Smart Ideas: Weep for the Athletes

The Philadelphia Eagles' Nick Foles holds his daughter, Lily, after beating the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl on Sunday in Minneapolis.
AP Photo/Frank Franklin II
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Feb. 7, 2018, 8 p.m.

Jocks jammed by the tax man

Eric Boehm, writing for Reason

The Philadelphia Eagles may be up and down Broad Street, but they’ll be losers come Tax Day. “Because the game was played in Minneapolis, the $112,000 bonuses paid to each player on the winning team (and the $56,000 bonuses paid to the losers), will be taxable in Minnesota, which has some of the highest personal income tax rates in the country.” They’ll owe $7,200 to the Land of 10,000 Lakes on top of $23,500 in federal income tax. Pro athletes in general get the short end of the stick on taxes through “fundamentally unfair” state-level “jock taxes” for players, coaches, and team staff. Minnesota taxes them at its top marginal rate of 9.85 percent. Only California (with 16 major professional teams) has a higher rate. “While some teams in low-tax states can use their location to attract highly sought after free agents, players and team staff have no choice about where they play road games. And no one is going to turn down an opportunity to play in the Super Bowl because of the potential for a multi-thousand-dollar tax hit.”

Ruling on consumer bureau limits executive authority

Peter J. Wallison, writing for National Review

The appeals court decision last week in PHH v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau “should be of concern to all Americans. Very simply, by permitting Congress to create an executive-branch agency that is independent of the president, the court’s ruling authorizes Congress to put vast areas of the United States government outside the control of the president.” That the CFPB director can be removed by the president only for malfeasance, unlike other agency heads who serve at the pleasure of the president, has insulated the agency from the electoral process. The court decision, which states that “Congress has the power under the Constitution to decide that the director of the CFPB could be ‘independent’ of the president,” hinders the ability of voters to change their government’s policies. It creates a slippery slope: If upheld by the Supreme Court, nothing would “prevent a future Congress from deciding that the attorney general or the FBI director … shall have a fixed term of office and not be removable by the president except for malfeasance.”

Delivery trucks fertile ground for automation

Kevin Kosar and Caleb Watney, writing for RealClearPolicy

The rise of highly automated vehicles could have a major impact on the postal and delivery industries. “Combined, USPS, UPS, and FedEx have nearly half a million delivery vehicles on the road,” but critics ranging from the Teamsters union to those fearful of new technology oppose further automation. “History shows how myopic and futile all this naysaying is. Technological change has been disrupting mail and parcel delivery since the earliest days of our republic—and making service faster and more dependable.” The postal system has already progressed from stagecoach to steamboats to horseback to pneumatic tubes, and that only takes us to 1900. While trucks have lasted close to a century, it is time to innovate again rather than drag our feet on potentially life-saving technology.

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