Ebay, dumb laws, dumber prosecutions and bitterness Posted by: McQ
on Monday, April 14, 2008
Jon talked about the intrusiveness of government today in his post about the arrest of a 'silent dancer' at the Jeffereson Memorial, apparently for asking "why".
Here's a different example of the intrusiveness in government which, to me, just further exemplifies how off track our whole system has gotten.
Mary Jo Pletz was really, really good at eBay. But now the former stay-at-home mother and gonzo Internet retailer fears a maximum $10 million fine for selling 10,000 toys, antiques, videos, sports memorabilia, books, tools and infant clothes on eBay without an auctioneer's license.
An official from the Department of State knocked on Pletz's white-brick ranch here north of Allentown in late December 2006 and said her Internet business, D&J Virtual Consignment, was being investigated for violating state laws.
Thankfully the reaction has set off a firestorm, but what I see here is a state government, through its bureaucracy, looking for ways to increase revenues. This is an investigator from the PA Department of State who apparently has no higher priority than to go after stay-at-home moms who sell on Ebay.
But of course, if successful with her, well look at the revenue stream this may provide:
Thousands of jobs and the fate of a new-economy industry in Pennsylvania could be at stake. There are 400 so-called Internet retail drop-off stores in Pennsylvania, according to state officials, and 14,000 state residents who earn most of their annual income selling on Internet auctions.
We all know that these people take the money they earn from Ebay, put it in coffee cans and bury it in the back yard, never to be seen again, don't we? They're no benefit to a hardpressed economy or the community at all.
And you have to wonder, as I posed the other day when talking about Obama's PA quote, whether, if PA residents are 'bitter' as he contends, it isn't because of government intrusion like this.
Oh, and for the record, and as some PA lawmakers have come to realize, perhaps Ms. Peltz wasn't the best "unlicensed auctioneer" with which to make an example:
The 33-year-old opened her Internet business in 2004 so she could stay home with her 6-month-old daughter, Julia, who was diagnosed with a hypothalamic hamartoma brain tumor.
But she's since shut down the business which allowed her to care for her daughter, placed the daughter in a daycare and has taken a job in a dentist's office to pay the bills.
The two solutions lawmakers have since proposed are as follows:
State Rep. Michael Sturla (D., Lancaster) has proposed the bill to create the electronic auctioneer's license. The license would require the Internet seller to buy a $5,000 bond for about $40 a year. This would protect consumers, he said.
Sen. Rob Wonderling (R., Montgomery), who labeled the Pletz case "bureaucracy run amok," has introduced a bill that would exempt eBay sellers from auctioneer's licensing.
I'm for the "Wild West" legislation - if they have to pass something.
Last, look what Sturla had to say about the Peltz prosecution:
"I really wish that they will walk away from that one and prosecute somebody else," said State Rep. Michael Sturla (D., Lancaster), who is chairman of the House Professional Licensure Committee. "There is every reason in the world that if she is found guilty, she should be exonerated," he said.
Exonerated for what reason, sir? It's your law and allegedly she's in violation. Why should someone else be prosecuted instead, you dunderhead? If it's wrong to prosecute her, it's wrong to prosecute someone else.
But he's not claiming the law is wrong, is he? Nope. This is all about special treatment due to hardship. Prosecuting her is "politically unpopular". Find someone else less sympathetic and that person just becomes grease for the wheels of "justice" and bureaucracy. What he is lamenting is they picked the wrong patsy to go after, not that the law is a gross violation of a person's inherent right to do what is necessary to support their life without some outside entity trying to tax or bureaucratize it to death.
You know, seeing this travesty, I'd be pretty bitter in PA too.
Technicly, she’s not an auctioneer. She merely places items upon e-bay’s site, must like someone with a Rembrant might have Southerby’s auction off the painting, or someone on the british show Cash in the Attic might have a House run an auction.
We all know that these people take the money they earn from Ebay, put it in coffee cans and bury it in the back yard, never to be seen again, don’t we? They’re no benefit to a hardpressed economy or the community at all.
You owe me a new monitor to replace the one now covered in coke lol
Honestly, though, this is only going to get worse. The ubiquitous ’They’ have been trying to find a way to tax the net for a while now.
It’s about to get worse. NPR was running a story this afternoon about the States, particularly California and New York, looking longingly at all the sales tax revenue they are losing to internet sales.
A problem libertarians have is that we try to justify something on the basis of, "Well it’s good for everyone else too." Tax cuts increase revenue, higher taxes on the rich are less money they spend to hire the poor, untaxed side businesses provide efficient goods and services at low prices, etc. But never mind these economic rationalizations. We need to return to the moral argument of private property.
It’s about rights, and if indeed that the rights to life, liberty and property are absolute, then there’s no need to justify why or how you have them. Didn’t this woman earn the money without coercing anyone? All right, then it doesn’t matter what the hell she does with the money. She could bury it in the back yard, on burn it to hell if she wanted. It’s her property, period.