A vote was passed in the Senate on Monday to allow a vote on an Internet sales tax, and the bill received President Obama’s endorsement. Or, to put it more accurately, a bill passed that allows states the option of collecting taxes from Internet sales. Options for states are always preferred over states being obligated to follow orders from a central power that doesn’t know the specific and different needs of each state. If states want their residents to pay a sales tax when shopping online, that’s their right, no matter how stupid that sales tax would be.
One argument for the bill is the same argument for every tax: it will bring in more of revenue for the government (state and local governments, in this case).
So what? The government is not supposed to be constantly devising ways to make money, because what that translates to is constantly devising ways to take money from the citizens. If the government wanted to make money, why doesn’t Congress just pass a law declaring unequivocally that every citizen must write the IRS a check of a certain amount each year under threat of imprisonment? (Of course, isn’t that what they call “income tax”?)
This bill will kill competition as only the government knows how to do. Right now, most things we purchase online are not taxed. The only additional payment we must make is to cover the shipping costs of venders. Every year, more and more people use the Internet for shopping than they use physical, brick-and-mortar stores. Such competition causes those non-Internet retail outlets to consider the following options: lower our prices to compete with the Internet, or go out of business. Most choose to lower prices, if they can afford it, and if they can’t afford it, hey, that’s the name of the game: risk. Opening and running a business is risky, and you accept those risks and the consequences of taking them when you open up shop.
The Internet sales tax is a case of the government’s doing things backwards, as usual. It is an attempt to “level the playing field,” as White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said; non-Internet sales are levied with taxes, so Internet sales should be as well. Government should not be leveling playing fields, period, but if it’s going to, it should level the correct side. By adding a tax onto a revolutionary, truly progressive mark of human achievement and advancement—the ability to buy physical things in a virtual marketplace called the Internet—the government is lowering the rest of retail to the lowest common denominator, which is not unlike what Obama is attempting to do to this country.
I just wish I could see the faces of all those low-information, Internet-loving hipsters who voted for Obama, only for him to endorse an Internet sales tax. That’s what happens when you take your heart to the voting booth and leave your brain at home.