URLs du Jour


  • Rich Galen: not particularly fond of the Des Moines Register. How obnoxious do you have to be to get Rich Galen mad at you, anyway?

  • Pun Salad's coveted Read the Whole Thing award for today goes to Ron Silver, who has meditations on fear.
    But in this world we inhabit we know darn well what prevents the darkness to prevail. Our willingness to confront, sacrifice and defeat it. Do we have the will or will the feckless and fearful among us triumph.

    I fear the ending will turn out badly if we abide politicians who insist that "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Or our own government.

    I've never been very fond of the "fear of fear itself" trope. Eek! It's fear! Does that make sense?

  • Monty Python fans know about Immanuel Kant: a real pissant, who was very rarely stable. But now more damning allegations have come out:

    (Via Geek Press. And you'll note that first link is hosted by the University of Adelaide Philosophy Department. No poofters, there, I bet.)

Last Modified 2012-10-15 3:44 PM EDT

Hi. I'm From the Government, and I'm Here to Make Your Shoes More Expensive.

A neat little case study in How Things Really Work: At Cato, Daniel Griswold posts on efforts to repeal the "Shoe Tax", the tariff on imported footwear. Fun Facts:

  • The tariff dates from Depression days.

  • Meant (as these things always are) to protect domestic producers from foreign competition, that battle was lost long ago: "99 percent of shoes sold in the United States are imported." But the tariff keeps jogging (heh) along even after its rationale has evaporated.

  • U.S. shoe tariffs are among the highest in the world.

  • The tariff is highly regressive; its primary impact is on cheap shoes, the ones lower-income Americans are likely to buy.

  • Is this outrageous tax being opposed by consumer activists and champions of the poor? Uh, no. Griswold quotes a Chicago Tribune story: the lobbying is coming from well-heeled "trade associations and their members, such as Payless ShoeSource, Nike Inc. and Columbia Sportswear Co." Yes, greedy soleless corporations are stepping up to actually do something to help the downtrodden; conversely, the usual self-proclaimed advocates of the less advantaged, a slippery bunch, aren't shoeing up at all.

  • Yes, that's way too many puns, even for Pun Salad. I'll stop now.

  • There's a website devoted to ending the tariff: EndtheShoeTax.org.

  • Legislation has been introduced in the House (HR 3934) and Senate (S 2372). So far, the co-sponsors seem a bipartisan bunch; this isn't a wedge issue. You might want to drop a note to your representatives; threaten to boot them out of office if they don't support it. Demand to know their platform, and whether they can stop the bill from being clogged up in a committee. Don't let them flip-flop; we pay their salaries, so they shouldn't be loafers.

    And don't be reluctant to pump up their egos a bit.

  • Sorry. I'll really stop.

Unfortunately the legislation doesn't simply repeal the tariff, but it's probably the best bet.

What to keep in mind: this is only happening due to corporate lobbying and the mere fact that the tariff is egregiously outrageous and indefensible. Multiply by dozens of similar cases that don't have the lobbying clout. As Griswold points out, there are plenty of other tariffs that hit the poor the hardest, while "protecting" the relatively wealthy from competition. He sums up:

The political irony here is that many of the same people who complain the loudest that the rich are not paying their "fair share" of income taxes are the first to oppose any lowering of regressive trade barriers that make it more difficult for poor parents to feed and clothe their children.
It's enough to make one want to vote for Ron Paul. Uh, almost.