Yesterday and today the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will not collect tax on consumer goods. Our good governor, Mitt Romney, claims that this move will help small businesses in the inner urban areas increase business. Too bad that all the pictures are of consumers flooding suburban mega-stores rather than mom and pop shops in the middle of Worcester.

The Commonwealth has a reputation as having the high taxes. “Taxachusetts”, people call it. Yet the 5% sales tax is the thirteenth lowest. Furthermore, the sales tax in Massachusetts is absolute: counties and communities can add nothing to it. The absolute maximum for the state is, therefore, higher than only one state. The flat 5.3% tax on income puts it right in the middle of the spectrum.

[ADDED] Brandon from Siris sent this link that shows how tax rates have changed in each state over time — a much better tool for comparison.

Anyway, I went down to a small bookstore in Amherst in order to enjoy my “tax holiday”. I bought three books: Martin Heidegger’s fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics: World, Finitude, and Solitude; the new translation of Arthur Rimbaud’s A Season in Hell & Illuminations; and August Kleinzahler’s The Strange hours Travelers Keep.