Oh Philly, Where Art Thou?

Perhaps it was inevitable.  I mean, how long can a city maintain any sense of dignity, let alone grandeur, when its chief culinary offering involves Cheese Whiz?  And then there is the embarrassing matter of the world-renowned Barnes Collection, which some would say has been hijacked by the city from its original home in an attempt to draw more tourists back to downtown.

Whatever.  At least the Liberty Bell is safe...for the moment.

How short that moment may be is reflected in the city's latest folly: it has decided to tax anyone who writes a blog on the Internet within the city limits.

You don't believe me.  I wouldn't either, but here is the story for anyone who is in need of yet more evidence that our civilization has gone to the dogs without any help from terrorist organizations.

In a revenue-raising scheme that would make Starbuck blush, the city of brotherly love (except, of course, where football is involved) has decided to charge Philly bloggers $50 per year or $300 for a lifetime "business privilege license" granting them the 'privilege' of exercising their First Amendment rights on the Internet. 

Nevermind that the blog may be non-commercial, for the simple pleasure it gives its author of communicating thoughts to the world.  Forget the fact that the blogger already pays yearly fees for an Internet domain name and likely for web-hosting services.  No, the cheesesteak capitol has decided that there's money to be made in taxing folks who like to write.

And that's just the tip of the iceburg.  On top of the licensing tax there's a tax on wages and profits, along with state and federal taxes from income derived from blogging.  Who knew this simple enterprise was such an untapped revenue stream for municipalities? 

The city, however, sees things differently.  Say you manage to rake in a few bucks through advertising.  Well, in their view, this is business income, and suddenly a hobby is a full-fledged corporate operation in their eyes, with all applicable business regulations and taxation brought to bear.  One can only fear for the children of Philadelphia running bootleg lemonade stands.

What's next - a tax on editorials submitted to the Inquirer?


Copyright © 2010 by Larry Kilbourne