Articles abound about the demise of the consumer. A Wall Street Journal article calls it a frontier frugality. Yahoo Finance refers to a retail wasteland. Watching campaigning politicians and an endless stalemate in Washington, there seems little hope. But what is that I hear, 999? Is it as Jon Huntsman says the price of a pizza? No, it’s a proposal by candidate Herman Cain that appears on the surface to have the ability to breathe some life into the mid-market for art and antiques.
Many have called the plan regressive, giving cause to wonder. Well, it’s like this. Cain’s nine percent sales tax on new goods would be added on top of the sales taxes already paid on retail goods at the state and local level, bringing the total to 15, 16 or 17 percent. That would be likely to put a further crimp on retail purchases. However, as Cain said in last night’s debate, second-hand goods would not be taxed. Does that include $500 antiques or $40,000 paintings? It sounds as if it might.
While the top two percent of the market doesn’t seem to need much stimulation. It would seem to push consumers from new goods at the furniture store to second-hand goods at the flea market. It could be the boon we’ve been waiting for. It would also be a shot in the arm for sustainability, but if you’re looking for a life saver thrown to at the mall, as they say in Brooklyn, fuggedaboutit.