Tech at Night

The FCC may yet get what’s coming to it. It’s been going out of its way to get headlines as it tries to pick winners and losers in industry, but now the attention is coming from the House as the Appropriations Committee will discuss the FCC’s budget. Prepare for hysterical shouting on the order of the SimCity 2000 Transportation advisor if the Republicans threaten to cut funding.

Also, we’re back to discussing the Marketplace Fairness Act. As we’ve discussed before, this is a bill that would give Congressional approval to an interstate compact between the states to collect sales tax across state lines, requires member states to harmonize their tax rules to fit in with the interstate system. The bill is gaining Congressional support this time around. In theory I’m fine with this. It’s Constitutional and it’s reasonable. I disagree with Overstock.com’s complaints of complexity, because the compact imposes restrictions on the way the states can tax items, and also creates mechanisms to ease collection of the taxes.

All I would ask is that we get some safeguards in that make it impossible to include any sort of national sales tax in the system. We don’t want Canada-style taxation through the back door.

Also, Tech at Night is sending a raspberry to Rick Santorum for his Internet censorship plans. Are there legitimate social reasons to restrict pornography? Yes, just like there are legitimate social reasons to restrict alcohol. But regulating vice is not a Constitutional role of the national government. Keep it local, I say. If we can have dry counties then we can have clean counties. But the last thing we want is to empower the next Eric Holder to regulate Internet content, thank you very much.

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There is a rush tonight to try to identify the true interpretation of the Republican electoral results. Many of them will be shared on the Internet, but this one is mine.

This wasn’t the first close race. Mitt Romney has won them previously. What’s different about tonight is that Rick Santorum pulled it off this time, This defied expectations, and went counter to everything I thought I knew about Team Santorum.

I conclude that the story of Tuesday night was not one of personality or of message. Instead, what happened was that the Santorum campaign proved that it has changed, and unlike before is becoming effective at turning out more voters than Team Romney, and as a result is capable of winning statewide primary elections.

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Tech at Night

Good news? I had a great Pastrami Burger tonight from a place called The Hat. Seriously: the pastrami itself is great, and I’ll probably go for the Pastrami Dip next time. Bad news? It was a busy evening and now I’m tired. The good news that wins out? Not much to cover tonight, so let’s go.

In France it’s illegal to give away free maps. Yes, Google is reportedly having to pay €500,000 because a French cartographer didn’t like the competition. Insane.

Reminds me of one of the times Rick Santorum made a point to stand up for big government: when he tried to get government out of the business of providing “free” taxpayer-funded competition to private weather services.

Of course, Google’s free services are under fire in the US, too, so we can’t get too smug yet.

The push for a sales tax compact marches on. I still say it needs more safeguards against ever-higher taxes, double taxes, a national sales tax, and other forms of expansion.

And yes, Republican FCC reform plans are pro-growth by checking the runaway FCC.