how many times can this be repeated before you believe that I do believe it?

Massachusetts held a sales tax holiday for the fifth year in a row this past weekend. I hope I don’t lose standing in your eyes, but I went a little crazy:

I don’t quite know how I feel about sales tax holidays. On the one hand, the notion of “stimulating consumer spending” offends me, as it should offend anyone who’s not absolutely illiterate on the subject of economics. “Men are not clay,” as Bastiat observed. Presuming that every household in the U.S. keeps a budget, then a sales tax holiday would only encourage spending in late August and depress spending for the rest of the month. Presuming that no household in the U.S. keeps a budget, then a sales tax holiday will merely encourage consumer debt as everyone rushes out to buy a 26″ HDTV. My prediction: why not both?

On the other hand, I’m not such a curmudgeon (yet) as to turn down a chance to keep some money. I see nothing wrong with profiting from a local government’s dumb ideas. Get access to the HOV lane by driving a “low emissions” Escalade? Hell yeah! Cash in on a light rail boondoggle in Arizona? Why not! And I only hate Ted Stevens, one of the most pork-snuffling Senators in the history of our country, because he’s not representing my state. If I lived in Alaska, I’d love the son of a bitch.

On the other hand, I can find almost everything I want to buy on Amazon.com. Books, DVDs, consumer electronics – all of it. And (it should go without saying) for cheaper than I could ever hope to get it in a store. If I buy from the brick-and-mortar in this century, I do it because I need it today or couldn’t get a cheaper deal for waiting. Or because I keep forgetting to go online by the time I get home; either-or.

I suppose I should end this with a witty observation and a pithy conclusion about the nature of sales tax holidays. But I have neither. I don’t know what to make of them. They happen, like so much of what the Commonwealth of Massachusetts does, behind my back and without my input.

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