Fiscal policy

Great Deals on Good Wine and Other American Tragedies

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Neil Macdonald, senior Washington correspondent for CBC News, complains about "almost ridiculous discounts" on "good wines" from online merchants who deliver them to his office a few days after he orders them without charging him for shipping or sales tax. The horror? Yes!

According to Macdonald, the problem is not that selling wine on the Internet puts brick-and-mortar mom-and-pop shops out of business, enables teenagers to catch a buzz off the latest boutique Chardonnay, or takes profits from government-appointed wholesalers (who frequently use the first two arguments). No, the problem is that "every dollar's worth of wine that FedEx delivers to my office means 10 cents that doesn't go to the state tax office." Those dimes add up, and "as the famed jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, taxes buy civilization."

That's the short version. To appreciate Macdonald's argument in all its meandering, state-worshipping complexity, read the whole thing. You might want to drink a few glasses of Cabernet first.