International Economics

Chuck Schumer's Call-Center Tax

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Can we outsource this sonofabitch to Tuvalu?

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!

NEXT: Nanny of the Month: Anti-Raw-Milk Crusader Stephanie Rose

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  1. What the hell did Tuvalu ever do to you, Matt?

    1. You mean Tuvalu is real!? I thought Welch just made it up.

  2. Friedersdorf’s opinion piece was excellent. I’m saving that one.

    1. Agreed. Newsweek prints an intelligent op-ed, AP runs a couple stories that actually contain a market-based viewpoint. WTF is going on? (Not that I mind).

      1. Someone invented a virus that weakens the brain slugs.

      2. The left (and, to a lesser extent, the right) has spent so much time recently in demonizing libertarians and making us look all powerful that everyone is now trying to get a piece of the action.

  3. we need to provide incentives for American companies to keep American jobs here,

    I wouldn’t necessarily classify tariffs as “incentives”.

    1. When the protection racket threatens to break your kneecaps if you fail to pay up, don’t you classify that as an “incentive”?

  4. The only benefit I see is that they’ll soon be submerged and Schumer is so full of shit I know he can’t tread water for very long.

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuvalu

    1. I dunno, his moobs look pretty buoyant to me!

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

    Most of us have been baffled by the venom directed a libertarians – who not only are all but completely marginalized by our system, but actually represent the values and principles on which the country was supposedly founded.

    I see that that shit for brains, dickhead Bill Mahr has renounced libertarianism and joined the din of the herd who think it rational to heap scorn upon libertarians for the way we have used our complete powerlessness to drag this country to the brink.

    From my perspective, if we were to ever try liberty in this country and have something like a free market and then seen it fail, there might be some basis for the contempt generally felt for those who advocate liberty and principled governance.

    I actually think that the fear and loathing felt towards libertarianism is based on the nagging feeling that genuine freedom would produce an actually humane and prosperous society. What could be more frightening to those for whom the system is rigged to benefit?

    1. The fear of libertarianism is the terror that the mediocre feel at the possibility of being judged on their merits.

      1. This is going in the Great Book of Quotes.

        Outstanding line SF!

      2. I like it but expected a little more reference to, I don’t know . . . butt juice? Or something.

      3. Nice. Both of you. May I repeat in the lefty comment section of the Seattle news sites?

        1. Please do.

          1. *bows head in thanks*

        2. That’s a repetitively redundant comment.

          1. I’m apologetically sorry.

            1. Not sorry sufficiently enough! Release and free the dog-like hounds!

              1. To preventatively keep them from teeth biting me I may bribe them with money from the ATM machine.

                This is exhaustively tiring.

                1. ATM machine is an abomination of speech.

                  1. Not if you’re talking about a machine that runs in asynchronous transfer mode

      4. That’s my new sig on Slashdot.

      5. Scratch a libertarian, find a eugenicist beneath. Do you talk like this in the real world? If so, does it suck not having any friends?

        1. I see The Spokesman for Mediocrity has arrived.

          1. I take back the no friends remark. Judging by the replies there is no shortage of Children of Lake Wobegon to be your pals.

          2. Considering he was conflating rewarding people on merit with forced abortions / sterlization, I’d say he’s the spokesman for the Gay Imbecile Society.

            1. How can The Spokesman for Mediocrity be expected to know the difference between eugenics, social darwinism, and meritocracies? He might have to be slightly less mediocre to understand.

              1. Tell me, how do property rights work if you live in your mother’s basement? And is it really self-sufficiency for her to provide you an endless supply of cheetos while you blog about your superiority?

                1. Tony, those sound like questions you should ask your analrapist. Don’t bother us with your personal conumdrums.

              2. The mediocre are always at their best…

          3. I see The Spokesman for Mediocrity has arrived.

            You are far to generous, Aspartame.

        2. Yes, not forcing people to do things is precisely the same as eugenics. Tell me, you utter moron, does it hurt when you try to think?

        3. Margaret Sanger was a libertarian?

        4. Scratch a libertarian, find a eugenicist beneath.

          Most of the actual eugenicists were racist progressives, thinking they could improve society through the state’s management of the people.

          So fuck you.

          1. Someone’s been reading Glenn Beck’s Dictionary of Political Terms again.

            Libertarians are people convinced in equal parts of their personal superiority and their utter powerlessness in the world.

            1. You always know The Spokesman for Mediocrity is getting desperate when he brings up Glenn Beck.

              1. Jersey’s mangling of terms is direct from Beck’s crusade to turn every genocidal power in history into a “progressive” outfit, and to convince us that the enablers of racism, disenfranchisement, and various other forms of social injustice who sat on the sidelines while progressives were working for the interests of the downtrodden were actually the heroes in this story because of the very fact of their inaction.

        5. And in the words of James Woods, scratch a liberal and find a facist underneath. Here is a clue, in as much as I see you don’t have one, eugenics is the type of thing that occurs under authoritarian regimes. Libertarianism is the precise opposite of authoritarianism. So your logic is asinine.

          I have actually and often heard the argument from anti-libertarians that libertarians are authoritarians because they want to deny people the right to coerce others. Apparently those who advocate liberty are oppressing those who long for the natural human right to dictate to others how they should live. I would imagine this sort of tortured logic is right up your alley, Tony.

      6. +10 for SF.

        I think we should spam this every time Tony makes an inane comment.

    2. “Those actually in power” have been whoring libertarian ideas for decades in the service of the destructive neoliberal capitalist system that has brought us to where we are today.

      Don’t sell yourselves short. Despite your ineptness at politics, your political philosophy has proven just convincing enough to just enough people to sell the American people and people in many other countries a sham economy that impoverishes them to the benefit of the few.

      I don’t fear libertarians, I fear libertarianism in the hands of people with power.

      1. Libertarians don’t want political power. We want to put an end to political power. Jesus, are you naturally this fucking stupid, or do you huff amyl all day to wipe out those brain cells? (NTTAWWT)

        1. Minarchists, at least, don’t want to put an end to political power. Limited government is not the same as weak government.

          And in any case, we need to get a hold of political power now if only to crowd out those who would abuse it.

        2. Similarly, the jungle would be a great place to live if not for all the carnivores.

          1. Bigot!

  6. So after weeks of blasting Arizona, the Democrats are pushing a law to keep foreigners from “taking our yobs”. Sigh, the said thing is how many liberal sheep won’t bat an eye at Schumer’s bias against non-Americans.

    1. Won’t this lead to profiling of call center reps with foreign accents?

      In any case, I wouldn’t piss off the Indians right now. It probably won’t be long before the best job Americans can get is answering tech support calls forwarded from India (and Indian customers will probably complain about our accents too).

  7. I see that that shit for brains, dickhead Bill Mahr has renounced libertarianism and joined the din of the herd who think it rational to heap scorn upon libertarians for the way we have used our complete powerlessness to drag this country to the brink.

    I think you adequately addressed all of your points except the part about Mahrs latest inane point about President Obama not acting like a “Black President”. You know, the part where Bill fantasizes about being forced to service Obama anally while thinking about his legislative and social achievements.

    Yeah, that one always works for Bill!

  8. the terror that the mediocre feel at the possibility of being judged on their merits.

    Every union worker’s worst nightmare.

  9. So, we can pay American call center employees what they pay over seas call center employees? Sweet.

    A very simple market-based solution exists: “You will now be transferred to one of our agents. Please press 1 to be transferred to one of our non-US call centers. The average wait time is 6 minutes. Please press 2 for our US-based agents. The average wait time is 52 minutes.”

    1. Thank you for calling BlueShield of Northeastern New York. Please press 1 for our non-union call center in Albany where the staff is working over time fixing the problems of our union call center in Buffalo (press 2 for stupid) where after they reach their hourly quota are working hard at reading that magazine again or painting their finger nails.

  10. There is a(n unstated) strain of statist thought that views “free markets” as anything less than complete and total control of the economy by the government. They won’t come right out and admit this, but it’s there.

    I remember reading some dimwit writing about how free markets aren’t the reason prosperity exists, and using Brazil and the Congo (!) as examples.

    This is the mental equivalent of the imbecile who thinks the Third Reich had free markets.

    How do you deal with such blithering idiocy?

    1. Not well.

    2. How do you deal with such blithering idiocy?

      3 parts whiskey, 5 parts scotch, 2 parts grape flavored Dimetapp.

      1. One bourbon, one scotch, and one beer.

  11. Anyone see Schumer’s performance during the senate hearings in Waco:Rules of Engagement?

    It’s the type of the stuff that will make you rethink your stance on drawing and quartering.

    1. Unfair to horses.

    2. I just watched that recently. I love his insistence that “anyone who knows anything” knows that flashbangs can’t cause fires.

      Like my dear colleage SugarFree, I’m also against animal cruelty. I think the fairest thing is to take red-hot pincers to Chuckie.

      1. I love his insistence that “anyone who knows anything” knows that flashbangs can’t cause fires.

        Aiyana Stanley-Jones might want to have a word with him. Assuming she hadn’t been shot in the throat.

        1. meow

  12. Let’s peel back the onion a bit, shall we???

    Schumer’s bill will only create more govt. jobs to enforce this law far exceeding the revenue they take in. The outsourcer’s will only pass the cost onto us – the US consumers. Politics as usual. When will people wake up to the thievery and lies?

  13. Damn, that fucking scumbag Schumer is the very definition of backpfeifengesicht.

    I get physically nauseated every time I see the creep.

    1. You’re lucky you don’t live in the state that spawned him.

  14. the destructive neoliberal capitalist system that has brought us to where we are today.

    Yes. We’re completely and utterly fucked.

    A mind is a terrible thing to waste, Tony.

      1. Ministry is a terrible thing to waste on The Spokesman for Mediocrity.

        1. joe pretended to like Ministry, if I remember correctly. He didn’t fool me.

          1. He did like Ministry, just the early stuff and not after they sold-out.

            1. Jourgensen assumes a false British accent for all of the songs.

              I’m very glad I’ve never listened to this.

              1. A friend of mine had it and would play it to get people to leave her apartment when she wanted to go to bed. Horrid. Depeche Mode without the edge.

                1. The Jesus Built My Hot Rod song is probably the best song in the combined catalogues of Ministry and the Butthole Surfers. And it’s the musical equivalent of sticking your head into a ceiling fan and getting repeatedly smacked by the propellor.

            2. Joe liked ‘With Sympathy’?

              Wow.

  15. 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.

    Wait, libertarians are mocking themselves in these terms?

  16. This tax is wrong…. but it strikes a populist cord in me that I didn’t know I had. And really I only like it because I do not have confidence in the English to Engrish exchange of information that occurs with the India folk (which by the way they do try their darndest). Historically wars or unwanted monthly services are the result of. Anyways that does not mean I want to bring their jobs back to the US.

    1. Then only buy products from companies that have call centers in the US.

      Look, mom — no coercion!

  17. Right. Because land line telephone bills don’t have enough taxes piled on top of them already.

  18. I’m a telecommunications engineer, and I can tell you it would be quite easy to get around what Schumer proposes. It might add some cost, but not nearly 25 cents per customer interaction. It would not take much work to set up a method by which a call appears to terminate at a U.S. location when it has actually jumped off onto a VoIP connection that physically terminates somewhere else in the world.

    Schumer is a pure fool, ignorant of economics, telecommunications, and probably most of the rest of the stuff about which he holds forth.

    1. Schumer is a pure fool, ignorant of economics, telecommunications, and probably most of the rest of the stuff about which he holds forth.

      That is why he is a Senator. He’s not qualified to do anything else.

  19. In recognition of Chuckle’s very special brand of genius, I propose the new term, “Schumerian”.

  20. I agree with Mikey and his opinion on how easy it would be to manipulate any attempt by Schumer to tax those calls. Schumer fails to realize that companies go offshore for a reason, to cut costs. If companies are forced to pay this tax, it will force companies to cut elsewhere, maybe healthcare, number of days off, hourly wages. Another point is that if a companies average call time is over five minutes, a quarter tax will not be much of a deterant. Low labor costs in India and the Philippines plus a tax is still cheaper than US labor.
    If we were still living in the days of ATT, Sprint, and MCI then maybe it would be easier to track. Those days are gone and so maybe Schumers ability to regulate. I am waiting for the next great idea from him… like maybe making unions mandatory for all businesses.

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