Tax-free shopping for online goods may soon become a thing of the past. A bill in Congress would make collection of sales tax a standard practice on the web, something traditional brick and mortar retailers argue is a matter of fairness. Stores do all the work, says a top executive at the National Retail Federation, and then online competitors steal the sale because they don’t have to charge state and local sales taxes. Now there’s growing bipartisan support in Congress for legislation to require big online retailers to collect those taxes no matter where you shop. READ MORE
OK, so you can’t stand to miss Bravo’s The Real Housewives of Atlanta or those great documentaries on The History Channel (we admire your eclectic tastes), but are those steep cable bills making you want to pull out your hair along with the cable wires?
Take a deep breath. The era of digitized content is ushering in a new wave of cost-saving viewing: From streaming-video websites to digital media providers, these alternatives to cable TV might prompt you to chuck the cable box for good. READ MORE + VIDEO
Virgin Mobile USA, a subsidiary of Sprint, will soon offer American consumers a prepaid version of the iPhone 4S. The iPhone deal asks for more money upfront, but will save customers $750 over two years. READ MORE
If you are poor, you are more likely to be in debt and have health problems, and less likely to get a quality education or have your priorities reflected in politics. Of course, that’s always been true, not just in the U.S., but everywhere.
What’s alarming is how, as the wealthiest Americans get a bigger and bigger share of the income pie, U.S. society is stratifying in dangerous, self-reinforcing directions. READ MORE
This week in the magazine, Adam Davidson examines what’s really driving some art prices to record highs. In part, it’s because “the value of any artist’s work is determined by an insider world of cultural arbiters who coordinate with one another,” Davidson writes.
Sergey Skaterschikov, an art-market analyst Davidson consulted, has spent years studying how insiders shape the market — one “completely based on manipulation,” he told me. READ MORE