of Net Neutrality stem from the idea that corporations will throttle speed, provide fast lanes for specific sites, and the placement of limits for specific sites. However, what people do not understand about this is the fact that this might be beneficial and the extent to how this would be implemented. The companies that control our internet speed understand the unpopularity of modifying internet speeds for specific sites and will most likely do this in small amounts if any at all. Second of all, these companies will have specific websites with the desire for higher speeds, even at very limited differences. Speed differences can even help websites that are packed with visitors by preventing them from crashing. However, it will be very expensive to make changes to internet speeds making it unrealistic that any major changes will be occurring. These ideas are all hypothetical, though.

Since the free market has been prohibited from experimenting with internet speed, pricing, and making certain deals with websites, it is unknown how many of these changes will affect us and the internet we know today. What we do know is that the free market will not try to overpower us. ISPs will cater to consumers and see how the people react to any changes. If your internet service provider makes any changes that you don’t like, then there is definitely another one that doesn’t make these changes that you can switch over to.

We may even have a reason to be excited about these regulations being repealed. Netflix draws millions of users daily. Netflix may make a deal with Comcast to increase their internet speed. Consumers that use Netflix frequently may want to switch over to Comcast. Comcast will be receiving payment from Netflix, causing Comcast to be less dependent on billing their consumers. Netflix will likely need less research and development for higher internet speeds if Comcast is helping them produce faster speeds. This will be the same for other websites.

The market is the most beneficial place for consumers. Supply and demand rarely fail and companies will see how their customers react to changes. The defense of Net Neutrality has good intent: keeping the internet “neutral” for internet speed. However, they do not realize the danger of having government control over the internet. The more regulations over certain things, the more we are being controlled by the government. Experimenting with internet speeds may be beneficial to us as we want to visit our most frequently used websites faster. Businesses will directly receive feedback from customers, data is gathered from advertisement, and connections are created from choices and knowledge of information. All in all, we must realize that Net Neutrality restricts freedom on the internet, is protectionist, and is very costly. Net Neutrality is certainly not neutral in any shape or form.