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Internet Sales Tax Gets a New Champion

timothy posted about 4 years ago | from the happy-4th-of-july-weekend dept.

Government 276

Archness1 writes with an excerpt from Declan McCullagh's piece at CNET about the recently renewed push for a sales tax on Internet purchases, led by Massachusetts Representative Bill Delahunt. "At the moment, Americans who shop over the Internet from out-of-state vendors usually aren't required to pay sales taxes. Californians buying books from Amazon.com or cameras from Manhattan's B&H Photo, for example, won't be required to cough up the sales taxes that they would if shopping at a local mall." That could all change, though.

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276 comments

And then there are New Yorkers (3, Insightful)

Machupo (59568) | about 4 years ago | (#32784884)

Who always get screwed by our over-taxing, yet somehow insolvent, state government.

Everyone (3, Insightful)

fyngyrz (762201) | about 4 years ago | (#32784952)

Instead of allowing them to constantly add new programs and new spending, how about electing some folks on the platform to reduce spending until you have a balanced budget (which means you won't need any new taxes), and then reduce spending, which means you'll need less taxes.

Make some noise. At the state level, you might even get something done.

One of the biggest problems our government has is an inability to revisit past decisions; bad law, bad spending, obsolete law, obsolete spending. All they ever do is add; that's a key reason why taxes go up, freedoms narrow, and law-books only get heavier.

Re:Everyone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32784966)

Oh, as a New Yorker I can say that I will be voting a completely "Non Incumbent" ticket come November.

Re:Everyone (2, Insightful)

Bill Dog (726542) | about 4 years ago | (#32784982)

It might be a start to stop electing so many dang lawyers.

Re:Everyone (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32785030)

Department of homeland security = wasted taxes
Reduce military spending by 50% (what are we North Korea?)
Eliminate services offered for free to other governments (scientific or otherwise)
Kill NASA dead.
Sell Alaska to Canada. Who cares about Alaska.
Free from jail anyone who no longer represents a threat (detention centres are full)
Any state with a budget deficit doesn't get a vote in the next presidential elections.
If that doesn't help, then you can tax my internet.

Re:Everyone (2, Interesting)

fyngyrz (762201) | about 4 years ago | (#32785112)

NASA historically has produced much technological goodness for us; Not to mention hope and wonder. And there are all those resources out there waiting to be tapped. I'd just as soon keep NASA while the private sector gets wound up.

Alaska... that's foolish. The state is really, really loaded with natural resources. Metals; petroleum; timber; etc. You're literally giving away a gold mine. Not good.

The rest, yeah, not bad. I like the budget thing. Add to it, if the fed doesn't balance, then all the elected officials automatically lose their jobs. :)

Re:Everyone (-1, Flamebait)

elucido (870205) | about 4 years ago | (#32785154)

Department of homeland security = wasted taxes
Reduce military spending by 50% (what are we North Korea?)
Eliminate services offered for free to other governments (scientific or otherwise)
Kill NASA dead.
Sell Alaska to Canada. Who cares about Alaska.
Free from jail anyone who no longer represents a threat (detention centres are full)
Any state with a budget deficit doesn't get a vote in the next presidential elections.
If that doesn't help, then you can tax my internet.

We should increase military spending and decrease social program spending on social programs which are conclusively ineffective. We should expand service so that individuals who take part in social programs are required to serve in some capacity for a specific amount of time.

We probably should change NASA but not eliminate.
We need to keep Alaska because it's vulnerable to Russian invasion.
We should release all non-violent offenders or at least shorten their terms.
We should remove all the victimless crimes so we don't have to keep filling the jails in the first place with non-violent criminals.
And I agree that budget deficits are a problem but thats not the way to solve it.

Re:Everyone (2, Insightful)

fyngyrz (762201) | about 4 years ago | (#32785188)

We should increase military spending

ok, why? Wouldn't that money be better spent invested in improving our infrastructure, investing in technology, education, and healthcare?

What threats do we actually face that require the military we're maintaining at the moment? Why do we need to be pursuing the military actions we presently are, and why do we need to be the world's police presence?

I'm intrigued by your idea that we should *increase* the military. Seems completely counter-intuitive to me. Please explain yourself.

Re:Everyone (2, Interesting)

elucido (870205) | about 4 years ago | (#32785442)


We should increase military spending

ok, why? Wouldn't that money be better spent invested in improving our infrastructure, investing in technology, education, and healthcare?

What threats do we actually face that require the military we're maintaining at the moment? Why do we need to be pursuing the military actions we presently are, and why do we need to be the world's police presence?

I'm intrigued by your idea that we should *increase* the military. Seems completely counter-intuitive to me. Please explain yourself.

1. War is the one thing the feds are good at. As a result we as American citizens specialize in war. It's our niche. It's the only reason the UN and the rest of the world needs our labor at all. It's the only service left that we still offer. It's the only thing we are #1 at.

2. War is the only way we will ever get out of debt. Of course we have to win these wars but the only reason we are being paid by all these different countries is to fight their wars for them. They know we are the toughest society in the world, a nation of warriors, and they pay us as mercenaries to protect them. We've agreed to protect Isreal for example and a number of other countries.

3. We do have competitors. Russia, China, and we have enemies like North Korea and Iran. We are at war with our enemies. We compete with Russia and China and if we do not win the resource war we as a country could find ourselves in a submission position in relation to them in the future. To put it simple they could very well enslave our offspring.

I used to think we do not need to be the global policeman. I intuitively thought it was a bad idea. This was until I learned how the world actually works. The world is run by nation states that operate like mafias/gangsters. They only respect might. It's only our might that keeps us from being enslaved. The real world is very much like prison.

If you walk into a prison you'll notice that there are different factions of gangsters. These gangsters run the prison and act as the "government" as the prison. When you enter you are expected to either join one of these factions, or stay out of their business. If you opt to stay out of their business then you don't have any control over what happens in your own environment. On the other hand the neo nazi's might gain control of the prison and if you are a jew that would be unacceptable right? What if you are a homosexual? What if you use drugs?

The point is rather simple, these factions exist regardless of the nation states. These factions/gangs are international and they'll hijack a nation and make it a satellite nation. We could call this a colony. War happens between these factions, gangs, or tribes, who control colonies and nation states. Nation states are used to defend the faction, gang or tribe.

So to put it simple, we have to spend a lot of money on the military to protect the American tribe from being enslaved, exterminated, dominated, by other hostile tribes. Some of these tribes hate America and American on a bloodline level, it's a blood feud and it's a situation where the American tribe must always maintain the ability to kill, dominate or exterminate their tribe. The nations don't really matter but it just so happens that American citizens are the best at fighting wars so the majority of the Western faction gives it's money to Americans to fight to protect the western way of life from invaders.

No the invaders aren't going to listen to reason. No it's not all the invaders fault either because Americans don't like to integrate anymore than the invaders. America has to open it's culture up and in some ways make compromises. And so do the other cultures, and the problem is this takes hundreds or maybe thousands of years so until that happens we have to keep building weapons.

Re:Everyone (2, Insightful)

Sponge Bath (413667) | about 4 years ago | (#32785528)

We should increase military spending and decrease social program spending...

For 2011 [wallstats.com]
Military+Security spending = 1.5 trillion
Debt Service = 0.25 trillion
Everything else = 2 trillion

It looks like we already spend WAY too much on the military.

social programs which are conclusively ineffective

Most of the social spending is in social security (prevents old people from starving) and medicare/medicaid (prevents old/poor people from dieing of treatable illness). Which of those do you propose to eliminate?

Re:Everyone (1)

BiggerIsBetter (682164) | about 4 years ago | (#32785380)

Department of homeland security = wasted taxes
Reduce military spending by 50% (what are we North Korea?)
Eliminate services offered for free to other governments (scientific or otherwise)
Kill NASA dead.
Sell Alaska to Canada. Who cares about Alaska.
Free from jail anyone who no longer represents a threat (detention centres are full)
Any state with a budget deficit doesn't get a vote in the next presidential elections.
If that doesn't help, then you can tax my internet.

Except for killing NASA and selling Alaska, you might be on to something.

Re:Everyone (1)

thomasw_lrd (1203850) | about 4 years ago | (#32785606)

Uhmm, so you want the next president elected by a bunch of rednecks from Arkansas. Looks like Huckabee will win in 2012. Oh I'm sorry Alaska, Montana, and North Dakota also get to vote.

http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&id=711 [cbpp.org]

Re:Everyone (-1, Flamebait)

bmo (77928) | about 4 years ago | (#32785018)

Instead of allowing them to constantly add new programs and new spending, how about electing some folks on the platform to reduce spending until you have a balanced budget

What, exactly, are you talking about? Is all your "news" from Glenn Beck?

The days of "Taxachusetts" are long gone. They've been gone for a couple of decades now. Indeed, the new Massachusetts budget is not only balanced but includes cuts in everything across the board.

http://www.masslive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2010/07/editorial_massachusetts_budget.html [masslive.com]

I have a problem with taxing online purchases, but deficit spending is not one of them.

--
BMO

Re:Everyone (2, Insightful)

fyngyrz (762201) | about 4 years ago | (#32785096)

That's great for Massachusetts. My state also has a balanced budget (Montana.) But the rest of the country... not so much. Many states (California, anyone?) are spending into the future, and the feds are definitely spending into the future, and on hugely wasteful and harmful operations (like two useless wars, being the police for much of the world, the drug war (also a state problem), etc., etc.) If things are balanced, then you need NO new taxes. If you're cutting costs, likewise, only you should be reducing taxes.

As for Glen Beck, no. Really, really bad guess. :) Not right wing, not left, not middle. An intent to hold rational positions on most matters. Which puts me all over the spectrum. I'm for a society that makes medical care as important a priority as education, against making war outside our borders, strongly conservative in the constitutional sense, but strongly biased against tolerance of religion, superstition, spin and deception because they are tools that unfairly leverage the left side of the Gaussian - intellectual snake oil. I don't think people should be free to lie or make unsubstantiated claims; I don't think people should be forced to speak; I think the deceived have been injured in the most practical sense of the term.

Illinois is now in worse shape than California (1)

tomhudson (43916) | about 4 years ago | (#32785466)

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2010-02-23/news/ct-met-state-budget-mess-20100223_1_state-budget-illinois-spending-cuts [chicagotribune.com]

It's not because California has gotten better, but because Illinois has pretty much collapsed.

The budget deficit in Illinois is almost as big as the one facing California, a financially beleaguered state that has triple Illinois' population, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal Washington-based think tank.

"This is historic, it is epic," said Laurence Msall, president of the watchdog Civic Federation. "It is impossible to overstate the level of peril."

Re:Everyone (5, Insightful)

NotBornYesterday (1093817) | about 4 years ago | (#32785294)

What, exactly, are you talking about? Is all your "news" from the op-ed pages?

Those are the facts, no matter how you slice them. They have drained our state's savings, continue to overspend, and continue to raise taxes. Mind you, this is the same guy who got into office and immediately started spending money on himself (office, car, etc) way beyond what was appropriate. He (and his liberal tax-and-spend buddies in the MA houses of congress) has spent us to ruin.

  • The sales tax hike [boston.com] from a year ago raised taxes on existing items, and started taxing items that had been exempt before. It has directly hurt MA businesses by sending sales across the border.
  • This is the same state politicians who have kept increasing tolls on the Mass Pike despite the fact that the road has been paid off for years, because our corrupt pols can't bring themselves to give up a cash cow.
  • The "temporary" income tax hike is still in place, years after we were promised it would be gone. They even refused to act on the referendum the voters passed to reduce it to where it by all rights ought to be.

Massachusetts has been abused by its corrupt politicians for decades. It is STILL Taxachusetts. Pick on Glenn Beck after you get your facts straight.

Reduce federal spending, increase state spending. (2, Interesting)

elucido (870205) | about 4 years ago | (#32785060)

Because a state knows whats best for it's citizens better than the feds. Tax sales and use it to pay for healthcare rather than having the feds tax people in Mass to pay for people in Ariz. Let each state spend as much or as little as they want on social programs. Let the feds focus on national security. If you don't like high taxes then move to Texas.

How about letting the feds be the war machine? (3, Insightful)

elucido (870205) | about 4 years ago | (#32785124)

And stop using the feds for social programs? We have state governments for social programs. The state reps who actually are our neighbors have a better idea of what is best for our state because they actually live in our state rather than in Washington DC like the majority of Senators and establishment types.

Healthcare is not something the feds are qualified to handle. The feds cannot even handle public education. That being said if the feds would like to fund it without any expectation of control that is something I can support as a libertarian, but then you have the problem of how much money to give to each state which causes problems in itself.

Ideally the local governments should handle the social programs if we are to have any form of socialism at all. The federal and global government should focus on winning wars and building infrastructure.

Re:How about letting the feds be the war machine? (2, Interesting)

Bill Dog (726542) | about 4 years ago | (#32785198)

How about instead of the feds funding the states, we do the reverse? No more federal taxes of any kind, the states collect all the needed taxes, in whatever forms and ways they each see fit, to meet their share of keeping federal operations afloat.

Re:Everyone (2, Insightful)

paiute (550198) | about 4 years ago | (#32785284)

Instead of allowing them to constantly add new programs and new spending, how about electing some folks on the platform to reduce spending until you have a balanced budget (which means you won't need any new taxes), and then reduce spending, which means you'll need less taxes.

Make some noise. At the state level, you might even get something done.

One of the biggest problems our government has is an inability to revisit past decisions; bad law, bad spending, obsolete law, obsolete spending. All they ever do is add; that's a key reason why taxes go up, freedoms narrow, and law-books only get heavier.

Why is this modded insightful? This is just a regurgitation of the tired old point of view that the government came from some mysterious place that the commentor is in no way responsible for.

We don't allow "them" to do anything. We vote for "them", over and over. The commentor wants "them" to spend less money on wasteful (meaning not of use to the commentor) programs and stop making "bad" (meaning not in line with the commentor's opinions) decisions.

Taxes go up because the voters want more spending. Simple as that. When the elderly mail back Social Security checks en masse, when Raytheon refunds contract money they couldn't spend, when the sugar industry tells Congress to let Caribbean sugar in without a tariff - basically, when unicorn pigs fly out of your deceased grandmothers ass - that is when your idealistic solutions will be implemented.

Re:Everyone (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32785344)

Instead of allowing them to constantly add new programs and new spending, how about electing some folks on the platform to reduce spending until you have a balanced budget (which means you won't need any new taxes), and then reduce spending, which means you'll need less taxes.

Make some noise. At the state level, you might even get something done.

One of the biggest problems our government has is an inability to revisit past decisions; bad law, bad spending, obsolete law, obsolete spending. All they ever do is add; that's a key reason why taxes go up, freedoms narrow, and law-books only get heavier.

Right. Government never should have wasted money on developing the internet. Then we wouldn't have to listen to selfish people who inherited most of their wealth complain about how they "earned it".We didn't make this the richest country on earth, we received it as a birthright from the investments and sacrifices of previous generations. The real problem is that people are now more interested in their own creature comforts than in the legacy they are leaving for the future. Marble countertops, leather automobile seats and fancy Halloween decorations are all more important than educating the next generation or investing in the future.

Re:Everyone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32785410)

I'm with you on this type of idea but long ago came to the conclusion that it would not work. Unfortunately, taxes must keep rising to meet increasing prices and to top it off wages stay the same over longer periods of time so the income tax base doesn't increase. Every time a price comes up, you would have to cut something else out of a program. Just ask anyone when was the last time they saw a raise from their employer. Yet the energy sector increase it's prices together with retail and services. When was the last time you spent less than $40 filling up at the pump? Or $15 going to the movies by yourself?

I agree with you, cutting programs that are no longer needed is not only just but necessary. But for that an honest accounting of each individual program and either axing or changing those that are not working would do wonders for the budget and lower the need to raise new taxes. Then again, you need honest politicians to do that. Even if you find one, he tends to get voted out right away because he goes on a crusade to end the big welfare ones first. Well, the rhetoric is too thick to start with those. But politicians rather look like they are waiving their arms at windmills and look busy than work behind the scenes to go after the small potatoes.

Re:Everyone (1)

Jurily (900488) | about 4 years ago | (#32785422)

Instead of allowing them to constantly add new programs and new spending, how about electing some folks on the platform to reduce spending until you have a balanced budget (which means you won't need any new taxes), and then reduce spending, which means you'll need less taxes.

If the idea of electing smarter people would work, it would've worked for the last 50 years too. People don't give a shit until the economy collapses. The people you're asking to vote against debt are themselves neck deep in mortgages, and would vote to ban water [wikipedia.org] if the question is phrased right.

Re:Everyone (2, Informative)

raddan (519638) | about 4 years ago | (#32785456)

All they ever do is add; that's a key reason why taxes go up, freedoms narrow, and law-books only get heavier.

Yes, there are many unfunded mandates passed by Congress. This, in itself, it a serious problem. But it's not true that Congress only adds-- many laws repeal, modify, or simplify existing law. The Uniform Commercial Code [wikipedia.org] , for instance, was a great simplification of the laws surrounding commercial transactions in the United States. The UCC is also "done right", in that the code itself is simply a list of recommended laws, that are then legislated at the state level. This allows states to retain control of commerce in their own borders while providing a strong incentive to play nice with other states.

I am OK with taxing internet commerce. Mom and pop stores have largely suffered in the era of e-commerce. They simply cannot leverage the same economies of scale that Amazon, NewEgg, WalMart, and others can take advantage of, while having the additional burden of having to pay local sales tax. Internet retailers take advantage of public services just the same as everyone else, but are exempted from contributing back? That doesn't sound like the kind of environment that would encourage good ol' American entrepeneurship.

Re:And then there are New Yorkers (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32785256)

Yep, New York, in the New York City metro area (5 boroughs) it's even worse. I paid $12 for a pack of Cigarettes today. Yet I can get "illegal" firearms and drugs duty free! It's gonna be a great ride in November when we vote everyone out who voted "yes" against the people.

Think about it, every time these people come out into the public, roll out the red carpet, strike up the band, trumpets, clapping, flashbulbs and cameras? They are the least among us, we are led by the least among us.

Time for an ass kicking and a beat down.

Re:And then there are New Yorkers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32785358)

Ah-men brother.

Legalize pot... (5, Insightful)

pinkj (521155) | about 4 years ago | (#32784896)

Legalize pot and tax that instead please.

Re:Legalize pot... (4, Funny)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | about 4 years ago | (#32784906)

If we make tobacco illegal and legalize pot I promise to stop bitching about second-hand smoke...

Tax religion... (4, Interesting)

fyngyrz (762201) | about 4 years ago | (#32784970)

...equally, of course. No more free rides for the superstitious. Tax the land they put their churches on just like they tax the land I put my home on. Etc. That'll tweak the bottom line a little.

Re:Tax religion... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32785032)

Cool, it's about time we levy taxes on global warming believers. Religious thumpers are obnoxious and should be taxed for having to listen to them preach.

Re:Tax religion... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32785164)

Nice generalization a-hole.

I take it you will have no problem with the government eventually raising your taxes to cover the costs of services that many churches provide to local communities that the government is already failing to adequately provide for when most barely profitable churches disappear?

I love people like you. You don't want to listen to them but you have no problem asking them to be hypocrites.
As much as I hate Jehovah's Witnesses showing up at my door every month, if they truly believed they are trying to save me from some fiery hell, suggested they keep it to themselves is absurd and hypocritical.

Re:Tax religion... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32785518)

...equally, of course. No more free rides for the superstitious. Tax the land they put their churches on just like they tax the land I put my home on. Etc. That'll tweak the bottom line a little.

Why not an income tax as well? The Catholic church has been operating as a corporation for centuries and yet they pay no tax. Most priests and nuns live minimum wage lives while the parent church receives billions a year. Freedom of religion was freedom to practice a religion not get rich off it like many of the TV preachers do. Many of the larger churches do function as corporations they are just considered tax exempt because of this expansion of what was meant by the Constitution. Practice whatever wacky religion you want you just have to pay taxes on the bling.

Taxation is the power to destroy - Marshall, John (4, Insightful)

unixarcade (513538) | about 4 years ago | (#32784916)

Yeah another hurdle for business where the cost will be given to the consumer as it always is. That's what I find to be most funny. Give the business's any sort of tax and the tax goes upon the heads of the people. So in the end the consumer is taxed the most. Which means the majority is taxed the most. Would it not be better to let the people decide where their money should go. So that maybe people could have money to make a hobby a business or even to have a hobby.

Taxation is the power to destroy which means they constantly want to destroy us the people, on capital hill.

Stop killing us with theft and extortion.

Taxation is the power to bankrupt (4, Interesting)

fyngyrz (762201) | about 4 years ago | (#32785028)

Give the business's any sort of tax and the tax goes upon the heads of the people. So in the end the consumer is taxed the most.

This doesn't mean that the tax doesn't burden the business; eventually, the total spent for the product begins to edge into the "unreasonable" zone for the consumer, and they stop buying. You can't pass along a cost or a tax if the consumer won't pay it. And lets face it -- for most people, "must have" means food, medical needs, utilities, fuel/transport, basic clothing, and (for this group) Internet.

Amazon and other Internet retailers have an edge (the tax and storefront things) but they also have a serious downside - your local folks can hand you the item. Amazon and crew have to ship it to you, generally speaking, and that's a counter-force working against pervasive "I want it now" mentality and the in-your-face shipping costs.

Take away the tax benefits, and you'll see some Internet businesses fold, as their gains from advantages drop beneath their losses from disadvantages on the overall ledger. The smaller, niche businesses will go first, as they aren't doing enough volume to obtain deep discounts. I can think of quite a few I patronize that I would *really* hate to see go.

The real problem here is the political concept of "we can always spend more for a 'good' idea." No. They can't. There is a limit, and when you're doing spending into the future based on credit, along with very high tax rates, as most states and the federal government are, you're well past that limit.

Get people on board with a "spend LESS" platform, and elect them. Throw out the incumbents, they think *wrong*.

Taxation is necessary for government to run. (4, Insightful)

elucido (870205) | about 4 years ago | (#32785100)

You have to pay for cops, for firefighters, for medics, in some cases for healthcare and schools.

The problems start when one state has to pay for another state. Why would people in one state want to help people who aren't even their neighbors, who don't contribute to their state at all, who don't benefit their state in any direct way?

Libertarian socialism is the answer. Tax locally. Govern locally. Fight wars federally. Build infrastructure federally. Maximize individual liberty.

Re:Taxation is necessary for government to run. (0, Flamebait)

fyngyrz (762201) | about 4 years ago | (#32785246)

You have to pay for cops, for firefighters, for medics, in some cases for healthcare and schools.

With the exception of "cops", I'm in agreement with you.

If the cops were on the street and actually patrolling the neighborhoods, interacting with the residents and deterring crime (instead of arriving 20 minutes late and arresting the victim for putting up a defense), I'd be all for them. However, paying for them to sit in air conditioned patrol cars, isolated from everyone, writing tickets and stepping all over people's personal choices... that's ultimately worse than wasted money -- it's like paying to have someone kick your dog.

The current military budget (fed) is also not on my "we should be paying for that" list. Very little useful is being accomplished. At the state level, the drug war is *very* expensive and should be ended forthwith; streetlights are a good example of a mostly useless cost we pay without thinking (cars have headlights, strollers can use flashlights... and a lot more of us would be able to see the stars again.) There are plenty of places we should be cutting, and we're talking significant portions of the budget.

Re:Taxation is necessary for government to run. (2, Insightful)

elucido (870205) | about 4 years ago | (#32785370)


You have to pay for cops, for firefighters, for medics, in some cases for healthcare and schools.

With the exception of "cops", I'm in agreement with you.

If the cops were on the street and actually patrolling the neighborhoods, interacting with the residents and deterring crime (instead of arriving 20 minutes late and arresting the victim for putting up a defense), I'd be all for them. However, paying for them to sit in air conditioned patrol cars, isolated from everyone, writing tickets and stepping all over people's personal choices... that's ultimately worse than wasted money -- it's like paying to have someone kick your dog.

The current military budget (fed) is also not on my "we should be paying for that" list. Very little useful is being accomplished. At the state level, the drug war is *very* expensive and should be ended forthwith; streetlights are a good example of a mostly useless cost we pay without thinking (cars have headlights, strollers can use flashlights... and a lot more of us would be able to see the stars again.) There are plenty of places we should be cutting, and we're talking significant portions of the budget.

I don't support the drug war. I do support a well trained law enforcement service. I call it a service because law enforcement is supposed to serve the community they operate in, not dominate and disrupt it. The problem communities have with law enforcement stem from officers who disrupt communities that were getting along before they came along. A lot of communities were doing just fine before they started locking everyone up on drug and gun charges. And once again when a lot of fathers are locked up a lot of children do poorly in school, and more money has to be spent on education.

So the money they waste locking up drug dealers increases the cost of educating the youth. You lock up the parents and the kids suffer. I think the laws should be redesigned but I'm not in control. This is why I support local level politics because it's the only level of politics I plan to get involved with. I don't want to bother getting involved with federal politics because I don't have a federal agenda. I don't worry about stuff outside my sphere of influence.

I do think we need a strong military. The feds SHOULD be good at fighting wars. But a lot of the other stuff they get involved with is social control programs designed to satisfy elitist or racist political agendas, or special interest groups. I don't have a political agenda so I see it as a bunch of nonsense.

The feds could create jobs tomorrow if they increased the size of the military and civilian service. If the world really is as dangerous as they say it is, there will be a need for these jobs. Also there will be a need for jobs in the private sector which support or maintain national security. Only American citizens can fill these jobs.

Finally when they focus on creating jobs they need to look up statistics on what Americans are naturally good at. Some of the jobs they create like construction worker type jobs, it's a nice gesture but it's not like everyone is going to be young and will be good at that. On top of that you have a lot of Mexican labor who can do that and probably will.

Once the economy is fixed then the feds can talk about doing other things but we give the feds a lot of credit when they aren't or dont seem to be making the situation better. They focus on control and thats fine but they aren't giving the citizens anything in return, not even security because if a citizen does not have access to jobs a citizen has no security. Federally controlled healthcare does not change that.

Re:Taxation is necessary for government to run. (1)

SteveFoerster (136027) | about 4 years ago | (#32785478)

The feds could create jobs tomorrow if they increased the size of the military and civilian service.

Of course they couldn't since they don't have magic powers. All the jobs they create would be more than matched by job losses in the private sector, since that's who'd be taxed to pay for it.

If the world really is as dangerous as they say it is, there will be a need for these jobs.

Fortunately, it isn't. The size of the U.S. military is far larger than it needs to be to counter any possible invasion; its purpose is to be able to invade and occupy foreign countries to further the interests of the politically connected.

Re:Taxation is necessary for government to run. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32785438)

"The current military budget ... Very little useful is being accomplished."

You are a dammned fool.

They have protected us so far from the dirty communists, sounds like a pretty good ROI to me.

Perhaps thats what you are?

Sorry, nitpickery 'n stuff (1)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | about 4 years ago | (#32785352)

I'm not for this tax, though I must point out, the tax burden is shared between the business and consumer. Very generally speaking, the tax burden tends to shift to who has the more 'competition' (I think the more proper term is inelasticity or something, I think. Then again, I'm not an econ major).

Buy local (3, Funny)

DogDude (805747) | about 4 years ago | (#32784922)

Good. Buying online results in externalities which most people are simply too selfish to care about. I'm all in favor of closing this loophole.

Re:Buy local (2, Funny)

pinkj (521155) | about 4 years ago | (#32784968)

But I can't find local bestiality porn! I've tried! It usually ends up being an obese man having intercourse with a stuffed elephant.

Re:Buy local (1)

NekSnappa (803141) | about 4 years ago | (#32785162)

Time to get out there and DIY. This Slashdot after all. If you've got an itch scratch it.

Re:Buy local (2, Funny)

Stele (9443) | about 4 years ago | (#32785336)

But I can't find local bestiality porn! I've tried! It usually ends up being an obese man having intercourse with a stuffed elephant.

So you haven't tried chat roulette then?

Re:Buy local (2, Informative)

value_added (719364) | about 4 years ago | (#32785602)

Good. Buying online results in externalities which most people are simply too selfish to care about. I'm all in favor of closing this loophole.

If you live in California and routinely buy on-line, there are (quite often) no externalities. Just the tax that you end up paying. Probably the same for a lot of New Yorkers.

If the idea of wanting to avoid a sales tax (at least in the US) is "selfish", I'd suggest you try living in a state like California. To use a car analogy, we probably have the highest DMV and traffic violation fees in the nation. In return, our roads and freeways are among the worst.

I have never understood this. (5, Interesting)

bmo (77928) | about 4 years ago | (#32784950)

What is the difference between mail/fax/phone order and purchases made through "teh intertubes"?

Mail order has never had to collect sales tax except for in-state customers. Why are web based businesses any different? Why were states not clamoring for sales tax collection in the heyday of mail order? Politicians act as if web based businesses are getting special treatment.

They aren't. They never did get special treatment.

So what's going to happen now? Internet sales are going to be taxed but mail order won't be? Because I certainly don't hear about mail order sales being slapped with a tax in any of these discussions. It's all about skimming off of internet sales.

Fine.

I'll just slap a stamp on it or fire up the fax machine and send orders that way, like I did 15 years ago.

It was nice knowin' ya, Internet commerce.

--
BMO

Re:I have never understood this. (5, Insightful)

Mortaegus (1688452) | about 4 years ago | (#32784988)

The reason why this is stupid is because the tax would be going to the wrong place!

If I purchase something online, then the tax, if I am required to pay it, should go to that small city in Pennsylvania where their warehouse is located, not my local municipal. That's the place I am buying from, anyhow. The internet is like a magical doorway that teleports me into their store, all the way across the country, where I browse around and make a purchase. Then the internet teleports me back and I wait for them to ship it.

If the states wanted to argue that they needed to tax goods coming in from other states that would be one thing, but that isn't within their constitutional powers. Interstate commerce is governed by the federal level of government. Which makes the whole argument even more ridiculous.

How the government will FIST you (3, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | about 4 years ago | (#32784996)

If the states wanted to argue that they needed to tax goods coming in from other states that would be one thing, but that isn't within their constitutional powers. Interstate commerce is governed by the federal level of government.

Then the federal government has the power to tax interstate business-to-consumer mail order and use that to fund currently unfunded mandates. I probably won't read the bill until it hits the House floor, but a federal interstate sales tax sounds like one way to implement what the article discusses.

Re:I have never understood this. (2, Informative)

cowboy76Spain (815442) | about 4 years ago | (#32785180)

If I purchase something online, then the tax, if I am required to pay it, should go to that small city in Pennsylvania where their warehouse is located, not my local municipal.

Well, formally, the government of where you live has the power to decide that the transaction did occur when you received the goods so it is an event taxable there (*1). Practically it also has some meanings:

  • As it is easier for the internet seller than to the consumer to move, if you apply the "tax where the bussiness is" rule, soon some place will afford a cheap haven for those bussiness in order to attract them, it happens all the time and the result is always that the states tax less the bussiness (and more the people, to compensate) in order to get them to locate inside them (or stay in).
  • The internet seller won't be undercutting local bussiness that are expensive because they have to charge the tax. The same bussiness that are interesting to your governmente because they provide jobs and also the tax income.
  • In fact, for exports, you'll find that most countries don't tax items being exported while taxing incoming items, because they understand how the first point works.

Of course, most of the protests here just mean "hey, I should get stuff for free (or cheaper) because I'm used to" with a little rationalitation ("magic doorway"? really? why not the "bunch of tubes"?) behind it, but there are reasons why the consumers are the ones being taxed. Of course, no rational exposition will affect the beliefs of that crowd.

Another issue is if the state should be getting its income from sales tax; I would like more to drop the sales tax in favor of taxes on income and wealth. The taxes on sales would be only to cover externalities (v.g. if you buy carbon a tax based in how much will be needed to clean the mines and grow trees there when they close) or to disincentivate use (v.g. tobacco).

(*1) In reality that is the criterium used in contability, so it is less arbitrary than it could seem to be.

Re:I have never understood this. (1)

Beyond_GoodandEvil (769135) | about 4 years ago | (#32785494)

Another issue is if the state should be getting its income from sales tax; I would like more to drop the sales tax in favor of taxes on income and wealth. The taxes on sales would be only to cover externalities (v.g. if you buy carbon a tax based in how much will be needed to clean the mines and grow trees there when they close) or to disincentivate use (v.g. tobacco).
You do realize your taxes on wealth and labor would also disincentivize the creation of wealth and providing additional labor, right?

Re:I have never understood this. (1)

DogDude (805747) | about 4 years ago | (#32785598)

"If I purchase something online, then the tax, if I am required to pay it, should go to that small city in Pennsylvania where their warehouse is located, not my local municipal. " And what is the logical inevitability here? A few very wealthy municipalities in the middle of nowhere where the warehouses are, and your local public services will be non-existent. Individuals are too selfish to think about the repercussions of this, and as a result, the government needs to step in to remedy the problem.

The article mentions mail order (1)

tepples (727027) | about 4 years ago | (#32784990)

I certainly don't hear about mail order sales being slapped with a tax in any of these discussions.

I did. From the article:

Delahunt, a Massachusetts Democrat, introduced a bill on Thursday that would rewrite the ground rules for Internet and mail order sales by eliminating the option for many Americans to shop over the Internet without paying state sales taxes.

Re:The article mentions mail order (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32785118)

RTFA? you must be new here.

Re:I have never understood this. (2, Informative)

cowboy76Spain (815442) | about 4 years ago | (#32785054)

All of that is easy to explain.

Mail order has never had to collect sales tax except for in-state customers.

First, volume of internet purchases has grown manyfold and is expected to get bigger, so the amount of money of taxes that goes through the loopholes is increasing, so now there is more incentive to control it. Also, there were mail sales well before IT was advanced enough to allow bussiness to fill taxes in all of the states easily; now it may be still cumbersome but is certainly doable. Mind that with the new law mail orders will be taxed too. So, more income to win and easier to implement and control, it is clear why it is being raised now.

Re:I have never understood this. (1)

tomhath (637240) | about 4 years ago | (#32785092)

States have always complained about mail order purchases not paying sales tax. But in the past it was such a small percentage of the total it wasn't worth fighting for.

Now states are desperate for additional revenue because they've spent themselves into huge holes, and internet sales are a relatively bigger piece of the pie. Here in Pennsylvania the governor maxed out every tax increase he legally could, and has tried several times to hold fire sales on state assets such as the turnpike and gas rights to cover current year budget shortfalls. It just never seemed to occur to him that maybe, just maybe, the state is spending more money than it has.

Re:I have never understood this. (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | about 4 years ago | (#32785130)

States have been wanting sales taxes for mail and phone order too, it's the same thing as web order, something comes in from out of state.

I don't mind it so much, but the states haven't bothered trying to harmonize their tax codes, what is and isn't taxable varies by state and that's the bitch of it all, if each product or product category has to have tailored check boxes, then that's going to be annoying. I'm not going to like having to deal with lots of tax-exempt forms, or writing a couple dozen more checks every year to pay these states, despite their lack of jurisdiction.

Re:I have never understood this. (5, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | about 4 years ago | (#32785302)

I mind it a lot for several reasons:

  • The purpose of sales tax is to pay the cost of police, fire, and other local services that a business requires. A business in another state does not have those requirements, gains no benefits from the taxes it pays to the city where I live, and thus should not pay those taxes.
  • Sales tax is inherently regressive. The poor spend a high percentage of their income on taxable goods. This is still true even if you eliminate taxes on food. The rich spend very little as a percentage of their income, and thus are impacted far less by sales tax. This is exactly the opposite of what a proper tax scheme should be.
  • The states need to be weened off of sales taxes anyway. Sales taxes are a notoriously unreliable way of bringing in revenue. When times get tough, people stop buying things, and sales tax revenue dries up. States that depend heavily on sales tax revenue (Tennessee and California come immediately to mind) end up with massive budget shortfalls. The only way to fix that is to continue to deny them the sales tax and force them to find a more robust way to bring in revenue.

Sales tax shouldn't be expanded. Sales tax should be reduced and possibly eliminated. It is pretty much the worst kind of tax you can create because it discourages spending that is necessary for a healthy economy, is hardest on the people who can least afford it, and has a tendency to drop off steeply when the states need the money the most. Pushing for expanding sales tax betrays a lack of even a basic understanding of economics. It's the sort of thing politicians like because it "closes loopholes" instead of "raising taxes", but in the long run, it will only harm the U.S. economy and drive sales tax revenue down.

The difference is infrastructure (1)

mangu (126918) | about 4 years ago | (#32785346)

What is the difference between mail/fax/phone order and purchases made through "teh intertubes"?

No difference. The big difference is between local or remote purchases.

A purchase made locally puts more demands on public infrastructure. You have a physical store where they display the items. That store needs police, firefighting, street maintenance, all supported by the local government to exist.

In comparison, mail/fax/internet purchases bypass all that. The store window is virtual, goods go directly from the wholesaler's warehouse to the final consumer.

It makes perfect sense that remote purchases of any form receive special tax treatment, since they demand less expenses from the government, but it makes no sense to create a different status between mail and internet commerce.

same old song (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32784958)

If you drive a car, I'll tax the street,
If you try to sit, I'll tax your seat.
If you get too cold, I'll tax the heat,
If you take a walk, I'll tax your feet.

'Cause I'm a Democrat,
Yeah, I'm a Democrat.

And you're working for no one but me.

Seems fair (3, Insightful)

TorKlingberg (599697) | about 4 years ago | (#32784962)

As nice as it is with cheap stuff, I cannot come up with a good argument why internet sales should be except from tax while in-store sales still pay. Internet stores can compete just fine on actual efficiency improvements over physical stores.

Re:Seems fair (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32785010)

As nice as it is with cheap stuff, I cannot come up with a good argument why internet sales should be except from tax while in-store sales still pay.

You can't come up with a reason why we shouldn't pay more taxes?

I can't come up with a reason why we should be paying sales taxes at all, except we're told we should.

Re:Seems fair (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32785516)

As nice as it is with cheap stuff, I cannot come up with a good argument why internet sales should be except from tax while in-store sales still pay.

How about the fact that the Constitution prohibits States from taxing imports unless (a) Congress approves, and (b) the net proceeds after inspections go into the Federal (not State) treasury?

Use tax makes a mockery of both Constitutional provisions.

Why is this handled by the state level anyway? (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | about 4 years ago | (#32784964)

In Australia we pay GST, a federal tax on all goods purchased which is then handed back to the states. This eliminates all of the inconsistencies amongst states and also gets rid of this so called loophole of companies not having a presence within the state they are selling to.

All internet purchases from Australian companies get a 10% GST charge, all purchases from other companies like B&H pay customs and import duties which depend on the cost of the import. The downside to buying from B&H is that UPS charge a customs handling fee too, but hey the Australian dollar is so good at the moment the cost covers itself.

Re:Why is this handled by the state level anyway? (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about 4 years ago | (#32785048)

Our states generally have more powers reserved, and fit somewhere between a province and a nation in autonomy.

State governments hold much more power here (2, Informative)

sirwired (27582) | about 4 years ago | (#32785156)

The U.S. government is built on what is called the "Federal System." The individual state governments have far more power and responsibility than they do in most countries, where the states are little more than administrative regions. As a result, they have different revenue needs, and have individually decided on different means of meeting those needs. Some states don't charge income tax at all; they choose to collect their revenue from consumers through property and/or income tax. The individual states tax, spend, and borrow according to their own plans; they have their own unique sets of criminal and civil laws. (One state, Louisiana, bases their civil code on an entirely different system of laws, and this is perfectly allowed.) Most day-to-day government services that a citizen interacts with are provided and funded by state (and by delegation, local) governments.

depends on what state you live in (4, Insightful)

bl8n8r (649187) | about 4 years ago | (#32784978)

To collect that revenue, some states require you to report sales tax due on out-of-state purchases when you file your income tax every year. Most people try to play ignorant when it's pointed out to them however.

Re:depends on what state you live in (2, Insightful)

panda (10044) | about 4 years ago | (#32785354)

Massachusetts, Representative Delahunt's home state, is one such state. The income tax forms' instructions also contain a chart that if you pay X dollars on this line based on your income, then the state won't say you owe more if they audit you. Of course, that amount excludes purchases of $1,000 or more. On those, you are to report the full amount owed. They typically call it a "Use Tax," and I mostly grew up in Kentucky which has pretty much the same laws, and it is typically charged at the same rate as a sales tax.

I live about 1 mile (1.6 km for those with a rational measurement system) from the border with New Hampshire, a state that does not have a sales tax. (They do have a service tax on restaurant meals and hotel visits, etc. that is higher than the sales tax and similar taxes in Massachusetts.) There has also been a lot of bluster from Massachusetts lately, including some court cases where the judge basically said "What, are you crazy?" to the Mass. AG, about having certain businesses on the NH side of the border collect Mass. sales tax on Mass. residents who buy from them. The latest row was over car parts and tires.

Interestingly, the car dealerships in Salem, NH (the fist town you come to if you cross the border where I live) do collect the Mass. sales taxes and will often handle your Mass. vehicle registration, etc. as would a Mass. car dealer.

The reason that states like Mass. want the business owner to collect the taxes is that they know that they cannot rely on self-reporting by the tax payer to get the amount of tax that they say that they are owed. I typically report the minimum listed by our family's income in the chart, just to be safe, because I do not keep track of purchases that I make in New Hampshire. My wife and I typically shop at several store in Salem, NH because they are physically closer to our house than other stores that might carry the same goods in Mass. We do NOT do it to avoid paying sales tax. However, we typically buy more food than anything else at these stores, and food is exempt from sales and use tax in Massachusetts. The taxable goods that we buy in these stores are typically smaller items, such as household necessities: cleaning powders and fluids, batteries, etc. We occasionally buy toys for our daughter, books and other inexpensive items.

By reporting the minimum, I'm hedging my bets if audited (not likely to happen since we don't really make enough to raise any flags) and in our case we could be over reporting the amount we actually owe. I don't know anyone who has said to me that they shop in New Hampshire to avoid paying sales tax. Typically, it's a convenience thing because the closest outlet of the particular store that you want to visit to get something is just a couple miles away in New Hampshire or 20 miles away in Bedford, MA. I have heard, of course, that people do all their shopping in New Hampshire to avoid sales tax, but no one has ever told me that they do this, and none of my friends or my wife's relations seem to do this, since they seem to always get the same goods or types of goods at the same store in Mass. and in NH.

Personally, I think the constitutionality of the Use Tax is dubious, but then I think the constitutionality of nearly everything done by gov't at all levels today is dubious. I pay the use tax simply to keep out of trouble. The few dollars that it costs me in a typical refund is nothing compared the aggravation of an audit and then having to prove that you don't owe whatever the state says you owe on out of state purchases.

Someone who made the point above about getting gov't to reduce spending and reduce taxation has an excellent point. Those of us who work for a living and those who have a "fixed" income have to learn to live within a certain budget. The gov't ought to be held to the same standard and they ought to be required to function on a fixed budget. They need to stop paying for unnecessary or obsolete programs. They need to try earning their keep for a change and see how far that goes.

To twist the words of Margaret Thatcher: "The trouble with [government] is you soon run out of other people's money."

It's just to to make things "fair". (4, Insightful)

PieterBr (1013955) | about 4 years ago | (#32785014)

Bookstore owners have to pay sales tax. Amazon doesn't have to. End result: said store owner goes bankrupt because Amazon has a competitive advantage because of tax differences. More unemployment and less tax-income for the state because of less sales-tax income AND because less people have a job. So actually this means a smaller amount of people have to cough up the taxes the state needs, while if you have regional businesses, all that is smeared out over more people. This is just plugging a loophole.

Re:It's just to to make things "fair". (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32785064)

Amazon if it has operations in New York State already does and they do. I stopped buying from Amazon because of that. This is wrong. Fuck fair, what's stopping mom and pop from setting up a web site?

Re:It's just to to make things "fair". (4, Insightful)

Lehk228 (705449) | about 4 years ago | (#32785104)

bullshit, amazon has to ship as well, and whether the cost is integrated into the product with "free" shipping (no such thing) or if it's an added cost. they usually balance out so online orders pay as much in shipping as they save in taxes.

Re:It's just to to make things "fair". (1)

panda (10044) | about 4 years ago | (#32785418)

Yeah, typically. I have found times when it was cheaper to buy something in a store and pay sales tax, than it was to order it online and pay shipping. I have found other times where it wasn't.

What this is really about is the states getting their "fair" share of the money that's in circulation. They look at it this way: You live in jurisdiction X. You sat in front of your computer in X where you placed your order for a product from a company in jurisdiction Y. The product is taxable in X. It is being shipped to X where it will presumably be used in X. Therefore, you owe tax in X on that purchase/use.

Where it gets tricky is when I am in jurisdiction X and I order something from jurisdiction Y to be shipped as a gift to someone in jurisdiction Z. Is Z or X owed the tax, now? Also, what about Y? Don't you think that before too long they are going to want a piece of the action, and that they will come up with some kind of variation of a sales or use tax that they can slap onto merchants who operate or ship from their jurisdictions? Well, maybe not if they're keen on having jobs in their economy.

What it comes down to now is that in America the gov't at all levels has a sense of entitlement to your money. While the rich have a sense of entitlement to not pay taxes. Just look at the IRS' own numbers on who pays more of their income in taxes and you'll see very plainly what is going on in the U.S. and what has been going on since the '70s, if not longer.

Re:It's just to to make things "fair". (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | about 4 years ago | (#32785236)

Bookstore owners have to pay sales tax. Amazon doesn't have to. End result: said store owner goes bankrupt because Amazon has a competitive advantage because of tax differences. More unemployment and less tax-income for the state because of less sales-tax income AND because less people have a job. So actually this means a smaller amount of people have to cough up the taxes the state needs, while if you have regional businesses, all that is smeared out over more people. This is just plugging a loophole.

Said bookstore owner can offer instant availability and no shipping charge (which exceeds the tax anyway on any book less than $25.00); along with the ability to actually recommend books to the buyer that they may actually like vs Amazons "others bought.." or "you might like..." which offers bizarre combination based on viewings and purchases. Oh yea, I can pay cash and trade in the book when I am done. Competitive advantage is finding a niche you can where you can outdo a competitor. For most purchases, sales tax is not that big of a deal to make mail order a viable purchase.

Now, if you want to talk about the advantage of significantly lower prices, then Amazon et. al. have an advantage, but sales tax isn't going to overcome that. As long as I can save enough to make waiting for an item a worthwhile trade then I won't buy locally; unless the level of service I get is worth the extra dollars.

The real threat to most small businesses is the big box that sells for less right down the street; the ability to sell via the internet in some ways is an equalizer by letting a small business get higher volumes and lower prices. Forcing them to collect and remit taxes would probably drive them off the internet simply because the burden of getting it right vs the small amounts involved would make it not worth it.

If you really wanted to level the playing field you'd require a best price policy that requires distributors / manufacturers to offer each store the same price on commercial goods; and forbid selling to the consumer at any price below that plus a fixed markup. Of course, government regulation is not about leveling the playing field but getting the government to give you an advantage.

Re:It's just to to make things "fair". (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32785290)

No. The end result isn't more unemployment and less tax-income. The result is a shift in employment and increased corporate income taxes from somewhere else. The small bookstore lays off people while Amazon hires people. The small bookstore pays less in taxes, while Amazon pays more.

The problem with you progressives is you don't view economies as interconnected eco-systems. Where when something happens at one end, the other end compensates for it. The only entity that has a negative effect on the economy is government and taxation. Why? Because government doesn't produce anything of equal or greater value compared to what it steals from the private sector.

Internet tax has nothing to do with sales tax (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32785022)

This issue of interstate sales tax is nothing new, it's just exacerbated by the internet.

The ban on the "internet tax" is about taxing ISP, period, end of story, have a nice day, blaah blaah blaah, yadda yadda.

Now that this whore is "retiring" from office.. (1)

Dr_Ken (1163339) | about 4 years ago | (#32785026)

he is open to all comers what with not having to face the voters again. Bought and paid for. Good riddance to this asshole.

Re:Now that this whore is "retiring" from office.. (3, Funny)

Freddybear (1805256) | about 4 years ago | (#32785342)

Tar. Feathers. Congressperson. Some assembly required.

Re:Now that this whore is "retiring" from office.. (1)

panda (10044) | about 4 years ago | (#32785432)

Heh, that reminds me... During debates for the election to replace the late Senator Kennedy between Martha Coakely, Scott Brown, and the independent candidate named Kennedy (no relation). I watched very carefully and listened very carefully and came to the following conclusion:

"Two prostiticians and a guy who's smart, but doesn't stand a chance."

When it came time to vote, I voted for Kennedy (no relation). If you keep voting for prostiticians, that's what you'll get. Though, it's looking more and more like it is time to move on to the third box that supports the pillars of, so called, democracy. I don't know, maybe Voltaire was right after all. I just have to find a nation filled with people that I could consider peers, but looking around no such place seems to exist.

bailout plan for state governments (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32785036)

State governments are horrendously inefficient. In addition to the patronage and short hours, most of them still provide defined benefit pensions to their employees, which are extraordinarily generous compared to 401Ks that most people in the private sector get. You have retirees "earning" high five figures, even six figures in annual pension benefits. These are the same programs that forced General Motors and Chrysler into bankruptcy, but instead of getting rid of them, state governments can turn to raising taxes and fees on their residents and businesses. And now, thanks to Rep. Delahunt and co, they can get the Feds to help collect a new tax on Internet sales.

WTF? Why don't state employees get 401Ks, like everyone else has for the last 20-25 years....? It's because they make the rules, and most of them have been out of the private sector for so long (or were never there to begin with) they don't realize how pampered they are in government.

State governments love revenue windfalls (casino gambling is a good example), it means they can put off making difficult budget decisions for another year or two, while the spending continues to spin out of control. Especially spending that lines their own pockets and secures their leisurely retirements. Don't give this to them.

As long as it's not a federal tax. (1, Insightful)

elucido (870205) | about 4 years ago | (#32785078)

Each state has the right to run itself as it deems necessary for the survival of it's citizens. If it wants to be run in a socialist manner or not is entirely up to the state and I say that as a libertarian. The point is to have minimal interference from federal entities who know nothing about the dynamics of the states they interfere with.

Healthcare should be handled and paid for by individual states for the citizens in that state. If individuals live in states which don't have universal healthcare then they should move to states that do. If the feds want to help the states which provide universal healthcare they should be allowed to. What we don't want is federally controlled healthcare.

Re:As long as it's not a federal tax. (2, Insightful)

fyngyrz (762201) | about 4 years ago | (#32785168)

What we don't want is federally controlled healthcare.

We? Speak for yourself. I do want federally controlled healthcare. I want private sector medical insurance to be illegal, and medical care to be universal just as education is universal, only more so. I am delighted to see we've taken a few baby steps in that direction. A society that doesn't put the health and education of its citizens first is, in my opinion, wrongheaded - and I'm trying to be polite about it.

Re:As long as it's not a federal tax. (3, Insightful)

elucido (870205) | about 4 years ago | (#32785200)


What we don't want is federally controlled healthcare.

We? Speak for yourself. I do want federally controlled healthcare. I want private sector medical insurance to be illegal, and medical care to be universal just as education is universal, only more so. I am delighted to see we've taken a few baby steps in that direction. A society that doesn't put the health and education of its citizens first is, in my opinion, wrongheaded - and I'm trying to be polite about it.

Thats because you credulously have faith in the federal authorities. Do you not realize that they don't really care about citizens in your state because they don't spend time living among them? So you get exactly the level of representation that you deserve when you put all your faith into the establishment responsible for fighting wars. The talk about death panels might be conspiracy theory but it's the same government that tested viruses on it's own military. It's the same government that gets paranoid and sees everybody and everything as a potential enemy.

Do you really want the Pentagon, DOD, and individuals like this to be in control of healthcare? Do you really believe this could be better than having your neighbor who you grew up with in control? Do you know any of these people in the Pentagon to have faith in them like this?

You can put the health and education of your citizens first by focusing on reforming your local government to put this first. You probably have no influence on the federal government which may or may not be influenced by foreigners. So you could end up with federal agendas which promote ignorance and sickness because. Not everything coming from the federal government is free from corruption because the federal government operates on the international level and other nations can easily influence politicians in DC, perhaps even more easily than you can.

Credulous? No. More like I pay attention. (2, Insightful)

fyngyrz (762201) | about 4 years ago | (#32785412)

That's because you credulously have faith in the federal authorities.

In this area, they've earned it -- it isn't that I'm credulous, it is that they are credible. What do I mean? Well, let me tell you:

They've managed to keep my meat inspected, get my kids a basic education, prevent most infected/infested fruit from reaching my table, built a really outstanding interstate system in a country of huge extents, put our citizens on the moon and in orbit and gotten pictures of far away galaxies, give me clean water to drink, and even paid for treatment of my sweetheart's breast cancer -- and I still have her for that specific reason. WRT the military, I don't like what they've got it doing at the moment (though WW1 and WW2... good job!), but I am forced to admit that it's damned good at being a military force, so yeah, they get considerable credit there as well.

In the meantime, the private sector would not insure either of us (we're oldish... 50's, and we have pre-existing conditions... she's diabetic, for instance, and has been absolutely uninsurable) and emergency room "care" is not in the least bit comparable with a normal course of treatment under a doctor and with access to the correct drugs, etc. So yeah, I'm for the feds kicking the insurance industry under the rug and starting over. They (the insurance industry) have made a complete cock-up of the opportunity they had, and so they can take a long walk off a short pier as far as I'm concerned.

Do I think the feds will get it right first thing out the door? No. Hardly. But I do think they'll nudge, wiggle and tweak their way to something better than what I have now, which is... nothing. Maybe in time for my kids to get medical care if and when they need it.

Insurance companies have a built-in conflict of interest: They make more money when they don't pay for care, and they are for-profit corporations. That's a recipe for disaster, and so I can't say that I am surprised that it is a disaster we have.

As it stands, because healthcare is private, I pay for the health care of everyone above me - the people employed by the utilities, the city employees, etc., before I get to spend a penny on my own. Which leaves me without any, as it turns out. I'd much rather see everyone taxed for healthcare, and everyone getting it when they need it, than the current, I pay it for the utility or corporate employee because it's built into my prices, but I don't *get* it because I don't have anything left and there's no one I get to say "pay me more" to in order to cover those costs.

Re:As long as it's not a federal tax. (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about 4 years ago | (#32785218)

Education is mostly handled on a state level, and a single system that works in Rhode Island, California, and South Carolina probably can't happen.

Re:As long as it's not a federal tax. (1)

elucido (870205) | about 4 years ago | (#32785282)

Education is mostly handled on a state level, and a single system that works in Rhode Island, California, and South Carolina probably can't happen.

Part of the reason we are training kids to be servants at McDonalds or to work in retail is precisely because the foreign entities that own the big corporations and in some cases own the politicians, already know who they want to hire to fill the jobs and it's not going to be "our" offspring that they hire for any of the better positions. Federal testing standards do not help our offspring get jobs. In fact these standards may in fact be helping China, Japan, Europe and other countries who have all kinds of advantages in that competition from longer school days/years, to better teachers, to more funding, to just being in a good job market so that they get the job by working for cheaper.

Americans support federally controlled education. Then their offspring can't get a job after achieving a college degree because of federally controlled education. And then of course parents blame their offspring for not getting all A's like the kids in Asia. But guess what? Those kids in Asia knew it was a global competition while you told your kid that it's okay just to do as well as you did.

Lets face it, either we are going to have to become a lot more militant about education (yes I said militant), or we are going to be toast. It's a war for jobs, for survival, that is what is at state for your offspring. No you cannot assume any job will be waiting for them. No you cannot assume they'll get into a good school or that it will help them. No you cannot assume that any amount of hard work will lead to success.

If you want your children to be successful then you have to govern in a way which leads to your children being competitive and successful. You have to build education around what American children like to do and are talented at. We are not the Chinese. We will never win the competition for cheap smart labor because we will never be the cheapest or the smartest. So until we find or create a niche it's a waste of time to even bother pouring billions into education.

I'm going to say it because nobody else will. The federal government is not serious about education. The federal government fears that if US citizens are more competitive that it will result in a trade war.

Re:As long as it's not a federal tax. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32785304)

You want Obama deathcare? Why don't you just go to some dammned communist country and be happy there and stop bothering us freedom loving liberty loving Americans?

You are the enemy of liberty my friend and we will defeat you because we have God and the Constitution on our side.

I'm not trying to be polite. Screw off.

Re:As long as it's not a federal tax. (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | about 4 years ago | (#32785430)

we will defeat you because we have God...

Yeah? Well, I have elves and unicorns on my side, and they trump your imaginary night-shirted buddy completely. And the spaghetti monster sees to my nutrition, may his holy meatballs rest in a delicate, yet spicy, bed of delicious red sauce. Also, btw, your "god" is a limpwristed, egg-sucking pissant with a huge fail of a "holy" book. :P

Re:As long as it's not a federal tax. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32785582)

Yes I had a feeling that would piss you off. Good.

Screw off you heathen communist bastard.

Re:As long as it's not a federal tax. (1)

ProteusQ (665382) | about 4 years ago | (#32785524)

But the politicians who promote universal (i.e., federally run) education and health-care send their kids to private schools and have their own separate, premium health-care system (which we pay for, BTW). Just from a practical POV, there's no way that any federal run [insert program name here] will be worth its while when those who run it are not on it.

And the politicians know that they are being hypocritical and don't care (R's and D's). That's the first counterargument I think of when someone wants the government to take over more services, because the situation is practically omnipresent now, but it's rarely mentioned. So, honestly, if we are going to talk about top-down systems, there has to be a way to force every government official to participate in what they create with the threat of losing their job (even if that means impeachment) for even once going outside the system they created. And since politicians would have to enforce that system, this too would end up unworkable.

(Sorry for the doom & gloom. If this were a pub, I'd buy the next round.)

Re:As long as it's not a federal tax. (1)

panda (10044) | about 4 years ago | (#32785452)

If anything, this should be a federal tax. The very definition of Interstate Commerce is I live in Massachusetts and I purchase something from California, that is then shipped a couple of thousand miles through many states to get to me. What about that doesn't look like Interstate Commerce to you? What about that looks like something that an individual state should have the right to tax and regulate and not the Federal gov't?

Taxachusetts ... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32785080)

Allow me to say :

FUCK this asshole Delahunt ... why doesn't he mind his own fucking business and quit trying to
fuck up the rest of the country like his own state has been fucked up.

We in New Hampshire have a word for people from Massachusetts :

MASSHOLE

Easy to do and fair (1)

originalhack (142366) | about 4 years ago | (#32785094)


One of the reasons that out of state merchants haven't always had to collect sales tax is to prevent a small shop from having to find the rates and file a return in every distant state where they do a single transaction.

The problem, now, is that your local businesses (if you have any left) have to pay taxes in your state even if they only sell a few hundred dollars of merchandise a year while online merchants don't have to pay taxes even if they ship millions of dollars of product into that state.

This is easily solved so long as the following conditions are met....

* Every state has a single tax rate for out-of-state merchants no higher than the lowest rate inside the state (no county-by-county rates)
* Simple categories. If a state makes groceries exempt but taxes ready to eat food, then all out-of-state food is exempt
* Either a national clearinghouse (upload month, total, and first 3 digits of zipcode) or a consistent mechanism (visit salestax.XX.gov)
* In not using a national clearinghouse, either exempt anyone shipping less than a certain amoung ($5000/year?) to a state or have carriers (usps, ups, etc..) handle the tax process as part of the shipping process for little guys who ship one or two small things to some state and shouldn't be bothered with filing even online.
* Require carriers on imports to assure that the tax is paid. (They already do this with import duties)

Re:Easy to do and fair (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32785566)

However, there are states like New Hampshire, Delaware, Oregon, and Montana that do NOT have any state sales tax, and thus would be unlikely to ever collect such a tax. Thus, since a sales tax is NOT universal, it is totally unfair as to transactions between tax and non-tax states. There is a large volume of case law, stating that collecting taxes is NOT required for states where a merchant does not have a physical presence. And of course, it is that physical presence that triggers the need for the tax revenue - No physical presence = No need for any tax revenue.

If the tax is high enough, than all internet retailers will either move to one of the states, or to a point outside the USA. I already buy things like Cell Phone batteries and accessories and small electronics from vendors in Hong Kong.

Although Congress might be able to force the 10% of states to collect such a tax, all this will do is push things over seas. Other than a little extra shipping time, there is very little difference in ordering over seas versus out of state. Heck, Canada and Mexico might both set up operations to sell to Americans, since the NAFTA treaty would prevent any levy on their goods. They are also close enough to not have any real issues with shipping times.

Democrats want to tax the people? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32785144)

Unheard of.

I thought the dems were the party of the little guy, you know you fools. How could they be doing this to you?

How come all their programs end up hurting the little guys, did you ever wonder that?

Taxes up, little guy pays. Healthcare, affects the little guy not the elites. Can and trade, will increase costs to all the little guys (you fools). Card check - again afffects the little guy.

Conservatives give tax cuts, and the taxes of the little guy go down, but you fools call them evil.

You dumb leftists don't know your asses from a hole in the ground.

Economy (2)

helix2301 (1105613) | about 4 years ago | (#32785146)

They want the economy to do better but yet they keep making things more and more expensive for the American people. When does it end? I mean seriously.

Use tax (3, Insightful)

SteelZ (1828180) | about 4 years ago | (#32785264)

One thing the article doesn't mention and most people here don't seem to understand is many states that have a sales tax also levy a "use tax" on out of state purchases. In my state you're supposed to report your out of state purchases with your income tax form but almost nobody does it.

Level the Playing field (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32785270)

There needs to be some way of leveling the playing field for local businesses. If a local business has competition from online businesses it has to reduce its price to make up the difference in local sales tax. That is becoming a major market distortion. Online sales are taxed, if the seller has a brick and mortar store in the same state as the purchaser.

Balance the budget (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about 4 years ago | (#32785272)

Get an agreement between feds and states to do one reasonable rate. Then apply it, while cutting spending. Pass a balanced budget amendment as well. We need to balance our budget. And then start paying off this massive debt. It was our deficit spending during good times ('83-'90; '03 -'07) that accounts for a major chunk of where we are today.

I'll be the devil's adovacate on this one (1)

Xacid (560407) | about 4 years ago | (#32785316)

I'll be the devil's adovacate on this one - but to an extent. I think to consider a web sales tax still based on a single locality is a bit silly. Make either a universal web tax rate (flat rate for all purchases from online businesses based in the U.S.) or make one specific to if was purchased domestically or foreign (based on billing or shipping address?). The drawback I see though is the advantage this gives foreign (non-U.S. in my case) markets, but some already have the advantage as it is with cheaper labor so perhaps it wouldn't be a major shift anyway.

Taxing what (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32785332)

Different states have different rates of tax, and also some goods are exempt. I live in a state where food and clothes aren't taxed, so I mostly buy them locally.

Anyway since the summary and many of the comments refer to Books, lets look at it from that angle.

Books, music, games and videos are information. You can't effectively put a tax on information content, since the 'seller' can set up offshore somewhere, and if you are downloading the files (which is how I buy books and music these days) then there is no extra cost of 'shipping' or any physical goods to be charged with import duty at the 'border'.

State revenues (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32785490)

States don't need any more more for schools! They're already WASTING record amounts of money on schools and still failing to educate some.

Bottom line here is that not all children are equally educatable nor should they ALL be expected to attend universities.

Not to mention in our state most local municipalities fund their schools through property taxes, with only a few getting state handouts(mainly a certain large and highly corrupt city along with some rural BFE areas) which ought to be pretty well covered by the stupidity tax(lottery).

You'll notice the states moaning the most are the ones with big welfare programs, i.e. California, Massachusetts, and New York which also, oddly enough, tend to have the highest number of illegal immigrants.

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