Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Big Government Out To Scare Bloggers

I had saw this article by Warner Todd Huston on Big Government and found it a little bit interesting - it disucsses a local:
Are you a blogger in the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania? Do you have Google Adsense or some other sort of low-return ads on your blog? If so expect a letter soon from your friendly city treasurer demanding that you pay a $300 tax on your “money making business.”

For most people that maintain an active blog it is just a hobby. Some people blog daily but most only do so a few times a month. Many bloggers also participate in Google’s advertising program called Adsense but few make much more than $20 or $30 a year from the effort.

But according to the City of Philadelphia, you have a lucrative business one that you need to register with the city and either pay $50 a year tax or a “lifetime” fee of $300 to be allowed to operate.
I disagree with the city of Philadelphia and believe such taxes are wrong, but that is where I differ from Huston.  Being the typical blogger for Big Government, Huston decides to politicize this proposed tax - at the end of his post, Huston makes the following statement:
Additionally, this is one sure way to shut down any political blogger in the city, isn’t it? Who would pay $50 a year to rant about government? Few would bother if they were forced to pay to blog.
Is Huston seriously implying that the city wants to implement such measures as a way to silence opposition?  If Huston read the article he cited, then he would realize that the tax is only on any business engaged in "activity for profit" - if a person really wanted to criticize the city and circumvent the tax, all they would have to do is not put any advertisements or moneymaking pages on their blog and they would not qualify under the law.

Huston is attempting to make this local matter bigger then what it really is, and what is really interesting is that it is local government - not the federal government - which wants to enact this tax.  This isn't the first time Huston has talked about bloggers being targeted for political reasons - earlier this month he had written about a blog in Ohio being targeted by the Geauga County Board of Elections for violating a campaign finance law. Huston alleged that the enforcement was politically motivated and that the law should not pertain to an independent blogger exercising their free speech, which I agree with, but I find the blog in question highly suspect of sensationalizing this "story."

After visiting the blog, The Geauga Constitutional Council (GCC), I found mention of the alleged violation, but it was identical to a post made on another blog (one referenced in Huston's article).  In that blog, the author,  Maggie Thurber, indicates that the story was emailed to her.  It is also interesting to note that GCC appears to be sympathetic to teabaggers, although it seems to go a bit farther - in one particular post, the author insists that Fox News is government controlled.  Did I mention that the original post made by GCC has an exact copy of Huston's article?

To me, it sounds as if some angry right-winger is overreacting to probably something insignificant - was the email to Thurber a spam message?  Did Huston receive the same spam message?  Did Huston tell GCC of his article?

Basically, Huston's article boil down to the government trying to silence political opposition, which appears to be a big stretch.  In all reality, it appears that maybe some people exercised their professional judgement a bit poorly and some right-wingers got upset...

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