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March 1, 2005

Back from Hell

Well, our 2004 taxes are filed (I think), and we've shipped off our 1,400-page response to a letter from the Treasury Dept. requesting "clarification" of some issues that arose during consideration of our application for tax-exempt status under section 501(c)(3) of the United States tax code. The agent handling our case asked to see every single link to other websites (100 printed pages of small print external URLs), as well as a copy of every single page -- articles, weblogs, indexes, everything -- ever published on TNS.

As impossible as that task seemed, now that we have finished it, we are sort of amazed at what a tangible view of our last year's effort looks like. For anyone wondering what we have accomplished since we launched in January 2004, here's a visual illustration.

The first photo is of all 1500 or so articles and news briefs, printed in 10pt font, spanning 1000 printed pages.

1000 pages of TNS articles, briefs, etc

Then there's the rest of the response. I didn't take a picture of the 8-page letter we wrote, but here's what we "attached" to it: about 1,400 pages of documentation of what we've done in the last year.

The appendices

This of course may not satisfy the Treasury Dep't, but it sure as hell looks satisfying to me.

The job was so expensive and time-consuming, we didn't even make two copies, so the government now has the only known complete paper version of The NewStandard. Go figure...


msszczep: re: 501(c)3

I have a couple of questions.

If PeoplesNetWorks and/or The NewStandard is filing for 501(c)3 status, doesn't that require PNW/TNS to set up a corporate hierarchy of sorts (a team of officers, a board of directors, bylaws)?

And if that's the case, doesn't such an arrangment interfere with the non-hierarchical participatory economic structure built directly into TNS? How would this apparent contradiction be resolved?

I don't intend to be antagonistic with these questions, but I am curious about how you handle real world issues like this.

Keep up the great work.

Brian Dominick: Collective Hierarchies

The state and federal application processes require that people have titles, and the best way to do that is "president," "vice president," etc, etc. But you don't actually have to have officers that behave like those titles imply. So there's no hierarchy at all here; it's just on paper. We never refer to our titles except in very rare government documents.

Oh, and I'm vice president, or so I'm told...

jessica_azulay: Back from Hell

Also, I might add, our collective members are the board members in our case. It's sort of rare for non-profits to be set up that way. Usually the board is separate and only has one or two paid staff people on it, while the rest are just volunteer decision-makers. But we felt it was important for control to remain in the hands of those doing the work around here (you know, because we're a parecon organization). It meant we had to write in various safeguards to ensure that our board members could not decide to pay themselves outrageous salaries and stuff like that.

We do have bylaws, which is good because that's where we define the relative power of the various officers on the board. That's where we got to say that president, vice president, secretary, etc all have equal responsibility and decision-making power. It's also where we define a lot of the other agreements that govern our collective, such as how people join and leave the collective, how many collective members have to be at a meeting in order for decisions to count, and how those decisions get made, etc.

I hope this answers your questions. Feel free to ask more.

jeanine: Back from Hell

I have no more question, but I just want to say that I appreciated very much that blog or how you call it. Now I begin to understand what you are doing.This morning listening Peleas et Melisande on radio I realized that I also needed 1 year to really understand it I suppose my brain does not work very quickly. But go on you are doing very well and have a good time.

amerikan: Back from Hell

Didn't the government pass some kind of paper reduction act a while back. Or does that only apply to them and not forcing people like you to come up with several books worth of paper to satisfy them.

By the by, I think the govt should plant a few trees for the forest they made you kill. Just a thought.

Benjamin Melançon: That's A Fundraising Opportunity

When Al Giordano and Narco News were sued by the large Mexican bank Banamex for calling its owner a Narcotrafficker, his defense sold copies of exhibit A (also a copy of every page of the web site) for donations to the defense fund. (That victory established freedom of the press rights for all Internet journalists, and helped drive traffic to– "enough facts to end a drug war.")

You could probably get people to pay hard cash for a hard copy of your own historic coverage– would it be that hard to print copies on demand? Or maybe I could FOIA the Treasury for a copy (and ask them why they needed it).

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The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.