Wednesday, July 27, 2011

If I Were In Charge

If I were in charge....

...I’d order corporate travel programs to boycott all airlines that didn’t pass along to the buyer the funds from the recently expired federal tax on airplane tickets. Except for Alaska and Spirit, to my knowledge, all airlines have chosen to raise fares by an amount equal to the expired tax, reasoning the consumer already is used to paying the higher amount so why not pocket the tax portion no longer being collected for the government. The tax averaged about $20 for a $200 ticket. It’s all very legal, but not really ethical.

I’d maintain the boycott until the airlines dropped the greedy pricing practice. The only way to force airlines to behave is to hit them where it hurts. If it’s too much trouble to boycott all the airlines, then single one out. Within days it will lower prices, no doubt followed by the rest of the fly-boys.

...I’d require all states to pass laws requiring Internet retailers with nexus (offices, warehouses, or other tangible assets) within their borders to collect sales taxes. When the Internet began, it was appropriate to give Web retailers a break. But Internet retailing is quite vibrant these days; the price advantage most cyberspace merchants receive is unfair to brick and mortar companies.

Moreover, those sales tax dollars are desperately needed by state and local governments. They’d also help offset the loss of revenue (from sales and property taxes) when retailers, such as Borders Group, go out of business.

I would exclude Internet start-ups from tax collection liability either for their first five years of operation or until their sales exceed $50 million a year.

...I would require all newscasts and newspapers to show past positions (by date) of politicians featured in stories as a way of exposing hypocrisy or at least changed thinking. It’s truly ludicrous that for the most part only Jon Stewart on The Daily Show goes back to the archives to reveal outright reversals of previously hallowed statements. People (and by that I mean, reporters and editors), let’s get some accountability here, not just for politicians but also for your actions.

...I would disallow government pensions or other retirement benefits for any politician or public servant who resigns because of a sex or ethics scandal (or a felony conviction of any kind), regardless of how many “clean” years he or she served.

...I’d require all politicians to pass an economics class that includes some simple lessons. First, while businesses often resort to cost-cutting measures for short-term profit enhancement, long-term growth can occur only if revenues are raised.

Second, businesses will seek any way they can to increase profits and reduce taxes, even if it means not acting in the national interest, e.g., sending jobs overseas rather than employing more Americans.

Third, cost-cutting can be effective if it does not harm the product, such as by substituting inferior raw materials, or by delivering less value to the consumer.

Fourth, government is analogous to business in that budgets may be balanced by cutting programs, but the value passed onto the public may suffer in the form of fewer police and firemen, lower social security payments, fewer parks, more children per classroom, etc.

Fifth, given the aging of the baby boomer generation and their increased use of Medicare and social security, more revenue generation is required, generally in the form of more tax collections.

Sixth, businesses and individuals often live beyond their current means. They borrow against the future. Individuals do that when they buy a home through a mortgage or make credit card purchases; businesses do that by issuing bonds. There’s nothing sinister or bad in those practices. For anyone in our government to believe it is now a smart move to stifle the future is a repudiation of capitalism as practiced today in the United States.

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