The Ati-thesis , Marxism


"By that definition, a state capitalist country is one where the government controls the economy and essentially acts like a single huge corporation, extracting the surplus value from the workforce in order to invest it in further production.[3] Friedrich Engels, in Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, argues that state capitalism would be the final stage of capitalism consisting of ownership and management of large-scale production and communication by the bourgeois state.[4]"

Quoted from Wikepedia

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Hayek's The Constitution of Liberty

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I have recently been in a Facebook conversation with Ray Richardson in which LePage's desire to change the Maine Constitution so that the Secretary of State and Treasurer are under the administration rather than being positions appointed by two thirds of the legislature came up. Mr Richard said this is a conversation we need to have, to which I responded  that if we have a conversation about the Maine Constitution, he and Governor Lepage should not expect that conversation to be limited to talking points which they decide.

I ususally find it irritating when politicians announce that "this is a conversation we need to have !" in which the conversation is to focus on a small subset of ideas. I myself am engaging in a conversation we need to have by writing this blog

This video outlines a comprehensive framework to the conversation we need to have,

The panel is of opposing views, one being George Soros who displays his expertise in the art of word parsing by inventing a new term for the free enterprise system, which Soros calls "market fundamentalism" !


Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Lepage Plan- Filled with Inconsistencies

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In recent weeks we have been hearing that LePage wants to eliminate the income tax. My initial response was I'll believe it when I see it . During his tenure, LePage has agressively advanced corporate welfare, which our legislature and administration justify via the means of an income tax on labor. The state of Maine, being in fact today the corporation of Maine, and run in the interests of profit would not be able to justify the massive tax payer give-a-ways to capitalists without claimimg such a policy is profitable because it produces a high end labor tax base which brings in the revenue.

So when LePage floats the concept that he wants to eliminate the income tax, I say that even if that were actually Lepage's intent it is highly improbable that it can ever happen without first deconstructing the corporate state and its ever expanding corporate welfare system. To start with expanding the instances in which sales tax will be collected is equivalent in strategy to granting amnesty to illegal aliens without first securing the border. To create a media buzz that one wants to eliminate the income tax and replace it with a tax on consumption, and then to try to institute an expanded consumption tax while merely lowering the income tax takes on the appearance of a hoax. There is no actual action being taken toward eliminating the personal income tax and if there were the starting point has to be the de-construction of corporate welfare which is dependent on the personal income tax on labor to justify it's tax payer freebies distributed to capital. There are far too many power players making a buck on the corporate welfare system to imagine that one can simply take the rug out from under it with the wave of a magic wand!

In LePages  failed 2014. An Act To Improve Maine's Ability To Attract Major Private Investments The benefits to capitalists are similar to those of the Pine Tree Zone. The state commits the Maine taxpayer to covering up to 80% of the business owners payroll taxes. The taxed sector includes targeted sector workers and most of the state’s “UN-targeted sector”.so that the targeted sector employee is paying his own income taxes plus his fair share of his employers income, corporate and payroll taxes.

Nothing makes the trade off of an income tax on labor in exchange for a tax free ride for capital than the section enumerating 
the qualification for a qualified employee: Can we really believe that Lepage has suddenly made an about face? 

7.  Qualified employee.   "Qualified employee" means a person:
A.  Who is a full-time employee of a certified or qualified applicant;
B.  Whose income from employment under paragraph A is taxable under chapter 803;
C.  For whom a retirement program is provided subject to the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, 29 United States Code, Sections 101 to 1461, as amended;
D.  For whom health insurance is available; and

E.  Whose income calculated on a calendar year basis is greater than the per capita annual income in the State as determined by the United States Department of Commerce.


Note that in 2012 An Act To Provide Tax Relief for Maine's Citizens by Reducing Income Taxes  was passed, lending the impression that there is a plan in the works to eliminate the income tax- but in 2014 , An Act To Improve Maine's Ability To Attract Major Private Investments is clearly setting up a trade off granting capital a tax free ride and in exchange capital will deliver taxable employees making a higher than average income -ie  a revenue stream for the Maine corporation based on an income tax on labor !

So I decided to read Lepages's budget and found it irresistible not to record my own commentary as I read: Quoting here from the budget report:

National and state economic indicators continue to show improvement since the CEFC met in January 2014. Nationwide, consumer sentiment and small business optimism are up over year ago levels. According to preliminary estimate, personal income in Maine grew 3.4% year-over year in the first half of 2014, while wage and salary income grew 2.3% over the same period.The Consumer Price Index was 1.7% higher in August 2014 than it was in August 2013.  
  Statement found in introduction to Lepage budget provides no source  . The CEFC apparently stands for Maine Consensus Economic Forecasting Commission, which is a forecasting commission and part of Maine.gov, but the growth statements are given in the past tense. To say income is up begs the question "for whom" while reading the section below called Individual Income Tax underscores my observation that the (past tense) statement in the paragraph above is given without explanation or source unless one accepts a self referential source as a legitimate source.
  Sales and Use Tax – Sales and use tax receipts increased by 2.5% for the 12 months ending in September 2014. The current revenue forecast assumes continued improvement bolstered by lower energy prices and an improving labor market. 
Do we believe what the Lepage budget report tells us -or do we believe the word on the street last summer- that the summer retail season was the slowest one ever! If the revenue from retail sales wasn't coming from Main Street then from where? And if it was coming from someplace other than Main Street what does that say about the picture of the economy that includes a bottom, middle and top. Main Street generally represents the middle sector-, for which the word of mouth consensus was that it was  the slowest retail season in memory. So if the facts reported in the Lepage budget are actually true, the top sector of the economy must have been doing really well because we know the bottom sector is not going to account for the discrepancy between what was happening on Main Street and the figures reported by Maine State Inc.

Individual Income Tax –The Individual Income Tax is forecast with the input of a number of economic variables: the components of personal income, inflation, total employment growth, the unemployment rate, and the 3-month treasury bill and 10-year treasury note rates. In addition to these economic variables, Maine Revenue Services must also input assumptions about net capital gains. For the most part the relationship and the effect of these variables on the individual income tax are obvious. Personal income and the distribution of that variable into its components (salaries and wages; dividends, interest and rent; proprietor’s income; and transfer payments) affect the accuracy of the Individual Income Tax forecast. The forecast for the Individual Income Tax while consistent with the changes in these economic variables is also influenced by recent data from federal and state income tax returns. The Individual Income Tax was over budget in fiscal year 2014, mostly due to higher than anticipated tax liability for tax year 2013. In their December 2014 report, the RFC recommends an increase in revenue through fiscal year 2017. 
The above paragraph is so convoluted that it comes across as trying to conceal something. What are we to make of a sentence such as "The Individual Income Tax was over budget in fiscal year 2014, mostly due to higher than anticipated tax liability for tax year 2013." If the corporation of Maine can report their "facts" about sales tax in a straight forward sentence such as " Sales and use tax receipts increased by 2.5% for the 12 months ending in September 2014",why can't it do the same for individual income tax revenue? The recommendation from the RFC is helpful " In their December 2014 report, the RFC recommends an increase in revenue through fiscal year 2017."- glad to hear  it from on high, that we should increase rather than decrease revenue through the fiscal year 2017. Its for advice like that that we pay government employees so well and provide them with special benefits!
 Corporate Income Tax – The Corporate Income Tax model is driven by employment growth by sector, the CPI forecast and a national forecast of corporate pre-tax profits. The RFC increased the forecast of Corporate Income tax revenue by $8.1 million for the 2016-2017 biennium. The new forecast reflects changes to the economic forecast for pre-tax corporate profits. Corporate profits are now estimated to grow slightly slower in calendar year 2014 but significantly stronger in calendar years 2015 and 2016. The forecast also accounts for several temporary state level tax law changes that will continue to have an impact on corporate income tax revenues in the next two biennia.
Its convenient that corporate income tax is driven by pre-tax profits when corporate welfare provides its targeted sector a tax free ride. When the public is covering a corporations payroll taxes and refunding capitalists their investments (Pine Tree Zone Tax Incentives Maine Technology InstituteSeed Capital Tax Credit) , it makes it a lot easier for the targeted sector to make a profit and a lot more difficult for everyone else- hinting once again that when it is stated that personal income has increased that it might be because for one sector it has dramatically increased, while for others it may have gone down but since we are talking about averages even if the bottom half of the economy is experiencing a decrease, if the increases in the upper crust are large enough, the average would reflect an increase. This paragraph says exactly nothing about revenue from corporate income taxes.

In a 2013 Congressional Committee Testimony given by Mr Douglas Ray, lobbyist for the DECD corporation (otherwise known as the Department of Economic and Community Development- but it is in fact a corporation),  Mr Ray gave figures for manufacturing jobs developed in Maine that worked out to an average pay of $114864.00 per year. Mr Douglas Ray also made a point that these were jobs created thanks to Pine Tree Zone tax incentives which provide capital up to 100% exemption from personal and corporate income tax and and up to 80% tax credit on corporate payroll taxes. The highest paid jobs mean the most expensive payroll taxes, largely passed on as a burden on the general taxpayer.  ( Currently when I  click on the testimony link in the link for the bill (above), the screen pops up for a second and then immediately goes to another page. You can try it yourself to see if you can actually read the testimony, but at the time I did my original research, the testimony link functioned in a normal manner. I did the math and mentioned the results in my timeline- and that is why I still have access to the results if not the testimony on which the results are based- and so unless you can get the testimony link to function normally, you will have to take my word for it)

Municipal Revenue Sharing – Sales and Use Tax, Service Provider Tax, Individual Income Tax and Corporate Income Tax are subject to Municipal Revenue Sharing in accordance with Title 30-A, section 5681 of the Maine Revised Statutes. That section of statute requires that an amount equal to 5.0% of the sales, income, corporate and service provider tax lines be transferred to the Local Government Fund (Municipal Revenue Sharing). For the 2016-2017 biennium, Revenue Sharing will be consistent with the level of funding provided in fiscal year 2014-15

I am not sure what is included in Service Provider Tax, since I did not see it listed- unless it means cigarettes and insurance, which I skipped but in a nutshell- cigarette tax revenue on the decline and insurance tax revenue said to have increased but was recorded as flat. As for the other categories, the only one in which there was any clear statement made was sales tax. The other two categories use many words to tell us very little but Municipal Revenue Sharing tells us that things are on par with the previous year, which means that if there was an increase in sales tax revenue there must have been a decrease in other categories- any one's guess which.

That completes this section- commentary to be continued.



Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Koons & Hillary- The Joke is On You & it's China Laughing!

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ba·nal
bəˈnäl,bəˈnal/adjectiveso lacking in originality as to be obvious and boring.
"songs with banal, repeated words"

On November 30, 2012 , Jeff Koons, star of the blue chip art galaxy, was awarded the first United States Medal of Art by the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The main reason given for selecting Koons is that he is very famous and shows in
 top of the market art galleries. In the honorary speech, Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton recognized Koons for the time in that year when he spoke before an audience of 1000 listeners in China. According to Secretary of State Clinton Mr Koons "inspired cross-cultural appreciation and thought-provoking discussions among the city's art community". Inspire he did- but not exactly in the way Koons and Clinton fantasized

"One of the great characteristics of our country are our public-private partnerships. They are really at the core of how we do everything. De Tocqueville noticed that, but we’ve continued to perfect and increase our extraordinary partnerships between government and businessbetween civil society and academiaOur partnerships are really at the core of who we are and what we do. And this program could not exist without those partners. So on behalf of the Obama Administration, and especially everyone who works in our Diplomatic Corps around the world, we have been blessed by your generosity......
 [Each of these artists] are living testaments to the timeless and unending human urge to create and connect," she continued. "So they provide us with another language of diplomacy, one that evokes our universal aspirations as human beings, our common challenges, and our responsibilities for thinking through and addressing the problems that we face together......
Just think of what each of these artists means for people yearning to express themselves, that young artist living under a repressive regime, that budding painter who’s not quite sure where he or she fits in. Now, not all of these people will ever meet any of these artists, but they will learn about them and themselves, maybe even know something of their spirit and tap into a deeper level of inspiration, because they will encounter their works.........". Hillary's amazing speech!

On July 29 2014, artnet news reported that a Chinese Company is producing copies of Koons work, which is to say the company is turning the tables on Koons, on Clinton, and on the USA.

All the while that the high end art elite in the western world was waxing prolific about Koon's tribute- or was it a diatribe ?- to banality, someone was making the so called banal art work and someone else was making a living selling it. Strip down a layer of the glossy rhetorical surface and the subject matter of Koons art is not banality, it is making a mockery of cultural objects being primarily produced in China and other global low wage labor markets which are both  ridiculed and celebrated as banal by the intellectual elites of the western world. Is this what diplomacy has come to ?

 As an artist, Koons taps into the philosophy of global capitalist marketing luxury to the wealthy while producing it in low paid labor markets. Koons doesn't produce his own work in China- at least not yet. He hire hires USA workers to produce his astronomically priced work which resembles copies, made larger than life, of work that is often produced in international low wage markets and then sold in USA markets . Alternatively, Koon's art is appropriated from ordinary things- such as his balloon dog, looking exactly like an over sized dog made out of a twisted balloon but in Koons case made out of stainless steel, a very expensive material. If Koons works are not direct copies of something else they look like they are trying to be so generic as to be devoid of any quality beyond commercialism.

In 2012 China, producer nation, has become wealthy and Koons and Hillary are courting China's favors. Can Koons and Clinton really be surprised that those who are the makers of objects which Koons ridicules in his art will apply the same business strategy to the selling of the most expensive art in the world as they do for everything else- produce it for less! Are not the Chinese known for knocking off American designs and technology? How disconnected are Koons and Clinton from the culture of the audience before whom Koons delivers his speech?  Koons is the producer of the most expensive objects in the world which are often copies of work produced in China! Here in China now to inspire you! And Inspire he did ! Now the nation of the low wage laborer are making copies of Koons's luxury art! How post-modern is that? Will the Chinese copies of the Koons copies of objects made in China succeed in deflating the value of Koons work? And then in turn will the deflation in the value of Koons work deflate the value of his imitators- creating the ultimate art world downward spiral? Will the appropriation of Jeff Koons imitative art work by those who are the objects of imitation be heralded as the next big thing in Post Modern Art ? Commercialism appropriating the the title of high art by producing it in less expensive materials and making more money by selling to to the masses than Koons selling it to the wealthy elite? - Just another international dialogue taking place in with one of the languages of diplomacy!

If the price of Koons's work starts tumbling down, it seems apropos. The internal message coming from Koons work  is down and out despite it's expensive price tag. It is down right cynical and out of internal inspiration. Jeff Koons has nothing to say beyond mocking the ordinary and the importance of cold hard cash. There is nothing at the center and no true development as an artist. Koons keeps on repeating versions of the same thought he had in the 1980's and then sold that thought to the world of art & stock alliances- the alliance that built the eighties art market in which Koons rose to fame and wealth and Koons participated in both, working as a wall street trader before becoming a rock star in the arts. Now he is the anointed diplomatic ambassador of administration of The United State's first rock star president !

The ugliest moment in Koon's career was when he mounted a show of over sized photographs of himself and his Italian Porn Star wife, La Cicciolina having sex. If Koons 's work is cynical and empty- then this is the darkest chapel of the Koons religion. Koons is making his mark on the art world, canine style. Porn is as cynical and empty as the involuntary message of Koons's work which speaks on its own and cannot be helped with carefully crafted rhetoric.

Recently, in Maine in one of the forums surrounding the Brand Company's newest incarnation as art dealers, I said that I just didn't get why huge oversize pictures of Jeff Koons engaged in acts of sex with his porn star wife and hanging on the walls of the Leo Castelli Gallery (actually it was the Sonnebend Gallery) was anything other than over sized pornography. It was suggested by Ed Beem, the author of the article, that I responded to Koons work that way because I do not understand it:




Jeff Koons is a marketing genius, but it is too easy to dismiss work you don't understand. In the late 19th century, people thought Impressionists were no-talent poseurs and even the immortal Winslow Homer had his naturalistic paintings compared to muddy doormats. Koons made the market part of his art just as Warhol made production part of his. Most of the artist who show in Maine galleries create beautiful decorative objects. Only a handful are engaged in the eternal international dialogue that is the life of art.
 Mr Beem claims there is an eternal international dialogue coming from Koon's work but all he can say about it is that the marketplace is a part of it- as if that were something so easy to miss for those uneducated in the proper thought process for understanding Koons's high art!  But Beem is right ! There in the marketplace lies the smidgen of content in Koons work- but barely a smidgen and that is totally disconnected from the real international dialogue from the world responding to Koons's cynical marketplace objects. Koons turned ordinary objects of commerce into fine art for no other reason than making it over sized and out of very expensive materials and selling it at a high price. The eternal international dialogue is reflected in the Chinese doing what they always do in international trade. The Chinese copy products made by others and produce and sell them for less. When Koons delivered his speech in China- that is the international exchange that he engaged. That's the eternal international dialogue about art which has made the marketplace part (all?) of their art, Mr Beem. The eternal ubiquitous dialogue takes place in the real world of global commerce!

Mr Beem had concluded his own blog about the Portland Art Gallery with these words:
The true value of art lies in the making of it. Owning a work of fine art conveys a certain status, but, more importantly, it permits the collector to participate, albeit vicariously, in the ongoing search for meaning that is the work of all serious art.
Koons is one of those artists who prides himself on never touching is own artwork, instead hiring others to create it under his instructions. Like an aristocrat, Koons keeps the actual process of making the art at an arm's distance. But Koons is a marketplace art star and that is what some in Maine mistake for "serious art"- in other words "investment art"- not just an object of beauty and meaning to the individual, which decorates the walls, but art representing a high end price tag ! Beem speaks for a faction that yearns to re-invent Maine as yet another extension of the New York City art market. Mainers need not buy into that. We have our own life style and values which intrinsically finds it way into the genuine voice of Maine artists living and working in the unique locality which is Maine. By being true to who we are, we can also be part of an eternal cross cultural dialogue- taking place in an entirely different galaxy than the one inhabited by Koons. A galaxy in which marketing is just a function that enables the artists to express a higher content- not where marketing has become the one and only content of art, which is the mark made by Koons in a high priced art world, gazing at its own navel and mocking itself.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Bait & Switch at The New England Foundation For The Arts


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I am now no longer a member of the Facebook Group Maine Artists.There were too many there intolerant of challenges to the collective politically correct view, which I have seen in other places on the internet, and I do not usually stay with such groups long either. I have a liberal Facebook friend who was inviting me to join numerous political discussion groups that fancied themselves places where those of opposing views can engage in an open debate. My fiend tells me that it is difficult to find conservatives to join the groups. The last time word that I was going to join preceded actually joining and so I was greeted by a welcome chorus but once an actual discussion began, the knives and hatchets were instantly drawn as the "debate" relied primarily on insulting anyone who did not echo group think. I was out of there within half an hour.

In the case of Maine Artists, it is not a place where discussion generally takes place. It is usually about posting images of one's work, however at this time there were the two discussions, started by others, which I wrote about in my previous post. The group think at Maine Artists is very dominant. I was pushing the envelope by expressing my outlier perspective  and on Christmas Eve, factions hostile to open debate won the day.

Group think is a characteristic of a collectivist society. Private capitalism is the outgrowth of a society based in individualism. My defense of The Portland Art Gallery and the media empire which gave it birth is rooted in a defense of private capitalism which is not to suggest a province of saints but it beats collectivism ,crony capitalism and hegemonic public-private relationships. I have been studying the system through which the Maine corporation redistributes wealth for quite some time and have yet to find it being channeled to the publishing industry and so I think it is fair to speculate that The Brand Company truly is a self made company- and I admire that. It is a breath of fresh air but will that quality last ? My observation about how the Union of Maine Visual Artists could work constructively with the Brand Company comes dangerously close to a public private relationship, with its trending toward hegemonic power. The message I was attempting to convey -so unsuccessfully- at Maine Artist was to encourage the individualist approach inherent in private capitalism and to use the resource provided by The Union of  Maine Visual Artists to reintroduce the idea that contracts and terms of agreements are a two way street.

The age of the internet discourages  Terms of Agreements as a two way street. Online Terms of Agreements are presented on a take them or leave them basis , which works out fairly in many cases. Google and Adobe present fair agreements. The regional quasi non-governmental art foundation- the New England Foundation for the Arts is exploitative- During the course of a recent dialogue it came out that NEFA now apparently publishes two Terms of Agreement- one which displays when a person registers and another in the footer. The one which displays upon registration is new to my knowledge and much closer to the Google and Adobe models which limit the rights of the organization over what is published by participants to what is needed by the organization to provide the services offered. The terms of Agreement in the footer is the same as it has been when I  first encountered it in 2007. I discussed my objections  HERE

BOTH Terms of Agreement include the paragraph of the title Integration and Conflicting Terms. :  The only difference is that in the original agreement  the New England Foundation For the Arts site is identified and in the new agreement - the one which dispalys when one registers the words are "this site" , The web address for the new terms of agreement is http://www.creativeground.org/terms-use , making "this site" equivalent to creativeground .org which describes itself as "A project of the New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA)"- the project being "New England’s Creative Economy Directory"

So it is fair to say that the new terms of Agreement is the ultimate governing contract for the directory listing, while the Terms of Agreement found in the footer of the  New England Foundation For The Arts website is the ultimate governing authority for NEFA.  The difference between the two is that one is a directory of names and addresses and the other manages "grants, convenings, online tools, and research"  and so it is fair to say that if one merely enters one's information in a data base, one is governed by the Creative Ground Terms of Agreement, Whenever one uses the latter resources, one is governed by the NEFA terms of agreement but - this of course being my layman's analysis and interpretation, which is all most have when deciding whether to agree to the terms.

Creative Ground.Org Terms 

Commentary Compare this to almost the same paragraph in the Terms of Agreement for NEFA and you will find that there is an extra set of actions included in the NEFA terms which are"otherwise accessing or using the site "placed after by submitting a search request if you are only performing searches on the site", The latter sentence is almost identical to the one in the CommonGround Terms which reads BY SUBMITTING A SEARCH REQUEST IF YOU ARE ONLY PERFORMING SEARCHES ON THE CREATIVEGROUND SITE, This is further evidence that the Terms of Agreement which opens on registration applies only to the directory listing for which there is only one function available- the search function of the directory- when using any another function such as searching for grant information, the NEFA Terms of Agreement apply, but for those not paying careful attention to all these details, they might believe that the Terms of Agreement that pop up when registering for the directory are the Terms of Agreement for the entire site, which is an innovative application of the age old bait and switch.

In the paragraph titled "Integration and Conflicting Terms, there is a reversal in the use of specific and general identifiers. Now the CreativeGround Terms of Agreement uses the general identifier "this site" while the NEFA Terms of Agreement uses the specific identifier for NEFA. When you go to the CreativeGround About Page, it clearly identifies Creative Ground as a project of NEFA and the page is signed by the The CreativeGround Team at NEFA.
BY CLICKING “I AGREE” IF YOU ARE A REGISTERED USER WHO CONTRIBUTES CONTENT, OR BY SUBMITTING A SEARCH REQUEST IF YOU ARE ONLY PERFORMING SEARCHES ON THE CREATIVEGROUND SITE, YOU REPRESENT AND WARRANT THAT YOU HAVE READ AND UNDERSTAND THIS AGREEMENT AND THE CREATIVEGROUND (TM) PRIVACY POLICY, INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE HEREIN, AND EXPRESSLY AGREE TO AND CONSENT TO BE BOUND BY ALL OF THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS CONTAINED THEREIN REGARDLESS OF HOW OFTEN YOU USE THIS SITE.  THIS AGREEMENT SHALL HAVE THE SAME LEGAL EFFECT AND FORCE AS A WRITTEN AND SIGNED DOCUMENT BY YOU.
IF YOU ARE A REGISTERED USER, YOU MAY BE NOTIFIED VIA E-MAIL IF THIS AGREEMENT IS AMENDED OR MODIFIED.  IF YOU ARE A USER OF THE CREATIVEGROUND (TM) SITE WHO ONLY PERFORMS SEARCHES ON IT, WE WILL BE UNABLE TO NOTIFY YOU OF ANY CHANGES.  REGARDLESS OF WHETHER YOU ARE REGISTERED OR NOT, HOWEVER, ANY USE OF THE SITE BY YOU AFTER ANY AMENDMENTS OR MODIFICATIONS TO THE AGREEMENT SHALL BE DEEMED ACCEPTANCE OF THE MOST CURRENT VERSION OF THIS AGREEMENT.






  • Integration and Conflicting Terms.    This Agreement, the Privacy Policy, and any other terms expressly incorporated by reference herein constitute the complete and exclusive statement and agreement between You and Us with respect to use of this site and supersedes any and all prior or contemporaneous communications, representations, statements, agreements, and understandings, whether in oral, written, or electronic form, between You and Us concerning the use of the site and Our service.... ( the rest is identical to NEFA terms)
  •  License.    By submitting any content to Our site, You grant to Us, until revoked by you, a royalty-free, non-exclusive, license only to use the content in a non-commercial manner as We deem reasonably necessary for the operation, administration and promotion of this site.

    NEFA Terms 

    Commentary The placement of  the words  BY CLICKING "I AGREE" at the beginning of the section below ( found at top of page), lends the impression that agreeing to the terms requires clicking "I Agree". However a comma is used to separate  sets of actions, all of which constitute agreement to the terms, ie- "by submitting a search request if you are only performing searches on the site"- or by "otherwise accessing or using the site " means that you have read and agree to the terms, which is to say, even if you have never clicked on the terms when you use the sites search function, NEFA is declaring that your action of using the search function is admittance to having read the terms and agreeing to them ! Why are they doing this? 

     BY CLICKING "I AGREE" IF YOU ARE A REGISTERED USER WHO CONTRIBUTES CONTENT, BY SUBMITTING A SEARCH REQUEST IF YOU ARE ONLY PERFORMING SEARCHES ON THE  SITE OR BY OTHERWISE ACCESSING OR USING THE SITE, YOU REPRESENT AND WARRANT THAT YOU HAVE READ AND UNDERSTAND THIS AGREEMENT AND THE NEW ENGLAND FOUNDATION FOR THE ARTS PRIVACY POLICY, INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE HEREIN, AND EXPRESSLY AGREE TO AND CONSENT TO BE BOUND BY ALL OF THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS CONTAINED HEREIN AND THEREIN REGARDLESS OF HOW OFTEN YOU USE THIS SITE. THIS AGREEMENT SHALL HAVE THE SAME LEGAL EFFECT AND FORCE AS A WRITTEN AND SIGNED DOCUMENT BY YOU.  IF YOU DO NOT AGREE WITH THE TCU, DO NOT USE OR ACCESS THE SITE.
    IF YOU ARE A REGISTERED USER, YOU MAY BE NOTIFIED VIA E-MAIL IF THIS AGREEMENT IS AMENDED OR MODIFIED. IF YOU ARE A USER OF THE SITE WHO ONLY PERFORMS SEARCHES ON IT, WE WILL BE UNABLE TO NOTIFY YOU OF ANY CHANGES. REGARDLESS OF WHETHER YOU ARE REGISTERED OR NOT, HOWEVER, ANY USE OF THE SITE BY YOU AFTER ANY SUCH AMENDMENTS OR MODIFICATIONS TO THE AGREEMENT SHALL BE DEEMED ACCEPTANCE OF THE MOST CURRENT VERSION OF THIS AGREEMENT.



     18. Integration and Conflicting Terms. This Agreement, the Privacy Policy, and any other terms expressly incorporated by reference herein constitute the complete and exclusive statement and agreement between You and Us with respect to use of the NEW ENGLAND FOUNDATION FOR THE ARTS site and supersedes any and all prior or contemporaneous communications, representations, statements, agreements, and understandings, whether in oral, written, or electronic form, between You and Us concerning the use of the site and Our service. This Agreement, the Privacy Policy, and other terms expressly incorporated by reference shall be construed as consistent with each other whenever possible, but if such construction is unreasonable due to conflicting terms, the terms of this Agreement shall control. To the extent that Our site contains any content posted by Us, including but not limited to answers to "frequently asked questions" ("FAQs"), which may conflict with the terms of: (a) this Agreement, this Agreement shall control; and/or (2) the Privacy Policy, the Privacy Policy shall control.


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    Allow me to give my self credit since no one else will, that the very sort of analytically thinking, which the denizens of the Maine Artist FaceBook Page, find so soicially unacceptable is what most likely brought this small change in the NEFA terms of agreement about. I know of no other who has taken on this issue in my seven years of pursuing it. The Maine Artists certainly want to know nothing about it but I publish these views for their sake and benefit. Few will want to take heed and perhaps there will be no price to pay for that but these kind of Terms of Agreement do not stubbornly persist, year after year, for no reason what so ever. I do not know if the NEFA terms of agreement ever pops up when one goes to use the functions of the NEFA website, but in my opinion the small change of wording in paragraph 18 had to be intentional and it uses the term "this site" to identify that the terms apply to CreativeGround.org. Why is "Creative Ground.org" not stated, corresponding to the way The New England Foundation For The Arts website is identified in the Terms of Agreement for the NEFA website? I submit the answer is in service of non-transparency. Whenever there exists evidence of a concerted effort to protect non-transparency, the Question "Why?" should be taken very seriously.-

    The statement at the top of both Terms of Agreement is declaring that the user does not have to click "I AGREE" to have agreed to the terms- he just has to make any minor use the site to agree to the terms- as so deemed by NEFA and the part of the site that the user will make use of are governed not by the CommonGround.org agreement but by the NEFA agreement.

    The new development is worse than before- most people will not take a close look as I did. I had to take both paragraph 18's and compare them side by side to figure out that there was a subtle but significant difference between them. Most users, when reading the Terms of Agreement that pops up when one registers will believe that is the agreement for the NEFA website. Fewer will click at the link in the footer. The section at the top which begins with "by clicking "I Agree" is likely to be skimmed and not carefully examined and so the full meaning will be missed. It is  quite a devious bait & switch that NEFA is pulling on the public which their non-profit foundation purports to serve.

     This seems like a contract writ by Kafka and hardly something that would stand up in courts in the United States of America in which I have lived- but the USA of the past is changing rapidly these days and the Terms of Agreement to which NEFA has obstinately held tight- seems as if planned to fall into perfect step with a new world order.


      Related Posts:
    1. Art World Entitlements
    2. Communism and State Ownership of Intellectual Property
    3. NEFA Helps The Maine Arts Commision Present a Work Shop On Intellectual Property Rights

    Tuesday, December 23, 2014

    Art World Entitlements

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    The Portland Art Gallery on Middle Street in Portland is a recently established gallery and an out growth from the website Art Collector Maine. Art Collector Maine charges artists a fee for publishing their work on the website but does not charge a commission on the sale. The Portland Art Gallery does not charge an exhibition fee but it takes the standard Art Gallery commission of 50% on the sales of the work. There is a loud protest arising from the Maine art world aimed at demeaning The Portland Art Gallery, portraying it as a gallery that does not curate the art and is only interested in sales although sales is something that everyone in the art world is very interested in achieving. Selling one's work legitimizes it as well as enabling an artist to spend more time working on their art work.
    The Portland Art Gallery is the most recent evolution of the Maine publishing empire which delivers several glossy art magazines, Maine Home + Design, Old Port Magazine and the Maine magazine. These publications have long been praised by the art world as they present a slick image of Maine filled with pictures of art and expensive art homes and its associated life style. The publishing empire has been a main stay for art world advertising for Maine's most preeminent galleries. Once the successful dealers and artists of Maine welcomed Thomas's website, Art Collector Maine, but now their tune has changed, suggesting that The Portland Art Gallery will be prominently visible to summer visitors but may not present the best of Maine art, that it will not nurture that artists career and cares only about sales. I haven't seen the Portland Art Gallery but the pictures look typical of a space that is attractively presented with perhaps too many pictures on the wall. I can't testify to the quality of the the art but I am taken aback at the hostile outcry from the art world and the intensity of the will to demean the gallery and belittle artists who show there. I participated in a discussion on the Maine Artists Facebook page and blogs. There exists an overwhelming view shared by the majority of the posters to which I played the devil's advocate, not only because I believe in the validity of the opposing view but because I believe that there should be more than one view aired in any debate.

    One typical interaction goes like this:
    • Gayle Fitzpatrick I think that the issue is that if an artist agrees for the fee to post on the website and then is shown in the gallery, the artist pays the posting fee, the costs of framing plus a gallery commission. In my experience, I have paid commissions, either to a brick and mortar gallery OR to a web based gallery, but not both. (And it's simply my decision not to for two reasons 1) It's a substantial amount of money on my (the artist's part) and 2) the gallery cost for my art (posting fee for web, plus gallery commission, plus framing costs) becomes prohibitive (or absurd) to buyers. too many middle man costs.
      6 hrs · Like · 3
    • Caren-Marie Michel There actually was an uproar in the artists community before they opened their galleries, now the general public is aware as well.
      6 hrs · Like · 2
    • Mackenzie Andersen Gayle- According to the article, the fee hasn't increased. The fee is still for the website- not both. If you are already paying the fee to the website and your work is selected for representation in the gallery- then that is just an added plus for which you do not pay unless your work is sold and you are entitled to include all your costs in the sales price, including the cost of framing. It makes sense for the artist to cover the cost of framing since there is no guarantee that the work will be sold in any particular show. If it is not sold you have the framed piece ready to be displayed in some other venue.- And the gallery is covering it's own upfront costs of providing the exhibition space in a pricey location.
      It seems from what I am reading that the art world approved of the website- fee and all- until the company opened the gallery and then suddenly the fee is being portrayed as unethical. The company is offering an additional sales venue - affordable to the artists since he does not pay anything unless the work is sold and if the work is sold he has the income to cover the sales commission.
      If you want to discuss an injustice consider the other discussion on this page which is lobbying for artists to get a tax deduction for what is essentially the exact same sales cost if their work is sold in a non-profit auction. You cannot get a tax deduction for your sales commission to a free enterprise gallery and so such a tax deduction would give an unfair advantage to the non-profit sector over the private enterprise sector. How would you like it if the free enterprise art market disappears and all we have is a non-profit-government hegemony in the art world?

      Caren if the general public is aware -give credit to the Portland Art Gallery for being so upfront and open about how they are operating! They are not trying to conceal anything. They are boldly telling it like it is!
      5 hrs · Like · 

    I was essentially the only one defending the galleries right to operate as it sees fit as long as they are not breaking any laws and for the artists to make their own decisions about whether the venue was a good one for their situation. The idea that anyone would express an alternate view to the overwhelming consensus of Maine artists (or at least ones not working with the venue under discussion) was not well taken. Eventually the voice of collectivism resorted to personal insult:
    Erin Duquette Mackenzie, on all these threads.... You are coming after people and posts that arent even harsh and i think you are over criticizing….well…..theres TOO MUCH here from you than can't be tackled without having a 10 hour university forum… which i would find boring and a silly waste of time….i get the impression you like hearing yourself more than anything rather than really having a valuable back and forth about different opinions that could educate others.
    31 mins · Edited · Like · 2
    and again- without a break for my own response: Erin Duquette Mackenzie Andersen it's not that i don't respect your opinion and points….but please….for Facebook reasons….simplify your opinion, i can't even figure out, after reading for an hour, what you are trying to say (and yes, i would LIKE to know what you are saying here.) because all i'm seeing is that "everyone else in the world is wrong with their words and points" To my point of view the posts coming from the collective Maine art world view are extremely harsh- not toward myself (up until the posts above), but to the gallery and the artists and, as in the example given, it was a back and forth exchange in which I was giving a counter argument to the statements being made by others and in fact I was attempting to educate. I find it astounding that the artists do not see that there are two sides to the relationship and that both sides are investing something. These are standard rules of the free enterprise system. The artists accounted only for their own expenses and not that it takes a large amount of capital investment to establish and maintain an attractive gallery in a high profile location. They seemed to have a sense of entitlement that they had a right to display their work in the gallery and that the gallery owner was depriving them of that right by charging them a fee. On the other hand there was a second conversation in which the Maine Artist Union was lobbying for a rewrite of the tax code for artists donating work to non-profit auctions. I confess that I do not know the full details of all aspects of this discussion but it centered around an injustice being levied against the artists due to the fact that a person donating a painting which he owned but had not created can get a larger tax deduction for donating to a non-profit than an artist donating a painting that he has made.
     

    Below is a draft of a bit of policy that for now is being called the "50/50 Artist Auction Raised Revenue Deduction Act."The goal is to gain a tax benefit for artists whose work sells at a fundraising auction for a non-profit.
    “What I see here is an opportunity. After all, we have Chellie Pingree right here supporting the local art community; and unless someone hands her a problem and a suggestion how to fix it, we can hardly expect her to do anything this problem.Senator Pat Leahy has tried to pass fixes to the tax code to help artists donate to museums. He's even gotten that legislation through the Senate and Obama has made it clear he would sign it. But they couldn't get it through the House. Moreover, from what I am hearing, the issue isn't that you Maine artists are trying to donate directly to museums. Instead, what is far more common - and therefore far more important in terms of seeking relief - is the question of donating to auctions. (Seriously, I would guess it's about 100-1 in terms of how many works you guys donate for sale rather than as items to be entered into a collection.)
    The presentation given by Mr Kant fails to take into account the upcoming changing of the guards in the US Congress. Mr Kany is talking about a bill that passed the Senate controlled by Democrats and which could not get passed the House controlled by Republicans. In about two weeks that will change as Republicans take control of the Senate and increase their numbers in the House. Even if the House did pass such a bill, it is unlikely that they would do so without any changes  and then the bill would once more have to meet the approval of the Senate- now controlled by Republicans. His argument that the bill is almost passed makes no sense unless one believes that Obama can pass it with a stroke of his pen, bypassing all of Congress.
    While some members of Congress have bristled against Leahy's "Artist-Museum Partnership Act" because artists could potentially take advantage of the tax benefits of claiming Fair Value (FV) for items on which they will not have paid income tax. But the vast majority of people who want relief are artists and the non-profits who can sell their work at fundraising auctions. (If artists could get tax benefits, more would donate to the Bakery's Photo-a-Go-Go, for example.) So what we can do is create a white paper that explains the broader problem for thousands of Maine artists and proposes a solution. The policy solution would work because it is quite simple (and modeled by car donations, for example: it's different if you donate a vehicle for a non-profit's use as opposed for it to sell at auction--where it's the auction price that you can deduct):”

    The Policy“Artists should be able to write off the sale price at a non-profit's fundraising auction of a work they created up the fair market value (FV) of that work. That would benefit hundreds or even thousands of Maine artists (as opposed to a bill geared towards the donation of art by major living artists to museums - which would benefit a much smaller group of Maine artists). And because it's based on a financial transaction that is open and on the record, it can't be gamed.Moreover, if we design legislation with a clear illustration of the benefits, it should be easy to understand. For example, we could call it the "50/50 Artist Auction Raised Revenue Deduction Act."

    And the example could be: "Jeff wants to donate a painting he made to a charity auction of a local 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Currently, Jeff could not deduct anything for making such a donation, since as a professional artist he already deducts his materials as a professional expense. This is because his art is common income property which would count as taxable common income only when he sells itMoreover, if Dan buys Jeff's painting for $1,000, Dan can only deduct the portion of the price he paid that is over FV. So, if Jeff's painting has a FV of $1,500, Dan can deduct nothing as a donation. If Dan pays $2,000, however, he could deduct $500. There is a simple fix in this policy to encourage additional donations and supporting purchases: If Jeff is allowed to deduct what Dan pays up to FV, then more artists will donate their works for auction, there would be more revenues for non-profits, there would be increased activity by the buyers who want to support artists and there would be a distinct financial benefit to artists whose work brings actual revenues at charity auctions.
    Commentary What Mr. Kany seems to be saying is that between Dan & Jeff the entire price paid for the painting will be deducted- in other words paid for by the general taxpayer- in effect the general taxpayer is refunding both the buyer of the painting and the artist for their "donations" to the non-profit fundraiser. The general taxpayer will refund the fair market value to the artist- which upon a quick examination of the tax codes appears to be based on the retail value- and the general taxpayer will also refund anything that the buyer pays above the fair market value to the buyer, while the proceeds go to the non-profit, meaning the buyer will pay fair market value and anything he pays above that will be refunded to him via the United States taxpayer and the non-profit will pocket the entire amount of the sale ( split the FV with the artist) - so that in effect the United States taxpayer is buying the painting at the cost paid by Dan- and Jeff gets refunded his full retail market value of the painting that he "donates" to the non-profit fundraiser, meaning that it is a much better deal for Jeff to donate his painting to an auction than to sell his painting through a gallery which takes a conventional 50% commission.
    Moreover, if the law is clear that a 50/50 split with the artist does not have to be reported as income by the artists (for example, if Dan pays $1,000 at auction for Jeff's painting of which Jeff gets $500) then this would not only represent a tax benefit, but a simplification of the tax code as well. The 50% donation will be considered sufficient to cover Jeff's taxable income--which is essentially a more practical and productive repositioning of the logic behind the current ordinary income property model that denies financial benefit to the artist based on the idea that he has not paid income tax on the donated item.
    This 50/50 Act would increase revenues both to professional artists and to the non-profits they support. Artists, after all, are among the most numerous entrepreneurs in Maine, for example; so this is a practical and wide-reaching tax relief for American entrepreneurs.
    To clarify: If the artist receives half or less of the revenues for the sale of his work at an applicable non-profit charity auction, then he does not have to report that portion as ordinary income. Any revenues above 50% or over FV would have to be reported as ordinary income.
    This was the point that I was very confused about and started a line of questioning

    • Jay York Mackenzie Andersen, because the artist in a 50/50% split of proceeds would get half and the charity running the auction would get the other half. Any amount the artist receives that's 50% or less than the FV of the donation would be a wash income wise because of the deductible value of the donation.
    • Jay York Mackenzie Andersen the deduction is for the FV of the artwork donated. FV could be determined by recorded past sales by that artist. If it was a 100% donation the artist could then write off the full FV regardless of sale price. And that might be an issue because if that auction sale was for less than FV it would affectively change the FV of that artist's artwork.


    Commentary So , if I am understanding this right,  the artist donates as a 50-50 split with the non-profit of the full market value which corresponds to the 50-50 split that a private gallery would take.- but since the 50% donated to the gallery is calculated as a donation- it cancels out the artists ordinary income so that the artist doesn't have to report it- as he would if he sold the painting for an equitable split through a private gallery. If the artist donates the painting to a non-profit the artist gets half the take but does not have to report the income- if he sells it through a private enterprise  the artist gets half the take and is required to report the income and so making a "donation" to a non-profit action is a more profitable deal for the artist than selling his work through a free enterprise gallery. If the artist made a 100% donation- he can write off the full value- ie the US taxpayer pays for the painting in the form of a tax deduction but the problem is that if the painting sells for less than full retail value, it lowers the full retail value of the artist's work 
    This policy model – here nicknamed the "50/50 Artist Auction Raised Revenue Deduction Act”-- is a clear and practical policy fix that would offer financial relief and entrepreneurial encouragement to hundreds of thousands of artist entrepreneurs across the country."
    So, who’s in?

    There were many!  

    And once again the conversation ends with an suggested that sounds far too close to the censorship of free speech and open debate:

    Mackenzie Andersen How does this affect the private market place for art vs the nonprofit sector?'


    • Mackenzie Andersen The inequities between the private sector and the non-profit sector are also seen in the outrage on this forum over a private gallery charging a monthly fee- a long standing practice with the non-profit sector.
      1 hr · Like · 1
    • Daniel Kany Let's not get off-topic, but you are barking up the wrong tree: I often extoll the qualities of galleries over museums because they pay taxes, don't charge admission, sell art for the artists, answer questions, etc. However, I can speak about "the point" of this strand because I know why I started it and what the goals of the policy are. If we lose focus, we lose our way.
      1 hr · Like · 2

    I asked if the FV was calculated on retail or wholesale vale but did not receive a direct answer and instead was provided a link to the tax code, which is very long but I paid particular attention to the sections on selling art before drawing my own conclusion that it is based on the retail market value.

      • Daniel Kany 1. "And you didn't answer my question- is the FV calculated on retail or wholesale value?" That was already addressed: See the IRS tax codes in this and the Jay York-started discussion (and below) - FV is based on appraisals, sales records, etc 2. non-profits don't purchase works of art for fundraising auctions; some revenue share (particularly wet paint auctions) but they never buy the work; 3. Any other property donation to a non-profit gets a deduction (just not "ordinary income property" doesn't:) 4. If you want to change non-profits in general, good luck, this policy is about a specific fault in the law that applies to most professional artists in Maine - so it's worth putting into action: It's a clear problem with a simple solution. 5. "Is it always about tax benefits? Is that the reason people donate- only for the tax benefit?" No and no. But, again, everything else gets a deduction and this would help not only the artists but the qualified non-profits they are trying to support: it's about partiy and fairness - which are essential American values and is a better fit with what you call "original purpose."http://www.irs.gov/publications/p561/ar02.html

        To figure how much you may deduct for property that you contribute, you must first determine its fair market value on the date of the contribution.
        IRS.GOV

    The Union Of Maine Artists is a sponsor of this lobbying effort. The benefits of joining this non-profit organization include:
    • Receive UMVA Membership Discounts on art supplies and framing (and in the near future more discounts planned to arts-related businesses)
    • Opportunities to submit to exhibitions -- both online and brick and mortar
    • Be able to design projects, exhibitions, write grants, etc. through the UMVA's non-profit 501(c)3 status and fiscal sponsorship
    • Opportunities to collaborate with other artists
    • Have the support of an organization with a strong Maine voice when needed
    • Your idea here! (the UMVA has always been about people taking ideas and running with them -- while receiving lots of support from the organization).

      The Portland Art Gallery offers a discounts to groups of 20 artists- tailor made for non-profit organizations such as The Union of Maine Artists. An artist who is interested could use the Union of Maine Artists to gather together enough other interested artists for the discount, and perhaps even develop a plan to finance the costs. So the gallery is not really excluding anyone by charging a fee. Artists are excluding them selves by not taking proactive actions if they feel that the Portland Art Gallery's way of doing business will work for them. And they can try to negotiate terms and ideas - ( a group show as suggested above ?)That is how the free enterprise system works for some, although I can't speak for the  Portland Art Gallery but one doesn't know unless one tries.