commented on Why Won't Representative Cathy McMorris Rogers Represent the Interests of Her District?
As fond as I am of the sales tax law, it most definitely is a new tax. In theory it may just replace the use tax, but in practice the use tax does not exist for consumer goods.
In practice, this bill will have the same economic effects as a new tax, for better or for worse. It will raise badly needed new revenue, but put additional burdens on certain businesses and consumers. I believe the positives outweigh the negatives, but I think it is dishonest to ignore the negatives.
commented on US Senate Approves Internet Sales Tax
@20 The post office and the shipping companies make it easy to calculate shipping costs, and most of them base it on zip code. They provide their own databases and software to generate quotes, and if they quote you the wrong price, they usually stand by it. Nobody goes to jail for making an error on a shipping label.
There are about 10,000 sales tax jurisdictions in the country, and they do not line up with zip codes. There are databases that will convert an address to a jurisdiction, but these are made by third parties, not the government, and they sometimes make mistakes.
Even if you have a perfect geographic database, you have to figure out whether there are special higher or lower rates that apply to particular product categories, and the exact definition of those categories in each jurisdiction. This requires human judgement and is hard to automate.
Finally, you have to be prepared to be audited by any of the 45 states that collect sales tax. When this happens, you'd better have an accountant or attorney who knows that state's laws.
I'm willing to believe that it is reasonable for a $1 million business to deal with all of this, but please do not go on thinking it is trivial.
commented on A Pay Raise That Olympia Can Get Behind
Wouldn't 10 cents a mile have been really generous back in 1891? Perhaps that benefit was added or updated somewhat later? Or were horses just that much more expensive than autos?
commented on When Publishers Collapse, Authors Pay the Price
@3 Skyhorse is asking the authors to agree to a modified contract. If enough authors agree to the new terms, Skyhorse will complete the sale and promises to pay out the money that Nightshade already owed the authors.
I don't know what happens to authors who decline the new contract, nor am I sure what happens if the sale falls through and Nightshade files for bankruptcy.
commented on Mt. Rainier Moves to Ban Bottled Water, Big Bottle is Pissed
@3 If you collect your own water directly from streams and lakes you have to worry about sterilizing it, which is not hard but can be inconvenient. If you get it from the park's plumbing, it has gone through processing similar to the municipal water systems you deplore.
commented on "A kilo is a kilo is a kilo."
My new plan for flying: buy the seat next to me and leave it empty. Air is about 1.2 kg/m^3, so I should be able to buy a lot of elbow room for my dollar.
commented on Are Theo's "Fair Trade" Chocolates Unfair to Seattle Workers?
@60 Of course it matters. It is not illegal for a company to say to its workers that they believe that a union is not a good idea. It is illegal for them to say or imply that the workers will be fired if they vote for a union. Somewhere in between those extremes is the legal limit of what a company can do.
And how is it an equal relationship with labor if the union can bring in outside experts and money to lobby the workers, but the company is not allowed to do the same?