The Enter Stage Right Link of the Month

Fight Internet Taxes!

For all the prattling that politicians do about keeping the Internet free of government intrusion so that it can live up to its promise of creating a utopia, the fact of the matter is that predictions of billions of dollars in e-commerce transactions invoke a Pavlovian salivating from our masters. Where there is capitalist activity exists the eventuality of a politician wanting to skim some of the cream from the top.

"Keep up the good work, and we'll try to stay out of your way," said House Majority Leader Dick Armey recently after his House Republicans announced their "E-Contract" with America. It promised "to continue our legislative...efforts to remove the barriers to future innovation, competition, and growth." Of course, Americans remember how those same Republicans forgot about that Contract with America thing they ran on a few years so placing any faith in them to protect the Internet is misguided at best.

That leaves us.

The cynic in me never forgets the fact that the average politician simply doesn't give a rat's behind about what you think when it comes to Internet regulation and taxation. They simply see those big S's with the two lines down the middle and eagerly consider all of the pork they can sneak into some bill. Need a study on why birds fly or $250 000 toilets at rest stops? Don't worry about it, the Internet will pay for it all.

The optimist in me remembers that we sometimes win and teach our masters a lesson at the same time, so in the spirit of that optimism this month's Site of the Month is Fight Internet Taxes! The web site and the campaign behind it are courtesy of conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation, one of the most influential groups among the Republicans on Capitol Hill.

The story goes thusly: At the same time Congress imposed a three-year moratorium on Internet taxation it created a government commission to determine by April 21, 2000 whether e-commerce should be taxed. While there are some in Congress who are opposed to any taxation, they are facing pressure from state and local governments to allow them to levy taxes on the Internet.

With that in mind the Heritage Foundation is urging Americans on the Internet to educate themselves on the issue and sign a petition which states in part that the Internet "has made untold amounts of information available to the public, linked people of similar interests from around the world, brought prices of goods and services down through competition, opened up the political process, and provided new jobs and opportunities to countless people. We can't even conceive of what benefits it will bring to mankind in years to come."

So can an Internet-based campaign against e-commerce taxation really succeed? Can the average American's voice really make a difference among their bosses in Washington D.C.? Will 2000 pass with a free market still in effect?

The optimist in me says that if enough of you sign this petition, contact all your representatives and forward the site's URL to your friends then we can win.

The cynic in me thinks that you'll eventually shut down this Internet connection and go back to your television. It's easier that way isn't it? After all, looking at Ally McBeal's legs is better than getting involved, right?.

Prove me wrong.

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