This is a direct response to this.
I really despise rent seekers. When these people can’t compete in the marketplace, instead of investing their resources into retooling their business model, they spend their money on lobbyists to force legislators to kill the competition. I am a member of the Congressional Federal Credit Union. I do not like it when banks try to push legislation to cripple the credit unions because they can’t compete with the credit unions’ business model as a nonprofit cooperative which allows them to offer better rates.
(Free advertising: If you do not qualify for credit union membership and need to go with a bank, be a member of McLean’s own Chain Bridge Bank. I am a member of Chain Bridge Bank in addition to the Congressional Federal Credit Union. Chain Bridge Bank offers the best rates, offers the best customer service that you would expect from a small community bank, and practice sound fiscal principles that garnered them recognition as one of America’s safest banks. Tell them Phil Tran sent you.)
Likewise, as a person who has not bought an item other than food from a brick-and-mortar store for ages, I do not like it when brick-and-mortar stores seek to tear down successful internet business models instead of stepping their game up. Things change. Change or die. Blockbuster, Circuit City, many movie theaters, and virtually every mall in America not named Pentagon City (Arlington, VA) or Tysons Corner Center/Tysons Galleria (Tysons Corner, VA) died because they thought the internet was a fad or were slow to react to change in the free market and the market passed them by.
I don’t miss the average American mall, Blockbuster, Circuit City, arcades, or other brick-and-mortar establishments. Internet shopping is a much better experience. Even with an internet tax to “level the playing field” and bring “fairness,” brick-and-mortar stores are still on the path to irrelevance. Public services have not fallen apart in the last decade because we did not capture sales tax revenues from internet transactions. If public services are indeed falling apart (and some are), they are falling apart due to mismanagement, not lack of funding. Cut spending.
These brick-and-mortar stores are acting like unions. When highly specialized entrepreneurs face hard times, they change course, learn new skills, and find creative ways to grow their business during an economic downturn. When highly specialized employees face hard times, instead of trying to change and adapt, some form a union to preserve the status quo against all reason and reality. During the industrial age, unions served a useful purpose because manufacturing was backbreaking work that can be made worse with abusive workplace practices. We live in the information age now without those problems and unions only serve to impede progress in an information age economy.
Here are two solutions.
1. Eliminate the sales taxes on brick-and-mortar stores if we really care about “fairness.” The brick-and-mortar stores are going to die anyway because the internet rules the day. More businesspeople today are looking at commercial real estate as an investment folly and would rather work from the friendly confines of home and keep more of the money they earn.
2. This is much better than #1 and is by far the best solution. Eliminate the income tax which is a tax on hustle and jack up the sales tax. This is proposed every year in Congress as the Fair Tax. Why is the prevailing culture in this nation vacuous, superficial, and materialistic? It is in part because we punish hustling through the income tax and reward consumption through low sales taxes. Do you want to be a maker (hustler) or do you want to be a taker (consumer)? Our public policies punish hustling and reward taking.
Beyond the battle between brick-and-mortar stores and internet businesses, this is a big business vs. small business battle. If we truly want to protect America’s stature as the land of opportunity, we need to support small business. In America, especially in today’s information age, the barriers to entry in business are so low that any aspiring person with a computer, a phone, an internet connection, a dream, and a lot of drive can start a self-sufficient, successful business from home. Do we really want that enthusiastic teenager, that ambitious recent graduate, that stay-at-home mother, or that stay-at-home father to have to comply with 9600 different tax districts when they mail a product? They say they can cure this with software. Well that means I would no longer need an accountant because I can simply use Turbo Tax, right? (Not!)
Finally, this is a battle between old America and new America. I stand with the future. Old America has romanticized memories of piling into the car, driving to the mall, shopping till they drop, hitting the food court, playing at the arcade, and catching a movie. As part of the Millenial Generation, I see this as wasting valuable business productivity being stuck in traffic, finding less selections in store as opposed to the world marketplace of the internet, unhealthy fast food, and blowing money on activities that come at a much lower cost today at home via the internet.
The market will always move faster than the government. Young, ambitious entrepreneurs see the world they want to live in and make it a reality. Elected officials are old and obsolete from a bygone era. After serving in public office, they have lost their imagination and ingenuity and hold on to nostalgic, romanticized images of their younger days. These images shape the worldview in which these old politicians use to shape public policy. These old elected officials do not see what the young entrepreneurs see and do not craft the right public policies to allow creativity and innovation to flourish.
It is time to return public service to its part-time roots. Government was never intended to be a full-time job because the framers wanted elected officials to live in the real world so they can understand how to formulate effective public policy. Even the “part-time” state legislatures in America like the Virginia General Assembly are full-time jobs in reality because politics has now become a year-round sport. In addition to fighting unfair, backwards, dinosaur-era legislation like the “Marketplace Fairness Act” we need to severely cut down and restrict the time elected officials and challenger candidates spend “on the clock” in politics regardless of where they are so they can spend more time on the clock in the real world like the rest of us. Does this unconstitutionally restrict the movement of elected officials and challenger candidates throughout the year? Of course it does, but less freedom for the politicians to politic year-round means more freedom for the people.