Back in 2016 I lamented that we didn’t have Trump’s taxes.
…and I predicted at that time that we would never see his tax returns if we waited for him to release them. I was right. I was right on many counts. This is not proof that I can read minds or predict the future. It is, however, a vindication of my assertion three years ago that I knew who Donald Trump was. That he was dirty and that he was never going to reveal that dirt willingly.
This week we learned that his businesses keep at least two sets of books. One set of books that they show to the government, and one set of books that they show to the banks. There is probably a third set of books out there somewhere that contains real numbers, but that set of books they don’t show to anybody. This isn’t rocket science, this is how you do business as a con artist.
A dozen real estate professionals told ProPublica they saw no clear explanation for multiple inconsistencies in the documents. The discrepancies are “versions of fraud,” said Nancy Wallace, a professor of finance and real estate at the Haas School of Business at the University of California-Berkeley. “This kind of stuff is not OK.”
New York City’s property tax forms state that the person signing them “affirms the truth of the statements made” and that “false filings are subject to all applicable civil and criminal penalties.”
The punishments for lying to tax officials, or to lenders, can be significant, ranging from fines to criminal fraud charges. Two former Trump associates, Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort, are serving prison time for offenses that include falsifying tax and bank records, some of them related to real estate.
His tax returns will soon be a matter of public record, as they should be, given that his arguments for keeping them private are being laughed out of courtrooms across the country.
Not to mention the lawful request made by the House of Representatives that has been illegally stymied by the White House.
These issues will both be represented in points in the articles of impeachment that will be recommended against Donald J. Trump. Who else he takes down with him has yet to be determined.
The story of Trump’s thievery, Trump’s criminality, continues to evolve. There will be a trial and we will finally have a tally of Donald Trump’s theft before he became President of the United States.
Getting his taxes now, dispensing justice on 40 year old crimes now, is too little too late. Revealing his fraud in 2015 would have kept him out of office and we could have avoided having a dangerous criminal in power in the United States for four years, killing half a million Americans while he stole billions from the treasury. I’d like to see him punished, but I would much rather have avoided his presidency in the first place.
What he stole while President is the number that I’m interested in. Will we ever have that number, other than the number of COVID dead that can directly be laid at the feet of his incompetence? I’m beginning to doubt we will ever get a proper accounting.
My wife and I signed our 2016 tax returns about a month ago. In total, we gave up about 42 percent of our income to the federal government and to the province of Ontario. Add in property taxes, gas taxes, and sales taxes, and the figure goes up to about 46 percent. By my rough calculation, a similarly situated couple living in an equivalent part of the United States—I picked Chicago, which sometimes is described as a sort of sister city to Toronto, where I now live—that number would be about 10 points lower, at 36 percent.
What does that 10 percent premium buy for my family? Aside from universal health care, there’s world-class public schools, a social safety net that keeps income inequality at rates well below America’s, and an ambitious infrastructure program that will help Canada keep pace with its swelling ranks of educated, well-integrated immigrants. Oh, and I also get that new bridge. Naturally, it will have a bike lane, and be named after the hockey legend Gordie Howe.
I posted a link to this article on several social platforms a few days ago. Naturally, I found a know it all blowhard US Citizen to argue about the subject.
Malarky. Canadians pay much less taxes than Americans.
We’ll skip over the part where my generic opponent forgets that the Canadian government actually works, and get to the part where he believes he knows something about the tax burdens of not only US citizens, but of citizens of foreign countries; and this all by simply looking up income tax rates for the two different countries and stating that as the total tax burden for individuals. The person who believes ‘Murica is the best would have to be an accountant and interested in expanding his understanding of the subject in order to glean the depth of information required to understand this subject.
As my generic opponent went to pains to illustrate, the Canadian level of taxation is (like my opponent) generically about the same level as the US level of taxation. This is a fact that I had also munificently supplied in my first reply to him. It’s not like he really had to look that fact up and do it more than once. The author of The Atlantic article was making a point about one of the higher taxed cities in the US, Chicago, which compares nicely to the author’s home city of Toronto. See the quote I started this rant out with if you are confused.
That the government of Canada actually works when saddled with the same low level of tax return to the system, while the government of the US can’t even repair it’s own bridges, should be infuriating to the #MAGA (Misguided Appallingly Gullible American) who take the time to read this far and think they know a few things about the subject being discussed. But it gets worse.
This cost is paid for largely at the city level, by the most regressive taxes present in the US system, namely sales and property taxes. This cost-shifting allows the wealthy to walk away from most of the burden imposed on the tax-paying public, leaving the poor to do without essential health services unless they can find a charity that will write off their costs, another burden paid at the local level.
The failings of the government to repair its own infrastructure? This information can be found many, many places. For example,
The American Society of Civil Engineers has just released its latest infrastructure report card, and grades the United States at D plus. That means the country’s public works are in substandard condition, with a risk of failure. The ASCE releases its reports every four years, and the mark hasn’t changed since the last time. “While our nation’s infrastructure problems are significant, they are solvable,” says ASCE President Norma Jean Mattei. But that’ll take money.
So … $1 trillion, right? Great news! Except the ASCE report says it’ll take $4.59 trillion to bring things up to a B, or adequate grade, by 2025. That’s a shortfall of $2 trillion over current spending plans. Again: $1 trillion is nowhere near enough.
The way to correct the problems in the infrastructure, healthcare systems and other government provided services is to admit that the government has to pay for those things, and then pay for them through taxation instead of at point of sale; driving on the roads, showing up at the emergency room, etc. Make sure that we get value for dollars paid instead of allowing drug manufacturers and lobbying organizations to force the government to pay more for services than other countries have negotiated to pay. All of which is what The Atlantic article I posted on the various social sites goes into, if the #MAGA had actually bothered to read it.
I knew the article was correct because, as I’ve just demonstrated, I have read other articles that backed up the assertions made in the article before I bothered to post it. I have read widely. I have attempted to understand the subject. Why Canada Is Able to Do Things Better was just a nice succinct way to express the sentiment that citizens of the US are uniformly misinformed and really don’t care that they are wrong on almost every subject so long as their leaders reinforce the lies they believe in. I’d like to thank my generic opponent for volunteering to illustrate this fact, even if it was ungraciously done.
So he states, right out in public, that he’s giving himself a tax break, but he’s confident his own supporters are too stupid to figure out the code he’s speaking (MAGA) whereas his backers and funders know exactly what he’s talking about and are signing him large checks for the 2020 election if he can get this windfall for them through a compliant congress. Our job is to make sure it doesn’t pass. That is our one and only job now.
I had this image thrown at me in a minimum wage argument recently. What about the cost of producing milk? What about tax rates? Hunh? How do you explain that? If I had real patience with the speaker, I might have explained it this way. A gallon of milk costs one gallon of milk. That is its actual value, because it is a gallon of milk. I didn’t, so that wasn’t my initial argument.
Without refrigeration, milk spoils quickly, which means milk has to be drank quickly. This is why cheese was so popular before refrigeration, unless you lived on a dairy farm. Before refrigeration most milk went to make cheese or it was fermented into an alcoholic beverage (try it, it is revolting) because even though you could die from drinking tainted raw milk, it was still an irreplaceable source of protein. What created the market for milk was pasteurization and the discovery of cheap refrigeration (Connections) both of which indirectly impacted farming techniques and allowed farmers to get milk to the stores so that you can enjoy it and the farmer can profit from selling it. No one pays for the knowledge that is utilized to make all this possible. It is gratis, free, part of being in the human community.
However, the cost of educating all these morons so they don’t poison themselves is not factored into the cost of the gallon of milk. Anyone care to guess what that cost would be? I’ll save you the trouble, it can’t be calculated. Why? Because the cost of education raises the cost of production, which in turn raises the cost of education, etc. This incalculable cost is what is known as an externality and people who count beans for a living would like to pretend that externalities don’t exist.
But externalities do exist. Which is why the cost of a gallon of milk is… one gallon of milk. Money is a variable that steps into the equation that allows you to get milk without having to raise and milk the cows yourself. That is really all there is to it.
What we have to decide is, what is money? That is what we need to figure out. If it is a creation of society then we can say everyone gets some, not enough, but some, and if you want enough you have to work for it. That function right now is served (imperfectly) by the minimum wage. It could easily be served by Universal Basic Income or some other kind of minimum income floor that would allow people to survive without requiring everyone to work all the time. Funds are distributed to everyone or just the poor at a set rate a month, a week or even daily. Not enough money to live lavishly or even easily, just some money for everyone in any given area. What would that do for the economy?
The bogeyman of income tax tacked on at the end of the meme is just that. A bogeyman placed there to scare you. Income tax is a bad vehicle to do what the government wants, and is as subject to change as the minimum wage is. The list of alternatives to progressive taxation is nearly as endless as the numbers of ways that progressive taxation can be calculated. Set dollar amounts should be done away with, in any case. A 99% confiscatory upper tax rate could be set on any income that exceeds 20 times the lowest income in the marketplace. See how fast lower pay increases when you tie upper pay to it. Can the wealthy get by on $160 an hour? That should be an interesting experiment to witness.
Personally I like negative interest rates imposed on money left uninvested. That forces money to be used in the marketplace or lost over time. Impose negative interest rates on all accounts which are not retirement accounts or money market accounts. Invest it, save for retirement, spend it or lose it, Pick one. In any case, the problem is not the minimum wage. The problem is the limits on the imagination of the image creator.
We have no way to know the Real Estate Developer’s leverage position. We have no way to know because he won’t release his financials and we have to take this liar’s word on everything he says. Six bankruptcies. SIX. “No personal bankruptcies” means nothing, and every businessman worth his salt knows this.
This is his standard of practice. His business model. Load his corporations with debt, loot the assets, declare bankruptcy. These sort of revelations should make his supporters shut up about his business acumen, because who wants a fraud like this leading our country? Weirdly his supporters seem as impervious to facts as the Birther-in-Chief himself.
As an aside, I love the NPR Politics podcast, the podcast that inspired this Planet Money episode. Love it. One little problem. I can’t link individual episodes, just the page with the latest on the top (well, you can embed them now) which makes the podcast really hard to share. IF the page was like the NPR Planet Money page, this would not be a problem.
On The Other Hand their general weekly podcasts make me parse the news more closely than I feel comfortable doing on this blog when it comes to linking their feeds here directly. I’d have to go through every sentence and pontificate as to why I disagree with this or that observation. Just go to the feed and listen to it yourself. Make your own judgments.
The real crime is not that he pays no income tax. No, the real crime is no Real Estate Developer pays income tax. This is because congress loves liars and fraudsters and hands them some of the best benefits available at their discretion.
But that isn’t the half of it. His supporters don’t want to know any facts about their candidate. They have been plugging their ears and humming as loud as possible for over a year now, hoping against hope that this guy will do the things he says he’ll do, counting on him to do the things he says he’ll do, and they don’t want to know any of the ugly details involved in getting the things they want.
So when the argument is made that he’d be stupid to release his tax returns, they agree with that. Because they can look at themselves in the mirror the morning after and say “I never knew he was going to murder 11 million people. If I had known that I would never have voted for him.” The lie is, they could have known that if they had not willfully blinded themselves.
Revealed this week (brace yourselves, this is going to keep happening) Donald Trump has probably not paid income taxes for about twenty years.
In a lengthy New York Times article, it is revealed that his losses in 1995 could have lent him a tax shelter for 18 years. But that isn’t the half of it. As this article on Vox points out, what is in the tax returns is even worse. We know it is even worse because the Birther-in-Chief hasn’t released his tax returns yet.
Trump cares nothing for the future of this country. He was impeachable from the moment he took the oath of office because he perjured himself in taking it. He is already subverting the constitution in violation of his oath. His raping of the country has begun and will continue until we stop him.
Last night at midnight, the Trump Administration took the White House petition site, We The People, offline.
Since taking office 11 months ago, 17 petitions have gathered more than the requisite 100,000 signatures each requiring Trump to address them.
He has responded to precisely none — including the largest and most popular petition in the history of the government site, “Immediately release Donald Trump’s full tax returns, with all information needed to verify emoluments clause compliance.”
I ran across a DailyKOS article in my Facebook feed today. I went looking and discovered they’re doing what I did ten years ago on this blog. They wrote one paragraph, pasted someone else’s content in as the body of the article, then wrote another paragraph and pretended it was their article. The original reporting is from CNN,
The Justice Department notified members of Congress on Friday that it is closing its two-year investigation into whether the IRS improperly targeted the tea party and other conservative groups.
There will be no charges against former IRS official Lois Lerner or anyone else at the agency, the Justice Department said in a letter.
The probe found “substantial evidence of mismanagement, poor judgment and institutional inertia leading to the belief by many tax-exempt applicants that the IRS targeted them based on their political viewpoints. But poor management is not a crime,” Assistant Attorney General Peter Kadzik said in the letter.
“We found no evidence that any IRS official acted based on political, discriminatory, corrupt, or other inappropriate motives that would support a criminal prosecution,” Kadzik said. “We also found no evidence that any official involved in the handling of tax-exempt applications or IRS leadership attempted to obstruct justice. Based on the evidence developed in this investigation and the recommendation of experienced career prosecutors and supervising attorneys at the department, we are closing our investigation and will not seek any criminal charges.”
The truth is that no political groups should be allowed to operate under the tax status of 501c4 since they don’t meet the criteria for that bracket; or wouldn’t if the IRS hadn’t changed the wording of the law that congress passed.
It is the IRS that should be filing charges, and they should be doing it against all the political groups that wrongfully use this code to skirt the requirements for political contributions. I would love to see some tax cheats go to jail over this and related violations. Wouldn’t hold my breath on that score either.
(Facebook status from this date published on the blog two years later)
This was the piece I was working on before writing Sidelined by Illness. It is important enough that I felt I needed to post it belated as it is. Or maybe it is still current. In any case, here it is.
When I was in high school and later in trade school, I sacked groceries after school as a way to help the family. It was common in those days (1980’s) for high school students to have jobs on the side, and it was common for children to start working as soon as they showed interest in work, if not being forced to work simply to feed themselves.
We were a poor family. My mother was on her own at that point, had been on her own for several years. Dad had remarried, but found the chore of raising 5 unruly children too much to deal with so he sent us back to our mother in Texas to live. Mom was trying to get an education at the time, living in what could loosely be called campus housing (Avenger Village next to what was then TSTI. An interesting history if you are into that) so the 5 of us crammed ourselves into whatever housing she could afford on the wages for whatever jobs she could get with no education and few prospects.
Which wasn’t much money. Not enough to raise four kids and keep yourself fed at the same time. She had left college to get married when she was 21, and it was typical back then for women to leave college once they had found a husband, sexist as that statement might sound to modern ears. Women weren’t expected to be wage earners, bread winners, back in the dark ages of the 1960’s. They were expected to be mothers and housewives and to put up with whatever their husbands asked of them. So mom started a family with no real job skills of her own beyond the ability to raise children, and when she finally refused to put up with dad’s behavior anymore, fourteen years later, she was on her own with 4 kids and no skills.
We interrupted her education again, but she never complained about it. She just went back to working at fast food joints, bars and restaurants, the odd convenience store job as the demands for housing, clothes and food for her growing children required.
I had already had my first job by that point, my one and only experience with fast-food work (a job you couldn’t force me to do again) if you count work that dad found for me to do the fast-food work was my 3rd job, having worked off and on in his gas station for change to buy comics and sodas with, and then worked in the fields hoeing weeds with a one-armed hispanic friend of my fathers (he could work faster with one arm than I could with two and 20 years less mileage on the meter) but in any case I was no stranger to having to work to get the things I wanted, so back to work I went, paying for my own car as a senior, as well as feeding the family whenever I could afford it.
Which wasn’t often, and not often enough. There were many days where there simply wasn’t enough food. Oh, we never really starved, mother was sure of that. We survived on government issued milk and cheese, bread when we could get it. Proud as my mother was, she wasn’t willing to turn away a hand-out of perfectly good food. She wouldn’t take food stamps (to this day she refuses them, looks down on people who take them) but she would work at almost any job that was offered. As I said, sometimes three or four jobs at once. So we didn’t starve even if we didn’t have much adult supervision.
So here I was working at a grocery store, often hungry, my job being to haul people’s groceries out to their cars for them, making minimum wage. Rumor has it that in other states bag-boys (as we were called) got tips. Not in Texas. In Texas you only tip the cute waitresses and the bartenders who give you a little extra alcohol in your drinks. You certainly don’t tip uppity teenagers who carry your groceries for you. Teenagers should learn to work hard, because hard work is all you can look forward to in this life.
Part of my job was cleaning the store at closing time (I can mop a floor clean enough to eat off of to this day) Part of that job was taking out the trash at the end of the day. Boxes went into the recycler even back in the bad old days, but there was always trash generated during the day that had to be taken out. Sometimes in this trash there were unopened containers of food. Being an innovative lad, I would arrange things at the end of the shift so that I could drive around back and pick up the food that I deemed safe to eat, and take it home to my family.
That was, until the new night manager took over. The night manager took an instant dislike to me. He knew I was a poor kid, up to no good. Set the manager against me so that I was watched specifically to be caught setting food aside.
There was a brand of cookie that came in paper bags back then (even more now) No matter how many times the night stockers were told not to open the boxes with box cutters, without fail, they always opened them with box cutters and slit the bags open. This happened so routinely that if the staff wanted a quick snack, there was always a bag or 10 laying around that the stockers had made unsellable by cutting the bag. Of the 20 or so people working in the store who knew this, I was the only one specifically targeted for reprimand for setting the cookies aside.
This is the mindset of the average working-class American, in a nutshell. If you want anything, you work for it. If you don’t work for it, you starve. If you can’t work for it, you will starve even sooner. Handouts are for layabouts and slackers, no one who takes a handout is worth anything in life. Sick people are different, but sick people get better. That poor soul in the wheelchair, we feel sorry for him, but we don’t give him more than enough to keep him off the streets. We certainly don’t give layabouts enough that they can survive on without work; and if they do work their benefits are cut off. If you can work you don’t need any help.
You might well ask at this point What in Hell does this have to do with Greece? The title of the piece is Greece in Perspective.
Yet another person on Facebook blocked me over this difference in perspective. No amount of reasoning with this person was going to break through her preconceived notions of the unworthiness of those layabout Greek people. No recitation of facts concerning the equally ruinous nature of US policy; of our loophole filled tax structure, underfunded and understaffed taxing authority, the low tax rates that the wealthy enjoy (if they pay any taxes at all) Nothing would dissuade this person from her single-minded determination that Greece should be made to suffer for its people’s laziness.
Never mind that an entire country cannot be compared to one person, whose laziness might or might not be determinable just by looking at them. Never mind that wealthy US business firms instructed Greek authorities on just how to cheat the system, the same firms that then later had to go begging to the US government for bailouts (which shouldn’t have been given in my estimation) in order to avoid the same penance that the Greeks are now willing to go down in flames over rather than pay.
Because they can’t pay. Because Greece isn’t Germany, in the same way that Germany isn’t the US, and that whole regions and political entities cannot be summarized in the behavior of a single individual. Because you can’t get blood out of a stone no matter how hard you squeeze it.
Sometimes people really can’t provide for themselves. Sometimes lazy people really aren’t lazy at all; sometimes the seemingly lazy lay-about really is sick. Laziness is itself a survival trait, a reward for not expending energy the body might need to go that one last inch to get to water.
The final straw for me on this subject was when an acquaintance of mine described his daughter as lazy, because instead of going to college and following the track he had planned out for her, she got married and had a child. Her husband is working, risking his life in the military. She’s working even if she doesn’t have a job. She’s raising a child, and that is the hardest work of all. Lazy isn’t the word to describe this person. You can question her intelligence, but not her willingness to struggle with life.
Sometimes the demands placed on people are just too high. Looking at Greece today we would be better served to remember Germany right before World War Two, rather than dismiss them as that slacker kid who mooched off of you back in college. The missed opportunity of all missed opportunities. Watching the suffering of the German people under the debt burdens laid on them following World War One, the rest of the world could have had pity and eased the burden, given them hope. Instead we hardened out hearts and forced them to do the thing that made sense to them, empower the only man and his political party that gave them hope.
Shall we descend into war and chaos? Or will we be more like General Marshall? General Marshall who, after the destruction of World War Two and understanding that hopelessness was what motivated the Germans to such desperate acts, proposed what became known as the Marshall Plan. Altering from that time forward how victors treat the vanquished. Or so we should hope.
A bit of perspective, to brighten your day.
The cost of war is constantly spread before me, written neatly in many ledgers whose columns are gravestones.
General George C. Marshall
As it turns out, Greece is not populated by layabouts and ne’er-do-wells. They actually have the most working days per year of any of the European Union nations, according to statistics:
Data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development shows that workers in Greece put in an average weekly shift of 42 hours, even more than Germans who only manage 35.3.
Willing to work harder than most of the rest of the people in Europe, just not rewarded at the same rate as the rest of Europe. I wonder where I’ve heard that before? As usual, the people who do the work are rewarded the least. The people who hold the investments make all the money. Just FYI, it looks like Greece is no longer out in the woods financially. So I guess that is good news.
Maynard Keynes had more to do with the Marshall plan than General Marshall did, apparently. The plan appears to echo most of the content of The Economic Consequences of the Peace Keynes’ work proposing how Germany should have been treated after World War One. It took another war for the leaders of the rest of the world to figure out what kind of horrors they had helped create in Germany. If we don’t figure this financial mess out soon, we could well be embroiled in war that could possibly end the human race once again. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
…Read them and understand just how far we have left to go to bring understanding of what money is to the average American. I’m getting too old for this shit. They made me buy my own lunch at Burger King when I worked there for 9 months back in 1979-1980. I was fired from that job for necking with my girlfriend in the mop room. It was worth it. That wasn’t the worst offense that I remember when it comes to food and caring for your employees. That award goes to the night manager at that Sweetwater Safeway that I talk about in the original text.
Every time I see a proposal to make corporations pay more taxes, I want to remind the people reading that proposal that taxing them is the least effective way to make a corporation socially responsible.
Corporations are legal fictions. They only exist because government allows for their existence as a tax shelter and as a shield for personal liability. The easiest way to make corporations socially responsible is to write that into corporate law.
Require that corporations spend a percentage of their energy on charitable actions. A percentage of their energy on research and development. Make them responsible citizens by law and not allow them to be the criminal gangs they are today.
I don’t object to corporations (or anyone else) being taxed; I’m simply observing that it’s the least efficient way of turning them into good citizens. If you change corporate law, the rest of the problem handles itself.
Jim Sanders, 45 of Mulberry, Indiana says that he is a “sovereign man,” who is not subject to the laws of Indiana and or his local governments, That’s why — after amassing over $900 dollars in fines for traffic violations and refusing to pay – his driver’s license got suspended. With no license, he says that his “only legal mode of travel is walking,” apparently making an exception for the law that requires a driver’s license.
Apparently Jim Sanders never talked to one of the sovereign citizens, or he’d know (well, think. Believe. Something) that you don’t carry a driver’s license in the first place. You don’t get a license, you don’t buy a car with a title, you don’t put tags on your car, etc, etc, ad nauseum. You just continue to drive without all that and when the cop stops you, you talk his ears off about all this kooky stuff until he lets you go before he has a mental break and shoots you.
This is one of those wacky but true stories. The kind of thing I only share when I’m enjoying my preferred spirits.
This whole sovereign citizen thing was making the rounds right about the time I bailed on the LP (at least one prominent leader of the Texas LP at the time was into this) You never could nail down exactly what the system was, but it was purportedly to do with admiralty law, and yellow fringed flags, and your name in all caps on legal documents. You had the right to drive common vehicles without a license, because you didn’t have to have a license to ride a horse or drive a wagon; consequently all those laws didn’t really apply and so you could just ignore them PROVIDED that your car wasn’t titled by and purchased from the state. So you had to buy a car from outside the country, essentially. Cars bought from outside the states aren’t titled by the states. What you get is a transfer deed (or some such) not a state registered title to the vehicle. You can drive that car without a license, or so they claim.
Weirdly, the cops never had heard of any of this when they stopped you for not having tags on you vehicle; and then they’d impound the vehicle when you couldn’t show them current registration. These guys were always having to recover their vehicles from impound, bumming rides from the rest of us or taking the bus or taxi everywhere.
The tax- and fine-free driving was just one of the perks. You also could skip out on property taxes, income taxes, sales taxes, etc. If you aren’t a subject of the federal government, then none of that stuff applies to you. Just as weirdly, the counties will still repossess your property for not paying taxes, no matter how many different ways you try to explain your exemption to them.
The news article jogged my memory about the sovereign citizen movement, something I’d heard recently on a podcast or news show. Something to the effect that sovereign citizen is a known white supremacist tactic/ideology (ah, the wonders of the internet) Low and behold, when I look on the SPLC website, I find this;
The strange subculture of the sovereign citizens movement, whose adherents hold truly bizarre, complex antigovernment beliefs, has been growing at a fast pace since the late 2000s. Sovereigns believe that they — not judges, juries, law enforcement or elected officials — get to decide which laws to obey and which to ignore, and they don’t think they should have to pay taxes. Sovereigns are clogging up the courts with indecipherable filings and when cornered, many of them lash out in rage, frustration and, in the most extreme cases, acts of deadly violence, usually directed against government officials. In May 2010, for example, a father-son team of sovereigns murdered two police officers with an assault rifle when they were pulled over on the interstate while traveling through West Memphis, Ark.
The movement is rooted in racism and anti-Semitism, though most sovereigns, many of whom are African American, are unaware of their beliefs’ origins. In the early 1980s, the sovereign citizens movement mostly attracted white supremacists and anti-Semites, mainly because sovereign theories originated in groups that saw Jews as working behind the scenes to manipulate financial institutions and control the government. Most early sovereigns, and some of those who are still on the scene, believed that being white was a prerequisite to becoming a sovereign citizen. They argued that the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which guaranteed citizenship to African Americans and everyone else born on U.S. soil, also made black Americans permanently subject to federal and state governments, unlike themselves.
The Sovereign Belief System The contemporary sovereign belief system is based on a decades-old conspiracy theory. At some point in history, sovereigns believe, the American government set up by the founding fathers — with a legal system the sovereigns refer to as “common law” — was secretly replaced by a new government system based on admiralty law, the law of the sea and international commerce. Under common law, or so they believe, the sovereigns would be free men. Under admiralty law, they are slaves, and secret government forces have a vested interest in keeping them that way. Some sovereigns believe this perfidious change occurred during the Civil War, while others blame the events of 1933, when the U.S. abandoned the gold standard. Either way, they stake their lives and livelihoods on the idea that judges around the country know all about this hidden government takeover but are denying the sovereigns’ motions and filings out of treasonous loyalty to hidden and malevolent government forces
Editor’s note, 2014. A small “l” libertarian acquaintance of mine took me to task for the observation of many leaders of the Texas LP following this ideology. I had to admit that I could name only one, so I revised the blog entry. Still, it bears mentioning that the Libertarian party (like the Republican party, and the Democratic party) is informed by an even larger group of hangers on, like-minded individuals who won’t join the party per se, but feel that the party can benefit from their insight on the ideology; consequently there were many others in the circles around the Texas LP leadership who felt that the LP was on a fool’s errand, attempting to alter government. That the true purpose of anarchists and anarchism was to end government and assert the rights of sovereign individuals.
The idea that anyone can be sovereign or should expect to be considered sovereign is laughable; this is entirely aside from having the ultimate authority on what you personally will do or not do, whether you will continue to exist or not. Sovereign is a completely different approach to the subject of authority.
2019. I find it hilarious that I linked a Russia Today segment on the blog. As in, even for the humor content of an epic fail, why would I do that? Also, RT would be foursquare in favor of promoting the sovereign citizens movement inside the US today because that belief system is at the heart of Trumpism, and Vladimir Putin, the man who controls RT, loves him some Donald Trump.
We funded all the necessary functions of government for 150 years without one, why do we need on now? Beyond that even; what business is it, of anybody’s, how much you make? Your employer needs to know so he can cut the checks, and you need to know so that you know how much you have to spend, save, invest, etc.
They tell you, in most corporations “don’t discuss wages with other employees, it’s a sensitive subject” but if I can’t talk about it with Bob over a beer, why would I want to discuss it with the tax man? Let alone be compelled to avow to it in writing on penalty of additional taxes being levied?
No thanks on that one. I think I’m pleading the fifth the next time the subject comes up.
The income tax needs to end (as well as 90% if the other taxes currently in existence) and not be replaced with anything. If they need additional funds to run the government, they can just sell more lottery tickets.
Ah, hindsight. The people with money should be paying the people without money to keep those without from needing to cut their throats in order to survive. It really is that simple. Call that payment whatever you like, but it is essentially an admission that we do all have to live together unless we want to die together. The latter is all too easily arranged.
I was still wondering about the legality of the income tax itself when I wrote this article. Round and round the arguments go; the 861 argument, Title 26, income/not income, ad nauseum. It was about that time that the subject of a 1040 refund scheme came up in one of the email list groups for alternative currencies that I was a member of back then.
I hadn’t seen this particular take on the problem before. A simple form that you could fill out just to get all your taxes back, no questions asked. I have a hard time believing that the IRS has a form I can file that will give me back all my taxes. That is the definition of too easy. In the end, it too was a questionable dodge that would probably come back to bite you on the ass just like it has done so many other public figures over the years. Turns out, I was right to be wary:
“The Hendricksons are not strangers to judicial proceedings relating to their Federal income tax” might be Tax Court Judge Ronald Lee Buch’s entry into some sort of understatement competition. It comes early in his recent decision in the case of Peter and Doreen Hendrickson TCM 2019-10.
That scheme turns out to be just as much bullshit as all the other schemes turned out to be. I credit the Wife with the wisdom on this subject. Her car was hit by an IRS agent out on the highway back when she was a new driver. Her father settled out of court under pressure from the agent who said in no uncertain terms that his taxes would be a never ending problem if he didn’t just pay for the repairs to the agent’s car. Any mention of tax protests gets her all wound up. I don’t even bring the arguments up anymore, even though I still find the subject curious.
The taxman will get their pound of flesh. You can be certain of this, just like the old saying goes. The question remains though, why agitate the poor and the near-poor among the population? Why give them the rope that they will try to take down the system with? If they drive an old car, own almost nothing, never contact a known tax cheat for the purpose of cheating on their taxes, why make them pay anything at all?
Everyone should have skin in the game, the retort of those who insist everyone should pay, is a completely misunderstood notion. Everyone does have skin in the game. Some of us owe our very skins to somebody who wants them. Some of us shit in gold toilets and pretend to infinite wealth. Maybe those latter people are the ones that the IRS should target? Just a thought.