It Still Is

The Supreme Court is hearing a case, South Dakota v Wayfair Inc, wherein South Dakota is looking to overturn a generation-old ruling that exempts out of state retailers from State sales taxes unless the retailers also have a physical presence in the State.  I wrote about one aspect of the matter here among other places.

Here’s another, more critical aspect of the matter [emphasis added].

In a 1992 mail-order catalog case [Quill Corp v North Dakota], the court held that, absent congressional approval, states could impose tax-collection duties only on retailers with a “physical presence” within their borders. Congress, with its constitutional power to regulate interstate commerce, was the place to balance state revenue needs with burdens on business, the court said at the time.

Nonsense

Germany wants to be excused from American sanctions against Russia, sanctions that were imposed over Russia’s misbehaviors.  The misbehaviors include meddling in our elections, and Russia’s continued efforts to meddle in our upcoming elections.

Germany does a lot of business with Russia. Trade between the two countries rose to €54.5 billion ($67.4 billion) last year from €45 billion in 2016, despite increasingly stringent sanctions, and German companies have invested more than €20 billion in Russia in recent years.

“Support the Troops”

Maj ML Cavanaugh, Nonresident Fellow at West Point’s Modern War Institute, had an op-ed in Monday’s Wall Street Journal demurring from Alphabet’s Google’s (a wholly owned subsidiary of Alphabet) employee’s objection to Alphabet’s working with DoD on a major artificial intelligence project: such work would “irreparably damage Google’s brand” they argue because military.  Cavanaugh suggested that, on the contrary, such mutual work was to the net good, falling behind our enemies on AI could well be fatal to us, DoD should work to expand Defense/tech company interaction, and so on.

Then he closed his piece with this hopeful claim.

A Judicial Miss

Recall the Marquette University case wherein a graduate-student instructor, Cheryl Abbate, shut down debate on the subject of gay marriage, arguing that views that didn’t accept such things were “homophobic and unwelcome in her classroom.”  Tenured Political Science Professor John McAdams objected, in blunt terms, to the evident bigotry demonstrated by Abbate in a personal post on his personal blog.  Marquette disciplined him for disagreeing—that’s a violation of Marquette “speech” policy.  McAdams demurred and took Marquette to court.

Milwaukee County Circuit judge sided with the university. The judge, David Hansher, wrote that academic freedom “does not mean that a faculty member can harass, threaten, intimidate, ridicule, or impose his or her views on students.”

Irony Meter

Mine has been getting a workout lately.  It’s pegged again.

Russian lawmakers visited Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the aftermath of the US-UK-French strikes on the center of al-Assad’s chemical weapons production facilities and before the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons “inspects” the site of al-Assad’s chemical attack on women and children that prompted the allied response.  Among other things,

[t]he Syrian president also reportedly accepted an invitation to visit Siberia….

I recall an earlier time of invitations to visit Siberia.

Two Birds

I’ve often argued against government spending on matters unrelated to the Constitutionally mandated payment of government debt, providing for the national defense, and seeing to the general Welfare (as defined by the clauses of Article I, Section 8).  I’ve also argued for privatizing the major social welfare programs of Social Security and Medicare.

Now Oklahoma illustrates the failure to limit the one and do the other at the State level, with Medicaid standing in for Medicare.

Equal Protection Under Law

Harmeet Dhillon, a trial lawyer and California Republican National Committeewoman, has a tweet up regarding equal protection, San Jose, CA, style:

From the 9th Circuit argument Monday morning in Hernandez v. San Jose—City attorney says SJPD should not be held responsible for forcing Trump supporters to walk through a violent mob, because attending a Trump rally is an inherently dangerous act! Did they ask for it?

Play the video, and listen especially to the exchange between the San Jose lawyer and the judge (you may have to crank up the volume to hear the judge).  San Jose is utterly disingenuous in this case.  Equal protection applies, in SJ, only to SJ-approved groups of people.

State Taxation of Internet Businesses

The Supreme Court is hearing a case, South Dakota v Wayfair Inc, that seeks to overturn an older precedent that prevents States from taxing businesses doing business in the State that don’t have a physical presence there.  South Dakota is claiming that

…the 1992 precedent harms state treasuries and disadvantages taxpaying home-grown businesses.

That argument might hold water if the States were powerless. They’re not. There’s nothing at all preventing them from lowering the tax rates they impose on the brick-and-mortar and home-grown businesses resident in those States so they can compete. There’s nothing at all preventing the States from lowering their spending rates and thereby protecting their treasuries.

A Lesson About Discrimination

A few days ago, The Wall Street Journal ran a piece about a teacher and a principal who taught a 1968 lesson about racial tolerance, using the equally arbritrary blue eyes-brown eyes discriminant as the teaching prop.

A Letter to the Editor response decried both the lesson and the pride in it that was conveyed in that article.

…one of the most disturbing and emotional things I had ever experienced. Teachers whom I once looked up to were subjecting me to irrational and arbitrary treatment based on my eye color. … My father … called my school’s leadership and received a complete apology.

Tax Cuts, Deficits, and Economic Growth

The hype is that the tax cuts enacted at the end of last year will lead to trillion dollar Federal government deficits.

On the other hand, there’s this bit about economic growth in the CBO’s report that also carried that deficit forecast [emphasis in the original].

  • Last June, the CBO said GDP growth for 2018 would be just 2%. Now it figures growth will be 3.3%—a significant upward revision. It also boosted its forecast for 2019 from a meager 1.5% to a respectable 2.4%.
  • [T]he CBO now expects GDP to be $6.1 trillion bigger by 2027 than it did before the tax cuts.