I received this letter today:
I found it quite silly for a number of reasons. First, and I know I’m going to get stoned for this (wait – I know it’s close to 4/20, but I mean the kind of stoned where they throw rocks at you, not the kind of stoned where mentally deficient types put things into their bodies to hide their mental deficiencies from themselves), but we should be paying sales taxes when we buy stuff online. I, as much as anyone, have enjoyed the sales tax holiday online for years. That doesn’t mean it’s right, any more than installing “you tube downloader” on firefox and using it to collect music and TV shows. Not that I’m going to quit, but that doesn’t make it right. Our states depend on that revenue. When you are driving down bumpy roads, when you don’t ever see a cop around when you need one, when your kid’s school is falling apart, and you wish they would fix all that, that’s part of where sales tax comes in.
When we all cheat, and order stuff online and don’t pay the tax, our states get shitted out of a lot of money. Sure some of that money is going to put marble floors in the warden’s office, and some will pay for the governor to fly to Argentina to get some trim, but hey, some will make it into roads and schools eventually.
No, I’m not going to bring up small businesses. Yes, they’ve been getting screwed, but they have been getting screwed by BIG businesses for a while any way. Wal-Mart, Lowes, and Target have all but swallowed up the mom and pop stores. I remember when VCRs first became popular. Every dinky little convenience store had video rental clubs. Then Blockbuster and that ilk came in and wiped them out, and charged us more. Then, in a twist I would never guess, Red-box came around and let people rent movies out of a vending machine, and Blockbuster got what it deserved. So, small businesses make way for big businesses, and better big businesses wipe out the less efficient ones. I think Wal-Mart is safe, though, what other business lets people shop in their pajamas?
The “Marketplace fairness act” is supposedly there to help small businesses. It forces businesses to collect sales tax on internet sales. But here’s the kicker”
It exempts small online businesses with less than fifty employees and a million dollars in annual sales. How is that “fair”? I know a lot of small businesses that likely do less than a million dollars in sales, and THEY have to pay sales taxes. So, we see what it really is about. Congress wants their states to get a piece of the pie, without making it TOO tough on cottage vendors online. Why run them out of business?
eBay evidently wants this pushed up to ten million in annual sales. Seriously? Ten million is the cutoff? So they just want the top earners to be screwed, and leave everyone else with the continued sales tax holiday. That seems sort of shallow to me… I don’t see them looking after the consumer. If they WERE concerned at all about the consumer, they would stop forcing “paypal” down their user’s throats, a service which can freeze your account at will and hold your money for six months for any or no reason, a service so hated by users there is a website called paypalsucks.com
No thanks, eBay, I’m not drinking your Kool-Aid. I don’t really see this sales tax thing being that much of an issue. After all, there are a lot of great reasons to shop online:
1.You’re not in a store. No dealing with crappy parking, asshole bell-ringing bums or other beggars outside the entrance, no endless searches down aisles looking for stuff without help. Even if you find someone to help they often don’t have a clue what you are talking about or where something might be. Seriously, I ask if you have X and you look at the shelf for five minutes? I can do that. Run to the back and get it for me… don’t stare blankly at the shelf. There was a time when you had to know something about the product you were selling. Go into Radio Shack and ask them where the 555 Timer ICs are.
Radio Shack: You’ve got questions, We’ve got blank stares.
2. Price comparing is really, really fast. Even if you are in a mall, running from store to store takes a lot of time. It’s like shopping for a car – they make it tedious so you’ll just go ahead and buy. You might as well buy what you want from the first place you find it, by the time you waste half a day looking around, you could have been home programming it or wearing it or shooting something with it. Online, I can get six different prices from stores all over the country in about fifteen seconds. Yes, sometimes it is all about price.
3. IF you have to order it for me, I can just do it myself. Brick and mortar stores can’t hold everything. There is a bookstore I know that never has what I want. I get told “we can order that for you”. Well, Duh! I know you can. If I wanted it ordered, I would have done it on Amazon. I want it RIGHT NOW, for whatever reason. And I don’t want you to refuse to order something for me, just because it doesn’t mesh with your beliefs. Amazon is getting smart, and getting ready for the sales tax thing. By making tax deals with states, they will build warehouses across the country, enjoy tax breaks, and be able to overnight almost anything, anywhere. So by pushing for “marketplace fairness”, it might improve shipping times and put amazon closer than ever.
4. The adage that “mom and pop” stores have better customer service rings true, even online. Small businesses that are going to prosper are going to have to go online. That’s a simple truth. I know of a few cottage vendors that sell hiking and camping stuff. They are little mom and pop (or boyfriend and girlfriend) businesses that have figured out how to make stuff that people need, and advertise online. I would never go to BFE, Ohio to buy something. But online, the small business survives and prospers. Why? Because they have something that you can’t get at a big box store, something designed and built by americans in small buildings and garages. They survive on word of mouth and good reviews. They don’t complain about big businesses taking their customers, because their customers don’t and can’t GO to big businesses for what they have.
And, after all, online you can shop in your pajamas without winding up somewhere like “peoplewalmart.com”