When Amazon and other online retailers cut ties with their California affiliates within hours of the state budget being signed, we were less than surprised. Mostly because these firms had, you know, given repeated warnings that they'd do just that if California tried to force them to collect sales taxes on purchases by residents. In our view, the Amazon tax is exactly the sort of terrible idea that our spending-addicted Legislature can't help but embrace: it cost Amazon and others valuable relationships with thousands of California affiliates; it destroyed economic opportunities for thousands of Golden State residents; it had little hope of generating anywhere near the $200 million in tax revenues the Legislature wanted; and yes, it's almost certainly illegal. But if Amazon has been tempted to long for the days when it happily did business in California, the latest development in the Amazon tax saga should be a forceful reminder of why it's better off without us. According to the LA Times, a group calling itself Think Before You Click is urging Californians to boycott Amazon until the company drops its referendum aimed at overturning the tax. The group, comprised of advocates for public health and welfare services, argues that the tax's proceeds are needed to preserve state funding for such services.
suspending things like high speed rail construction in the middle of nowhere, redundant stem cell research, and land acquisition; why focus the outrage on Amazon? Moreover, it's a bit rich to blame Amazon for the hole in California's budget when most of that gap is attributable to Sacramento's foolish decision to backfill its revenues from the RDAs, as well as its equally foolish decision to build $4 billion worth of stock-market speculation into its spending plans. Together, those choices could leave the state billions in the red, and neither is Amazon's fault. Fourth, insofar as the tax was passed without a two-thirds majority in the Legislature, in violation of California law, and constitutes state regulation of interstate commerce, Amazon has excellent reason to oppose it. And finally, it sends Amazon the message that California views it as a milk cow for government spending. Granted, they've probably already figured this out, but it certainly isn't going to entice them back.