Monday, April 06, 2015

Amazon in exile

During the Vietnam War, hundreds if not thousands of young American men relocated to Canada to avoid the draft. Now we have the spectacle of Amazon's Jeff Bezos doing much the same thing. Britain's Guardian newspaper has revealed the site of the company's new testing ground for drones, and it's not located in the UK as we had been led to believe, but less than half a mile north of the U.S. frontier in British Columbia.

Yes, this is what we have come to -- a regulatory state that Americans must flee in order to get any productive work done. More than three thousand citizens turn in their passports every year (and pay a substantial "expatriation" tax) to free themselves from the Internal Revenue Service. And one of the country's premier businesses has been forced to establish "an airstrip-in-exile," as the Guardian phrases it.

Jeff Bezos's dream is to be able to deliver packages within half an hour. To do this, he would use drones, but the Federal Aviation Agency treats drones like aircraft, requires an operator to have a pilot's certificate, won't let the thang fly out of the operator's sight or above 500 feet, and so on and so forth. Exceptions will be granted after a lengthy review--and the FAA just recently granted Amazon such an exception. But the company had already abandoned the device in question and moved on to a more sophisticated one. To test it, Amazon decided to take advantage of the “permissive culture on the Canadian side of the border,” again in the Guardian's words.

Canada! Permissive culture!

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