Showing posts with label News. Show all posts
Showing posts with label News. Show all posts

Thursday, June 28, 2018

South Dakota v. Wayfair Supreme Court ruling on interstate sales tax seems to be based on wishful thinking


In the recent case of South Dakota v. Wayfair, et al, the Commerce Clause of the US Constitution has been redefined by the Supreme to remove prohibitions on states to collect sales tax on interstate transactions where the buyer is within their state. I am thoroughly suprized by this ruling, as it overturns long held understanding of Commerce Clause. As best as I can tell from reading the ruling, it's based on the same touchy-feelingly arguments that have been pervasive among the states about "losing money" and "the Internet changes everything". The decision takes for granted that money must be owed just because their is a transaction and the state has a sales tax. The ruling dismisses the very real challenge for small business who now have to deal with the burden of over 5000 tax jurisdictions. The ruling simply lemented an edge-case consequence of the previous ruling rather than allowing Congress to address the edge-case through legislation.

In an effort to level the playing field, Supreme Court created a whole new unlevel field on a much larger scale. The ruling also goes into a state's sovereign power, but it ignores the fact that this ruling is at the expense of every states' sovereign power being eroded, as now one state can tax another state's business directly. Since a sale tax is a tax, does this now mean one state can tax the income of a business in other state for the money earned on the transactions within their borders?  This would seem to further level the playing flat so that businesses in other states experience the same double taxation that businesses within the state experience already. [sarc]

This ruling also fully legitimizes Use Taxes, where the individual person must pay the sales tax directly to the state (rather than the business doing the collection), even though the transaction occurs in other state, like when you drive across state lines to buy something, then bring it back home.


Based on this ruling, states should not only have a right to tax transactions that occur outside of their state, but they should be able to tax transactions that occur in foreign countries now too. Additionally, since the Indian Tribes are specifically mentioned in the Commerce Clause, do they now have the right to tax businesses in the same new manner as now granted to the states, taxing businesses anywhere in the country (or the world)? This is going to be an annoying twenty or so years while the lower courts sort out this mess unless we can get Congress to enact something that addresses everyone's concerns. Since this is specifically an interstate commerce issue, Congress does have the right to set up a system that solves these problems and addresses states', comsumers' and business' needs.

For me the SCOTUS arguments are not convincing, based on wishing to make things fair by legislating from the bench without working through the consequences. I find myself agreeing with Justice Roberts' dissenting view. There were issues with the previous rules, but we've thrown out the baby with the bathwater (my words).


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Ruling text, with pro and con arguments by SCOTUS: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/17pdf/17-494_j4el.pdf

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Net Neutrality has been cancelled based on a technicality in the law!

Net Neutrality, which prevents Internet service providers from giving preferential treatment to particular websites (such as their own over a competitors) is in deep risk of being completely gone! Recent court ruling struck down Net Neutrality based on a flimsy technicality. NBC, ABC and CBS have not reported this sweeping change, apparently because they benefit, according to Forward Progress.

The removal of Net Neutrality would mean Internet providers can create artificial bottlenecks in service and charge fees to both customers and websites to avoid these bottlenecks (mind you, they are already making lots of money for service that costs very little to provide; they just want more of the pie to end up in their coffers by using the threat of degrading service). This matter is so serious that Fox News story actually sited civil rights as possibly being at risk!

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Article from Northwest University sites big breakthru for Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Big Multiple Sclerosis Breakthrough - Phase 1 trial safely resets patients’ immune systems, reduces attack on myelin protein


From the article:
A phase 1 clinical trial for the first treatment to reset the immune system of multiple sclerosis (MS) patients showed the therapy was safe and dramatically reduced patients’ immune systems’ reactivity to myelin by 50 to 75 percent, according to new Northwestern Medicine research.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Radioactive, radioactive radio edit controversy


There's a bit of a controversy about a popular song right now called Radioactive by Imagine Dragons.  There's a lot of complaints by fans who bought the album about how the song quality on the album is inferior to what's been playing on the radio and in trailers for movies and on commercials for new TV series.  (Seriously, this song is everywhere right now.)  The complaints are pretty consistent by fans, not even haters.

Distortion was noticeable on digital format as well as CD. Very poor quality on car stereo really drives home the point.
Somehow, producer Alex da Kid thought that intentionally introducing that awful, cheap sounding distortion (several tracks, most notably beginning on 'Radioactive'), was somehow "artistic". What a stupid idea.
What's this about distortion?  The bass in the song Radioactive has been distorted to sound like subwoofers maxed out.  It's a rough and gravelly sound that doesn't sound good on good stereo systems (such as the stereo systems in the average car these days).  I got the CD, and I agree with the criticism.  It's OK, but not good.

Theres something called the radio edit version of the song, which I like, but it also seems like it's distorted too much too.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Lockdown of Boston

Well, the news today is surreal. Although I don't live in the Watertown area, I do work in nearby Waltham, so I've decided to work from home today. Allie and I are safe. We have relatives in Watertown that are also doing well. Just as I type that, the email comes from work saying that our Waltham Campus is closed due to these on-going incidents. And, as I come to post this article on my blog here, the lockdown of the entire Boston area seems to have just been put in place.

I gotta say, that although any city would be angry that these assholes would attack their home, Boston really was the wrong city to go after. Resolved is heighten, not diminished. The people are not terrorized, they are just pissed. Ironically, these Chechnyan terrorists have misjudged America. US has spoke out against previous Russian actions in Chechnya (de facto support of Chechnya). I'm guessing we won't be doing that anymore. So, instead of forwarding their cause for Chechnyan independence, these idiots have pretty much buried all hope of that ever happening. ...and to spend your entire adult life for one poorly executed blood bath? How sad that they valued their own lives so poorly as to give them up for so little. In America, we say, Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death. I guess these idiots motto is "Give me death because I'm going to make everyone pay for my self-loathing."

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Boston Marathon 2013 tragedy

The attack at yesterday's Boston Marathon was horrible.  A lot of people will live the rest of their lives impacted by this henious act.  The deaths are saddening.  However, it is good that more people weren't killed.  This article is not going to discuss any of the gruesome details since there is already plenty of that in the press right now.

The location of the attack in Boston's Back Bay, near Copley Square.  This is an area with a rich history and includes several old churches.  The marathon finish line is on Boylston Street, between Dartmouth Street to the East, and Exeter Street to the West.


View Larger Map

In the direction of Copley Square is the Old South Church

Old South Church in Boston

The tower of this church is visible in the background of the already famous east-facing photo of the second explosion with the smoke of the first explosion visible.  (That photo isn't shown here due to respect for copyright, but it is available on many news sites and blogs, such as these 1 2 3).

From Google Maps, here's what this spot looks like on a normal day, facing West near the site of the first explosion.


The President's statement about the attack about covers the Boston spirit:
Boston is a tough and resilient town; so are its people.
 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Great New England Earthquake of 2012

Yesterday, some lake in Hollis, Maine was the epicenter of the Great New England Earthquake of 2012.   The best local news interview quote of the night about the little 4.0 earthquake?  Some guy really did say, "I felt my toes tingle a little bit."

Additional comments about this on Facebook here.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Jumpin Jack sign on Highway 495 Southbound

There's a modest sign on the roadside of Highway 495 South, about halfway between Highways 2 and 111. It is simple, with an American flag, and the words "Jumpin Jack". I've wondered what Jumpin Jack was.

Well, he turns out to be a beloved local truck driver named Jack Albert McPhail, a local hero that died while saving others on fateful winter day in March 2007. The story was originally carried by the Boston Herald, but is no longer available.   I was able to track down a Boston Globe article on Boston.com.  It does not mention the nick name "Jumpin Jack".  An obituary still appears on this trucker's forum. It's a good read about the man who was apparently well liked in his community.

For anyone that can safely use Facebook on the road (i.e., a passenger of a car) while passing this sign on 495 S, I've added a place to Facebook to check-in at this location called Jumpin Jack Memorial, classified as a local business under Highway. Facebook is a little odd on how it handles places added by common users, so you may have to search a bit for it (which is why you should be a passenger to attempt the check-in).

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Roaming around Boston on the last fair weather weekend of the year

Late last week, I decided to do something to enjoy what some were calling the last great weather weekend of the year in New England. So, while others decided to go see the changing Autumn foliage, I went the oppose route, heading into the heart of Boston.

Not wanting to drive around the city, finding parking spots, paying multiple parking fees, dealing with the traffic, etc, I decided to give mass transit a try. The Commuter Rail ride from Southborough was comfortable. In about an hour, it got me to South Station. From there, Dewey Square was just across the street. This gave me a chance to check out the Occupy Boston camp-in protest. There's a lot of people, but the event is not a big as one might think.


After walking around a bit to explore the surrounding area, I decided to get lunch at Sorelle. The day was so nice, I went for a quick margarita at the outdoor bar in the brand new restaurant at the Russia Wharf. I don't remember the name right now. It has a great view of the inlet.

After that, I rode the T subway to the Museum of Science at Science Park. It's a fairly large museum with a lot of interactive displays and several shows. Some areas are for adults, but much of it is a glorified play land for kids (which isn't a bad thing for the kids).


I then walked over to Charleston and Bunker Hill. Foolishly, I decided to walk to the top of the Bunker Hill Monument, all 294 spiraling steps! The view of Boston from the top was great.

Next stop of Chinatown, so called. It's really just a city block or two. There's a few Chinese style restaurants, but just as many Vietnamese places too. The topper is that there's a McDonald's, two Starbucks and two Dunkin Donuts as well. Yes, TWO! So sad.

However, I did stumble upon my second news item of the day. Sirens where everywhere in Boston. It turns out, they where all heading down to Beach St. in Chinatown. A large chunk of bricks fell off several floors from the facade of a parking garage. They smashed up a car below, damaged some businesses across the street and injured one person who was taken to the hospital.



After that, I headed home, back on Commuter Rail to Southborough. On the drive back to my place, I stopped of to get some ice cream. Massachusetts is a strange place. It's winter about 1/3 of the year, and cold much of the rest, yet there are ice cream parlors (out door window service) almost everywhere, especially in the middle of nowhere! I'm not really sure why they are called parlors if there is no actual entry, but hey, who am I to argue with a great tasting treat on a warm Summer...er...Autumn evening. Anyway, Ulhman's Ice Cream Parlor was a good capper to a great day of exploration.