Chuck Schumer's Call-Center Tax


The Michael Phelps of terrible legislative ideas rips another brainfart in our general direction:

In an effort to slow the exodus of U.S. telephone work to overseas services, Sen. Charles Schumer is introducing legislation that would impose an excise tax on companies that transfer calls with American area codes to foreign call centers.

The measure would also require telling U.S. customers that the call is being transferred and to which country. […]

The fee would be 25 cents for calls transferred to foreign countries. There would be no fee for a domestic call center. Companies would have to report quarterly their total customer service calls received and the number relayed overseas.

"If we want to put a stop to the outsourcing of American jobs, then we need to provide incentives for American companies to keep American jobs here," Schumer said last week. The New York Democrat said the excise tax would "also provide a reason for companies that have already outsourced jobs to bring them back."

The AP story is good enough to point out that basically 90 percent of economists are all, WTF?

Seems like an appropriate moment to post two recent quotes of note. First, from Conor Friedersdorf:

Forced to name the "craziest" policy favored by American politicians, I'd say the multibillion-dollar war on drugs, which no one thinks is winnable. Asked about the most "extreme," I'd cite the invasion of Iraq, a war of choice that has cost many billions of dollars and countless innocent lives. The "kookiest" policy is arguably farm subsidies for corn, sugar, and tobacco—products that people ought to consume less, not more. […]

These disparaging descriptors are never applied to America's policy establishment, even when it is proved ruinously wrong, whereas politicians who don't fit the mainstream Democratic or Republican mode, such as libertarians, are mocked almost reflexively in these terms, if they are covered at all.

And Glenn Greenwald:

[I]ntense, fixated mockery of marginalized, powerless people has the benefit of distracting attention from the actions of those who are actually in power.  

You could spend all day fixating your mockery on the people whose decisions actually affect your livelihood and freedom, and you still wouldn't have time to get to more than 5 percent of the idiocy. But hey, Rush Limbaugh is fat, and Michael Moore is even fatter!