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Saturday, July 29, 2017

Why not tax advertising?

In a globalist world, the First Amendment has replaced patriotism as the final refuge of the scoundrel. Imagine my surprise when the conservative PoliZette took refuge there. It needs to stay out of dark corners. It is not globalist. Yet there was the headline:
Republicans Toy with a Misguided Tax on the First Amendment
Unsure how to pay for meaningful, lasting reform, GOP policymakers weigh levy on advertising

Now if the argument were no new taxes, I could understand.

But that was not the argument made by Edward Woodson. He argued that taxing advertising is a violation of the First Amendment.

From Woodson:
Perhaps the biggest boiling point for the then-British colonists was the Stamp Act of 1765, which imposed an advertising levy of two shillings for every ad, among other printed material, no matter its circulation or cost. The provision was wildly unpopular — so much so that the colonists engaged in mob violence to intimidate stamp-tax distributors into resigning, forcing the British Parliament to repeal it just a year later.
The principles and rallying cries that were brought on from the Stamp Act's introduction led to the colonists' rising in armed rebellion against their mother country a decade later.
The Continental Army won that war, and when they formed their new country they made sure to prevent the government from getting in the way of the freedom to advertise, as per the First Amendment: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press."
The full quote is, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

But the First Amendment is not the argument to make when Google and Facebook are raking in billions each year from ads. I am not really sure what the difference is between taxing an ad and an automobile.

Nor was Woodson being forthright. The Stamp Act may have applied to ads, but the real problem was it applied to everything printed. You had to buy paper from London that had the official stamp, hence the name of the act. That was the objection. We did not go to war so that Proctor and Gamble could advertise Tide detergent, and Ivory soap.

On top of that, it was the ability of Parliament to tax the colonies that was the real problem. The tea tax has no relationship to the First Amendment, and yet the Patriots protested it.

The real argument for the rebellion was no taxation without representation.

Woodson, a lawyer, ended his column:
The Civil War — a time of great revenue need — was the only time in American history that an advertising tax was put into place.
Today, we are not in the middle of a critical war, nor are we in a time of great revenue need. If Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) and the rest of the Ways and Means Committee want to make sure that an unconstitutional can of worms — in effect, a constitutional loophole — is not opened, then they need to ensure that this anti-American provision does not make it anywhere near their final tax-reform proposal. Our forefathers risked their lives in the Revolution over 230 years ago to protect our God-given rights and liberty — let's not throw them away so carelessly.
I can think of many things that could cause consternation among the populace.

Taxing Google ads is not among them.

Let's limit out outcry about the First Amendment to real threats.

The First Amendment does cover advertising; the landmark libel decision, Sullivan v. New York Times, was about an ad, not a news report or editorial. Citizens United, too, was about an ad.

But a tax that does not place an undue burden on advertising -- say 5% of the price -- would pass constitutional muster.

Do I favor such a tax? Not really. But let's leave the First Amendment out of the argument.

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  1. Not in a time of great revenue need? How many bazillion more in debt must congress make us before we need to repay those debts?

    1. Yeah, the other day I (reluctantly) researched what comes after trillion. The numbers have gotten so big they've lost all meaning, and impact, for the average person. Probably that's EXACTLY what the Uniparty intended. Gird your loins, y'all, cause the budget bill battle is gonna be like Antietam.

  2. To the government, there is never enough revenue. I hate taxation but see the flaw in the argument about not taxing advertising.

    If they could cut their insatiable appetite for spending like drunken sailors, they won't need all that revenue.

  3. It's not the taxes, it's the spending that's the problem.

  4. The problem I have with Google and Facebook isn't their ads- I block most of them, and ignore the rest- but their monopoly on thought.

    Whether these huge monoliths should be broken up, or regulated so that they can't continue blocking out or freezing content they don't like, I'm open to argument; but something's got to be done, as these institutions are huge moneyspinners for the Left as well as being intolerant.

    If a tax on their ads will help, I'm in favor; I'd rather see a pox on their houses!

  5. Taxation without representation is bad. Representation without taxation is evil.

    Dennis the librarian shusher

  6. Free speech is an individual right. Advertising is a product to be purchased. - Elric