Subjunctive Mood versus Reality

Let’s open Webster’s New World English Grammar Handbook (2009) by Shoup & Loberger on page 61. There we read:

The Subjunctive Mood

The subjunctive mood is employed to express a condition contrary to fact, a wish, a supposition, a prayer, or a doubt…

An example is given: “If I were rich, we could buy a vacation home”.

Back in 1887 in his Analytical and Practical Grammar of the English Language Peter Bullions stressed “uncertainty or contingency” [underlining mine] as the key characteristics of this tense form (pp. 74-75). It’s a condition dependent on other situational variables for its very existence.

Yesterday (02/10/2010) the Virginia Senate “Finance Committee voted to approve the Virginia Internet sales tax bill by an overwhelming vote of 14-1” and the bill SB 660 is now awaiting the full Senate vote [more about it here]. Today (02/11/2010) worrying news came from Illinois, Nevada [more here], and California [see here].

The more I think about it all, the more I believe that the fundamental problem with legislative approach to the affiliate tax is the “subjunctivity” of the very approach. Today, covering the latest news on the so-called “Amazon tax” bill in Virginia, The Virginian-Pilot wrote something that reflects the basic thesis of every state that’s considering such a tax:

A fiscal analysis attached to Hanger’s bill indicates that the change could net Virginia an estimated $17 million in revenue. [source]

It isn’t anything more than a thesis, or a proposition the realization of which is heavily contingent on an array of other factors. The Pilot continues:

Lobbyist Myles Louria claimed that Virginia wouldn’t realize those benefits because large online outfits would end their relationship with state-based affiliate vendors rather than pay the tax. That happened in North Carolina and Rhode Island, he said. [source]

Exactly!! The fact that Amazon, Overstock, and other e-tailers with large affiliate programs haven’t withdrawn from Virginia yet, is no guarantee that they won’t do so if the bill becomes legislation. It happened in other states, and when this happens: numerous small businesses suffer (lesser incomes, hence lower income taxes paid), while state budgets don’t reap any fruit (more about the Rhode Island example here).

There is a huge gap between the state of the Subjunctivity and Reality.

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