In which I do a lot of browsing the web and accomplish precisely naught
Jul 10, 2006

One of the things I did today was to look into some of the more boring aspects of setting up a business. To that end I headed over to the City of Boston website and went to the section for the City Clerk. What is the City Clerk, you might ask? Well, among other things, 'the Office of the City Clerk is charged with ensuring that businesses throughout Boston apply for and obtain a business certificate'. And a truly honorable purpose that is: making people pay before they're allowed to make money; nice bit of logic, that. Of course then I realized that I won't actually be doing business out of Boston. I will be working from home and living in Cambridge. So I had to go to the website for the Cambridge City Clerk. This actually turned out to be a good thing, because the Cambridge City Clerk has a much better website than the Boston City Clerk. The Cambridge City Clerk's site actually deigned to inform me of who needs to file a business certificate: 'Any person, partnership, or corporation conducting business in Cambridge under a name other than their own or corporate name'. It's not immediately clear whether this is true in Boston or not, but in Cambridge I don't need to file—at least as long as I'm doing business under my own name. But if I do decide to do business under another name, it'll only cost me $35 every four years in Cambridge as opposed to $50 every four years in Boston. The Cambridge City Clerk website also pointed me towards the Massachusetts Department of Revenue website which has a handy page titled Information About Starting and Conducting Business in Massachusetts, containing helpful information on all the wonderful little taxes you have to pay when doing business in Massachusetts. Luckily, as I will be a sole proprietor, it turns out I still only need to worry about filing my personal income tax (which I just love doing), which, I suspect, also means that I don't get a Tax ID number, which means that I won't be able to actually register as a business for other things (such as Zipcar), which means the money I might be saving by not having to pay all those extra taxes will probably be taken up by not reaping those financial benefits. Hooray. Just so that this post isn't entirely taken up with me whining about the annoying realities of doing business outside of a free market (read: in the real world) I thought I'd point out a little bit of interesting history. The first recorded instance of the iconic rattlesnake and motto emblazoned on the Gadsden flag (pictured to the right) is quite closely related to Cambridge, where, late in 1775 the Continental Army was poised outside of British-controlled Boston. Starved for guns and powder the Continental Congress contrived to capture an arms shipment on it's way to the British forces in Boston and to that end created the Continental Navy and the Marines. The familiar imagery was seen emblazoned on the drums of some of those Marines that enlisted in Philadelphia and was recorded in an anonymous letter to the Pennsylvania Journal, most likely written by Benjamin Franklin. In the letter Franklin, a vocal opponent of using an eagle as the national symbol of the soon-to-be United States, expounded on the appropriateness of the rattlesnake as a representation of the American colonies. I observed on one of the drums belonging to the marines now raising, there was painted a Rattle-Snake, with this modest motto under it, 'Don't tread on me.' As I know it is the custom to have some device on the arms of every country, I supposed this may have been intended for the arms of America. The 'Don't tread on me' motto, of course, was taken from the Metallica song of the same name...
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