in case you missed it | Week of March 11


Should have listened to the GOP

Some 4,200 Colorado residents just had their income cut, thanks to a bill introduced last year by Rep. Jack Pommer, D-Boulder, and signed into law by Gov. Bill Ritter. The new law is an attempt to tax online sales in order to help fill empty state coffers and to even the playing field for Colorado businesses, which have to charge more for the same products precisely because they must pay sales tax.

Clearly, Pommer and his fellow Democrats had good intentions. Then again, as the old adage warns, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

In response to the new law, which went into affect on Monday, March 8, Internet giant cut off its Colorado associates, eliminating a source of income for thousands of small businesses and self-employed people.

“Corporate bullying,” says Ritter. “Vengeful,” claims Pommer. But we (and a host of GOP lawmakers) say, “WTF did you think would happen?” Amazon’s response was entirely predictable because it did the same thing when New York, Rhode Island and North Carolina enacted similar laws. Rather than collecting additional tax revenues, those states lost revenue because Amazon affiliates in their states were cut off, just as those in Colorado have been. This might seem like corporate bullying, but for several thousand Coloradans if feels more like government meddling.

Here’s how the affiliate program works: Let’s say you’re an author or musician. You build a website in hopes of reaching a national audience. Because your fans in Hoboken and Honolulu can’t shop at your local bookstores, you put up links to Amazon and other outlets that sell your books/CDs over the Internet so that you can capitalize on their desire to buy your stuff now. Every time someone clicks on your Amazon link and actually purchases your book/CD, you get a tiny percentage of that sale as a perk for having enabled Amazon to reach that buyer. Over the course of a year, your affiliate income might range anywhere from $25 to several thousand dollars, depending on how many clicks your site gets and how many sales it tallies.

For the self-employed musician or author, even that $25 check made a difference. It used to buy a few lattés at the local coffee shop, circulating through Colorado communities, helping local businesses stay operational.

Now it stays with Amazon. Every once in a while the Republicans are right.

Starbucks wimpily does right thing

Pity poor Starbucks. One moment it was selling double shots, the next it was part of a controversy revolving around double taps.

First, the pro-gun group called Open Carry encouraged patrons to walk into their local Starbucks visibly strapped, as the law allows in California. Then the gun-control lobby started pushing the corporate coffee giant to ban guns from its premises.

But the folks at Starbucks HQ aren’t stupid. They recognized this for what it was: an attempt to use their status as an international corporation to generate debate about guns, and they refused to take the bait.

“Advocacy groups from both sides of this issue have chosen to use Starbucks as a way to draw attention to their positions,” the company stated in a press release. “While we deeply respect the views of all our customers, Starbucks long-standing approach to this issue remains unchanged. We comply with local laws and statutes in all the communities we serve … The political, policy and legal debates around these issues belong in the legislatures and courts, not in our stores.”

Still, by refusing to take a stand on the issue, Starbucks has done the right thing by continuing to permit patrons to carry arms. It’s not the redneck with the visible gun holstered against his hip that you have to worry about. It’s the criminal carrying a loaded .40 mag under his hoodie who reads the “No Guns!” sign on the door and decides that this is the perfect business to target.

Yes, people with guns kill people.

But people with guns are the only ones prepared to kill people with guns who kill people.

Confusing? Just read the Second Amendment.