Final Word

By Jeff Girod

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Posted July 7, 2011 in News

Governor Jerry Brown hates the Internet and wants to legislate us back to the days of rotary phones. That’s the message he sent by passing California’s new budget, which for the first time calls for a 7.25 percent base tax on online purchases from Internet companies such as Amazon.com.

Hmm, what’s the one thing in California that we haven’t completely destroyed with our bumbling ineptitude and complete inability to govern? The Internet? Quick, let’s suck all the joy, momentum and innovation out of it with taxes! And while we’re at it, let’s screw with everybody’s DMV registration some more.

The new Internet tax could bring in as much as $317 million a year in new state revenue. It may also drive away every single solitary businessperson capable of rubbing two nickels together, forcing them to relocate to states with friendlier tax regulations.

Wait a minute . . . there’s other states besides California in this country?!! Ruh oh, Jerry, sounds like somebody didn’t think this cunning plan through . . .

Amazon.com has already terminated working relationships with 25,000 California merchants in order to avoid charging its online customers sales tax. Countless other California retailers will also probably lose business from big online companies such as Amazon.com and Overstock.com, thanks to the new Internet sales tax.

And according to industry insiders, the governor’s Internet bill could cost several businesses up to 90 percent of their income, leaving the majority with no other option than to pack up and leave for greener pastures such as Oregon, Nevada, Texas and Mexico.

Seriously, California, why not just export Disneyland, Sea World and the Los Angeles Lakers so it will be pointless for anyone to visit here ever? Hell, we should just start printing Texas’ tourist brochures: “We have beaches, too, no earthquakes and at least we’re not tax-crazy like Governor Brown!”

Since Jerry Brown is in such a budget saving mood, why isn’t he cutting salary for the 120 “lawmakers” in Sacramento earning between $95,291 and $109,584 a year? That’s not counting the $142 per diem each lawmaker also gets for travel and “living expenses.” What the hell is a “living expense” anyway? And why isn’t it included in salary, just like for every other taxpayer? And isn’t pretty much everything anyone does a “living expense,” other than dying?

Then again, some people think the new Internet tax is a fantastic idea. I like to call these people idiots. Here’s one now:

“You can’t give one segment of retail a 10 percent discount every day. It’s just not fair,” said Bill Dombrowski, president of the California Retailers Association.

Let me tell you what’s fair, Bill. Fair doesn’t apply to companies such as Amazon and eBay and Google and Microsoft and Apple. Because if everyone was getting treated fairly, flawed incompetent business models such as Borders and Blockbuster would still be clogging our mini malls with their $30 coffee table books and Garfield VHS tapes.

You should be thanking Amazon for bringing commerce into the 21st century, instead of defending your antiquated idea of a ma ’n‘ pa general store where everyone is supposed to plop a wooden nickel down on the counter for a hunk of peppermint and a sack of feed.

See, Bill, Amazon is a place where I give my credit card number freely, regularly and encryptedly (not a word), while your two-bit lemonade stand, the California Retailers Association, might as well be called, the Whodiddy Lemondrop Monkey Farters, and nobody would even notice, or for that matter, give a monkey fart.

See, Bill, here’s the thing about the Internet: It’s awesome. And it’s chock-full of delicious deals and digital coupons. And what makes it so much better than irrelevant brick-and-mortar stores with their long lines and crappy parking and listless teenaged clerks with too-cool haircuts making $8 an hour is I can buy stuff whenever I want at 4 a.m. without putting on pants.

Pants, Bill! I may be pant-less right now.

And if the pants argument isn’t persuasive enough, try this on for size: In North Carolina and Rhode Island, tax revenues actually decreased after Internet laws similar to California’s were enacted, according to the Tax Foundation in Washington.

It’s enough to make you run to Amazon.com right now and buy a Speedo.

Contact Jeff Girod at finalword@ieweekly.com.


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