Funding Censorship
October 29, 2004 10:43 AM   Subscribe

Do tax dollars fund censorship? Not the only example. When businesses get incentives from government, does this constitute endorsement? How constitutional is it?
posted by ewkpates (7 comments total)
WTF are you talking about? Do you even know what censorship is? Wal-mart is not the government, and as a private institution they can do whatever they want, even if it means putting personal prejudices ahead of capitalism.

Should the gov't force stores to stock items against their will? What kind of country would you rather live in, one that lets owners sell what they want, or one that forces them to sell certain items?

In my opinion, these are bad business moves on the part of Wal-mart, especially considering the Stewart book is #1 on the charts. It just means they're passing on all those sales due to a page of naked old people in a joke book.
posted by mathowie at 12:09 PM on October 29, 2004

You pay taxes... those taxes support your local Walmart. Walmart decides not to carry certain books. Your access to these books depends on how much of the competition Walmart has driven out, partly by leveraging the financial support it receives from your tax dollars.

The way in which federal, state, and local governments provide tax rebates and breaks gives some businesses an edge and, in essence, promotes those businesses and thereby the values that those business owners promulgate through their businesses.

Extreme and Ridiculous Hypothetical: Let's say that all web sites are taxed tomorrow by the current administration. The tax is a flat tax of $10,000 a day. Some businesses get breaks, like online Christian book stores, others don't, like Amazon. Guess what happens to your online book shopping options?

Things aren't this bad... but look at the numbers. That this happens at all is a probelm.
posted by ewkpates at 12:40 PM on October 29, 2004

you both miss the point actually. the point being that there are complex structures of incentives at the state and local levels which are used under the umbrella of economic development. tax-free zones, tax increment finance districting, and arbitrary property tax cuts are all routinely used to influence industry and development, so much so that industry has come to expect and demand incentives before commencing any project. and my observation (in michigan anyway) is that citizens rarely show up for the public hearings at which such things are approved, and those that do generally favor such incentives. personally, i think it's corporate welfare.
posted by quonsar at 12:46 PM on October 29, 2004

A tax break for starting a business isn't the same as tax dollars directly funding a business (that can still choose to sell what it wants).

Wal-mart has certainly strong-armed folks in this country, but if they continue to do dumbshit stuff like this, they will continue to lose customers and decline. I have a local one I avoid, and when GTA:San Andreas came out, I ordered it on Amazon, knowing that Walmart probably wasn't going to carry it.
posted by mathowie at 12:48 PM on October 29, 2004

But those are two separate issues being conflated. Yes, public funds going to private enterprise (be it walmart, a baseball park, or whatever) is problematic, but I still contend a store can sell what it wants and not sell what it wants and that isn't censorship and I think the basic premise of this post is bunk.
posted by mathowie at 12:53 PM on October 29, 2004

posted by quonsar at 1:06 PM on October 29, 2004

When you buy products from businesses that support particular political candidates, then you are indirectly supporting that candidate.

When your tax dollars are used to give tax breaks to certain businesses, then those businesses are being indirectly supported by you and your taxes.

Spending is a kind of voting. This is fine because its a choice completely in the hands of the consumer. Tax breaks for some businesses is a kind of voting that's not fine because 1) its a misappropriation of tax dollars, 2) there is little transparency in the process and 3) it corrupts the free market system.
posted by ewkpates at 8:30 AM on November 1, 2004

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