I Have Mixed Feelings on This

Via Instapundit, comes this story of the Pennsylvania legislature declaring vendetta on local media:

Team 4 has a voicemail recording of Democratic State Rep. Tim Solobay,
of Canonsburg, saying that state lawmakers are preparing an all-out
assault on the media. Solobay hints that the first volley is a bill
that would start charging sales tax on all advertising in Pennsylvania.

Solobay left the voicemail message for editor Cody Knotts, who works at The Weekly Recorder, in Claysville, Washington County.

the message, Solobay says, "But you know, for the most part, the
majority of the legislative feeling about the media right now is if
there's something they can do to screw them, you can imagine it may

Apparently, the legislature is pissed the media embarrassed them last year over a pay raise:

Like many newspaper editors in Pennsylvania, Knotts wrote prolifically
last year about the 16 percent pay raise that lawmakers took, and then
gave back under heavy media pressure.

Then, last month, he
learned of a bill in Harrisburg that would hit the media hard --
lifting the sales tax exemption on advertising, along with some other

If true, this is clearly a disgusting abuse of power, but probably only unique because someone was willing to actually admit the tit for tat.

However, I am left with mixed feelings.  The media generally cheer-leads every tax increase, and is the first to join the bandwagon of slamming corporate profits and poo-pooing corporate "fat-cats whining about tax increases that cut into their huge profits" - you know the drill.

So I am less than sympathetic when I hear a media guy saying this:

Knotts said the plan would cause some businesses to stop advertising.

don't have a big profit margin," said Knotts. "We're sitting at around
3 or 4 percent, maybe, and it's going to cut that down to where we're
losing money and then how can we stay in business."

Media executives in Pennsylvania, including those at WTAE-TV, have been lobbying lawmakers to kill the advertising tax.

Guess what - my profit margins in camping are thin as well, and my customers get hit not only with the 6-8% sales tax you are probably facing but also lodging taxes as high as 14%.  I have never ever seen a media outlet in any city or state in which we operate oppose a lodging tax increase.  Or take oil companies, who media companies revel in slamming.  Oil companies make average margins in the 5-8% range, but get hit with sales and gas taxes as high as 30% or more.  Or what about Wal-mart?  Wal-mart has margins in the 3-4% range - have these media companies ever opposed sales taxes at Wal-mart? (hah!)  So after supporting every tax you saw come along and slamming every other business as greedy profiteers, excuse me if I don't cry many tears when you get hoist on your own petard.


  1. Matt:

    Like with the Iran-Iraq war back in the '80s, it's a real shame they can't both lose. :)

  2. Cody Knotts:

    First, I have never supported a payraise (I am in fact a conservative republican)

    Two, the power to tax is the power to destroy.
    That is the reason the first admendment was given extra protection from taxation, for the very reasons that this article makes so plain.

  3. Thomas A Archer:

    The Media is a business first. We will end up paying this tax like all others.