Christmas tree tax delayed

November 9, 2011

I’m betting the public left some coal in the president’s stocking.

Background.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

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California’s “Amazon tax” a colossal bust — UPDATED: repeal referendum?

July 12, 2011

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the shortsighted stupidity shown by Governor Brown and the Democrat-dominated legislature when they passed a bill forcing Amazon to collect sales tax on sales made through California-based affiliates: Golden State, stupid state.

Now more evidence has piled up to show how dumb an idea this was. From Board of Equalization member and former state senator George Runner, here’s a list of the businesses that have ended their affiliate programs in California:

6pm.com
Amazon.com
Audible.com
B&H Photo & Electronics Corp.
Backcountry
Barware.com
Beach Trading Co.
BeautyBar.com
BedBathStore
Benchmark Brands Inc.
CSN Stores
Diapers.com
Drugstore.com
Endless.com
Fabric.com
Gaiam
GiftBaskets.com
Hayneedle
Higher Power Inc.
Lacrosse.com
Muscle and Strength
MyHabit.com
Northern Tool
Overton’s
Overstock.com
PC Connection
Potpourri Group
Quidsi
ShindigZ.com
Shoebuy, Inc.
Shopbop
SmallParts.com
Soap.com
The Tire Rack
Thinkgeek.com
Total Gym
Wine Enthusiast
Woot.com
Zappos.com

Be sure to check out Runner’s post for some choice quotes from now-former affiliates.

Not only will Sacramento not collect any new sales tax money from these companies, but it has lost all the income tax revenue it was already collecting from the affiliates at a time when California is suffering from record debt and deficits. And it will hurt those families and small businesses making a bit of money from their affiliate relationships.

As the great Strother Martin said in Butch Cassidy, “Morons! I’ve got morons on my team!”

UPDATE: Well, this is interesting. A movement has started to place a repeal measure on the ballot If it survives the vetting process, I give it a good chance of passing.

Edit: Speaking of morons, I need to learn to proofread my subject lines for spelling.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


The wind-power farce

July 3, 2011

Maybe “scam” would be a better word for something that is pushed as a “green solution” to anthropogenic global warming (1) , yet doesn’t do what it promises to do, but what it does do is done at tremendous public cost, all while making the alleged problem worse. In the UK, wind farms have become the government’s centerpiece for fighting climate change (2). Christopher Booker, writing about this policy in the Telegraph, explains why wind power is a chimera worthy of Don Quixote tilting at windmills:

Centrica and other energy companies last week told [the Department of Energy and Climate Change] that, if Britain is to spend £100 billion on building thousands of wind turbines, it will require the building of 17 new gas-fired power stations simply to provide back-up for all those times when the wind drops and the windmills produce even less power than usual.

We will thus be landed in the ludicrous position of having to spend an additional £10 billion on those 17 dedicated power stations, which will be kept running on “spinning reserve”, 24 hours a day, just to make up for the fundamental problem of wind turbines. This is that their power continually fluctuates anywhere between full capacity to zero (where it often stood last winter, when national electricity demand was at a peak). So unless back-up power is instantly available to match any shortfall, the lights will go out.

Two things make this even more absurd. One, as the energy companies pointed out to DECC, is that it will be amazingly costly and wildly uneconomical, since the dedicated power plants will often have to run at a low rate of efficiency, burning gas but not producing electricity. This will add billions more to our fuel bills for no practical purpose. The other absurdity, as recent detailed studies have confirmed, is that gas-fired power stations running on “spinning reserve” chuck out much more CO2 than when they are running at full efficiency – thus negating any savings in CO2 emissions supposedly achieved by the windmills themselves.

And before we laugh and point at the Brits for their folly, keep in mind that these are the very same “solutions” that the Obama administration, its eco-statist allies, and the corporations that would benefit from the required government subsidies all want to impose on us. We even have a whole government agency devoted to pimping wind power, while the administration has shown repeatedly its hostility toward developing our vast coal and oil supplies.

Rather than laugh, we should look to Britain for a warning.

Footnotes:

(1) A problem, remember, that does not exist.

(2) Attempting to control the world’s thermostat. Someone should introduce these idiots to King Canute.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Golden state, stupid state

June 30, 2011

Regular readers know I often recommend books in my posts. If you’ve ever clicked on the links, you also sent a few pennies my way, due to my participation in Amazon’s “affiliate program.” I got even more if you actually bought something. It never amounted to much, just a few dollars a year, but it enabled me to get something here and there on Amazon that I might otherwise have passed on, thanks to you.

Now Amazon is shutting that program down, thanks to the State of California:

Unfortunately, Governor Brown has signed into law the bill that we emailed you about earlier today. As a result of this, contracts with all California residents participating in the Amazon Associates Program are terminated effective today, June 29, 2011. Those California residents will no longer receive advertising fees for sales referred to Amazon.com, Endless.com, MYHABIT.COM or SmallParts.com. Please be assured that all qualifying advertising fees earned before today will be processed and paid in full in accordance with the regular payment schedule.

That was part of an email I received yesterday from Amazon. The law in question is AB 27 X1, part of a budget deal to produce a balanced budget as required by law (and so legislators can start getting paid again, once the final budget is signed). Brown and the Democratic majority expect this extension of the sales tax to bring in about $200 million. I’d like to know what they were smoking, because Amazon hasn’t needed the revenue from Affiliates in years, but kept the program running as a way to build goodwill and customer loyalty. Since they didn’t need the revenue, and since California has now raised the cost of the program to more than Amazon was willing to pay, the company did what was predictable by anyone except a California Democrat — they pulled the plug. Sacramento won’t see a dime of that $200 million.

But wait, it gets better!

While my earnings were small potatoes (1), quite a few people made a business out of sending customers to Amazon. According to Moe Lane, California collected about $124 million in income tax revenue from people in the referral program. So, not only will they not get the $200 million, but they’ll lose the income tax money, too.

Genius, sheer genius. 

I’ve long said that to be a liberal Democrat requires one to forget even the basics of  economics; this would be the tax policy equivalent. Common sense tells you that, if you make the cost of business too high, the business will go away. We’ve already seen a lot of that in California, and this is another example because taxes and tax-handling are a cost of business.

California may once have been “The Golden State,” but the people who run it are treating it like the goose that laid the golden eggs, instead. Keep it up, and they’ll soon learn its moral.

The hard way.

LINKS: William Jacobson calls it the Revolt of the Amazon Kulaks. At Afterthoughts, Brandy feels like she’s been fired. Stacy McCain says Amazon has “gone Galt” and left Zimbabwe-on-the-Pacific. Katy Grimes of The Washington Examiner thinks this bill will cost California 25,000 small businesses. Way to go, Democrats! 

Footnotes:

(1) Well, really just a single, tiny potato…

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


The grenade in your lamp

April 20, 2011

Hey, you know those twisty compact fluorescent bulbs we’re being “encouraged” to buy because incandescents are so evil? You know, the light bulbs that are going to save the planet, because they’re (begin pious look) sustainable (sigh wistfully, end pious look)?

They can explode and burn your house down:

A compact fluorescent light (CFL) on the ceiling burst and started a fire in a home in Hornell, N.Y. December 23, 2010.  “Those are the lights everybody’s been telling us to use,” said Joe Gerych, Steuben County Fire Inspector.  “It blew up like a bomb. It spattered all over.”  Fire Chief Mike Robbins said the blaze destroyed the room where the fire started and everything in it, and the rest of the house suffered smoke and water damage.  The Arkport Village Fire Department as well as the North Hornell Fire Department required about 15 minutes to put out the fire.

Bulb explodes without warning,” reported NBCactionnews.com, May 21, 2010.
“Tom and Nancy Heim were watching TV recently, when Tom decided to turn on the floor lamp next to his recliner chair.  ‘I heard this loud pop…I saw what I thought was smoke, coming out of the top of the floor lamp,’ says Tom.  Nancy suddenly found glass in her lap.  She says, ‘I did not see it. I just heard it, and I noticed I had glass on me.'”

On February 23, 2011, TV NewsChannel 5 in Tennessee covered “a newly-released investigators’ report that blames a February 12 fatal fire in Gallatin on one of those CFL bulbs.”  Ben Rose, an attorney for the rehabilitative facility in which Douglas Johnson, 45, perished, said, “This result is consistent with our own private investigation. …We have heard reports of similar fires being initiated by CFLs across the country.”

Read the whole thing, and remember to ask your congressman and state legislator, who are probably so proud of how “green” they are, why they are trying kill you.

via Watt’s Up With That, which has more about why these things can go boom.

RELATED: Snopes on the mercury hazard of CFLs.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


European Union to ban cars by 2050?

March 29, 2011

In order to fight a problem that does not exist, the monster under the bed anthropogenic global warming, the European Union is pushing to ban automobiles by 2050:

The European Commission on Monday unveiled a “single European transport area” aimed at enforcing “a profound shift in transport patterns for passengers” by 2050.

The plan also envisages an end to cheap holiday flights from Britain to southern Europe with a target that over 50 per cent of all journeys above 186 miles should be by rail.

Top of the EU’s list to cut climate change emissions is a target of “zero” for the number of petrol and diesel-driven cars and lorries in the EU’s future cities.

Siim Kallas, the EU transport commission, insisted that Brussels directives and new taxation of fuel would be used to force people out of their cars and onto “alternative” means of transport.

“That means no more conventionally fuelled cars in our city centres,” he said. “Action will follow, legislation, real action to change behaviour.”

Not surprisingly, the Association of British Drivers has had a fit at the idea, calling it “economically disastrous” and “crazy.” While they’re right, that’s never stopped Green Statists in the past. I mean, what could be more desirable to their ethanol-fueled hearts than striking a blow against climate change (ignoring that it’s a natural process they cannot control) and at the same time constraining the individual liberty –in this case, the freedom of movement– of the citizen even more? I’m sure EUrocrats all over the Continent thrilled at the very idea.

And so did the buggy whip industry.

And thus we learn the Green Movement’s motto: Forward, into the past!!

via Pirate’s Cove

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Why California is circling the drain, one in a series

June 21, 2010

Consider this as another example of why California is going down the drain, fast. Staking his claim to supplant Assemblywoman Fiona Ma (D-Dope) as author of the stupidest idea in state legislative history, Senator Curren Price wants California to spend money to research turning your car’s license plate into little billboards:

Another one for the “you just can’t make this stuff up” files…  Democrat legislator Curran Price has introduced legislation that would explore requiring California automobiles replace their existing unobtrusive license plates with electronic signs — mini billboards.  The state would then sell advertising on them.  In the proposal, the ads would only pop up if the car was stationary at least four seconds.

Are you kidding?

Sadly, he isn’t.

First off, my car is my property. If anyone sells space on it for advertising, I should get the revenue. (Yeah, I know the state issues the plates, but they’re carried on my wheels.) Second, as Fleischman points out at Flash Report, what if I don’t like the product or cause being pimped? I don’t buy clothes carrying designer labels, why should my car be turned into someone else’s commercial? Will business vehicles wind up flashing commercials for their rivals?

Really, with state’s economy a wreck, it’s a crime that we’re wasting Senator Price’s salary and staff money on this nonsense. Hey, it’s great he’s trying to come up with new revenue, but how about something more sensible, like allowing oil drilling off the California coast? Or maybe cutting spending to meet revenue? Or easing up on the regulations that are driving businesses (and the taxes they pay) out of the state? Or… Oh, never mind. I forgot.

He’s a California Democrat.  Doh