July 16, 2008
Representative Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) has a new proposal out that seems to be right on the dubious heels of the "Strip@Clothe" campaign to "help" the homeless. Rep. McDermott has just introduced legislation, H.R. 6501, that seeks to tax Internet gambling and use the "proceeds" to help those "in foster care and individuals in declining sectors of the economy." This seems to be a typical liberal strategy - for who wouldn't want to help orphans and such? (Perhaps those who believe it is the responsibility of people and not governments, however that is a different subject.) Who cares where the money is coming from if it is for a good cause?
Rep. McDermott's bill does not seem to actually legalize Internet gambling in the United States, so apparently he would seek to tax illegal activities. Well it was Ronald Reagan who said "one way to make sure crime doesn't pay would be to let the government run it" so this could be a way to stop Internet gambling - but the government would most likely find a way to eventually subsidize it. (As another great President Reagan quote (does he have any other?) goes "the government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.")
I am curious on how my Libertarian friends view the actions of some of those who support overturning the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act and the argument on all the money that would come into the government coffers by taxing online gambling. Having worked at one of the finer Libertarian-minded think tanks I know that most good Libertarians are opposed to taxing anything on the Internet. It is also highly dubious if such an action would be profitable. Taxing Internet gambling would place an enormous burden on Internet companies, at a time when the pro-Internet gambling forces say the current proposed regulations place an unfair burden on the banking companies. Why should a company be forced by the government to become a tax collector for more than 30,000 tax jurisdictions across the country? If that expense doesn't put them out of business then the countless lawsuits from state governments claiming they didn't collect a sufficient amount of taxes on their behalf will.
Hat tip: Friend on the Hill