Sunday, April 10, 2011

Wal-Mart and Target Doing Evil

Reports Al Norman:
Giant retailers like Wal-Mart and Target are using mom and pop stores as human shields in their battle against over taxing online sales. The powerful real estate investment trusts that build bricks-and-mortar malls, along with the big box stores they rent or sell to, now want you to pay a sales tax on Internet purchases. And its being done in the name of the small merchants...But the business interests who are pushing what they call the "Main Street Fairness Act," are not exactly from Mayberry, RFD...
According to Norman, when Illinois Governor Quinn signed a bill that forces online retailers to collect taxes in the state, Wal-Mart issued a press release that said in part:
Gov. [Pat] Quinn has once again demonstrated he is willing to do what is right for Illinois and its businesses. During these economic times, it is vital for the state of Illinois to collect the millions of dollars of unpaid sales tax while allowing it to level the playing field for brick and mortar businesses who support our local Illinois communities.


  1. This tax trend is accelerating. January 2011 saw the institution of the 1099k. When Paypal or other money transfer services see 200+ transactions or a total gain of $20,000 in your account, Paypal must now generate an automatic report to the IRS, a 1099k, detailing your account activity.

    So now the IRS is getting automatic reporting on eBayers and Amazon sellers who use Paypal for their transactions. Not evil, per se, but part of an overall trend to see online transactions and tax them automatically.

    Right now, if you sell on eBay and use Paypal, you are giving eBay about 12.9% of your sale to them. Amazon charges sellers on their service 12-15%, on average. Between the 12-15% chunk going to the website, and the taxes Uncle Sam is going to get, the margin for selling online as a small seller is going to get increasingly tough.

  2. Wal mart? No way, say, I thought Wal mart was one of those great corporations, that benefited the poor greatly, and anyone who criticizes Wal mart is a socialist? It couldn't be that it actually turns out to be just another corporation that uses the government to stifle competition?

  3. To Anonymous at 8:23AM,

    The tone of your comment strikes me as marginally anti-corporation. I think this is misguided. There's nothing wrong corporations. The fact is, the overwhelming majority of corporations don't even bother with lobbying like what's reported here.

    Walmart does benefit the poor, with both jobs and low prices. But they also do stupid and bad things from time to time, like what was reported in this blog post. Walmart's anti-market behavior should be condemned, but corporations, as institutions, should not be.

  4. Anonymous at 12:43 p.m., why do you believe that "[t]here's nothing wrong [with] corporations"?

  5. Why shouldn't Wal-Mart want Amazon to pay the same sales tax as they do? How is this using government to squash the competition? If anything, Amazon's using a tax loophole to gain a competitive advantage over Wal-Mart.

    Seriously, this is "evil?" Are you joking? This blog is gets worse every day.

  6. To Anonymous at 3:16PM,

    My apologies for my poor grammar above.

    There's a misconception, which based on your question, I think you believe: That somehow corporations are corrupt, anti-market entities. This is not a correct summation.

    There are millions of companies in the world, just because a very small percentage of these are doing stupid and unethical things does not mean all are. The vast majority of companies out there are doing exactly what they are supposed to, and to disparage them for the actions of a small corrupt minority is senseless.

    Corporations are groups of people seeking to pool resources, nothing more. They are a natural market outcome. That some people are evil and some are not doesn't mean that the institution itself is somehow evil.

  7. To Anonymous at 4:30PM,

    If Walmart wanted to actually be market-oriented, it would lobby for less taxes, not more. Walmart's actions here are no different than when it gave support to minimum wages, which also harms smaller competitors.

    And really, how about considering no sales tax? If we really want to see the merits of one company over another, that would really be the best way.

  8. Anonymous at 4:50 p.m., you didn't answer the question but ducked and dogdged. Now, you stated a generalization, so substantiate it. Don't repeat it, and don't shirk the burden of proving it.

    The remark, "just because a very small percentage of these are doing stupid and unethical things does not mean all are", is an attempt at disproof by fallacy. And I never even claimed the position at which you lashed out. In fact, implicit in your own generalization is the claim that a corporation would be evil or not evil without regard to particular cases of bad behavior. Its evilness or nonevilness would inhere in the entity even before the owners engaged in criminal behavior. So the statement, "just because a small percentage...", is a red herring.

    "Corporations are groups of people seeking to pool resources, nothing more"

    Nothing more? If so, then there's no need for governments to proclaim their existence as by issuing certificates of incorporation. Likewise, there's no need for government to proclaim limited liability behalf of the people of any given group. The people exist without government's proclamation and would already enjoy such beneficial status, even before a government proclaimed a corporation on their behalf. The fact that the capitalists that you have in mind always look to government to proclaim limited liability is good reason to suspect that no such liability exists in nature, in which case to proclaim limited liability is a revolt against nature.

    Furthermore, "groups of people" is not how governments construe corporations which, supposedly, are artificial, invisible, intangible creations of the law with real rights, e.g. the right to enter into contracts, to sue, and to be sued. If you don't believe me, then just trying claiming before a judge that a corporation exists while explaining that you don't need no steenking certificate of incorporation to back up your claim. Now, it so happens that the common definition of the term corporation is flim-flam, but I'm not one who claims that corporations exist in the manner alleged by governments, lawyers, businesspeople, and useful shills who work in econ departments. Bear in mind also that partnerships, too, are said to be groups of people. So your description of corporations is ambiguous, and your attempt to trivialize and to disregard the common concept corporation, disingenuous, to say the least.

    (To be continued)

  9. (continued)

    Anonymous at 4:50 p.m.,

    Your explanation of the nature of corporations is flawed in other ways, too. A group of people is merely a type of set. The members of the set are living beings with presence in the world of matter and spatial extension. Not so the set, which is at most a mental entity. So, your definition doesn't cohere with reality. It should go without saying, but perhaps will not for the apologist of corporatism, that sets have no rights. In fact, a moment's reflection is sufficent to show that by your definition, if there were three people who thought they'd formed a corporation, there would be at least THREE corporations--one for each of their minds. But the three people existed before they were conceived of as a corporation, so it's nonsense to suppose that they exist as a corporation.

    "That some people are evil and some are not doesn't mean that the institution itself is somehow evil."

    Not a proof of your claim nor even a premise that tends to support it, but rather a red herring. Again, you're trying to disprove a claim (namely, that there's something wrong with corporations) that contradicts you own postition by alleging a fallacious inference to the contradictory claim.

    Well, how about it? Prove that there is nothing wrong with corporations, but please don't hide behind the old cliche that you can't prove a negative. If you couldn't prove a negative, you wouldn't be able to prove that you can't prove a negative, nor would anyone have ever made use of a process called the process of elimination. Your claim that there's nothing wrong with corporations would be necessarily without merit, although I think I've driven a stake through its heart with sufficient force to kill it anyway.

    Maybe you should just concede the fact that it's not the case that there's nothing wrong with corporations. There isn't even a shread of evidence to justifiy that corporations exist at all, in which case your claim is meaningless smoke.
    This brings us straightaway to the important matter of government proclaiming the existence of corporations, of issuing certificates of incorporation, and so on.

    As already suggested, there is something very wrong with the practice.