Smurfs on Capitol Hill

This past week was crazy busy for me, with two days of documentary work in DC, a wedding in Maryland, and an NPO event in Virigina (possible blogpost later this week on those events). I wanted to share what I had the opportunity to do on down in DC here. Best Buy had a small group of managers from across the country as well as a group from their corporate office in Minnesota come to DC to meet with various Senators and Representatives to discuss issues that not only effect Best Buy directly effect each and every consumer and small business owner, in my opinion for the better. They discussed topics like the Main Street Fairness Act, which would require companies like Amazon to collect the sales tax that consumers are required to pay at the end of the year from their online purchases (it's called Use Tax...those waffle irons and bluray movies you buy off Amazon are NOT tax free, you just don't pay it at the time of purchase) as well as issues like how unwilling Visa, Mastercard, Amex,  and all the other credit card companies are to negotiate interchange fees (the fee collected by those companies from the merchant to process the transaction). They also discussed ways to standardize regulations around removal of E-Waste (disposal of outdated technology like cellphones and tube TV's).

These issues directly effect myself and every other photographer and small business owner out there, as most people purchase things online instead of giving money to their local stores, which in turn (usually) support the community with jobs, and other services. If the sales tax isn't going to your local government...that money isn't going to your fire department and road services. Also when a small business owner takes a credit card as payment, Visa and American Express charge between 2-3% of the transaction, which is quite a chunk of change for what little work they're doing. Remember that Visa and Mastercard are also charging late fees, finance fees and sometimes annual fees directly to consumers already so in a way the consumer is being charged TWICE for using their credit card, because prices go up when the interchange fees go up.

Anyway, I'm stepping off my soapbox, and saying thank you to Best Buy for making the effort to level the playing field for local businesses and I personally hope that these bills pass. I'm sure you didn't come to this post expecting to see a rant, so here's a quick photo summary of the two days I was hanging out down at the Capitol Building with them.


Congressman Clyburn (Majority Whip) actually made the time to rush back in a 5 minute break between voting to meet with his visitors!

The view from Congressman John Lewis's office!

Reception held for the Congressman at the end of day two to meet in a less formal environment

Ron Paul ran off the second he saw me holding a camera in the hallway outside his office...guess he was scarred after what Sasha Baron Cohen did to him...

We had a little scare. While meeting with a Representative from Kansas, we were evacuated from the building. They found a "suspicious package" in the office right next to where I was at the time!

A "bomb hunter" robot