Five at 8: 4/3/09

** It’s probably a sign of the times that with just a few days before the start of the baseball season, most of the stories in the New York Times baseball section are about two new baseball stadiums in the city. There are a couple of nifty Flash presentations about Citi Field (which my cubicle neighbor, Bleacher Bums’ writer Chris Dall calls “TARP field.”) and the new Yankee stadium. If everyone in your office has busted their NCAA bracket, consider a pool for when the Mets will dismantle the walls in the outfield after the players start grumbling. A 16′ high wall deep in centerfield, which is 408 feet from the plate? That’s not going to last long.

At this time of the year, the sight of green grass in baseball is all the hope many of us have to cling to. So consider these images of Boston’s Fenway Park an intervention.

** Is this really where we want to take high school athletics? A high school version of March madness?

** When is it OK to make a kid cry? This question is getting a surprising amount of attention because of an anti-smoking commercial from Australia in which a kid is lost in a train station (when you smoke, you abandon your kids.)

On the Today show this morning, Matt Lauer gave the commercial’s producer a tougher grilling than Dick Cheney ever got.

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** I’m filling in for Jon Gordon next week on Future Tense and thinking that maybe we should tackle this question. If something is taxed in its physical form, should it be taxed in its digital form? Minnesota wants to tax digital downloads of music. Sounds easy enough, right? It’s not as if we didn’t see it coming. But how about a little consistency when it comes to buying stuff online? The other day I renewed my Norton Anti-virus program. Symantec charges Minnesota sales tax. I ordered some electrical wire the week before, no Minnesota sales tax.

** Hot dish has the power to unite a community, says the Worthington Dailiy Globe. This is a sweet little story of people all over the country, making Sue Suman’s hot dish recipe, and sharing Worthington memories while sending good thoughts to Sue, who has been diagnosed with cancer.

What we’re covering

The governors of North Dakota and Minnesota are announcing a plan for a permanent flood control solution for the Fargo-Moorhead area. MPR’s Dan Gunderson is on the case. Stephanie Hemphill will take a look at the “second crest” of the Red River. Former MPR reporter Martin Kaste, now a star at National Public Radio, looks at changes in how the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency conducts workplace raids under the Obama administration. Most of the people netted in a recent raid in the Pacific Northwest were released. And NPR’s Linton Weeks considers how pets are doing during this recession.

  • Matt Lauer’s “outrage” at some issues versus his ability to grill real people in power is always a challenge. Eventually he’ll figure out what matters – he is getting on after all.

    As for Future Tense, the tax issue is interesting. The current Fed law is clear that the burden of taxing is on the person who buys the product (you should own up and pay MN for that wire). However, with the Web coding available these days – it shouldn’t be a problem to fine-tune e-commerce engines to charge the taxes and disperse them to the states electronically too.

    If saving 6.5% is why Minnesotans are buying online out of state – shame on them. There are a lot of good retailers here that need their business.

    Will try to listen next week to hear your work on FT.

  • bigalmn

    Bob –

    Your tax issue is about location. Symantec has an office in Minnesota, it is just north of 36 on 35W. Your other company does not so it does not have to charge you tax.

    The interesting story would be what Willie mentions – how much do states collect by people volunteering to pay the sales tax on item they bought online, or via the mail from other states where sales tax is not charged.

    It would not surprise me if you can count them on one hand.