There was an article in the New York Post yesterday, The Monster that Ate the Recovery, that ranted how the rise of Internet shopping could destroy jobs and the economy.
As consumer spending begins to bounce back, Internet transactions are increasing, albeit modestly, as a percent of overall sales. This hits disproportionately in certain products — books, electronics, music — but every retailers sees at least some migration. While this can be good for the bottom line, it isn’t necessarily good for the average worker. Online sales mean fewer employees and fewer physical storefronts. That means falling salaries and rents, decreased construction, lower payroll taxes — not to mention sales taxes — and less of that word Congress loves these days, “stimulus” and more talk of the feared “Jobless Recovery” that could cost them their seats.
It makes me wonder if some people are overprotective of the “average worker” to the detriment of an evolving economy.
I’d imagine there were similar alarmists when Henry Ford introduced modern assembly lines. All of a sudden there were “average workers” who were no longer needed.
As we all know, the world didn’t end as we built in more efficiencies through mass production. It changed.
But there always has to be a bogeyman for some people.
In this case, the author Eric Torbenson assigns that role to the evil online retailers like Amazon and their affiliates.
The most immediate impact in this economic revolution is in sales-tax revenue — unless New York has anything to say about it.
The state’s taxation department decided a couple of years ago that Amazon.com owed it sales tax because it had affiliates inside the state. In May 2008, Amazon sued the state; the case was dismissed, but the online retailer has appealed.
In the meantime, Amazon.com has closed its affiliates. But if the dismissal stands, Amazon owes New York potentially tens of millions of dollars.
The article didn’t explain what an affiliate is… an individual or small business earning taxable income by running advertising for Amazon.com and other companies.
So since many retailers fired or “closed” their New York affiliates, all of these individuals and small businesses were suddenly unemployed.
Not only did that amount to less taxable income for the state, but some people that would have to rely on state services due to their lack of income.
And since the affiliates were fired, the retailers are still not charging sales tax. A net loss of taxes for the state.
Talk about destroying jobs and the economy!