Why do on-line vendors offer free shipping? For the same reason that brick-and-mortar vendors should eat the sales taxes.

Do you have the idea that Republicans are pro-capitalist? Friends of business? Job creators? Innovators?

Think again. From The Hill: GOP governors bolster online sales tax push. This is not a new issue, but the new news is that some Republican governors are campaigning for Congress to impose in-state sales taxes on out-of-state on-line vendors. The crux of the matter is the Tenth Amendement, which says states’ rights are paramount except where they’re inconvenient.

Here are a couple of choice quotes from the best friends human freedom never had:

* “The application of sales taxes only to ‘brick-and-mortar’ retailers, many of which are small businesses, puts those very entities at a competitive disadvantage.”

States could repeal sales taxes and cashier the folks collecting them, but that would make too much sense.

* “It is simply unfair for some retailers to be responsible for proper local taxes and for others to avoid that responsibility, which would deny state and local governments their properly owed funds.”

I think the original source of that quote may have been Elmer Fudd, grumbling about “that wascally wabbit!” What kind of taxes do crafty politicians love best? The kind imposed on people who cannot vote against them.

We all know how real businesspeople think: When they are at a disadvantage in the marketplace, they do what they can to take the objection away.

Since on-line vendors cannot offer you the immediate satisfaction of touching the goods, comparing one real item to another and then taking your selection home immediately, they do what they can to level the playing field by giving you free shipping.

Brick-and-mortar stores can give you that tactile satisfaction and immediate gratification, but they can’t share on-line reviews with you. And even though you don’t have to worry about shipping costs, you will have to pay a huge premium on your purchase in sales taxes.

City, county and state governments can make brick-and-mortar businesses more competitive with on-line retailers overnight simply by eliminating sales taxes. This is what any truly pro-liberty politician would do, which provides you with an easy test for evaluating candidates.

Meanwhile, since, for now at least, there are no pro-liberty politicians, brick-and-mortar retailers who are being hurt by on-line competition should stop trying to push their neighbors around by legislation and simply take away the objection.

How? They should eat the sales taxes, just as on-line vendors eat the shipping costs. The sign in the window would look like this: “Buy here. Buy now. No sales tax!”

“But, but, but!” But nothing. You’re either competitive or you’re not. I know I can get this item cheaper on Amazon.com. I want it now, but not at any price. If the sales tax is a deal-killer — which is what retailers are insisting by demanding more laws — then take the objection off the table.

And when brick-and-mortar vendors start paying the sales taxes themselves, instead of sticking the consumer with them, they will become a potent lobby for repealing sales taxes at all levels of government. When they succeed at that, they can discount prices at retail by that much more, giving them even more leverage over on-line sellers.

The business of America is business — not Rotarian Socialist rent-seeking legislation. When businesspeople get back to doing business, we’ll all be better off.

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