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United States

Senator Proposes 5% Tax on Web Transactions 260

rhet writes "A South Carolina Senator has proposed a bill that would levy a 5% federal tax on all sales conducted over the web." I guess we kinda know its only a matter of time, but its still a bitch. But Uncle Sam wants his piece.
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Senator Proposes 5% Tax on Web Transactions

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  • Unfortunatly you can't quit your job for welfare, but it is an idea... Then we will really truly be a communist country where everyone is paying for everyone else and no one is really working...
  • not to mention gubberment in general with its dead but still kicking departments, like the one that brings powerlines to farms. Their job was done over 20 years ago but they still exist.

    They'd be saying "OH my God, but what would the former IRS people do" if we had a flat sales tax of 15%.
  • Uncle Sam is the actual name for our country. See? it's convienent, Uncle Sam = US.

    Actually Uncle Sam is our equivalent to big brother. Supposed to be like your uncle guiding you to manifest destiny or some other bulldrek. Mostly he's seen pointing a finger at you and saying "you voted for it"


  • 5% in most parts of South Carolina except those areas that have a local 1%.

    note: I'm from South Carolina, but I didn't vote this bastard in.
  • Interesting, I wasn't aware. Just goes to show that I am not even remotely a lawyer, or a legislator, or a judge. Too bad I can't moderate this one up myself.

    This I do find odd, though, as states cannot, for example, create treaties with foreign countries, so I would have thought that foreign export would technically be more of a federal thing and this would refer more to interstate commerce. But at least according to the Supreme Court as of 1901, this is not the case. Who knows, perhaps there could be a reinterpretation. But I doubt it, as the federal government is becoming more powerful, not less. (Which I think means they would want to control state export, which would mean that they'd have to reinterpret that clause to mean something else. Argh. I'll shut up now.)
  • OTOH, by the late 80's, we also were well into a recession big enough that many wanted to classify it as a depression, including one of the largest stock market crashes in history.

    Once again, not true. There was no recession in the late 80s while Reagan was president.

    "Analog" is presumably thinking of the October 1987 crash. The Mining Company has an article about it [miningco.com] that starts as follows:
    The magnitude of the 1987 stock market crash was much more severe than the 1929 crash - a drop of 22.6% versus 12.8%. The loss to investors amounted to $500 billion. Over the four day period leading up to the October 19th crash the market fell by over 30%. By today's level's this represents a 2,200 point drop in the Dow. However, while the 1929 crash is commonly believed to have led to the Great Depression, the 1987 crash seemed to have no lasting effect on the real economy.
    So he was partially right about the crash. Regarding the "it hurt the poor" tone, my guess is that Analog is glomming together the "Reagan-Bush years" and thinking of them as the same thing. Lots of liberal commentators have done that in the past. For the record: Reagan generally cut taxes (but not spending) but Bush raised taxes back to where they were. So fiscal conservatives generally loved Reagan and hated Bush. Reagan served in office from 1980-1988. However much credit you choose to give the president, the poor probably did a lot better in the low-inflation Reagan era than the high-inflation Carter era, but growth rates dropped a lot (and spending and taxing increased a lot) during the Bush years.

    (Side note: don't blame me, I vote Libertarian)

  • Nope, the line item veto was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. (this year/last year?)
  • But in all candor, I would tell you it is outrageous filth, and we have got to do something about it. I take the tempered approach, of our distinguished chairman, and commend it. Yet, I would make the statement that if I could find some way constitutionally to do away with it, I would.

    Senate Record Label Hearing

  • When was the last time the Government had to pass an amendment to add a tax?

    And where in the United State Constitution does it say that passing a tax is not legal? I couldn't find anything, but I did find this bit...Article 1, Section 8 - Powers Of Congress

    "The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States."

    I don't like the concept of a web tax either, but hey, we could always sell things through telnet. :)
  • In South Carolina if you buy a used car from an individual, you have to pay 5% sales tax on it when you transfer the registration, even though it is as USED car bought from an INDIVIDUAL.

    Some years ago the state sales tax in South Carolina was raised 25% from 4% to 5%. They were able to convince people that this was a 1% increase in their tax burden!

    The increased revenue from the higher sales tax could only be spent on education (as in Holling's latest proposal). However, a few years later they ammended the law so they could start spending the money on other things. I guess if they spent too much on education, the public might start being able to do the math!

  • they make enough in taxes already. $75 out of every one of my checks goes to already worthless programs. I am not here to pay the way for someone else, nor is the Internet.
  • I am amazed at how many people just ACCEPT this as something that will happen. If you feel strongly about this injustice then please contact your congressman.

    The address is http://www.house.gov/writerep/ [house.gov]

    If you choose, visit the address above and fill out the necessary form!

    If EACH one of us, forward this message on to others in a hurry, we may be able to prevent this injustice from happening!

  • But that was written before widespread mailorder was a concept. Time change and so should laws.

    That said, I think it's more reasonable to set up a system where state sales taxes can be levied on mail order goods than for there to be an indiscriminate federal tax.
  • Sales taxes are evil.

    The sales tax concept is not evil. What's evil is that they are used in addition to a plethora of other ways to get your money.

    The ideal tax would be a U.S. wide national sales tax or VAT/GST *BUT* with also eliminate income taxes. Then everyone would have to pay their fair share, including drug dealers who buy tacky gold-trimmed BMWs, foreigners (take that, I have to pay VAT when I go to your country) and rich ass holes that think nothing of spendng $80K on basic transportation.

    Rule #1: Never trust a politician

    Example: Steve Forbes wants a flat income tax. But guess what? His plan just taxes wages and my ole my, rich old fucks like Steve Forbes have *ZERO* income from wages. All of his income comes from inheritance, capital gains, and other investment income. Under his plan, none of that would be taxable.

    But bottom line, an Internet Sales Tax is evil and stupid as sin because we are taxed every which way there can be, it ignores the international nature of the net (US politicians still haven't figured this out), is probably unconstitutional, and poor jerks in states like Tennessee with very high sales taxes as it is would get nailed twice for a purchase made instate.

  • ...if we react quickly and appropriately. A bit later in this post, I am including links for the web addresses for the members of the U.S. Senators on the finance committee.

    Now then, I realize that much of this e-mail will never be seen by the Senators, but the noise on the mail servers will be. That said, however, don't even begin to think about sending flames to these addresses. These are not the people we want to alienate -- these are the ones who can prevent Senator Hollings mistake from ever seeing the legislative light of day, e.g., killing it before it even has a chance to breathe. So if you are going to write, clarity and sanity counts, vulgarity and rants don't!!

    Here's the addresses for the Senate Finance Committee Members:

    Note: this was a lot of hand typing, so if I messed up an URL, I apologize.

    The full list of pages and addresses can be found at: http://www.senate.gov/contacting/index.cfm. [senate.gov]

  • by Anonymous Coward
    How can we tax *all* web transactions, when some of those transactions occur outside the good ole US of A?
  • Ah, so I should ask what I can do for my country, instead of what my country can do for me? Sorry, I don't buy into that kind of thinking. Government is allowed to exist for our sake, not the other way around.

    The reason to educate children is it important for the child, not the country. If I have a child and cannot afford to educate my child due to having my income taxed to pay for my country's utterly lame idea of so-called "education" then the country will have screwed me and the kid. Either way, the country loses, so why not go with the option that helps the kid?



    ---
    Have a sloppy night.
  • I think we need to take a step back. I think it is almost impossible to define transactions that take place over the Internet, and the distinction between an internet transaction and more traditional means of completing a transaction is only technical.

    Take a step back. Any Interstate transaction that involves the delivery of physical goods should be taxed consistently, no matter how order place place - rather it is via telephone, email, web phone, or IVR. Who cares? How is ordering over the Internet any different than ordering from a catalog and calling a 1-800 number? Why should the transactions be treated any differently?

    -josh
  • And there goes the incentive to conduct in this thing called "e-commerce." And then the states will charge a tax. And then the fed tax will increase to include a tax "for the children" and to "prevent terrorism" and to help fund the NSA...

    Sales taxes are evil.
  • ...but that's more Carter's fault than Reagan's...

    Ok, that's fair. I spent most of the Carter administration overseas, and remember the pain of trying to buy a house when we got back. Reagan was president at the time, but hadn't been long, and I suppose he was handed a messy house when he took over.

    OTOH, by the late 80's, we also were well into a recession big enough that many wanted to classify it as a depression, including one of the largest stock market crashes in history. I wasn't really trying to say he was a worthless president (I voted for him myself), but his economic policy traded short term gains for long term problems; while it tended to benefit those with money, it hurt just about everyone else in the long term, and the overall economy with it.

  • The hypocrites better start taxing the more lucrative telephone, mail and fax orders first.
    Of course, with the Feds involved, the states don't get their share unless they ascede to silly demands made by Congress, just as highway funds aren't returned unless the minimum drinking age is 21.
    Something tells me that some sharp Congresscritter will realize this.
    --
  • Maybe you just don't know what quality healtcare means ...
    Another thing..

    What is the tax rate there in Norway ? How much of _your_ money do you keep and how much is taken by your goverment ?
  • Educating children is a social activity that helps insure there will be educated people around in twenty or thirty years.

    You sound like a typical news media person. I make a point about how the billing methods for education is unfair, and here you are, rebutting me by explaining that education is a good thing (which implies that I had taken an anti-education stance).

    (No wonder our legislators are afraid to act responsibly!)

    I never said don't educate the kids. I just think that the kid's parents should pay for it.

    To ensure that somebody is trained and willing to wipe the drool off your chin when you're sitting in your rocker at the nursing home.

    Well, lighten up my taxes, and maybe I'll have an easier time to pay someone to wipe my drool. Or maybe I'll have a kid, and since I'll have the money and freedom to education him well, the wealthy Dr. Sloppy Jr. will have an easy time taking care of dear old dad.



    ---
    Have a sloppy night.
  • Your point is well taken, but do you really want to live in a world dominated by the military? Life on Earth would be so much better (IMHO) if the military were given a low priority. However, this cannot happen anytime soon because of other countries who are still learning that life is a lot more than money and possessions.

    Rajiv Varma
  • Usually, I can save money on medium-sized purchases over the 'net (books, CDs, movies) because the shipping balances out with the money I save and the tax I don't pay. This would put Amazon.Com out of contention -- I'd only use them for stuff I couldn't find.

    Online retailers should be very, very worried. This is going to be pretty bad for the overall economy, too...

    ----

  • Well, since the Senate passed that $792 billion tax cut, you'd have to think they would have to make up for that in another tax. I just hope it actually goes to something worthy, such as education or the sciences and not to the military. Of course, this tax could confuse some people, therby making e-commerce just a little harder for the computer-illiterate. But realistically, couldn't the government just leave the 'net alone for another decade to keep its progession going? Government interference in these matters can be either good or bad, and it looks like the latter is about to come true. Well, better buy stuff while you still can "tax-free".

    Rajiv Varma
  • The Federal Government does not have a mandate to collect ANY taxes on behalf of the states. To do so is in direct violation of the 10th amendment.

    Internet transactions, like all interstate transactions where a business is in one state and the customer is in another state, are very simply transactions for which there is no taxing authority.

    Unless, of course, you count the income taxes both parties have already paid on the money they have, the business taxes levied by the City, County, State and Federal Governments, the capital gains taxes the business owner has to pay, the state income taxes paid by the customer, the taxes on the telephone (in most cases) used to connect to the Internet in the first place, the property taxes paid by the customer and the business, the inventory taxes paid by the business, the gas taxes paid by the company that ships the merchandise, the Social Security contributions (taxes) paid by the business owner and the customer, the income taxes paid by the shareholders on the dividends paid by the business (if they are publicly traded), and the capital gains taxes paid by those same shareholders when they sell their stock (assuming the stock is able to increase in value after all the business capital is paid out in taxes).

    Now, the government asks for a tax increase? The Federal Government is running a surplus. Read that again. They have more money than they need. This extra revenue was generated, at least in part, by the internet.

    But, of course, if more than three people do anything in this country, there will be someone who proposes a bill to tax it into the ground.

    ...for the children, of course.

    I say, pass a bill that:

    1. Establishes a permanent no-tax policy for the Internet

    2. Repeal all sales taxes (they are obsolete, anyway)

    3. Cut income, capital gains and property taxes by 50% across the board at all levels of government.

    The resulting economic windfall will make further tax increases unnecessary.


    By the way, what happens if the business (or customer) is in another country? Is there a similar proposal to charge a 5% import or export duty?

    Opposition to taxes is not odd. The money belongs to us. We earned it. It does not belong to the government.

    The tax code has one purpose: to generate revenue for the operation of the government. That is all. It should not be "encouraging" anything.

    For the Federal Government to "divide the revenue" on behalf of any two states is unconstitutional.

    Well, that's my opinion, anyway.
  • And for those outside the USA, ... Datacrypt anyone?

    This kind of stifling move show the shortsightedness of the government yet again. Where do they think the goods sold online are being produced, another planet? They should be content to gather their taxes from the people who produce the goods originally. (Lord knows %30 of my check fades out before I get my hands on it.

    It may be time to reconsider crypto as it applies to completely conealing transactions on the net, at least I'm afraid that will be the response to this.

    Grell

    "When I make a joke, nobody gets injured...when Congress makes a joke, it's
    the law". - Will Rogers

  • Um... does anyone else see the problem here?

    If the US imposes an increase in the cost of sale of goods purchased over the internet, it will cause a direct exodus of the e-commerce industry from the US.

    If you can reduce the cost to customers by 5% by not locating within the US, any content producers (selling downloadable, non-shipped material) will re-locate to Bermuda to avoid the taxes. As for regular Amazon.com types, there will come a time where they will say "why not go to Canada or Mexico, our savings on taxes will offset the extra shipping?"

    Then the US Fed will understand why taxing transactions on an international location is unreasonable.... it would put any remaining businesses at a 5% disadvantage, and in a world with PriceScan and other ShopBots...

    Tax revenues would be WAY, WAY, down in the long run as a result of this.

    Someone help me out here!
  • Your private school just proves that when they are allowed to exclude "problem students" they can educate the students they pre-select at a lower cost. When your private christian school accepts 50 students at random who they don't have the right to expel if there is trouble teaching them, then your arguement will make a bit more sense.

    Poaching all the well-behaved students whose parents care enough to spend $4000 a year on their education is not a good measure of what a voucher program would be like. In particular, a voucher program is gonna take down some of those schools. When every kid gets the money, there will be a lot more problem kids forcing their way into the private schools.

    But anyways, private schools are good. Vouchers are more likely to ruin them than help them.
  • If the Federal government doesn't fund schools, what's the Department of Education there for? Actually, the Federal government does provide funding for schools. Heard of Clinton's "100,000 teachers" program? Or the "Goal 2000" program, which is a federally-mandated set of educational standards? The Fed's don't run the schools directly, but they do have a lot of indirect control, but attaching strings to grant money and making the districts jump through hoops to get the money.

    Besides, since when does anyone pay attention to constitutional limits on Federal power? 2/3 of the things the Federal government does are never mentioned in the costitution. But the Supreme Court has made up nonsense about the Constitution being a "living document," which means that if the plain meaning of the text doesn't suit them, they can make up a new meaning. The fact that Federal education spending is unconstitutional doesn't slow them down a bit.
  • from what I have read taxes should have been done away with after the great depression. I hate the idea that people get sent to jail and even commit suicide because the power the IRS has. I am all for a new tax system...
  • Someone has already calculated how long the Federal Govt would be able to run if your scheme was implemented. Guess how long it was? About 100 days. I guess you also don't care that the capital of these individuals had been used to finance businesses that provided goods, services, and jobs for other people. But it would be unlikely that these people would stand around and let themselves be robbed by the Federal Govt. As for the children, all it would do would teach them is that it's best to be mediocre and not try to excell, otherwise you will be punished for it.

  • well... my old french teacher told me that she only made 25K/year and she told me that wheh I was renting a video at blockbuster... she was working there to suppliment her income...
  • I certainly think it's fair. The more someone spends, the more taxes they pay. They are still paying less in taxes and would still be receiving benefits from govt programs for the poor. If you want to make it more 'fair', then eliminate a sales tax on groceries. I would much rather pay a sales tax than an income tax. Why is it 'fair' for some bureaucrat to decide that someone making $X a year should pay y% of it in taxes, while someone making $A/year (A

  • Damn Liberals.
  • That's not technically the trickle-down effect. For that to be a "proper" trickle-down effect, the entire economy would have improved to the extent that tax revenues did not go down. Somehow I doubt that happened.

    Well, if the Japaneses are actually dumping (selling below cost or building up a gigantic surplus and then releasing it all at once), we should stop them. That is illegal and stopping it is not an abuse of the system (real dumping is when WalMart moves in and sells below cost to drive out. I don't think the Japanese steel mills are actually engaged in "dumping", though, and it is wrong to stop them.

    I don't doubt that taxes play an important part in your purchasing decisions, but again I must say, "What if there were no taxes?" Would you have moved? Taxes may be lower in the second county because it is run more efficiently. In that case, it's good that you moved; society is better off now. If taxes are lower because the second county leeches off the services of the first, that is bad. It may be good for you that you moved, but it is bad for society that you moved.

    Taxes are lower for online transactions just because there is no tax, not because it is an economically (different from "financially") disirable way of doing things; if prices were the same, people would not be inherently better off because you buy things online.

    How does that tax encourage purchases, by the way? (not that I think that's an example of a "good tax" anyway)
  • Interestingly enough, when the People Who Do These Things decided to create an "internal market" in Europe, they decided to ditch duties on items exported between member states. Just like the single currency, this is a smart rip-off of the internal market that the US have.

    Of course, sales-tax (and other duties) still applies : but it is payable in the state where the seller resides.

    Also, this only applies to goods for "personal use".

    I personally don't see the point of sales-tax. If it didn't exist, you'd pay more income tax, but the way things are, you have a higher income, but you can't use it to buy more with it because it's too expensive (in The Netherlands sales-tax is 17.5%)[1]. So if you can't spend it, save it, right? But interest-rates are supposed to make you want to save (at least that's what they say on the news), not taxes.. Darn economists..

    [1] income tax can be as high as 60%, but for most people is about 40% (that's excluding pensions, social security etc, which are paid before taxes, so in total The Man takes something like two-thirds..)

    (Oh, I suddenly get where they got the within-US thing from : it's not ok to tax things being exported from a state, but it is ok to tax anything being imported into a(nother) US state.. )


    --

  • No, actually I meant that the average person *with* a computer who orders now (online purchases went well into the hundreds of billions of dollars last year) might not buy anything were this to pass.

    For example, I put together a new computer this summer because all the parts were so cheap online. If I'd been relying on Best Buy or the local places, I woulda made do with my old machine for another year.

    PS: Don't be an asshole. You're no good at it.

    ----

  • At least people in Tn and a handfull of other states don't have to pay a state income tax. I would much rather pay a sales tax than an income tax. At least I have more control over the amount of taxes I pay and not have yet another govt. bureaucracy going over my financial information.

  • Uhm, NO. Bad free schools beat ANY form of basic education that has to be paid for. I mean, isn't it somewhere in the UN Declaration of Human Rights, the right to free basic education?

    Actually, private schools are typically cheaper *and* higher quality than their govt. counterparts. This is the free market in action. Monopoly schools have guarunteed funding, so they have no incentive to please their customers. A private education market would be a lot better than what we have now.

    As for those who can't afford it, there would be a lot less of them if people weren't forced to pay twice, once for the public school and once for the private. And I'm not necessarily against a limited voucher program to help pay for the education of those who really cant' afford it. But this should be done at the state and local levels, not the federal.

    Please, why does this always come up? Do yourself a favor, read up on Waco. The FBI weren't the only evil idiots on site there. The IR footage shows, during the fire, Waco members firing INTO their own structure, killing their own people.

    I suggest you watch the documentary "Waco: Rules of Engagement." They have extremely well documented evidence on several fronts that the government used excessive force, lied about what happened, and ended up murdering the Davidians. This includes video footage of them shooting into the compound.

    IT WORKS. Look to Canada. We have a system that functions. One of the best free systems around. Sadly, the US keeps stealing our doctors cuz they get paid better elsewhere.

    Doesn't that tell you something? Doctors are probably well-paid enough in Canada that they don't really need the money. I suspect a large part of it is the ridiculous beaurocracy that acompanies an government program.

    In any event, I know too much about economics to believe that government health care is a good idea. The US has the best medical care in the world for a reason: they have the closest thing in the world to a free market.

    Buddy, there's more to the world then just the US. Militaries can be effective internationally. Peacekeepnig is a Good Thing(tm), although a mass unsolicited air campaign isn't really.

    I can agree with military spending too, but only for self-defense. If you look at the history of US foreign policy, most of our imperialistic actions since WWII have fallen flat, causing more misery than they caused. You might be able to make the case for occasional intervention, but 90% of the dozens of places we have gone are worse off for it. That includes Korea, Vietnam, Iran, Iraq, Yugoslavia, Haiti, Somalia, and many others. In all of these places, we came in with some feel-good idealistic goal, and came out with body bags, a nation that hates our guts, and a local government in shambles. Not much of a track record.

    The world would be better off had the US been "isolationist" for the last 50 years.
  • Oh, please, everyone, get a clue. Any Senator can introduce any kind of lame-ass bill. It's mostly all PR (hint - election year coming up).

    Fritzie-baby is a DEMOCRAP. Congress is presently controlled by REPUBLICANS. Particularly in light of recent internet legislation, this bill is going NOWHERE.

    After next year, who knows? Keep this kind of garbage in mind when you vote next year.
  • That is the single scariest thing I have ever read on Slashdot.

    Upon what system of ethics do you base the right to rob someone blind in the name of "self-sacrifice"?

    I'm really hoping you were just being sarcastic, but somehow I doubt it.
  • Uhm, NO. Bad free schools beat ANY form of basic education that has to be paid for. I mean, isn't it somewhere in the UN Declaration of Human Rights, the right to free basic education?

    My wife and I had to make that choice with our kids. We chose to send them to a private school where they get a very good education, as opposed to the 'best' public schools in the area, where they would get a mediocre one at best. If the public schools were doing a good job, they would be going there, but they aren't. Wasting money on a bad education is not a good thing

  • Folks,

    This senator must be about one of those likeable stupid fools that get elected with OP/CM (Other People/Corporations Money).

    Tax and interest rates are government tools/ways of restricting/controlling economic/cultural/social change.

    This senator and his supporters are feared of change and losing control/power/....

    Is he republican, democrat, a/o wanna-be?

    Many US politicians are just know as DemReps up-there without a clue?

  • Subject to the interpretation of a court. But I will stand by my statment that this is never going to be made a law in the first place. Hell it will probably never even be submited for a vote. So it is rather a moot point.
    THIS HAS NO CHANCE OF BECOMING LAW
  • Well, one point that seems to be missed here is that there are constitutional issues with taxation that our so-called "powers that be" overlook. Most glaringly is that the constitution does not have any facilities for taxation. The government just likes to take our money and live like kings on it. It pisses me off..........
  • Same thing in New York. What I always did when I bought a used car was lie on the registration application, and say I paid a lot less than I did.

    Usually the seller agrees to give me a receipt saying I paid him less than I did. Helps to pay in cash and make that part of the deal when you get the car I suppose.

    I'm not sure about the legality of this, but they didn't seem to check these things very carefully anyway.


  • "Well Mr. Smith,we shipped a Rolls-Royce. If what you got was a Yugo, your decryption software must be faulty, or you've got one of those flawed floating-point Pentiums."



  • always looking for new taxes instead of cutting government spending we don't need or want because it serves some vocal constituency
  • you only pay $75? 1/4 of my paycheck goes to the govmt. Then add sales tax, car tax, etc I get even less. I should quit my job and just go on wellfare.
  • A nation can tax transactions which occur inside itself.

    The problem is that the Net is not physical. It does not exist in any nation. Not even the US, even if the US created it.

    If the Net were to create its own governing body (yeah right, like that's going to happen, though it might just have its uses) then it would have the right to tax transactions within itself (of course, it would need a form of currency first). But for a nation to tax transactions within something which isn't even within its borders, but in a sense isn't even on its plane of existence? Absolutely preposterous. I hope it doesn't pass, even though I know it probably will (that's the government for you; it used to be that it'd tax the hell out of you and still spend more, now it doesn't even spend all the money it gets yet it taxes even more).
  • IT WORKS. Look to Canada. We have a system that functions. One of the best free systems around. Sadly, the US keeps stealing our doctors cuz they get paid better elsewhere.
    Doesn't that tell you something? Doctors are probably well-paid enough in Canada that they don't really need the money. I suspect a large part of it is the ridiculous beaurocracy that acompanies an government program.

    Actually, having lived in Italy, USA, Canada and France, I have to say that there is more (or much more) burocracy in the US health system; and it's definitevely more evil. As far as quality goes, a student plan in the US sucks; better: it sucks a lot!

  • The key is tax neutrality. If it's taxed, then it shouldnt matter how you buy it - over the counter, through a catalog, through the phone, over the net, it should all get taxed the same.

    Nonsense. If I physically visit a store, I am benefiting from the presence of police who make sure that I can bring my money in and take my goods out unmolested, firefighters who make sure the store doesn't burn down around me, etc. Thus, it is not unreasonable for me to pay taxes to support these services.

    If I order remotely from somebody in Podunk, I am not receiving any of these benefits. (The store is, and should pay for them out of its own profit margin, but that's a different issue.)
    /.

  • "what's the senator's state sales tax? what if my path to the online merchant goes out of state and comes back?"

    we could conduct transactions through an off-shore third party in some developing country whose inport/export isn't taxed, maybe.

    different game?

    -d
  • Add the fact that it is un-Constitutional for a tax bill to originate in the Senate.
    /.
  • And worst yet, you had better odds with the numbers operations that you do with the government. My parents have wasted thousands of dollars on lottery tickets, and I keep telling them they'll have much better luck finding a local game.
  • Reading the article carefully, we see that the aim of this tax is to build up a trust fund for education - paying teachers salaries out of the fund.

    "WARNING WARNING WARNING!!!"

    Isn't this the same kind of #$#@! they pulled with Federal Highway Funds - a big pool that can be selectively doled out where the Feds see fit?

    I can see this as a new method concocted to control local school boards. Once the local school districts are dependent on Fed funds to operate, the Feds can finally have control over local school boards. "Oh, don't like the new Federal Education guidelines? Well, we'll just have to withhold the Federal Education Funding...".

    We can't let the esteemed Senator get away with this.
  • If this tax cut goes through, then God help us that this Internet tax is imposed lest our teachers be forced to work for free.

    Teachers are employees of the school district in which they work, not the federal government. They are funded by the local school district, which is funded either by local levies, or by the state. Teachers are not paid by the federal government, so a federal tax cut will not affect their wages.

    And, just FYI, the average wage for teachers at the high school I attended is over $55,000 per year, for 9 months' work.


    --

  • ``Well, mostly in the US federal taxes are used for two things. 1) pork barrel projects; and 2) to blackmail the states. Almost every federal dollar has a string attached.''

    A couple of intersting news items I saw in the last couple of weeks regarding the Feds and spending. 1.) Congress rips the DoD for spending several million dollars on a new fighter plane being developed to supercede older fighters after Congress told them they (the DoD) can't spend money on it. 2.) Congress tells the DoD they must spend money on older, more expensive cruise missles that the DoD doesn't want as newer models are more precise and less expensive. (Three guesses as to what the relationship is between the company building the older cruise missles and the senator/representative who sponsored the bill that mandates the construction of those same cruise missles.)

    Yep. Our Congress knows how to spend our money appropriately... NOT! This is the sort of thing that burn the collective butts of Americans who see through the charade of the Govt. doing what's best for the people.

  • Not to nit-pick, but if less consuming were going on, more saving would have been going on. More savings means more investement. We then hit a recession during the early 90s, which might have been prevented if there had been less "consuming going on". Not that I think this guy had any idea about that. Maybe he really didn't know what he was talking about.
  • The moderation on the above post is a load of leadership (Dilbert reference). Let me get started:

    #1. Private Schools:

    Uhm, NO. Bad free schools beat ANY form of basic education that has to be paid for. I mean, isn't it somewhere in the UN Declaration of Human Rights, the right to free basic education?

    Sure, private schools outperform the public system, but at a cost that can't be handled. Some people just can't afford it. Now, a fundamental reform of public schooling.. That I'd go for.

    #2. Law Enforcement
    Re: Waco.
    Please, why does this always come up? Do yourself a favor, read up on Waco. The FBI weren't the only evil idiots on site there. The IR footage shows, during the fire, Waco members firing INTO their own structure, killing their own people.

    Again though, valid points raised: The NSA for one. They need a reality check. In the end, no thanks to the NSA. And get rid of Reno the Facist and we should be ok.

    #3. Public Healthcare
    IT WORKS. Look to Canada. We have a system that functions. One of the best free systems around. Sadly, the US keeps stealing our doctors cuz they get paid better elsewhere.. (Yes, there are other issues to be thought about with the Canadian Health Care system, but it doesn't suck)

    #4. Social Services
    Axe anything resembling government pensions. That is all. =)

    #5. Military
    Buddy, there's more to the world then just the US. Militaries can be effective internationally. Peacekeepnig is a Good Thing(tm), although a mass unsolicited air campaign isn't really. I can agree with military spending, but nothing as extravagent at the US has.

    So don't whine when taxes go your way. While they could be collected/spent better, the basic underlying concept is a good one. If you don't like it, don't stop paying them, just change the how. The US just happens to have gotten it all backwards again.
  • >Your point is well taken, but do you really want to live in a world dominated by the military?

    No, in fact I'd like to see fewer stateside military forces. Since it's illegal for them to be involved with domestic law enforcement they should be used primarily as an offshore (or coastal only) defense force.

    LK
  • Why should the Fed. get a tax on things bought over the net? They don't milk us for enough money on income, capital gains, FICA, Soc. Sec., etc? I don't think so.

    If anyone should receive the tax on the business, it should be the state where the transaction takes place? The government is not entitled to sales tax in person-to-person transactions (like at your neighborhood Wal-Mart), the same applies here.

    I wish I was a Politician... AACCKK!!
  • It's funny that the people at the power don't really have a clue of what they're doing. I mean, how can you tax information? Next thing you know, routers on the internet because they're in a certain area will add thier tax too? C'mon...
  • ``My wife and I had to make that choice with our kids. We chose to send them to a private school where they get a very good education, as opposed to the 'best' public schools in the area, where they would get a mediocre one at best. If the public schools were doing a good job, they would be going there, but they aren't. Wasting money on a bad education is not a good thing''

    But the local government and education infrastructure are still wasting your money. I doubt you are exempt from the local taxes that support the mediocre public school you chose not to send your children to.

    My wife and I are looking to move to an area where the grade schools are better. Several people we know ahve already done this. The local school officials don't want the parent's input or involvement in the education system. In fact, some parents that have tried to push the issue have been threatened with having the police called if they show up at the grade schools. So, we're looking to either move or, if my income increases sufficiently in the next couple of years, send the girls to a private school. I'll still wind up paying for the local crappy public grade school system, however.

  • Federal taxes don't help local commmunities; local taxes do. The federal tax would go into a pot for someone to tap into. And guess who is going to tap into it? The same idiots who tapped into the Social Security Fund.

    "Oooooh look! More money to fund our stupid projects."

    Reminds me of Gingrich. Built a Coast Guard for his community. Dumb thing about it is they are landlocked; where's the coast? Oh I forgot. They have a coast called a lakeshore for that man-made lake they needed for their useless Coast Guard.

    'til dawn...

  • Everyone can read the Constitution, but it still doesn't change the fact the Federal gov't can fund education through block grants. No the Federal gov't can't force the States to do what it wants, but it can restict the funds from them if they don't comply. I haven't read this bill, so I dont know if the grants from the Internet Tax are 'no strings attached' or not.

    Sure the Federal gov't is getting too big for its britches, but that's the global society we live in now. Maybe the State govt's are more competent now, but they have been very poor in the past which is why we have more heavy on the federal end. National issues get much more media exposure too.
  • by crow ( 16139 ) on Saturday July 31, 1999 @08:09AM (#1772688) Homepage Journal
    Right now, the parties are playing PR games with taxes. While they would like to pass real changes, the Republicans know that the tax cuts they're passing will never become law with a Democrat in the White House, and the Democrats know that a national Internet sales tax will never become law until they control both houses of Congress.

    If Republicans really wanted to cut taxes, they would pass their massive tax cut as a bunch of separate bills, each with one cut--the lower rates, capital gains cuts, marriage penalty relief, and estate tax elimination. Then Clinton would sign one or two and veto the rest, but at least we would get some tax cuts. Of course, that's bad politics because then it's easier to portray some of those as tax cuts for the rich, playing into the class warfare Democrats always use when tax cuts are proposed.
  • You say "Democrats" but Sen. Ron Wyden (Democrat-Oregon)is the one who wrote the Internet Tax Bill last year that PROHIBITED any state or local taxes on Internet transactions. He has also led the fight to stop this Hollings bill. Wyden had a hell of a time passing the Internet Tax Bill last year because many REPUBLICAN Senators (McConnell, Burns, Lott) did not want to take away the taxing authority from local governments which tend to be more Republican. He pushed it through only after exhaustively pointing out how absurd 1000's of state and local Internet taxes would be.

    A tech=saavy Democrat like Wyden, (also a key opponent of the "Communications Decency Act") is not helped by knee-jerk nerds who don't know enough about politics to know that Dems (Bingaman, Dodd) have done more than Reps over the years to promote technology, and recently to keep the governments grubby paws off the Internet.

    R = small, non-intrusive government & D = big, agressive government is about as simplistic as saying that Windows is better than Linux because It has more users.
  • in saying that *all* of the money goes into education, it may not be that bad an idea.

    As long as they don't increase the tariff on international orders (hah, free trade my ass). I live on the east coast of Canada, where duty is a bitch, and I still pay a 15% tax on top of that (the company sometimes registers to automatically include the tax in purchases, such as Digi-Key, else the tax is charged at the border). If the money was guaranteed to do something useful, like being spent on education (my high school upgraded from PETs to 286s a couple of years before I got there, that's unacceptable (though we still played with the PETs)) I wouldn't mind so much.

    However, it seems that this money is going to our expensive "millenium song" and into one-industry towns turned no-industry towns where people refuse to leave (hmm.. money going out is high, money coming in is virtually nothing, I wonder where the magic money is coming from).

    I wish we had such a guarantee.
  • Why is it a more "level" playing-field to tax internet sales more than other catalog sales (phone, mail-order)? Catalog sales seem to me to be a far better analogy to describe on-line sales than the "brick-and-mortar" system would be.
  • Congress is trying to cut taxes now (A bit to much IMHO but that is besides the point). Now Congress
    has every legal right to tax transactions over the
    net. (Read the constitution folks) but I can't see
    them doing it. Esp now that we are runing a huge surplus off of the taxes we already have.

    So Call your senitor if you want, but don't expext 60 Senitors to vote for this one. (You need 60 to add a tax amendment for some reason that I don't understand.)





  • Well, Amazon.com didn't ship my books by email either. I give them my card# over the net and they have UPS send me the books. Just like this guy's example. They give him the number over the net, and he sends them the car by some other method.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    The problem with public education isn't a lack of money, it's just fundamentally screwed because:

    a) it's run by the government, who never ceases to find new and inefficient ways of wasting money ... Like buidling a *real nice* administrative building and then conveniently not having any money left over for textbooks.

    b) its values are not learning, but being indoctrinated and taught to obey.

    c) forcing *everyone* to attend school ends up screwing up the chances for those students who would care to pick up whatever slim pickings of knowledge are left after b) Remember the Jon Katz articles relating to the Columbine aftermath?

    The military, on the other hand, *is* a necessary thing to spend money on. Look how many people hate the US. Look how many people have big scary instruments of destruction! Look at our lack of a decent defense system against those!

    Personally, I would much rather see money spent on real defense than gratifying the ego of some nazi public school administrator.

    Regarding taxing the net to do that is fundamentally wrong, IMHO. Just like taxing interstate phone and mail order is.. Consider the implementation details. Pretty messy. Lots of room for money to drop "through the cracks" into some greedy politician's pet project to leverage votes. And, as someone else pointed out, if you add taxes to shipping, you've effectively shut down any sort of business based on selling material goods.

  • If there were not so much waste I'd be in support of more military spending. However so much of the military budget is wasted on useless pet projects like "sensitivity training", I say let them tighten the belt before we increase their rations.

    LK
  • by Zachary Kessin ( 1372 ) <zkessin@gmail.com> on Saturday July 31, 1999 @08:15AM (#1772709) Homepage Journal
    Well the problem is that the US Constitution specificly reserves to the Federal government the right to regulate and tax interstate buisness. That is why interstate catalog sales don't get taxed. There is no real legal reason why there could not be a national sales tax.

    We have never had one as far as I know and probably won't any time soon. But congress *COULD* enact one if they wanted to.

    Remember one of the main reasons of the US Revolution and the English Civil war was to enforce the idea that the Legislature had to consent to taxes.
  • Copied from one of the first lines of the article:

    A South Carolina Senator has proposed a bill that would levy a 5 percent federal sales tax on all goods sold over the Internet or through catalogs.

    While I would agree with you if this article didn't mention anything about taxing methods other than the web, this "hypocrite" wants to tax other means too.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    If I sell my 10-year-old car to someone I met on AOL, is that taxable?

    If I sell my 10-year-old car to someone by charging their credit card, after getting the number via e-mail, is that taxable?

    If I sell a motherboard to a PC reseller, who will charge retail tax to his/her customer, is our first transaction taxable *again* just because we made contact over the Web?

    Huh? Huh?

    Somebody better make some clear distinctions between business and personal transactions!!!

  • by Martin Hock ( 12153 ) on Saturday July 31, 1999 @08:17AM (#1772712) Homepage
    Article I, Section 9:
    No tax or duty shall be laid on articles exported from any State.

    That's in pretty plain language. They'd have to come up with an amendment to get around that one.

  • A federal sales tax would have states spitting mad, since the states eventually do want a cut, but their ability to get a sales tax put on top of a federal tax would make such a tax tiny, or even impossible to get through. Any congresscritter interested in getting stateside support for their reelection will get a very unsubtle hint from their respective governers to ditch the idea.

    Besides, if the transaction were carried out entirely inside a single state, such a tax would be blatantly unconstutional. The supreme court has recently ruled in favor of states' rights on an unprecedented scale, so this would be a slam dunk.

    What is the case is that you're not going to see net sales go untaxed forever. I mean yes, there's encryption, but then that's simply tax evasion, which the seller would be busted for (the seller pays the tax, the buyer reimburses the seller).

  • Like most Democrats, Sen Hollings thinks government knows better than the common citizen. Further, like all politicians, he's a control freak. "Can't control the web, then tax it."
    I, for one, still shop at my friendly old bookstore (and at Amazon.) There are reasons for both.
    The web is great it adds to my life. Adding taxation would diminish the experience.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    the Republicans want to cut taxes by over $700 billion.


    Counting tax revenues like this is fundamentally braindead. Last I checked, there were tax *RATES* not a fixed amount that the feds scooped out of the economy. Referring to rate decreases in terms of static decreases to tax revenues collected completely ignores the economic stimulation that tends to result from lower tax rates. Last I heard, when Reagan lowered tax rates in the 80's, the revenues went *up*.

    Disclaimer: I'm not a Republican, so please don't attack me as if I were. :) I prefer Freedom to political dogma.
  • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Saturday July 31, 1999 @08:33AM (#1772724) Homepage Journal

    It's funny the way tax cuts are never attached to other bills, but tax increases do that all the time.

  • The proposed Internet tax is nothing special. Until telephone orders are taxed why should Internet transactions be taxed?

    RantMode=1;

    Of course, that kind of logic is irrelevant -- the real point is to increase taxes. The more kinds of taxes there are and the more sources and justifications those taxes have, the easier it is for people not to notice just how much they are being taxed. And, the easier it is for them to support taxes that they do not directly pay.

    For example, taxing the manufacturing of automobiles only raises the cost of purchasing cars -- on which you will also pay sales tax. The net effect of taxing such production is to unfairly burden domestic goods while giving foreign goods from lands with lower production taxes an advantage.

    The whole point of putting half of our social security taxes on the employer's side of the ledger is simply to make the citizens think they are paying less tax. The costs to the employer, however, are the same whether the whole amount is put in your column, the employer's column, or split as they are now. The cost to hire you is the same and the employer knows how much you cost. Just like the self-employed, the employee is paying this tax by his or her labor.

    Now, if all taxes were accumulated in one big tax -- without even the fiction of claiming the employer is paying some -- we would finally know how much tax we pay and we might offer more resistance.

    Internet-specific taxes are just another source of revenue. The taxing opportunity here is to divide and conquer the tax base by convincing the non-connected that we Internet users are not paying our fair share. Further, we are probably rich as well, considering recent high-profile Internet property acquisitions.

    Hide some taxes, make others confusingly indirect, use the popular programs to justify additional program-specific taxes, and even call a few taxes "fees". And, most important of all, make each new tax apply to a minority of taxpayers so the remaining majority will support, even demand, it. That is the plan.

    The proposed Internet tax is just a small piece in a much larger and very successful taxing scheme.

    RantMode=0;
  • by scrytch ( 9198 ) <chuck@myrealbox.com> on Saturday July 31, 1999 @09:16AM (#1772741)
    It's not entirely plain language at all. In Dooley v. United States (1901), the term "export" was held to mean export to foreign countries, but did not include inincorporated territories of the United States. Taxing goods sold internally is an excise tax, which is definitely allowed so long as it is "uniform throughout the united states" (meaning you can't lower the rate for your home state).

  • Having SAID that...what are they defining as a 'sale'? If I sell my used widget (having bought the new widgetstation II), is that a 5% taxable sale? How about if someone asked me to do some work for them via e-mail, I do the work (remotely over the net), and send them an electronic bill, is that a 5% sale?


    Your used widgetstation would be exempt from any existing sales tax unless you're in the used widgetstation business and you sell dozens of them a month. Then you're a business. Your work doesn't fall under sales tax in any state I know of because services are not taxed.

    Look, the government isn't going to apply this to every damn garage sale, it would cost more to enforce (and probably even collect) than it would be worth. I'm opposed to it because I just don't want the fed with their fingers in yet another damn pie.

    As for what they'll do with the money? Probably make more defense contractors rich, I imagine.
  • Not even close.

    Comes from Samuel Wilson, who ran a slaughterhouse during the war of 1812. He already had the nickname "Uncle Sam" (being a rather avuncular kinda guy I guess), and he would stamp barrels of meat rations for the troops with "U.S." (as in United States. The troops started nicknaming it "Uncle Sam Rations", and since everything else for the army had U.S. on it, they started referring to every piece of property of the US as "Uncle Sam's".

    His hometown apparently preserved a lot of historical data to back this story up, and now it's about as official as it gets: in 1961, Congress enacted a resolution honoring him as the man behind the "Uncle Sam" moniker.

    And now you know .... The rest of the story.
  • Uh, maybe if they ship the books from Botswana. Hell, then congress could just levy a tariff.
  • I absolutely agree. Online ordering sure isn't that much more convenient. I can typically run down to my local book or software store and pick up what I need and have it the same day, rather than waiting a week or two to get it shipped to me. It's the money I save that makes me willing to wait. If I'm suddenly paying just as much to get it online, I'll just run to the local store and save myself the troulbe. Even if I'm only saving a couple of bucks, I'll still go local, because the "have it right now" factor is usually worth a couple of bucks.
  • Now Congress has every legal right to tax transactions over the net.

    BZZZZZT!!!! Please consult your copy of the US Constitution, Article I section 9, and thank you for playing!
  • I find the rabid opposition in some quarters to a tax on internet transactions to be very odd. I think the argument for taxing internet transactions (as well as mail-order) is clear.

    First, let's assume that sales taxes are a reasonable way for states to raise money. Given that, isn't it odd that internet transactions are exempted from state sales tax? In fact, the current exemption for such transactions amounts to the tax code preferring interstate transactions over in-state transactions.

    When the tax code encourages something, you get more of it, so the tax code will push more transactions web-ward. This will eventually seriously erode the state's tax base, which is a real problem.

    The solution seems clear: set an interstate sales tax rate that is close to the average state sales tax rate. Then, via some formula, divide the revenue between the two states involved in the transaction (i.e., the vendor's state and the buyer's state.)

    This hardly seems like a mad power-grab by the government. Just a sensible way to regularize the tax system.
  • Uhh, everybody else doesn't have to pay taxes? There's no taxes for transactions done over the phone, etc. Try thinking outside of the box for once.
  • by ClipDude ( 31730 ) <chris@NoSPam.clipdude.com> on Saturday July 31, 1999 @10:57AM (#1772804) Homepage Journal
    If we here in the USA had the
    right to vote


    I don't understand your comment. Last time I checked, we directly elect our senators and representatives.

    If you mean that we should vote on the tax itself, holding a referendum on every single change in the tax code would be impractical.

    Wouldn't it be nice to be able to
    dump everybody in congress every 2 years?


    Your representative is up for re-election every 2 years. Each of your senators faces an election every 6 years. You can dump them if you'd like, by voting for someone else.

    A better solution: you should tell your elected officials how you feel about this issue. We can complain about our government all we want, but if we don't inform our representatives of our wishes, how can we expect Congress to heed them? Write your senator today and tell them how you feel about this tax proposal. (Be polite.) With the amount of people who visit Slashdot, I'm sure this would make an impact.

    And also, people should make sure they vote! We live in an age of low voter turnouts. You cannot expect to have your wishes reflected in a democracy if you do not exercise this fundamental right.
  • Last I heard, when Reagan lowered tax rates in the 80's, the revenues went *up*.

    Hmmm. Now, I was paying taxes in the '80's, and that's not quite how I remember it. I know that Reagan passed a huge tax increase (adjusted for inflation, it's still the largest increase in American history), and that the vast majority of that increase was paid by people whose income was less than $50k/year (and the majority of that hit people making less that $35k).

    IIRC, he did lower capital gains taxes (a couple of times), and also lowered the maximum tax rate. Both of these changes primarily benefitted people whose income was in excess of $100k/year.

    His brilliant economic policy also gave us 21% inflation, 18% mortgage rates, sent the budget deficit and national debt through the roof, created the largest economic gap between the rich and the poor that we've seen this century, and guaranteed that minimum wage could not be a "living wage" (it's whole purpose for existing).

    I would not hold him up as the poster child for the right way to run an economy.

  • by binarybits ( 11068 ) on Saturday July 31, 1999 @12:01PM (#1772811) Homepage
    do you REALLY want to live in a county with no public schools

    The public school system does a lousy job, so yes, I'd like to see them privatized. But even if we are going to have government schools, why should they be funded at the federal level? The Feds just take a cut and send it right back where it came from, with some strings attached. I don't see the point.

    no law enforcement

    Like the NSA's "counter-terrorism" activities? Or the FBI's murder of a peaceful religious cult in Waco, Texas? Or their sniping women, children, and dogs at Ruby Ridge? Or their locking up hundreds of thousands of non-violent pot smokers? Or the FDA's harrassing of alternative medical pracititioners?

    The list goes on practically forever. I'll agree that we need some law enforcement services, but the Feds have too much power as it is. I'd be happy to see The ATF, FBI, NSA, and most of the other alphabet soup agencies disbanded.

    public healthcare

    The government is responsible for the skyrocketing costs and lousy services of our health care system. I don't want them to get more control over it.

    social services

    Like the pyramid scheme called social security? I'll pass, thanks. I'd rather put my money into a private system that has a shot at giving me something back when I retire.

    no military defence.

    The US has been attacked once in the last 100 years. I don't think that we need the ridicuously large government to protect us from invasion. What our military has done is not protect us from harm, but gone around the world bombing innocent civilians, propping up petty dictators, subsidizing the militaries of Europe and Japan, and generally wasting our money while simultaneously makeing the entire third world hate our guts. You wanna know why we are always getting attacked by terrorists? because our government has screwed over some ethnic group in almost every country in the world. If we didn't undertake to get involved in every petty conflict, we wouldn't be the target of every single terrorist group.

    So no, I don't think I'm getting my money's worth, and I don't think that more taxes are going to do any good.
  • The notion you express (in a carefree flowing way), that military spending is necessary but education spending is not, is disturbing. Many of us would argue that both are important areas where our government (translation- us, or those we choose to represent us) has a place.

    But the difference is that education can be privately funded, while the military cannot. A private educational system would do a lot better job at educating our children, at lower cost, and with more parental control.

    The choice is not: government education or no education. It's: governemtn education versus private education. I'm opposed to government schools because I know how important education is, and I'm not willing to leave it to the government, which manages to screw up pretty much everything it touches.
  • Not really.

    There's a pretty easy solution. Online voting. A description of the issue along with opinion pieces by anyone who wants to comment, moderated up if it's a popular piece (so you can get the gist of the issue, and opinions about it from both sides). Then you vote on it, or proxy your vote to someone else you think can do a better job of it.

    And if you don't like how they're doing, or feel strongly enough about an issue to vote yourself, you take back your vote and control it yourself. It'd be like instant recall legislation. All 'elected' representative would face instant recall if they pissed people off enough to make those people want to cast their own votes.

    Terms in office could be decided every six months based on the two-hundred people with the most votes proxied to them.

    The only real problem I see would be in getting the current system out of power. A lot of people would NOT do well in a system where they were actually accountable to the people they supposedly represent, and would fight a system like this.

    Remember, we live in a 'representative democracy' not a democracy. In a democracy we'd all vote on all the issues. In a representative democracy, we vote on who will best (least badly?) represent us and then trust them to vote as we'd want.

    This system could even be designed to prevent 'bread and circuses'. Simply require a higher majority to vote in changes to existing law.

    And, if it all comes down around our ears and a dictator takes power, we'd have proven that we (collectively) deserve that.
  • An example of "trickle-down" theory in action (I believe the phrase "trickle-down" to be deplorable, by the way) is my county and the one to the south of us. I moved to Butler county (north of pittsburgh in Allegheney county) for one reason and only one reason: TAXES. I was paying 2.8 percent for income, I now pay 1. Sales tax is 7% in Allegheney, outlying areas have a tax of 6%

    You'd be amazed How much of a difference this makes. Also, if they taxed the internet transactions, I'd stop buying things online. The only reason I buy online is the tax break as well. For example my purchase of a palm IIIx saved me a heck of a lot of money:

    Compusa $370 + 25.09 in tax = ~400 dollars.
    Buy.com $293 + 10.00 s+h = 303 dollars.

    You see, I saved ~100 dollars on my purchase! That's called being a smart consumer. Take every advantage.

    BTW: you mentioned how taxes discourage purchase, but you don't mention encouraging purchases.

    I'll give one:

    Japanese dump foreign steel. We tariff them to make sure things are "fair" (which is an abuse of the system) Steel mills are happy, American car manufacturers are not.
  • His brilliant economic policy also gave us 21% inflation

    21% inflation? I don't think so. If I remember right, we had "stagflation" throughout the 70s, with an average inflation rate of about 10%. It's possible the inflation rate was up there in 81 or 82-- but that's more Carter's fault than Reagan's By the late-80's, inflation was down to just a few percent. And it's been all but non-existent since the middle of Bush's term. Remember that Alan Greenspan was originally appointed by Reagan (or maybe bush, don't remember exactly) so Reagan should get at least some credit for the lack of inflation we have today. To blame Reagan for inflation that had existed for a decade before he came to office and which he helped reduce is ridiculous.

"It says he made us all to be just like him. So if we're dumb, then god is dumb, and maybe even a little ugly on the side." -- Frank Zappa

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