Monday, August 23, 2010

W C Fields, Call Your Office!

William Claude Dukenfield (his real name, FWIW) would not have approved, having wished his gravestone to be inscribed thus:

On the whole, I would rather be in Philadelphia.

It seems that "The City of Brotherly Love" was a tough town for vaudeville artists back in the day, such that artists of that genre would have rather been dead than perform there. But now, it just got harder for home-based businesses, including those which make next to nothing. Damn near nothing, in fact.

For the past three years, Marilyn Bess has operated MS Philly Organic, a small, low-traffic blog that features occasional posts about green living, out of her Manayunk home. Between her blog and infrequent contributions to, over the last few years she says she's made about $50. To Bess, her website is a hobby. To the city of Philadelphia, it's a potential moneymaker, and the city wants its cut.

In May, the city sent Bess a letter demanding that she pay $300, the price of a business privilege license.

"The real kick in the pants is that I don't even have a full-time job, so for the city to tell me to pony up $300 for a business privilege license, pay wage tax, business privilege tax, net profits tax on a handful of money is outrageous," Bess says.

Matthew Archbold operates from the outskirts of Philadelphia. He's not talking, but his brother Patrick is.

So you now need a business license to have an online diary. This is outrageous! Do these people even understand what it takes in revenue to even break even on a blog?

Is it improper for a government to require business licenses for actual businesses, even if they are blogs? No. But this is the typical heavy handed approach ...

I can vouch for that. About ten years ago, I was among a few writers who attempted to start up a non-profit quarterly journal of Catholic opinion. We were going to need a bank account for subscriptions. It was the bank that let the hammer down on me, insisting I have a license with the county before I could open the account in the journal's name. Then, of course, the Commonwealth of Virginia had to get into the act. After a year, we ended up folding, and I personally lost several hundred dollars. The others involved fared better, those self-righteous little punk-ass twits being more adept at disappearing than yours truly.

(Did I mention this was non-profit?)

At a time when every other Joe is out waving the Gadsden Flag, a good place to start having an impact is at the local level. If a city councilman insists on supporting capricious and arbitrary laws, throw the bum out! Quit acting like you can't do anything about it. You don't need to be a full-time community organizer (an otherwise lucrative career path these days) to effect this sort of change. All you have to be is someone who votes, and can talk to others to vote.

You can pencil that in between taking kids to soccer games and playing the ponies, don't you think?

Or don't you?

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