The ultimate tax shelter…

Adolf E. Newman…become a dictator!

This BBC report says that Hitler was a huge dodger of taxes. He earned millions of Reichmarks through sales of that odd little book of his, Mein Kampf, but hid the revenue from the pre-Nazi tax goons. Once he became chancellor in 1933, however, it all became moot – his debts magically disappeared after some jack-booted bureaucrat accepted a mysterious (and tax-free) pension of 2000 Reichmarks a month.

Imagine that – our favorite megalomaniac dictator and mass murderer was also a slimy tax cheater and a crook. Who knew? Maybe tax cheating is a gateway crime into genocide and other popular war crimes. Of course none of this has anything to do with people like Dick Cheney, who, while CEO of Halliburton, was able to transition the company from paying $302 million in corporate taxes in 1998 to an $85 million tax refund in 1999. But that was legitimate – he used good old-fashioned off-shore tax havens. What a loyal American!

For Hitler, the removal of that taxing burden allowed him to focus on the European “extreme makeover” project he liked to talk so much about, leading to a kerfuffle in which a few people were reportedly injured. In the U.S., where war is now largely privatized, it makes sense to relieve the federal government of the burden of tax collecting, especially since the government is no longer in the war business. Well, that’s not exactly true – the government still has to foot the bill.

But with more than 700 U.S. military bases in 132 counties around the world, the Great American Empire is whole-heartedly involved in its own global “extreme makeover.” After all, they need all that oil to keep the tanks rolling, and they also need to be nice to those friendly countries who offer the tax havens that make it possible for people back home to live the great American lifestyle, which in turn gives them the time and energy to focus on the makeover. Rinse, lather, repeat.

Unfortunately, a few people still get injured along the way.

(Set your TiVos, Illicos, and VCRs for Sunday, September 10 at 10:00 PM, when CBC Television will rebroadcast the award-winning documentary “Why We Fight“.)

An Open Letter to the Green Beanery of Toronto

Dear Green Beanery,

Thank you for “getting it.” When the filter for my trusty Bodum french press coffee maker gave out recently, I searched a few local shops for a replacement but came up empty. It seems silly to buy a whole new coffee maker when only the mesh filter was worn out, but I could not find a retailer who sold only the filters. Let me be precise: I only checked three or four stores, but there is the question of time – surely someone in Montreal sells just the filters, but is it worth spending days and days trying to find that place?

that's the one!This being the 21st Century and all, I went online. I Googled “Bodum replacement filter” and came up with a number of retailers in the U.S. who would gladly sell me a replacement filter and ship it via UPS to my home for anywhere from $15 to $20 U.S. That’s just the shipping fee. The filters only cost about $4.00.

No. I will not pay $20 to have a steel mesh that weighs no more than a feather shipped up from Boston or Arizona or whereever. So I refined my search. I Googled “bodum replacement filter canada,” and there you were, right on the first page of results.

I applaud Green Beanery‘s Web geeks for programming your catalog so it is Web-searchable. But there’s more! I easily located the filter I needed, put it in my shopping cart, and went to check out. Shipping costs were certainly lower than from those U.S. outfits. They ranged from a high of $18 for “priority shipping” down to $8 for “regular.” But that still seems like a lot for a filter that costs only $6 (CDN).

But then the magic happened. I saw that you offer the option of having small items shipped in an envelope, via regular Canada Post, for $1.60! There’s no insurance and no tracking, but for a $6 filter, who cares?

This is brilliant. It shows that you actually understand your customers. Thank you for letting common sense trump “process.”

My filter arrived yesterday. It fits perfectly, and as I write this I am enjoying a fine cup of coffee brewed in my old Bodum and filtered through my shiny new filter from Green Beanery.

Mmmmm, mmmm, good!