Thursday, November 5, 2009
The PACT Act Debate is Back
This is a comment I posted back in May in response to a comment that challenged whether the PACT Act was anti-Indian legislation. When is a Fight Worth Fighting?
Any legislation that disproportionately targets the avtivity of Indians is anti-Indian. Every city, county, state or country with a distinct regulatory advantage markets that advantage. The point of sale for mail order and internet sales is where the payment is made or information is gathered for payment. The Native retailers conduct these sales on our own sovereign land. These sales are not taxable. Whether there is a tax liability for where and by whom the product is consumed is an issue for those consumers and the states they live in. Interestingly, every state has a forebearance or allowance policy toward a limited amount of untaxed product being consumed in their jurisdiction. Native retailers are no longer just selling the same product as the non-native convenient stores. They are marketing Native produced and branded products available for sale only from Native stores. The prime commercial markets in the US and Canada were essentially stolen from our people. The internet and mail leveled the playing field for market access. In spite of the fact that our people were pushed to remote, out of the way territories, our people managed to move from retail of established tobacco products to marketing, distribution, manufacturing, importing and the elevation of internet and direct marketing sales. Direct to consumer sales eliminates black market, including organized crime and of course those dreaded terrorists. Mail order tobacco sales is also one of the few positive blips on the US Postal Service radar. Delivery, marketing and payment have all provided a much needed boost in revenue for the USPS. The PACT Act will not only strip this revenue away but it will add expense to the USPS due to enforcement of the act. Current resources used on such issues as pornography (including child porn) and hazardous materials (including biological weapons) will be stretched to prevent the mailing of legal products like cigarettes and chew. No one seems to be interested in taking a look at what happens when tobacco becomes illegal to mail. Some would have you believe that a few rich Indians will just be less rich and that the states will make up huge revenue shortfalls with the additional taxes collected. Here are some of the things not being considered: the sucking sound from the revenue lost to the economies around Native land, a thousand lost jobs, opportunities for a resurgents in the black market, domestic and foreign enterprises that will mail anyway, the straw that breaks the back of the USPS and more resentment and hostility by those of us who have plenty to be pissed about.