March 09, 2010

Unemployment Benefits - A Thought Experiment

Jeffrey Carlson of Grand Rapids, Mich., a former insurance salesman and father of six, says he is motivated to find work, despite the $1,650 a month he collects in unemployment benefits. That money does not go far given his rent, child support, utilities and credit card bills. Carlson, 44, said he has applied for numerous jobs with no luck and has spent $40,000 in savings.

Carlson, who made $50,000 a year before he was laid off, said watching Bunning and other senators debate whether to extend unemployment benefits was painful and infuriating.

"I paid into the system for 25 years and now I need it," he said. "People are being put through the emotional heartache and anxiety of not knowing if it's going to keep coming. There are too many people who need it and are depending on it."

© 2010 The Washington Post Company

I don't know the specifics and details of the federal-state unemployment insurance system. My brief glimpses of it from my job are unpleasant enough. However, assume for a moment that Mr. Carlson did indeed "pay into" a system for 25 years with the expectation that he would be able to withdraw from it when he needed the money.

Why the hell didn't he just set up a private savings account, deposit the money there, and know it would stay safe no matter what happened? Having done that, he'd be assured of the following:

  • It would always be his money, rightfully earned.
  • It would be immediately accessible and traceable.
  • It would be easily inherited by his family if he died.
  • It would be available to use in case of an unexpected emergency and not limited to unemployment situations.
  • Given a large enough balance and a decent bank rate, he might earn substantial interest.

If the alternative to the above is a politicized, unaccountable, and completely out-of-his-hands system...why would anyone take the government option? How could you live knowing strangers are operating your safety net and are liable to change its terms and conditions arbitrarily? Why subject yourself to the spectacle of some hack grandstanding on your future a thousand miles away?

I can tell you a few reasons.

One, because the government option isn't really an option. It's based on a tax and taxes are not optional. You or your employer are forced to pay into the system. If those payments are not made, the fifty ton bureaucratic paper grinder lurches into operation with the expressed ultimate intent of physically seizing individuals and their assets to punish noncompliance. That grinder is the sole reason why I pay taxes. I don't want to be arrested and I don't want my property stolen outright.

Two, because most people are counting on that state aggression to force participation. These folks either won't or can't save for themselves and are expecting the government option to provide where they cannot. They embrace the Sicilian Mafia phrase pagare tutti, pagare meno. Because those who would not voluntarily pay are threatened with violence if they do not, many people pay less than they normally would if they were acting responsibly. Since they don't have to deal with hundreds of thousands of individuals gritting their teeth over the taxes and all they have to do is sign up for the money (often after receiving government-paid training to learn how to sign up for the money!), what's not to like?

Three, because some people actually swallow the political swindle hook, line, and sinker. They are akin to the knowing group above, but differ from those folks because they trust the person claiming to represent them and they trust the talking heads filling in the rhetorical details. Flag-waving, democratic glory-blindness, or raw egalitarianism; not really important which one.

Four, because some people are simply too irresponsible, busy, ignorant, or shallow of thought to even consider a diversified savings plan. It's just another vague thought-cloud in the back of their minds competing with their next case of Bud Light, what to cook for dinner inbetween picking up the kids and finding a plumber for the sink, whether human evolution is real, and what the heck is up with those brown foreign people fighting with each other all the time. Retirement and building an emergency fund? Oh, yeah, get right on that...mmm, reality TV...*slouch*

All the planning I do starts with the assumption the government will not give me a penny. Not a penny of the money it threatened out of me for decades and not a penny threatened out of anyone else.

Even excluding my sarcastic egoist anarchism, this doesn't seem like such a radical concept. My confusion is doubled when people are already "paying into" a government system and therefore can already afford to set aside a portion of their money to take care of themselves. This isn't even an unemployment thing. It applies to any situation where you face an uncertain future with a non-wealthy income.

I don't get it.

February 25, 2010

The Bloom Box and Statism

CBS News: The Bloom Box: An Energy Breakthrough?

"I like to say that the new energy technologies could be the largest economic opportunity of the 21st century," [John Doerr from the big Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins] explained.


Twenty large, well-known companies have quietly bought and are testing Bloom boxes in California.

Like FedEx. We were at their hub in Oakland, the day Bloom installed their boxes, each one costing $700-800,000.

One reason the companies have signed up is that in California 20 percent of the cost is subsidized by the state, and there's a 30 percent federal tax break because it's a "green" technology. In other words: the price is cut in half.

From my selfish, I've-got-mine, coldhearted, stubborn, unrealistic viewpoint, I think the real story here is how the federal tax system is getting in the way of serious next-gen technology that could radically improve living standards. There's the lede, buried as usual.

Don't take this as something it isn't. Don't let someone tell you that a 30% cut in federal taxes has helped make this technology possible. If they say that, they've got their cause and effect mixed up. The government didn't help anyone or help do anything.

A more accurate way of explaining it is 30% of the dollar cost the government aggressively imposes on individuals (and the organizations they own) who add economic value to human existence has been temporarily waived per conditional government approval. The line between economically feasible and a waste of money is thin enough that a third less in this expense makes a difference. This tech might revolutionize world well-being, and for some companies, a few hundred thousand bucks are part of what stands in the way.

Think about that for a minute. Think about the number of people with great ideas, promising implementations, and the willpower to face the risks. Think about the diverse level of interest in improving humanity out there, trying to make It work. Think about the thousands of decisions made each day, many with the weight of cost factoring in at the moment of truth. Most people can't buy whatever they want; they have to spend wisely or go broke. This is no different from an organization designed to create and manufacture a product.

"This is affordable. Yes, we should do it."


"We'd never make any money. No, we shouldn't do it."

I think of the untold, unpublished, unrecognized, uncountable mountains of "no" built up over the decades, a mute chain on human progress. I'm no utilitarian and I don't think the critical determinant of any moral question is the amount, degree, or breadth of some positive outcome. But if those are the grounds upon which someone argues for the aggression necessary to enforce the tax system against people trying to voluntarily buy and sell goods and services, they have no legitimate reason to claim this statism made the Bloom Box possible. The government decided to let these people keep more of their money. That isn't help just like a robber isn't helping you when he decides to leave the TV.

l See You

Actually, the robber analogy isn't a great fit. The robber doesn't normally return at an arbitrary time to claim your TV, knowing you will be held criminally responsible if you attempt to prevent him from taking it. Criminally responsible, of course, means specially-trained and well-armed people who have substantial legal immunity will eventually arrest, kidnap, and kill you for resisting their orders.

I predict many of the coercive collectivists known as politicians will praise this as an example of proper government policy. I predict I'll vomit a little in my mouth every time I hear it, knowing that some dolt claiming to be a supporter of free markets and individual liberty will be on shortly to concede away the former by compromising on the latter.

February 10, 2010

Cigarette Taxes

Reuters via Yahoo! News: U.S. would reap billions from $1 cigarette tax hike

Adding a $1 per pack tax to cigarettes could raise more than $9 billion a year for states, health advocates said on Wednesday, and a poll released with the study shows Americans would support such a tax.

I wonder if there will ever come a day when I or someone who shares my philosophical temperament will encounter a mainstream news article like the above and not immediately know how it will proceed.

"An increase in tobacco tax rates is not only sound public health policy but a smart and predictable way to help boost the economy and generate long-term health savings for states facing deepening budget deficits," said John Seffrin, chief executive of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.
I loathe these people. They take a laudable goal and fuck it up by advocating the violent redistribution of property as a way to achieve it.
"We have irrefutable evidence that raising the tobacco tax lowers smoking rates among adults and deters millions of children from picking up their first cigarette," Seffrin said in a statement.
Pragmatism: It Can Justify Anything
The groups also surveyed 847 registered voters and found 60 percent favor raising the tobacco tax to help state budgets while 38 percent were opposed.

The survey, with a margin of error of three points, found that 72 percent of voters opposed increases in state sales and 80 percent rejected higher gasoline taxes.

Democracy: Danger In Numbers

"Each year in the United States, smoking-caused disease results in $96 billion in health care costs, much of which is paid by taxpayers through higher insurance premiums and government-funded health programs such as Medicaid," the report argues

"Indeed, higher Medicaid costs are one of the reasons states are facing budget difficulties."


Rather, let's just order cops to threaten imminent bodily harm, abduction, and detainment against those retailers who won't collect the tax and who, after their permission to make a living is revoked, continue to operate their businesses. Let's send strangers violently into the lives of people who have done nothing wrong and command them to raise their prices with the express intent to cut down on their sales. All of that is fine and dandy, isn't it?

"It is disheartening the report's authors are suggesting legislators position tax increases as a way to address health issues while the report clearly describes tax increases as a way to fix budgets and score political points with voters," Philip Morris USA said in a statement.

"The report neglects to mention the fact that cigarette tax increases rarely generate all of the revenue they are projected to raise -- creating more budget problems down the road."

Copyright © 2010 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.

And bringing up the rear: the inevitable half-hearted, nutless whining by Industry. Utterly devoid of principle and morally gutted by years of lies, the best they can offer is "I disagree, that plan wouldn't quite work so well." I once had some sympathy for these cretins; no more. Not when they say shit like:

In addition to violating many trademark laws, counterfeit cigarettes are almost always sold without the appropriate federal and state excise tax. The counterfeit cigarettes purchased from G.J. Smokes bore no genuine tax stamp. As a result, the applicable excise taxes were not paid.
If you actively advocate the economic destruction of your products, how the fuck am I supposed to care about another buck imposed on top of each pack? Other than the unthinkingly reflexive tea party hordes, why would anyone else give it a second thought unless it was their own habit gored by the government ox?

Big Tobacco is functionally absurd.

February 01, 2010

Another Law I'll Break With Regularity

Austin-American Statesman: Police to begin ticketing for texting while driving

Austin police will begin issuing tickets today for people who text message while driving.


The ban prohibits driving while using a mobile electronic device to send a text message or e-mail, surf the Web, play a game or adjust music settings or use iPhone applications.


The citations will be a Class C misdemeanor, which carries a fine of up to $500 and can be appealed in Municipal Court.

Copyright © Mon Feb 01 16:05:42 EST 2010 All rights reserved.

Tack this onto the impressive list of perfectly moral and contextually-appropriate actions for which we'll now be held criminally responsible.

If I want to send a text, I'll do so when I think I have the safe opportunity to do so. That includes while in the driver's seat of a moving car.

The City of Austin and the Austin Police Department can suck it. I'm responsible for any wrecks, injuries, and deaths my actions may cause and no law will change that.

January 08, 2010

Regular Photography Feature

As is my ritual for a new year, I'm here to announce that I'm going to kick some new goals' asses and Turn My Life Around©.

We'll see. However, I managed to surprise myself with the degree of focus upon which I centered myself so far. Perhaps I silenced that last tiny immature holdout within me who found it comfortable to bitterly dissect his problems, complain about them in sarcastically clinical fashion, and yet merely nibble at their margins in terms of actually doing something about them. Maybe it was the shockingly rotten news right in the middle of Christmas. It could be the light at the end of a very long collegiate tunnel.

I'm still sorting this out.

Thankfully, I have an amazing hobby I am only just beginning to explore. Often a crutch in the best sense of the word, sometimes just a prop in my own social plays. More often a way to stamp my perspective on the world, occasionally a chance to define and preserve the vital.

My Photo II class begins next week and if there was a gawd, I'd be praying to It that we spend every damn minute of each class session in the darkroom.

The Stage Is Set

Miss Stache



My flickr set of these featured pictures is here.

October 28, 2009

Regular Photography Feature


Longhorn Memories

Grandpage 2009


My flickr set of these featured pictures is here.

October 09, 2009

Nobel Chutzpah

Chutzpah, the quality of shamelessly violating social acceptability, is sometimes embodied in the story of a person who kills his parents and, during his trial, calls for the court's mercy because he's an orphan. I'd say giving the Nobel Peace prize to someone partially responsible for over 3,500 civilian deaths certainly qualifies.

I can't see how any government agent is qualified to receive a prize rooted in concepts of peace.

Within days of his inauguration, Barack Obama ordered military strikes that killed civilians in Pakistan. Those were not the first civilian deaths for which he shares responsibility.

He maintains an active war in Afghanistan. Iraq is still occupied. He has so far shown little substantial departure from Bush's policy on handling suspected/accused terrorists.

As far as I know, he has not helped end any significant conflict overseas.

Domestically, the case is even weaker. He supports not only the essential structures of taxation and economic regulation, but wishes to expand them. Both of those structures are actively violent against Americans and foreigners every day and constitute a direct threat against peaceful individuals.

This is an award given on the basis of two things: who he is not and how well he has tried to explain who he is not.

I think this will become a classic example of an elite body misreading a situation and provides further proof the Peace Prize is more of a stamp of political approval than anything else.

He should decline the award. Barring that, he should accept it and then immediately gift it to people exponentially more deserving. Chinese dissidents, Iranian protesters, etc.

Funniest comment I've read so far on the situation was from JonLee11 : "Maybe Obama won bc he got a black man and a white cop to sit down and have a beer together."

September 08, 2009

Not My Problem

I've been lazy and have not replaced my bedroom's busted ceiling fan and I prefer having a constant airflow while I fall asleep. I need to replace my sheets because the current set is just plain old and worn out. Down the hall from me, one of my roommates and his girlfriend digested TV in his room all evening. I had been sitting in bed for several hours studying managerial accounting and thinking about my relationship situation. Several topics were bouncing around in my head:

  • Cleaning the cat litter box
  • Hoping the $650 I gave my neighbor will help fix her roof after one of the trees in my yard hit her house
  • Filling up the Golf's tank soon
  • What the hell I'll do when I finally graduate college and leave my current job
  • A public speaking presentation on Andrew Bird for one of my classes
  • Editing and posting at least 300 pictures I took over the last few months
  • Juggling bills and my income
  • What I'll be wearing at a theme party next weekend
  • What the deal was with the two gunshots I heard that evening

So last night I honestly had trouble sleeping. I wasn't physically or mentally relaxed.

And what is the very first e-mail in my inbox at work this morning?

Please read and pass on

This came from a Marine unit over in Iraq ... Their wish is to send it

to as many people in the country as possible.

(Be sure to read their note at the end of the e-mail).. Hopefully we can help them achieve their goal.

This is a ribbon for
soldiers fighting in Iraq . Pass it on to everyone
and pray.
Bed a
little lumpy...
Toss and
turn any....
Wish the heat was higher...
Maybe the a/c !
Wasn't on...
Had to go to the john......
Need a drink of

Yes.. It is like that!
Count your blessings, pray for them,
Talk to your Creator
The next time when...
The other car cuts you off and you must hit the brakes,
Or you have to park a little further from Walmart than you want to be,
you're served slightly warm food at the restaurant,
Or you're sitting and cursing the traffic in front of you,
the shower runs out of hot water, Think of them...

Protecting your freedom!

I wrote about the total monkey-shit-flinging nonsense of soldiers protecting our freedom overseas when I discovered this most excellent Russmo cartoon a while back. The contents in the speech bubbles succinctly capture the complete absurdity of this argument in the form of a father's letter to his son in the military:
Dear Jimmy,

Hope all is well in Iraq. We are so proud of you for going over there to fight for our freedom. A lot has happened since you left...

Our home was taken by the feds for back taxes we owed, and then the family business was condemned by the city so they could build a football stadium.

Mom was arrested for carrying a gun in her purse and your brother is in prison for smoking a joint. At least your sister is okay, though she has to go to court for not wearing a seatbelt.

We wish you were here to help pay for all the legal fees, but just knowing you are over there fighting for the liberties we cherish makes it all worthwhile.

Love, Dad

In case you can't tell, that's the bitter sting of sarcasm, not the happy thoughts of a flag-waver. I once believed invading Iraq and Afghanistan would ultimately protect my freedom at home and I regret the public advocacy I committed for those causes. There is simply no contest between the threat American governments present to me and the threat some theocratic Muslims and totalitarian Arabs present to me. American governments actively trample basic freedoms of association and exchange as a matter of routine public policy.

It was bad enough being told from all kinds of earnest, well-meaning people that I should be grateful that tens of thousands of soldiers are risking their lives to save mine...but apparently that simply is not good enough.

I now have to stop whining about my own personal displeasures because those soldiers are stuck in conditions far shittier than mine. Stubbing my toe pales in comparison to walking ten miles in filthy boots filled with sand and sweat. Finding a decent place to eat is nothing compared to Day #274 of MREs. Trouble sleeping in a house with central air but a bedroom without a ceiling fan is a joke when people sleep in spite of mortar attacks, sunburns, the aforementioned boots, vast distances between you and loved ones, the nightmares of your friends dying in front of you, knowing your mission is tossed around like a toy in partisan pissing matches, and in spite of the fact that perhaps you only joined the Army because you wanted help paying for college. Now, you've lost a girlfriend, your high school crew is moving on with their lives, and you don't trust the interpreter for your platoon.

I get all that. I get that it sucks and it's hot and it's dusty and it's fucking depressing and some assholes keep planting bombs that blow sanity and bodies apart. For all those reasons and a lot more, I want those people home. I've wanted them home for several years, withdrawn "precipitously" and post-gawddamn-haste. The sooner the better. I'd much rather they not have to deal with post-traumatic stress and fucking amputations and arrogant officers and loser noncoms and the idea of a "vacation" neutered down to a few weeks back home before getting sent out into the shit again. For the third time.

But I refuse to abstain from dwelling on my own very present problems simply because there are others in the world who are worse off than me...and I particularly refuse to temper acknowledging my own problems on the morally fallacious grounds that unwanted sacrifice demands my humility and thanks. Sacrifice - the act of giving up something of value in exchange for an even lesser value - is rotten enough. Don't make it worse by asserting that I ought to embrace sacrifice done in my name long after I've withdrawn my sanction.

August 25, 2009

The Wheels Are Coming Off

This doesn't make any f-ing sense, and I'm not gonna do it.

...I don't get how you can possibly hand me a health care bill with an individual mandate and no public option. If I'm uninsured or poorly insured, and the answer coming out of Congress is that I now have to buy crappy insurance from some private company that has no plan to actually help me pay for my health care without raking me over the coals, then I've gone into this fight an ardent supporter of strong reform, and come out a teabagger.

You're going to force me to pay an insurance company for shit insurance that as a free market actor I decided not to even try to buy?

Fuck the hell out of that. Come and get me if you want my money. Paying the government against my will I can understand. It's the government, and it takes things. I might not like it, but I get it. Now, "libertarians" will no doubt scoff haughtily at that, but look, we differ on how much intrusion we'll tolerate. BFD. Welcome to Earth. But if I'm gonna lose that money one way or the other, to my mind it had damn well better be to pay for insurance that actually covers something, and not to be burned on executive bonuses, advertising, or 30% overhead when there's a 4% plan on the market.

Paying an insurance company whose product I don't want? That makes no goddamn sense to me whatsoever, and I want nothing to do with it.

David Waldman and other statists are so fucked up over health care that they're coming dangerously close to endorsing individual freedom.

Says one commenter: "They can track me down and toss my butt in jail before they tell me I have to pay a private, for-profit corporation."

Not that it's any consolation to me. In their view, it is a sincere moral outrage to ultimately have a cop point a gun in your face so you give private companies money but it's "who cares, get your whiny ass in line" when the government is the recipient. The former is grounds for open tax revolts and defiance. The latter is as agreeable as breathing.

They still aren't thinking straight.

They probably never will.

August 15, 2009

Taxation Is Violence, Part I

After a day and a half writing to people twittering about #welovethenhs, my co-evangelist brought the following post to my attention:

@axiomthree you're comparing a violent act to taxation. There's a bit of a difference there.

With which I responded:
@axiomthree Ask @lanej0 how violent things get when you refuse to pay your taxes. Hiring a crew to rob for you in uniform, that's taxation.

Naturally, Mr. Lane saw my post and had something to say about it:
@Drizzten I got a letter asking me to kindly pay my taxes. Does that count as violence?

Thus began our chat about taxation, state power, and, as of right now, a few other interrelated subjects. To both bring you up to speed and save unnecessary clicking, here is the conversation we had in instant message format:
Charles (Drizzten): Write your own kindly letter telling them you've got better things to do with your own money. Keep telling them that and see how long it takes until the deputies show up with guns and handcuffs.
Jonathan (lanej0): interesting idea. I think that the one officer on the island probably has better things to so though.
Charles: I'm absolutely serious. Tell them calmly that you won't pay any income, property, or sales taxes. Watch how you, via no action endangering or hurting anyone somehow becomes a criminal. Indeed, you merely stated your refusal. For merely claiming what's already yours. Taxation is mundane-it's-so-routine, delayed, 3rd party theft.
Jonathan: I guess the difference is that I voluntarily pay because I know that that money is being put to a common good
Charles: So the ends (the ever-elusive common good) justify the means (forcing other Canadians to pay up).
Jonathan: I guess. I think of itmore in terms of insurance. You pay into it so that it's there if you ever need it
Jonathan: two kids delivered in hospital, and haven't had a massive bill to pay afterward. Family with cancer that still own their homes.
Charles: You certainly pay (because you support it), but suppose my Canadian cousin refused (for whatever reasons). Should he be ultimately subjected to arrest, confinement, and asset forfeiture if he continues to refuse to pay for everyone else's services?
Jonathan: If that's what the majority agrees to (I would wager that the majority of Canadians support our health care system).
Charles: I hope you don't mean that because I think that's a horrifying, contradictory argument. Deserves a full blog to discuss further.
Jonathan: It's extremely difficult to discuss via 140 char snippets. What I mean is that ideally laws are enacted through majority rule
Charles: Mind holding that thought? I'll whip up a proper post tomorrow if you'd like to continue.

First Things

Let me first refine my reaction to Jonathan's initial post. He is not strictly incorrect. There is "a bit of difference" between violence and taxation. Violence in this context is a concept regarding how humans treat one another. This concept helps identify the instances when a human either touches or causes another object to touch another human without their permission in a way that does or may cause injury. In other words, and as my friend put it that inspired Jonathan to make that initial post, "[robbing] a bank or an individual to get the money for my health care." Robbery occurs when someone threatens violence (or demonstrates it) against property owners and bystanders in order to coerce the property from the owner.

So what is taxation? Here's where I exit the conventional wisdom and enter the unsettling land of Extremism. Please bear with me.

Taxation as an idea is much more specific than violence. Taxation typically refers to a type of multi-party property transaction. In this transaction, an original property owner is supposed to give an organization called the government some amount of property (normally a quantity of money). The government says it will use that money for various activities which will probably generate some pragmatic or moral outcome. The government may say paying this amount is part of what keeps society possible, it may say paying this amount will help alleviate suffering or injustice, and it may even say paying this amount is an outright duty the owner owes to the government.

But, above all, the government says the owner should pay this amount because failure to do so will mean the government will get violent with the owner and it would be wrong for the owner to resist or retaliate against that violence. As I said to Jonathan, if you don't believe me, just watch what happens when you don't pay taxes.


Tax-Cheat Showdown: Fess Up or Stay Quiet?:
There is no statute of limitations in the tax code for fraud. For those who want to keep the account, he said, "I remind them that they are committing felonies each year when they sign their tax return."

Copyright ©2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved

1,200 R.I. businesses face closure over sales tax:
State tax officials have put more than 1,200 businesses across the state on notice this week that they are out of business unless they pay their overdue sales taxes immediately.

For most, that action came in the form of a personal visit from the state Division of Taxation, ordering business owners to lock their doors at once.


The letters hand-delivered by the hundreds this week reiterated the message that owners are now operating without a permit and that under state law “each officer of any corporation which so engages in business shall be guilty of a misdemeanor” for which they can be fined up to $5,000 and imprisoned for up to a year.

“Each day in which such person so engages in business shall constitute a separate offense,” the letter says.

© 2009 , Published by The Providence Journal Co.

Tax inspectors given broad new powers to fight illegal tobacco:
The new act will also allow the provincial treasury to add an additional fine up to five times the tax that would have been payable on the illegal tobacco.

Six hundred cartons of contraband tobacco, seized earlier this week in North Bedeque, would carry more than $20,000 in taxes.

Under the current law, the individual could be charged that $20,000.

The new act, if passed, would see the tax bill increase five-fold to $100,000 plus the fine.

Those charged could also be jailed and vehicles used in the importation of contraband cigarettes, whether it be a car, boat or plane, could also be impounded.

© The Guardian

Debunking tax myths (emphasis in the original):
There is no question that voluntary compliance is the cornerstone of Canada's self-assessment taxation system. This simply means that the government expects you to respect the law and comply fully with your tax obligations.

This approach does not imply that the law cannot be enforced if necessary. The Income Tax Act and other laws provide a range of penalties for offences such as tax evasion, failure to pay taxes, failure to disclose income, or refusing to file a tax return. These penalties can include fines, third-party claims, seizures, and criminal prosecution.

RCMP find $400,000 worth of cigarettes in truck:
RCMP found 150 cases of illegal, unmarked cigarettes in plastic bags and 25 cases of "discount" brand cigarettes when the rental truck was stopped in the West Hawk Lake area.

None of the cigarettes had proper tax stamps. The man could face fines up to $5,000, up to three months in jail, or a tax penalty of more than $970,000.

© 2009 Winnipeg Free Press. All Rights Reserved.

Buying a Home in France: Prices and Fees:
Don't be tempted by the French ‘custom' of tax evasion, where the sale price declared to the tax authorities (prix déclaré) is reduced by an ‘under the table' (sous la table) cash payment. If you're buying a property direct from the vendor, he may suggest this, particularly if he's selling a second home and must pay capital gains tax on the profit. (Obviously if the vendor can show a smaller profit, he pays less tax.) You'll also save money on taxes and fees, though you'll have a higher capital gains tax bill when you sell if it's a second home.

You should steer well clear of this practice, which is illegal. If you under-declare the price, the authorities can revalue the property and demand that you pay the shortfall in tax plus interest and fines. They can even prosecute you for fraud, in which case you can receive a prison sentence! The authorities can also decide to buy a property at the under-declared price plus 10 per cent within three months of the date of purchase.

© 2009 Parisvoice

Some jurisdictions have more paperwork and levels of procedure than others, but every functioning state will follow through with it's threats. Persistent tax resistance will eventually net you a visit from law enforcement to do exactly what that title says. The issue becomes crystal-clear if you begin resisting the arrest. Police have special immunity from prosecution and are professionally trained to use physical violence against others in their (and the military's) capacity as the ultimate instruments of government power.

Strike an officer - even in objective self-defense - and watch the hammer drop.

None of this should come as a surprise to anyone who pauses and thinks about it. Without the threat of police violence, many laws would be ignored outright. How much money would government revenue bureaus receive if these payments were actually voluntary? It does not take many demonstrations of the government's willingness to use this power for the majority of people subject to the government's laws to obey in general.

That general obedience should never be mistaken as full voluntary consent because the counterparty to each individual is an organization "negotiating" in bad faith.


Jonathan is correct. There is a substantial difference between violence and taxation. That difference is taxation is applied violence. Though the violence is frequently threatened rather than carried out, it corrupts the exchange, coercing peaceful people to obey or eventually face an armed crew sent by bureaucrats claiming a representative mandate from the general population.

However, he's wrong on the substance.


One element not present in this analysis is from whom police receive their orders and by what right those orders are issued. This element is where Jonathan and I left off. This is a big subject by itself because it unavoidably involves ethics. Because it's late and I have a long Saturday ahead of me, I'll continue this tomorrow.
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