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Thursday, June 06, 2013 8:35 PM

Personal Arrogance; Preserving Culture vs. Common Sense; Email From France

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In response to France Considers Ban on Free Shipping by Amazon, a "Destroyer of Bookshops"; Prepare for Economic Collapse in France I received an interesting comment from "Slavador" who writes "My ability to go to a local bookstore owned by a neighbor with my family is something I see as even more important than the global campaign to efficiently concentrate the wealth in the top 3%."

That was one of several similar comments I received as online comments to my blog or via email.

Major Flaws

There are two major flaws in Slavador's argument. The first flaw is the implied presumption that saving inefficient "mom and pop" operations is of economic benefit.

Here is the reality: Paying too much for goods and services is economically foolish, especially for those who can least afford it.

It is irrelevant to the rational buyer if the money goes to the top 3% instead of the top 5%. But that is my preference. I respect the right of others to overpay if they so desire.

Personal Arrogance

The second major flaw in Slavador's arguments pertains to personal arrogance.

I can accept that Slavador might wish to overpay for books because he likes bookstores. However, I cannot accept the view of "culture-preserving" bureaucrats to cram their beliefs down the throats of everyone else.

If people support the view of Slavador they would not shop at Amazon or Walmart, they would pay more and shop at "mom and pop" stores.

But people don't. And that is why "mom and pop" stores are failing. So... along come socialists and arrogant fools who insist they know best how to spend other people's money.

I propose a simple model. Let people decide how they want to spend their money. And in that regard, the people overwhelming decided against "mom and pop" stores or "mom and pop" stores would not be struggling.

Personally, I like shopping at high quality stores. I also shop on the internet, at lower price stores. It all depends on what I am buying. To me, a book is a book, and furniture is another matter, even though I personally like bookstores.

Regardless, it is not my opinion that matters.

I have no right to dictate my personal preferences on anyone else. Nor does Slavador or anyone else.

People need to decide how they want to shop, not the "culture police", and especially not politicians who think they know what is best for everyone else.

Response From France

Let's consider a more rational response to my post. Reader Julien who lives in France writes ....

Hi Mish,

I am one of your devoted reader from France.

I just wanted to let you know that you have spotted it right with your sentence "Of course, France would then want to dictate the price of books as well, all in the name of "preserving culture."

There is already a French law ("single price for book law") since 10th of August 1981, voted under François Mitterand. This is the root of the Amazon "outrage" because they offer an additional service at no price. And because e-Books have "unfair" pricing, the law might be extended to cover eBooks as well!

Every day there is at least one totally absurd statement or decision by the socialist government in France. Just to give you an idea of how mad the country is please take a look at the European comparison of the tax system for entrepreneur capital gains.

In France, there are almost 30 different conditions and 16 different taxation rules, some of them including several rates, complete with caps and floors.
Preserving Culture vs. Common Sense

Here is a link to the tax rate comparison chart to which Julien referred. Please check it out. And with that link, coupled with my above comments, I rest my case on the economic insanity of preserving culture at any cost.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

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