Manufacturer rebates are offered for several reasons, including 1) It allows companies to offer a short-term discount without effecting the long-term price of the product, 2) It allows companies to hold onto the discount dollars (and invest or collect interest on them) for a month or two until the rebate is issued, and 3) It leaves open the possibility that consumers will fail to send in the rebate forms and never collect the discount (though of course it still factors in their purchase decision).
As the recent beneficiary of a large rebate, I've observed it's even more tricky than that.
Pennsylvania has become the latest state to institute sales tax on online companies with affiliates inside their borders, which has resulted in the cancellation of website affiliate programs in that state by B&H and possibly Amazon (if they follow past practice).
Thom Hogan has written a rant about this on his website. While I am sympathetic to Hogan and other website managers effected by retailers' affiliate boycotts in states like Illinois, I am going to state that I unequivocally disagree. There is absolutely no reason why online retailers should not be collecting sales tax, particularly when state budgets are suffering such significant woes. While retail behemoths have been successful at boycotting (or threatening to boycott) some states in retaliation, they can't boycott them all and Amazon's delay in pulling out of Pennsylvania indicates that they see the writing looming on the wall: yes, online businesses will too someday have to pay full sales tax.
Brick and mortar businesses serve a valuable service to their community. They provide local jobs and in the case of establishments like bookstores, local centers of community. Why should they be forced to collect tax when online retailers are not? Furthermore, the law is clear- sales tax is intended for all purchases in a state, whether made online or not. States have just been slow about enforcing the law.
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Katherine Boo spent more than three years in Mumbai's Annawadi slum to do research for her new book, Behind the Beautiful Forevers. Residents of the slum — which is located next to the Mumbai airport and in the shadow of several luxury hotels — live in devastating poverty. [NPR]
The New York Times has compiled the reaction of Chinese netizens to the its recent expose of hazardous working conditions for Foxconn employees building iPad and iPhones for Apple in China, as published on the Caixin and Weibo websites. Here are a few highlights of the translated comments:
It’s ridiculous that the local government is trying to promote the city’s image while horrible accidents are still happening like this. If what is prohibited in the U.S. is highly protected here by the local authorities, we will never be treated with dignity. — 安吉丽娜朱莉的男朋友
By the way, construction workers and farmers are also living a harsh life in China, shall we also boycott housing and grains? — Zhou Zhimei
Without Apple, Chinese workers will be worse off. I hope China can some day soon have dozens of its own companies like Apple, who (only) work on high-end research and development and send manufacturing lines to Africa. — Anonymous
Even though Apple should be ethically condemned, the key point is: whether the working conditions inside the factories are supervised by law. This (supervision) is the duty of judicial officers and labor unions. Now everything is driven only by G.D.P., so which government official would dare supervise those companies? They (the governments) have long reduced themselves to the servant of the giant enterprises. — Occasional Think
If people saw what kind of life workers lived before they found a job at Foxconn, they would come to an opposite conclusion of this story: that Apple is such a philanthropist. — Zhengchu1982
If Foxconn were to abide by the labor law, which is supposed to protect workers and keep them basically to 8 hours a day and 5 days a week, their wages will be lower. If workers establish a formal labor union, lots of workers will be disappointed and return home to rural areas. The production cost of Chinese manufacturers will increase, and those Chinese factories will lose their competitive advantage. Who would be happy if that really happened? — 野也果酱
If the story is simply blaming Apple and Foxconn, then it is simplifying the problem. Other companies including HTC, Lenovo, HP and Sony, and their OEM (original equipment manufacturer) companies such as Wistron, Quanta and Inventec, share the same situation. Workers of small OEM enterprises are working in even harsher environments and having more overtime. The root is that they are unable to reach a higher position in the industry chain. Also, there are no effective labor organizations in those factories and the government tends to shield huge companies because of their profits. — Freestyle-coming
When the explosion happened, I was working for media in Chengdu. Domestic media were all silenced and only allowed to use the (Xinhua) official report, because that (Foxconn factory) was a key project. Compare to what The New York Times wrote, the gap really saddened my heart. — Chen Qiye
That's the question that The Atlantic asks today on its website.
Here are a few sentences from the article that you may want to take note of:
He's a union-buster. Some of Adelson's bitterest political battles have been fought in his adopted home state against the forces of organized labor, which has a strong foothold in the casino industry. The Venetian opened in 1999 as the only non-union casino on the Strip and has been the target of protest from the hotel workers union, Culinary 226, ever since.
He spent $30 million on the 2008 election. It didn't work out so well. Adelson poured the money into Freedom's Watch, a "527" independent-expenditure group that was active in congressional races, airing ads across the country that emphasized national security.
He's a Zionist/neocon/right-wing Israel hawk. Much of Adelson's political activity is devoted to boosting the right-wing Israeli line, both in Israel and the U.S. He donated a posh new headquarters to AIPAC, the Israel lobby in Washington, though he reportedly feuded with the organization over activities he saw as unduly pro-Palestinian.