Tuesday, May 5, 2009

How Politicos give Government a bad name

Two completely insane things are happening in Massachusetts politics and law right now.

The first is that several Attorneys General (including ours) are meeting with the poor CraigsList people to demand they stop allowing advertising for their "Erotic Services." This, in the wake a sensational local story of a handsome, soon-to-be-married Med Student who allegedly got some income and kicks from beating and robbing prostitutes and providers of "erotic massage" he contacted through Craigslist.

I find it shocking that anyone, but particularly someone as educated as our state AG must be, thinks that anyone can curtail an illegal activity through limiting the advertising of something that is completely legal. The illegal part can't be fixed through cutting the adds. As an example... I could easily offer sexual services to clients who contacted me for COMPUTER REPAIR, once we had met. ("Now that I've defragged your hard drive... I do offer a range of other services that involve my own hard drive...") I could also, very easily, be bound, beaten, and robbed by someone who had met me through my add for COMPUTER REPAIR. ("Thanks for coming to fix my hard drive. Stick 'em up!")

The problem isn't the add, the problem is (a) the prostitution and (b) the robbing, neither of which can be explicitly advertised on Craigslist. You really think these underground cultures and economies won't adapt to whatever situation arises from these meetings? You honestly think, for example, that a prositute won't simply start posting adds in the COMPUTER REPAIR sections offering, among other "services," "I'll defrag your hard drive!"

Craigslist specifically created the "Erotic Services" sections because of adds like this. People who really wanted to have thier computer fixed were having to slog through scores of tongue in cheek (among other places) adds in order to find techs to fix a PC. To say nothing of the people looking for erotic services or prostitutes to beat and rob having to take the chance that they might, in fact, have contracted a 45 year old computer geek with a tool bag and a thumb drive, instead an 18 year old blonde with an oral fixation.

Dude. This is a joke, and the salary these AGs are drawing while they worked on this idea and attended these meetings should be returned. There's no way the kind of action the AG's are looking for will in any way curtail the illegal activities they are seeking to curtail. They're just wasting everyone's time and money.

And what else? Right now, the Massachusetts DORSP Department of Revenue (and Screwing People), or DOR, for short, is suing a local Mass retailer. The case has now risen to the state supreme court. At issue is the state's contention that, since the retailer has stores in Mass, its should ALSO have charged Mass Taxes on Mass residents who made purchases from the retailer's "Tax Free New Hampshire" locations.

That's right- a New Hampshire retail store was supposed to charge Mass taxes to Mass residents who went to NH for tax free purchases.

The following issues immediately come to mind:
1) How exactly does the Mass DOR enforce a tax in NH?
2) Aren't there enough things for retailers to worry about, without them having to police customers?
3) Does that mean a company with stores in both states can charge no tax on NH residents who buy in Mass? What about stores based in states with higher tax rates, like New York?

No, this whole thing is a ludicrous exercise in grandstanding. The Mass SJC will have to concede that whoever owns the overall company, a brick-and-mortar retail store is bound by the laws in the state in which it resides. To force a company to collect different taxes on different customers is an insane idea. The SJC will also have to concede that people have a right to drive 100 miles to buy in "Tax-Free New Hampshire" and that this is just the way things sometimes work in a free society. NH faces different issues than Massachusetts, and they tackle them differently, apparently, than the Mass state legislature. That's the way things are.

I'd also like to point out that if, somehow, the SJC and our AG figure out a legal way to impose Mass law in other states, I'd demand they then apply that logic, and that legal setup, to Gay Marriage in California, and Mass Educational Standardards in Kentucky. Nevada should enforce its prostitution and gambling laws in Indianna and Utah. And California should export its Auto Emission Standards to all states, as well. After all, many people from all over the country sometimes drive there.

Because that's what we're talking about here.


Scoopernicus said...

I don't know if this law is still in effect, but people who lived in New Hampshire, and worked in Maine (like for example, the Portsmouth Navel Shipyard, which despite it's name is in Maine) paid Maine income tax, which is fine, BUT, the State of Maine also insisted that the spouses of these same workers, who worked in New Hampshire, also had to pay Maine income tax, which really is unfair. I'd like to think the Maine state legislature came to their senses and did away with that eventually, but it was pretty cracked to begin wiht to think you could collect tax on the income of someone who lived and worked in another state.

Vox Populi said...

I found a fantastic article on the Town Fair Tire debacle, which says, in part:

"Whatever one calls it, the cross-jurisdictional tax blatantly violates the U.S. Constitution. Through its commerce clause, that document ensured a massive free-trade zone that has for more than two centuries prevented interstate trade wars of the sort that Massachusetts has launched. Massachusetts, in a greedy grab for more dollars, has imperiled a key component of American prosperity."

You should read the whole article from the American Spectator here:
http://spectator.org/archives/2009/05/13/the-tentacles-of-taxachusetts .