Netflix Raises Rates: So What?

If you’re a Netflix subscriber, more than likely you’ve heard about the impending rate increase that is coming September 1. Or, if you’re brand new to the DVD-sharing/instant online video streaming service, your new rates go into effect immediately.

It’s a service that I pay for and thoroughly enjoy as a connoisseur of television and movies. And one of its greatest selling points is how cheap it is – especially when I used to travel to the video stores of yore and pay $4 or $5 per video. (I wonder if my children will even know what a video store is?) Honestly – my husband and I sat down and did the math of what we were spending at the store versus how much we would spend with Netflix. There was no competition back then and there still isn’t competition today.

The plan that we have now (all instant streaming and two DVDs at a time through the mail) runs about $16. Apparently with the new prices, that plan will go up to $20 per month. Still cheaper per month than the gym (and its monthly membership) that I never go to.

Eight bucks a month will continue to get you instant streaming and if you want just one DVD at a time paired with the streaming, you’ll pay $16.

Seems that many of the loyal Netflix subscribers are royally ticked off that their rates are going up (want to see some angry comments – go visit Netflix’s Facebook page. Beware, there is some nasty language!). I think a chill pill is in order.

I can’t be too surprised at the price hikes: I’ve always wondered how the company is able to make it so cheap. While I’m sure there’s not a whole lot of overhead, everyone knows how expensive mailing anything is and the company mails DVDs in numbers I can’t even imagine. Also, the copyrights to all of your favorite shows and movies don’t come cheap.

Honestly, it’s a silly thing to get mad about. Maybe if it was for food, utilities or some other necessity in life, I could get behind a movement against 60% rate hikes. But this is just entertainment for entertainment’s sake. Let’s protest something that actually matters.

Indy Star Blasts Washington Township Board

We brought you this gem last week. Now, the Indy Star is weighing in with some strong words against the Washington Township board that voted to give itself a 60% pay increase. The Star rightfully also points out that this is just a microcosm of the entire township government problem:

Over protests from residents and with little discussion, the Washington Township Board last week handed itself a 60 percent pay raise, effectively reversing a pay cut the board accepted last year after the township fire department was merged with the city’s.

… Eliminating township government altogether is a prominent recommendation of the Indiana Commission on Local Government Reform, whose report last year has been driving high-level discussions about municipal efficiency. One major result already is the folding of township assessors into one countywide office. A new state law accomplished that for smaller counties; and Marion County, for one, approved a referendum this month abolishing the job of township assessor.

Can township government itself, and township boards, be next? Gov. Mitch Daniels, among others, hopes so, arguing convincingly that multiple redundant layers of local government waste money and impede service. As property assessing joins police and fire protection among countywide functions, the dispensability of outmoded township governance will become more obvious.

Defenders of that 19th-century vestige maintain that it keeps public servants closer to the public. Whether that’s worth higher cost and lower efficiency is debatable in any case. In the case of the Washington Township Board, close turns out to be more like in-your-face.

Again, if the board wanted to make a case about job duties changing and whatnot as justification for a raise, I’m sure most of us would be willing to listen. Probably still wouldn’t support it, but we’d listen. Yet the unwillingness to even listen to public input or discuss the matter with the media, as displayed by reporter Norman Cox’s original blog (linked in our first post), is the most alarming aspect of this. The government is not God; it should work for us.