Economics Society

Recent Read: “My Favorite Tax”

Joshua Brown has an excellent post on his “Reformed Broker” blog today on why he pays for quality journalism. I could not agree more. Each month, I pay for:

  • New York Times
  • The Atlantic
  • Bloomberg Businessweek
  • Jacobin
  • American Affairs
  • Foreign Affairs
  • Prospect UK
  • The New Yorker
  • Le Monde
  • The Economist
  • AdAge
  • MIT Tech Review
  • HBR
  • Fortune
  • Washington Post

Great journalism and insights are not free. Some highlights from Joshua’s post: 

The President has made the statement that “Nothing can be proved” and has generally asserted that there’s no such thing as the truth and there are no facts. People in his administration, whose salaries our taxes are paying, have enabled these statements, backed them up, repeated them and supported a laundry list of lies he’s told across official government channels. These lies include the assertion that Senator Ted Cruz’s father killed JFK, that global climate change is a hoax perpetuated by the Chinese in order to disadvantage our manufacturers, that vaccines cause autism, that he would eventually find out who reallyknocked down the Twin Towers on 9/11, that Mexican rapists are overrunning our borders, that women and the African American community support him, and on and on.

He has calculated, correctly, that trust in the mainstream media is at an all-time low and, as a result, he wouldn’t be held accountable for these lies as past administrations and candidates had been. He nailed it.


When I look at all the monthly subscriptions I pay, and all the recurring charges, the ones I am most proud of are my subscriptions to newspapers (digital, but nonetheless). I think of them like taxes, doing my part as a citizen to support the free press that holds the nation’s leaders accountable to us. It’s my favorite tax to pay. I am currently a paid subscriber to the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and Barron’s.


The New York Times website put up its paywall in March 2011 and it now has 3.5 million paying subscribers. According to the company’s CEO, subscriptions accounted for two thirds of their revenue this quarter. Advertising revenues are still falling, but subscription growth has been robust. Readers (and voters) all over the country have come to recognize that it is a part of their civic duty to help pay the cost of journalism. The Washington Post has had similar success converting readers into payers. The current administration has jolted the newspaper business back to life. Paying this “tax” has never been more important and the people get it.

I don’t read the news I’m paying for every day. It’s likely that I read more than most people, but no one can read everything. That’s besides the point. The point is in contributing to our freedoms in a way that federal or state taxes simply don’t cover.




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