A few thoughts on politics as another day of primaries arrives:
• Due to the coronavirus, the primary season is going to be a little different than expected. A few states, including Louisiana, have postponed their primaries, and more are likely to do the same thing.
Today’s planned voting in four states has already been affected. Ohio’s governor said Monday that there would be no in-person voting allowed, which all but means a delay. Florida counties are reporting that many of their pollworkers are backing away for fear of being infected.
Given that many pollworkers are elderly retirees, this is an understandable precaution. Counties are trying to recruit public employees to fill in, and we won’t know how smoothly things went until the polls close. It would be unfair if this virus deprives anyone of the opportunity to vote.
• Sunday night’s Democratic debate between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders was a perfect example of how a debate can inform voters. Unlike past debates — Democrats this year, Republicans in 2016 — when there were 10 or more people on stage jockeying to get a sentence in, Biden and Sanders made their points, listened to the other’s responses and then spoke again. The absence of an audience due to virus concerns may have been the key to keeping the two-hour event civil and orderly.
• Biden may be the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, but he is promising everything to everybody in his quest to be chosen. Most surprising was his promise to select a woman as his running mate. If he keeps to the pace he displayed Sunday night, he’ll run out of new promises long before the election.
Jack Ryan, Enterprise-Journal
How you can help small businesses
While the public waits for the number of coronavirus cases to peak and eventually start decreasing, it is clear that many of us will have more time on their hands than usual. Here’s a gentle suggestion to fill a bit of that empty space.
Anyone who can afford it should stop by a few of their favorite locally owned businesses and buy a gift certificate to use later.
It is an excellent idea. Small businesses, such as retailers and restaurants, are certain to be hard hit by the slowdown of commerce that controlling this virus will require. Though they are small, they play a vital role in communities of every size, particularly those that dot rural Mississippi.
Buying a gift certificate today will give these merchants a little bit of extra cash when their business is sure to be down. The purchase also will allow the buyer to pick out something later on, when things return to normal.
This is a win-win idea. Think about it.
Jack Ryan, Enterprise-Journal
Online tax should be universal
The Mississippi Legislature had some worthy proposals in the works until they felt the need to take a break and see how the coronavirus shakes out over the next couple of weeks.
One good idea — which is also timely given the large boost in sales that online shopping is getting as people hunker down at home — is to broaden the obligation of online retailers to collect and remit sales tax to the state.
Currently, Amazon, Walmart and other large online retailers collect Mississippi’s 7% tax on items they sell that they own, but they don’t collect the tax on items they sell for other companies. Mississippi, according to recent reporting from Mississippi Today, is one of just five states that does not require online retailers to collect the tax on everything they sell, regardless of whether they are selling their own merchandise or handling the transaction for a third party.
State Revenue Commissioner Herb Frierson has estimated that making the tax-collection obligation universal on online shopping would generate an extra $50 million for the state.
The bill to implement this change passed the House and now sits in the Senate. Whenever senators return, they need to concur.
Editor and Publisher