Congratulations to Seattle Mariners legend Edgar Martinez. Enshrined in Cooperstown at the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday, July 21, 2019. In many ways this is historic. Fans took to social media for several years to convince the Baseball Writers Association of America that Edgar was one of the game’s all-time greats.
What is a Michigan Man? I learned a little about that unexpectedly from the man himself, Bo Schembechler almost 25 years ago. I was in my sophomore year and in need of a hair cut. My barber at the time was Jerry Erickson at the Coach and 4 Barber Shop. I first went there because it was close to my freshman dorm, I later learned that Jerry was the barber of Michigan’s best and never charged much.
This one day, I was waiting for awhile and longer than usual, but the conversation was good. Bo, recently retired from coaching and still UM athletic director and president of the Detroit Tigers at that point, had just fired broadcasting legend Ernie Harwell. Bo’s house had been egged. It was on ESPN and was the talk all over campus. It was a barbershop full of righteous sermons about this pure sacrilege. I was about to be next when an old man in a suit bounced in and literally jumped in the the bathroom. Jerry, the barber, looked at me and said, “Mind the wait, will you?” At first I was annoyed, but I let it go. Turns out that old man was Bo. Here he was not some figurine on a faraway sideline. The man and legend in the flesh. He just canned the greatest living announcer in the great game of baseball and jumped the line at the barber shop. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Bo vented to Jerry that he was upset about the eggs. The shop agreed that it was unacceptable. I chimed in. It was clear that asking why the eggs happened was a non-starter, so I opened with how baseball broadcasters were different that other broadcasters. They paint a picture and connect with audiences. In those Detroit summers, the velvety smooth voice of Harwell made the terrible Tigers teams interesting night after night. He was not the rah-rah party animal I grew up with in Harry Carey. He was the bridge to the first great baseball broadcasters, like Red Barber. Bo listened and showed respect for my opinions in away that I never expected. I always have appreciated the respect shown and the confidence it gave me in that brief moment.
Ralph Kiner passed away yesterday and along with him a bit of baseball history. The slugging and broadcast legend lived a long and full baseball life. One of the best stories I found on Kiner was Hank Greenberg’s segement in the must-read baseball classic, The Glory of Their Times. Greenberg and Kiner played one season together for the 1947 Pirates. It was Greenberg’s last and Kiner’s second. There was an amazing bit of mentoring there. It is worth the time to read.
SuperCritical Technologies receives some memorable press today…
“It’s hard when you work down the hall from Dr. Myhrvold and you just hear him laugh. He’s got a very jolly laugh. I don’t think he’s a guy who gets up in the morning and says, ‘Who can I crush today?’” said Max Effgen, the chief information officer of a small Seattle startup called SuperCritical Technologies. Effgen and his co-founders worked at IV and some in the group worked at mini-nuclear-reactor firm TerraPower before they formed SuperCritical.
Effgen said his experience at IV helped him understand how intellectual property works, and helped him prepare SuperCritical, which makes a very small, highly efficient energy generation system that the company hopes will compete with the largest energy companies and eventually be licensed by them.
“We’re going into the energy sector, which is dominated by very large corporations,” Effgen said. “We learned a ton (at IV) about protecting ourselves.”
Sales taxes are legally due for in-state transactions. The online retailer (e.g., Amazon, etc.) does not have the obligation to collect these taxes due to the Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA), enacted in 1998 and extended in 2001, 2004 and 2007 and remains in force until 2014, as well as legal precedence from the 1992 Supreme Court case Quill Corp. v. North Dakota. It should be no surprise that these legally due taxes are not willingly paid when state’s lack enforcement for sales taxes. Generally sales taxes on the Internet are not collected by any online retailer unless a company has a physical presence in the state.
Concurrently, the Great Recession has left many states with balanced budget amendments reeling. Sales taxes make up to one-third of most state budgets. A convergence of government and competitive pressures are being forced against online retailers are being played out in a very public fashion through the media and public referendum.
Amazingly, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Home Depot and Target have been actively funding interest groups, such as Alliance for Main Street Fairness, that often target large brick-and-mortar retailers as well as backing state legislative efforts across the country to attack what they say are online retailers (e.g., Amazon’s) unfair competitive advantage. States are looking for additional sources of revenue without the political burden of raising taxes in a down economy.
I agree with Dr. Laffer’s assertion that collection of sales taxes can reduce the need for income taxes. With willing accomplices from major retailers pursuing policy as a competitive pressure, I doubt states’ willingness to make that reality.