Taxes: If They Do the Crime, Make Them Do the Time

Americans like to trumpet the belief that we’re a “nation of laws”. Unfortunately, our laws are unevenly enforced when enforced at all. Congress churns out dozens of laws every year, while at the same time, guaranteeing they’ll fail by not budgeting for enforcement. Tea partiers like to say that most corporate laws constitute “over-regulation”. However, one could make a reasonable case that we don’t over-regulate, we under-enforce – and a law unenforced is no law at all.

You could easily say the same for failing to pay personal taxes. There’s a burgeoning industry devoted to helping scofflaws avoid penalties for “cents on the dollar”. Apparently, assisting tax deadbeats is more profitable than chasing ambulances. Some might argue tax issues wouldn’t be a problem if the taxes were lower, but these negotiated settlements allow defendants to avoid punishment. “If you do the crime, you have to do the time (except as negotiated by Nasty, Rude, Brutish, and Short, LLP).”

America is also stuck in a swamp of economic gelatinous goo. Just to spite each other we’re cutting off everything with a nose to pass a budget that takes regular taxpayers back to government circa 1865 and pumping up the wealthy’s wealth to a tax-free 2082. Yet, here are two almost untouched revenue streams. We could take a bite out of crime and the budget by simply enforcing the laws we have.

If BP befouls the Gulf of Mexico or Exxon paints Prudhoe Bay a wonderful, multicolored rainbow sheen, let’s not negotiate a settlement for pennies on the dollar while they reap some mighty fine profits. Profits at least partly derived from the other 98 cents on the dollar you and I paid to clean up the flaming dog poop they left on our porch. And bonus – maybe they’d think twice before doing the same stupid, illegal things they did to cause the accident in the first place – a twofer that helps modify bad behavior and raise revenue at the same time.

SWEET!

And since corporations have equal to (or greater than) the rights of flesh and blood, private citizens it’s only fair we stop negotiating sweetheart deals for the proletariat too. Paying taxes is a legal obligation, not an optional thing you do only when it pays for school vouchers or Muslim extermination programs. Saying you cheated or didn’t pay your taxes because “everyone does it” is no excuse. Remember Momma’s rule, “If everyone jumped off a bridge into a Chevron-managed tar pit, would you do it too?”

Of course, these actions won’t make all the bad economics go away, but it will make the sharing of pain fairer, without taxing the rich one more penny. It’s time to stop whining about what we owe and pay up.

If they do the crime, make them do the time.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

 

 

 

What do you know about Food Disparagement Laws?

Until last night, I knew nothing about them… but as I attended the F.A.R.M. program (Food Art Revolution Media) last night it was one of the topics that Melinda and Dan Hemmelgarn discussed last night.

These laws currently exist in 13 states and do things like banning photographers from taking pictures of food processing plants, or writing articles protesting farms that spray their crops with Monsanto poisons, or just discussing in the public press (and no doubt in blogs like this one) the disadvantages of non-organic farming.

The food disparagement movement has major corporate support (Monsanto, Dow, Buckeye Eggs and others) and haul people into court with their heavy economic advantage if the smallest criticism is raised. This has been going on since the 1990′s (a lot of it came out because of films like “Food, Inc.” or the works of Michael Moore.)

Senator Patrick Leahy (D – Vermont) made this statement in the late ’90s concerning this situation:

Some states permit lawsuits against those who question the safety of our food supply. It is my view that under the First Amendment, Americans possess the right

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The Battle Over South Dakota’s Justified Homicide Bill

South Dakota‘s proposed “justified homicide bill” has been withdrawn for the time being, but don’t be surprised if it returns like cow flop on a South Dakota rancher’s boots.

What’s the controversy? Read from the bill for yourself, “Homicide is justifiable if committed by any person while resisting any attempt to murder such person, or to harm the unborn child of such person in a manner and to a degree likely to result in the death of the unborn child, or to commit any felony upon him or her, or upon or in any dwelling house in which such person is.”

Some proponents of the bill, including bill sponsor and anti-abortion advocate Rep. Phil Jensen (R-South WTFistan), claim the bill has nothing to do with abortion. Opponents, and even some advocates believe that’s hogwash – and if you can read, that seems a reasonable interpretation – and doubt that it’s legally sound.

Legal wrangles over abortion have gone non-stop since Roe v. Wade became the basis for the law of the land, but the nation rarely looks at the pretzel logic behind the legality debate.

Pro-lifers often argue a fetus is a full-blown human being and that it’s justified, if not morally correct, to perform a sort of vigilante capital punishment on abortion providers because they’re “murderers”. So if self-appointed juries can mete out capital punishment for “murdering” abortion providers, how can many of those same people support state-sponsored capital punishment.

Even if one wraps themselves in the cloak of religion, how’s it possible to cite the 6th commandment without caveat – Thou shalt not kill – as the basis for killing an abortionist while ignoring it when a capital criminal walks the Green Mile?

And for the record, pro-lifers could reverse this tangle of law and morality to bash the other side. After all, why is it OK for pro-choice advocates to argue it’s OK to terminate a pregnancy, but are equally inflamed about abolishing capital punishment.

The legality of this issue is valid, but it’s a dicey legal case that’s spread beyond just the courtroom. For years, both sides have short-sightedly used Roe v. Wade as a one-issue litmus test for judge approval to the exclusion of all other issues. Judges should be made up of more than this one issue.

Abortion is a tough nut, a moral and legal tangle whipped raw by high emotion. There’s no perfect answer because it isn’t a zero sum issue with a clear winner or loser – no matter how much the opponents and proponents wish it would be.

Perhaps we’d all be better off to step back and think about this a little more dispassionately instead of counting the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pinhead.

Or, a South Dakota legislator.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

 

 

 

The Battle Over South Dakota’s Justified Homicide Bill

South Dakota‘s proposed “justified homicide bill” has been withdrawn for the time being, but don’t be surprised if it returns like cow flop on a South Dakota rancher’s boots.

What’s the controversy? Read from the bill for yourself, “Homicide is justifiable if committed by any person while resisting any attempt to murder such person, or to harm the unborn child of such person in a manner and to a degree likely to result in the death of the unborn child, or to commit any felony upon him or her, or upon or in any dwelling house in which such person is.”

Some proponents of the bill, including bill sponsor and anti-abortion advocate Rep. Phil Jensen (R-South WTFistan), claim the bill has nothing to do with abortion. Opponents, and even some advocates believe that’s hogwash – and if you can read, that seems a reasonable interpretation – and doubt that it’s legally sound.

Legal wrangles over abortion have gone non-stop since Roe v. Wade became the basis for the law of the land, but the nation rarely looks at the pretzel logic behind the legality debate.

Pro-lifers often argue a fetus is a full-blown human being and that it’s justified, if not morally correct, to perform a sort of vigilante capital punishment on abortion providers because they’re “murderers”. So if self-appointed juries can mete out capital punishment for “murdering” abortion providers, how can many of those same people support state-sponsored capital punishment.

Even if one wraps themselves in the cloak of religion, how’s it possible to cite the 6th commandment without caveat – Thou shalt not kill – as the basis for killing an abortionist while ignoring it when a capital criminal walks the Green Mile?

And for the record, pro-lifers could reverse this tangle of law and morality to bash the other side. After all, why is it OK for pro-choice advocates to argue it’s OK to terminate a pregnancy, but are equally inflamed about abolishing capital punishment.

The legality of this issue is valid, but it’s a dicey legal case that’s spread beyond just the courtroom. For years, both sides have short-sightedly used Roe v. Wade as a one-issue litmus test for judge approval to the exclusion of all other issues. Judges should be made up of more than this one issue.

Abortion is a tough nut, a moral and legal tangle whipped raw by high emotion. There’s no perfect answer because it isn’t a zero sum issue with a clear winner or loser – no matter how much the opponents and proponents wish it would be.

Perhaps we’d all be better off to step back and think about this a little more dispassionately instead of counting the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pinhead.

Or, a South Dakota legislator.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

 

 

 

Voting Out the Constitution

People usually remember the 1960s as a time of great strife over civil rights. If you were alive back in the day, the images of police dogs ripping into lines of civil rights marchers or white-sheeted thugs dancing around a burning cross is still a chilling thing and proof that America was indeed going through wrenching social change.

Many would also like to believe that the country has made great strides in the interim, and we have. But, there’s more to accomplish and the nation now finds itself spending much of its energy on fighting to simply hold onto the advances already made. Civil rights advancement is now threatened by organizations and morally dishonest politicians bent on carrying us back to 1864.

Yesterday’s decision to strike down California’s Prop 8 anti-gay marriage law was sound. The judge did an impressive job of listing all the factual and legal reasons – 80 in all – showing that the law is unconstitutional. A improvement to celebrate, but also an event that highlights anti-civil rights crudaders’ thinking.

Tim Wildmon of the sarcastically named American Family Association reacted with shocking vitriol, calling the court’s decision, “a tyrannical, abusive and utterly unconstitutional display of judicial arrogance.”

Wildmon Is Has a Queer Notion
Wildmon believes one of the principles at stake is ignoring the California voters, which he sees as unconstitutional. In doing so, Wildmon – who uses the 10th Amendment as a fig leaf himself – introduces the queer notion that the Constitution is up for a vote whenever you don’t like what it says.

Similar to the rabble rousing for amending the 14th Amendment in the immigration battle, what Wildmon is proposing is that the Constitution – designed to be difficult to amend – should change to bend to the will of the latest ideological blowhard to come on the scene.

Mr. Wildmon, I ask you…if Californians voted to outlaw heterosexual marriage would you express the same fondness to the validity of their vote?

Wildmon also believes the “tyrannical and abusive”, Bush-the-Elder-appointed, judge should have recused himself from the case.

“It’s also extremely problematic that Judge Walker is a practicing homosexual himself, ” Wildmon said. “He should have recused himself from this case, because his judgment is clearly compromised by his own sexual proclivity.”

What I find “problematic” about Wildmon’s charge is that he is exhibiting his  own “proclivity” to act as a heterosexual, homophobic, quasi-religious leader. In other words – or more correctly Wildmon’s – “[Wildmon] should have recused himself from this case, because his judgment is clearly compromised by his own sexual [and religious] proclivity.”

I suspect the only judge Wildmon would find acceptable is an ordained Christian minister with a demonstrated track record of ignoring the Constitution in favor of a Christian Sharia-like theocracy – or a teabagger – whichever pinhead stepped forward first.

Americans are becoming increasingly unfamiliar with the basic tennents of the Constitution.They apparently believe that any hot head’s cause can simply be enacted by a simple vote. The Constitution is not the “McConstitution”. You can’t vote cheeseburgers off the menu because you don’t like them.

They believe that if there is a “war” on, the President, under no one’s authority other than his own, is permitted to suspend the Constitution’s guarantees against warrantless search or to hold prisoners indefinitely without charge.

Many Americans believe that the Constitution guarantees them freedom of religion, but also support depriving anyone other than Christians (they’re aren’t too hot on the Catholics either) of their similar freedom. Don’t like mosques too close to your shrine? Protest and file suit as Pat Robertson’s minions have done, but don’t be honest enough to mention that if it had been a Christian church you would’ve been praising the idea like it came from, well, God.

From Constitutional Ignorance, Instability Flows
From Constitutional ignorance, great instability flows. Unfortunately, those with such beliefs fail to see the unintended blow back from their muddled position.

Teabaggers and their similar-thinking ilk, like to wear tri-cornered hats and screech about keeping Big Gummint off their backs. If allowing someone to marry the person of their choosing is too much government involvement, then why isn’t government being on a gay person’s back equally bad?

Bush the Lesser did much to chip away at many civil rights during his reign and in areas like the conduct of our misbegotten wars and gay rights,  The Messiah™ continues walking the same swampy path.

One day, the blow back from their actions will come to haunt them and the people who cheered them. One day an administration will take office that isn’t so tolerant of their cavalier positions and decides to warrantlessly tap their phones, close their churches, or collect deep background on twerps like Wildmon.

And when they do, they’ll claim the same Constitutional protections because they changed the Constitution to allow it.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

 

 

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