Tuesday, August 31, 2004

TODAY'S HEADLINERS (Tues. 8/31)

The state of Michigan is tired of getting cheated out of its rightful share of out-of-state purchases online and through catalogues, according to the Lansing State Journal. New tax codes in the state will be unveiled tomorrow in the hopes that out-of-state businesses will "voluntarily" participate in collecting taxes. Ha ha. "The state loses about $265 million each year in unpaid sales taxes on products purchased by Michigan residents from companies outside the state. Out-of-state firms are not required by law to collect sales taxes for the state of Michigan, and the vast majority of residents don't report the purchases on their tax returns." Gee I wonder why? It's like they think it's their money or something. Despite the optimism of Michigan politicians, they face a small obstacle: "A series of U.S. Supreme Court cases have prevented states from requiring businesses without a presence in their state from collecting and remitting sale taxes." Presence shmesence.

New York Gov. George Pataki has finally repealed a state law banning liquor store employees from working after hours, reports the AP in the Albany Times-Union. The archaic law banned employees from doing ordinary chores like accept shipments or stock shelves after they had closed. I can only imagine why the law was there in the first place. "Maziarz, a Niagara County Republican, said the easing of the work activities rule this year stemmed from complaints of liquor store owners who took advantage of the Sunday sales law of 2003. Those owners expected to use the one day they were closed during the week to meet with salesmen, accept deliveries and perform other chores. But an interpretation of the law by the state Liquor Authority said they were legally prevented from doing so on days their stores were not open, Maziarz said." Well, I guess there is hope yet for some governmental sanity in New York.

Score another point for NAFTA, although for the wrong reasons. CBC Canada reports that the organization has rejected American claims that Canadian lumber imports threaten American producers: "The decision is a victory for Canada in the ongoing dispute over softwood lumber. Canada has maintained that without demonstrating a threat of injury, the U.S. cannot justify the 27.2 per cent countervailing and anti-dumping duties it imposed on softwood lumber imports in May 2002." So the import war wages on, but hopefully Canada will continue to successfully convince NAFTA to snub the U.S.'s efforts to close off its own borders to incoming wealth. "Canadian lumber exporters have paid about $1.5 billion in duties since they were first imposed. The money is being held on deposit while the duties are being challenged." Think of all the jobs that money could have created.

More good news. It appears that the U.S.'s increasingly heavy trade regulations are drawing ire not just from Canada, but also across the pond. The Toronto Star reports that "World Trade Organization arbitrators today authorized the European Union and other leading U.S. trade partners to impose sanctions against the United States in response to antidumping rules." Buuuuttttt: "[T]he complainants may prefer to use the threat of sanctions as a "smoking gun" to force the United States to repeal the legislation more quickly or to obtain concessions in other trade negotiations." Heh. Good luck. The "outsourcing" paranoia that has swept America has only increased their hatred of other nations. No U.S. politician is likely to do anything but impose stricter regulations and expect to win re-election. But, it's a start.

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