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OUTRAGE ROUNDUP! 

OUTRAGE ROUNDUP! Sometimes we find so much to be outraged about we can't pick a single topic. As veteran Outrage readers know, that can only mean one thing - Outrage Roundup!


Today's roundup starts with the governors of the United States, who are banding together to support a tax on the sale of goods and services purchased over the Internet. "There appears to be universal Democratic and Republican support for such action" said the Republican governor of Oklahoma, Frank Keating. Leave it to the nation's politicians to find a way to kill electronic commerce before it even gets off the ground. (We thought that Republicans were supposed to be opposing taxes, not finding new things to tax?)

Speaking of finding new things to tax, how about a tax on stories about crime? Georgia state legislator Chuck Sims, who happens to be an undertaker by profession, has proposed a "crime stories tax". Sims proposes a 10% tax on the revenue of newspapers and other media, like the Outrage, that is related to publishing "factual accounts about any crime." The legislation is designed to raise money to compensate crime victims. (Our friends at the Positive Press probably think a tax on crime stories is a great idea.)

Speaking of free speech, or the lack thereof, a Vermont lawmaker has proposed an "agricultural disparagement" law that would allow for civil suits against those who make untrue and disparaging comments about perishable food products. We wonder how Oprah feels about this one? We also wonder if the ruling passion of legislators is an insatiable desire to provide business for the legal profession?

Where do all these brilliant legislative ideas come from? Well, many are proposed by attorneys - men like Washington lawyer David Duncan Reynolds. But Mr.Reynolds won't be practicing law for a little while - he's headed to jail. Reynolds has been convicted for drunk driving - not once - not twice - not three times - not four, five, six, or seven times - but eight yes, count 'em eight times. Despite his position as an officer of the court, Reynolds received probation for his first seven convictions.

Where do these Masters of the Universe receive their training? Harvard, of course, is the place where future legislators, lawyers, and aspiring power-mongers learn to rule the lessor beings of the earth (that would be you and me). Despite their rigorous training we're glad to say that students at Harvard still have time to get Outraged over the weightier issues of the world - like making sure they have two-ply toilet paper.

It seems that the issue of one-ply versus two-ply really got dirty, with Harvard Crimson columnist Geoffrey Upton instigating a successful rebellion with comments like "You don't think Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis '68 goes home to one-ply every night do you?" Go boy go! - let the bourgeois ruling class know that you won't stand for oppression!


CORRECTIONS, READER INSPIRATION, ETC.

We had made a disparaging comment some time ago about Hillary Clinton's "right wing conspiracy" explanations about her husband's infidelities. But, lo and behold, there really is a Vast Right Wing Conspiracy

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0 comments on “OUTRAGE ROUNDUP!

  1. I want to know about sex

    Time: 3/4/98 (22:54:9)

    Socialism to me is a bad word, but one segment of our society needs socializing, those are the lawyers. Take the profit away and they simplify the laws. then every one would be equal under the law. Could work.

    we found this very entertaining! Keep it coming!

    Time: 3/3/98 (18:5:36)

    please have people respond to recent polling efforts:

    http://hpol.harrispollonline.com/feb98a.htm

    Sam, my point was that these are not actually special taxes. The governers are just trying to expand the current use tax laws to make them easier to enforce. Right now, if I am a mail order or internet company, I can simply refuse to comply with the law, and there’s little most states can do about it.

    Notice catalogs that only collect sales tax in a few states? That’s because they have an actual _presence_ in those states, and so can be compelled to comply with the law in those states. They don’t physically exist in the other states and so can flout the law.

    Don’t get me wrong — I don’t even agree with use tax at all! I think that if you don’t purchase something in your own state, on the internet or off, you should NOT be paying any state sales tax packaged as use tax. I agree with you that the proper solution is to abolish use tax entirely. But the point is that people misunderstand and think they are creating a “new tax” instead of trying to enforce an existing (albeit bogus) tax.

    these law-making legislators are screwing the whole country.it is shame full that tax dollars support their mischevios power-hungry ways. at least clinton is not screwing the nation. taxes like monica severely sucks.

    Time: 3/2/98 (19:17:49)

    How will they tax encrypted commerce ?

    This proposed internet tax goes hand in hand with the “exit tax” for expatriates passed in January. As commerce goes “cyber/global” it’s going to be harder for all governments to get their hands in our pockets. Anonymous, encrypted cybercash will make paying taxes truly a voluntary act. The tax collector sees all this coming and is fighting it tooth and nail , for it will slowly strangle their cash flow.This is what the battle over the “Clipper Chiip” encryption is really about, not terrorists and criminals.

    So if special Internet taxes are created, then the companies that are currently flouting the use tax will come to heel?

    Any company that _did_ comply with the special Internet taxes would then end up paying _both_ the use tax and the special tax, while those who continue to flout the law would pay neither. The solution is not more taxes, but better endforcement…or better yet do away with the use taxes and bring everyone into compliance.

    I really enjoyed the Outrage about the National art museiums. Thanks very much, Chris

    In regards to the sales tax issue, the problem here is that many mail order and internet companies don’t follow the law. When you purchase goods from a mail order company in another state, they are supposed to pay your state “use tax” which is basically sales tax levied because the purchaser lived in the taxing state. Many mail order companies do not collect or pay this tax but are in violation of the law. The internet issue is the same one, but it is getting more publicity.

    re: tax on internet sales

    There is no need for a tax on internet sales. They are no different from sales through the catalogues which stuff our mailboxes

    Barfboy, if the Oprah, or as you call her Okra suit was not about the agricultural disparagement laws, then what was it about. Maybe some of the things she said were exagerrated, but just because she is famous does not mean she does not have first ammendment rights. You may think her show is trash, and sometimes it is, but there is a simple fix for that, it is called a remote control. Just because she said she will never eat another burger again does not mean she should be sued. Now imagine if you said that you would never eat at McDonalds again, do you think McDonalds should be able to sue you for that. And think about this the tobacco companies say that nicotine is not addictive, even though it is quite clear that it is even more addictive than heroin. Tobbaco is an agricultural product, so is it not possible that the tobbaco companys could use these agricultural disparagement laws to prohibit people from badmouthing tobbaco. Remember with these laws the burden of proof is on the accused, not the accuser. While I am not an Oprah fan, I will fight for her right to free speech.

    Oprah’s show about mad cow disease was irresponsible and stupid…but slanderous?

    If she had said “XYZ Corp. does not observe proper sanitary procedures, so its beef may make you sick,” _that_ would certainly be slanderous (assuming it isn’t actually true). All she did was showcase a self-proclaimed “expert” who said that the beef industry sometimes feeds ground-up animal parts to other animals. I don’t think a specific person or company was accused of having unsafe beef.

    Oprah said that she’d been scared out of eating another burger, which was probably a true, though stupid, statement. Slander has to be false, not just dumb. If there was any actual slander on the show it was committed by Howard Lyman, the guest who hyped his zealous vegetarianism with misleading scare-mongering about BSE (there has never been a case in the U.S.). He certainly made misleading, if not false, statements to push his social agenda–but should the definition of slander really be expanded to include broad statements made about an industry in general? Why not a demographic group? Should a TV preacher be sued for disparaging remarks he makes about atheists? Can members of the VRWC sue Hillary Clinton for slander? The definition of slander could be expanded to encompass many such flights of fancy.

    Vegie-libel laws are a prime example of government creep. First they say they can regulate free speech and free press only to prevent obscenity or slander. Then the definitions of obscenity and slander grow…and grow, and grow to encompass anything and everything with which the bureaucrat du jour disagrees. By the time anybody notices the de facto repeal of the First Ammendment, everyone’s become accustomed to it and just assumes that’s the way things are supposed to be.

    The Oprah show often revolves around her credulity towards junk science, but that scarcely makes it slanderous. What happens to free speech in a society that makes it a crime simply to be mistaken, where anyone who opens his mouth or sets pen to paper may inadvertantly be committing a crime?

    Bill,

    If I understand correctly, when you order stuff over the phone or by mail, you typically _don’t_ pay sales tax _unless_ you live in the same state as the vendor from whom you are ordering.

    Can anyone back me up on this, or am I mistaken?

    If you really want to “keep the playing field level” then the same rule should apply to the Internet. In any case, the tax burden in this country is already outrageous, so there is absolutely _no_ excuse for the creation of _any_ additional taxes.

    To all of you Oprah-Okra-Opie apologists==The Cattlemen vs. Okrah trial was not about the freedom of speech. The Queen of trash TV committed a clear case of slander against the beef industry. Slander is not protected under the First Amendment. She should have been taken for every penny she had. Fatso in conjunction with a radical liberal vegetarian clearly conspired to destroy the beef industry. I am completely against any type of “Agricultural Disparagement” law, but the Okrah case has nothing to do with it. It seems that celebrities can get away with anything in the US. OJ got away with murder and Okrah got away with slander.

    Time: 2/27/98 (0:49:7)

    Hmmm. A tax on internet goods, eh? Well, we will just see about that. There will be a meeting in Boston on April 15th, of everyone who is peddling products over the internet. We will march valiently, fearlessly to Boston Harbor, and there throw our computers into the bay. I have a feeling in my water about this. It could be the start of something big.

    To Derald – I respect your comments. Every business has costs associated with it. This proposed tax is not a proposed federal sales tax, but a proposal by the governors of the US who are concerned about collecting their rightfully due and legal sales taxes. If I order from the JCPenney book I pay sales tax because JCP has a store in my state. Don’t misunderstand my point – I HATE PAYING TAXES AS MUCH AS ANYONE, BUT KEEP THE PLAYING FIELD LEVEL. I sometimes think that cyber based businesses think they are above the law and should be exempt “just because”. They are no different than any other startup company which takes big risks by investing in a business concept.

    PEACE!

    To Bill (no E-mail Address Provided)

    You appear to be lacking a little knowledge of E-Commerce activities. Pick up a Sears or JC Penny Catalogue, or look at a piece of Junk Mail advertising a product you can order and then look at an E-Commerce Site. You can fill out a form with all the necessary information for all of the aforementioned marketing examples and order a desired product. Why should an E-Commerce catalog site be charged an additional tax that Sears and JC Penny or any other catalog sales organization does not have to pay?

    Here is a basic list of E-Commerce Site Expenses: Software, Internet Connection Lines, Server expenses, Product purchases
    Product Warehousing Expenses, Credit Card and check validation services, Site creation and management personnel. All of these require the employment of people meaning that wages are paid and taxes collected and also on sales within the State where the site originates there will be sales taxes paid in almost all instances.

    It all happens in the background, you don’t see the Purchasing agents, sales and stock clerks, cashier or the person who may help you with the heavy packages as you leave the store location with your purchase. Just because you don’t see them doesn’t mean there isn’t a person earning a wage and paying taxes. Your purchasing agent is still buying the goods, your stock clerk is still there running the warehouse operations, your sales clerk is creating the pictures and Web pages and creating your interface to the product and the cashier is still confirming your checks and Credit Cards just like they do in any retail business. The Store Building isn’t static like your local K-Mart but it’s just as real and is still an expense to the Site operator. Beginning to get the Picture?

    Now really does it sound fair to place a Federal Sales Tax on E-Commerce exclusively?

    Derald

    re: sales tax on internet transactions

    Why should internet retailers (and mail order companies) have an unfair competetive advantage over traditional retailers who make in investment in the communities in which they do business by investing in “brink and mortar” physical plant, property taxes, job creation, etc?

    Internet and mail order houses absolutely serve a purpose. They provide goods and services which may not be readily available from retailers in the community, but they should not expect to receive sales and profits from a community without contributing to the economy from which they extract those profits.

    Wow! This is more like the Outrage I remember! These are truly outrageous. Keep up the good work!

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