Last week news broke that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is suing Amazon.com. The suit alleges that Amazon’s mobile app makes it too easy for children to make unauthorized purchases, and was prompted by complaints from angry parents who were being surprised when the bills rolled in. Yes, you read that correctly. The FTC thinks Amazon should be a babysitter, and that parents who give their kids access to a mobile device aren’t responsible for what the kid does with it. Needless to say, the suit is absurd and Amazon is fighting it—way to stand up to big government!
This isn’t the only recent instance of big government going after Amazon. This past week the French government passed a law prohibiting booksellers from marking down prices more than 5% off the cover price. The law also prohibits offering free shipping. In a country where the government health system pays for personal trainers after pregnancy, it’s not at all surprising that the same government is trying to kill competition for the benefit of small retailers. Amazon responded by effectively giving the French government the finger, charging 1 cent for shipping.
I want to feel bad for Amazon feeling the wrath of big government, I really do. But then I remember that Amazon supported the Marketplace Fairness Act in 2013. You might know it by its more honest name, the Internet Tax Mandate. The law requires that online retailers collect sales tax for all 50 states, regardless of where they are located. Prior to that law, an online retailer only had to collect sales tax if they had a physical presence in the state. As Amazon moves towards same day delivery, their physical presence will move into every state, if it hasn’t already. Since Amazon would be forced to charge sales tax, the Internet Tax Mandate was an easy way to fight off smaller competition and create a barrier for new online retailers entering the market.
Amazon had no problem supporting big government interference when it benefited them. Guess what? After that, you don’t get to complain when big government interferes in a way that hurts you. You supported big government, and this is what big government does—it interferes. This underscores a big problem with people who support government intervention. They’re all for it when the intervention matches their ideology, but get wound up as soon as government does something they don’t like. Example—“Government has every right to force employers to pay for birth control!”
“But government has NO right to force abortion clinics to close!”
You can’t have your cake and eat it too. When you give government the power to interfere, that’s exactly what it’s going to do. If you don’t want the horns, don’t mess with the bull. Actually, when it comes to the bull, just think Old Yeller.