Surprise, surprise, another report finds Americans paying more for slower broadband than folks in other lands, but an innovative solution stands at the ready: community broadband. Not just in Seoul, South Korea, where gigabit internet is just $30 monthly, but in Chattanooga, TN, which just cut its gigabit service to $70/month, and Lafayette, LA, which now offers broadband service at just over $100/month. Google Fiber is doing pretty well in Kansas City, too, but mostly the big broadband corporations seem like they'd rather squash community broadband efforts than improve their own service. And last I looked, being conservative didn't actually mean opposing all government efforts everywhere.
The IRS releases tax bracket information for the year 2015, relating to the taxes you'll pay before April 15, 2016. Standard deductions will go up rather a little, by my reckoning, but limits on itemized deductions for income over roughly $250,000 will come back. Kelly Phillips Erb at Forbes helpfully lists other things you might need to know about the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit, the Alternative Minimum Tax (now helpfully indexed to inflation so it doesn't become a political football every year!), the Estate Tax, IRA contributions, and the like.
Speaking of taxes, Mike Konczal and Bryce Covert remind us that when folks debate taxing the rich more aggressively, they miss one critical point: that "(t)axes don't just produce revenue; they are capable of restructuring how the whole economy works." For a long time I've been saying that a 91% tax on millionaire income, for example, will discourage executives from paying themselves exorbitant amounts of money and will actually encourage them to invest in projects that help other folks make money, since the only other alternative is leaving that money in the corporation as profits, which also get taxed. Perhaps not coincidentally, Messrs. Konczal and Covert find that the rich-poor gap has gotten worse in nations that have slashed top income rates.
Russia conducts a massive purge of school textbooks, and that purge seems to benefit one of President Putin's textbook-publishing friends the most -- a friend who just so happens to own the textbook-publishing concern that dominated schools during the Soviet days. Even the corruption is bigger in Russia! And so is the bureaucracy -- right-wingers who complain about "oppressive" anti-pollution regulations in America should read this story and see how it's really done. They may wind up reconsidering whether Mr. Putin is really a "conservative" hero just because he hates gays and rides horses without a shirt on, but who am I to deny folks growth experiences?
Finally, one of the hosts of NPR's extremely and justifiably popular show Car Talk has died; Tom Magliozzi was 77. Though Car Talk ceased production in 2012 after a 25-year run, you can still hear reruns on your local NPR station, probably into eternity. I have no particular love for cars myself, but I still spent (or, as brothers Tom and Ray always said at the end of a show, "wasted") many perfectly good hours listening to Car Talk, and I expect I'll spend many more.